Wednesday, July 01, 2009

the xo is not a netbook


Interesting that Negroponte doesn't like the netbook name applied to the xo (at 7:55)

The word Netbook is a portmanteu of the words internet and notebook. But the xo is intended to also be a machine containing a wide variety of educational software which can also be used in situations where children don't have internet access.

Negroponte: "Kids in Ethiopia don't have the internet in a nearby cloud ..."

I think the way we name things is important so I checked some of the names that have been used for these machines:
  • netbook
  • smartbook
  • MID
  • thin-and-light
  • low cost small notebook PC
  • low cost ultra-portable notebook computers (Microsoft mouthful)
  • ultra-portable
  • mini notebooks
Most of these names focus too much on physical characteristics. xo symbolising a childrens machine is superior:

update (5th July): Here is a an attempt to classify the suggested names of these computers by their functionality and purpose or their failure to do that

PURPOSE
Childrens Machine
xo

FUNCTION
Connection Machine
Dynabook
smartbook

TECHNO CENTRIC
netbook
MID
thin-and-light
low cost small notebook PC
low cost ultra-portable notebook computers (Microsoft mouthful)
ultra-portable
mini notebooks

3 comments:

Tony Forster said...

Aparently Walter Bender (Sugarlabs) doesn't like the netbook concept that much either. He writes:

I'll be giving a keynote at GUADEC
[http://www.grancanariadesktopsummit.org/]; my plan is to both introduce Sugar to the broader desktop community (with the goal of recruiting more contributors), to sing the praises of the desktop—the cloud is not the solution to all problem—but also articulate the need for more simplicity along the entire spectrum from developers to end
users.

http://lists.sugarlabs.org/archive/iaep/2009-July/006903.html

Bill Kerr said...

Thanks for the pointer, tony

You probably already know but I asked walter on the IAEP list to elaborate and he explained as follows:

"When we began the project, I lobbied to call it a Children's Machine (CM) in reference both to Seymour Papert's book and as a reference to the CM series of "connection machines" that Danny Hillis created at Thinking Machines, another effort where they through away the rules to make a solution to fit a class of problems rather than make the problem fit the solution.

Of course, XO is a brilliant name, that come from our design team as I recall, and I don't doubt that it was the correct decision for OLPC at the time.

I don't know that we should decide to push a name change on the market. The point I will make at the Desktop Summit is that the marketing of netbooks with 3G set an expectation that they are part of the "cloud" and that the push for bigger, fatter, faster netbooks has eroded the opportunity to think about new approaches to computing that smaller and lighter afford. But there remain opportunities to redefine the desktop, keeping it relevant, in many areas, ours being K-6. Even in the "developed" world, the Internet is not everywhere, e.g., most classrooms, and as much as it has been good for the service providers to pitch it as true, the cloud is not right solution to every problem."

Bill Kerr said...

I've updated this post with an attempt to classify the suggested names of these computers by their functionality and purpose or their failure to do that