8 Aug - OLPC, MIT and Faneuil Hall

rani's picture

We woke up rather late, around 8am. Perhaps I didn't realize that I was too tired the previous day. Also, I was unable to decide what to do for the day. So we just go by SJ's invitation to attend One Laptop Per Child discussion near MIT. On the way there, we stopped by the post office to post Rita's book from Singapore, then continued to the bagel place for breakfast. We had sausage wrap, which Noe really loved. Gosh, eating out is really expensive in Boston.

We then continued to take the T train to Kendall / MIT.


Stupid me, I totally blanked out and forgot the exact address of the event. I only know that it is near Kendall Mariott Hotel. But I was so sure that I would be able to find the place. However, when we arrived in Kendall Square, I totally forgot whether I should took a right or left turn from the hotel. So I asked a random person sitting at the square whether he knows anything about OLPC event. Of course he didn't, but he would be interested to know.


Desperate, I tried to get connected to OLPC website, but found no info regarding their address. So I decided to just look for MIT Media Lab address and go there, since OLPC is somehow connected to it. But where is Ames Street? I couldn't download any map because the connection wasn't really good. So I just walk down the main street and wish myself luck.

I just walk, and walk, and luckily stumbled upon Ames Street where MIT Media Lab is located. Finally I found the Media Lab building and entered it. And of course, the OLPC office is not there, but then the nice lady of Media Lab directed me to the correct address. She even called OLPC office to check about the event too.



We then walked back towards Kendall, and I took a small detour to take photos of the surrounding public space.



I also took photo of the nearby MIT buildings, including the famous Stata Center designed by Gehry.





I dropped by Coop to look for souvenir, but decided that I have too many Tshirts and will not buy the overpriced MIT-logoed merchandise. Finally I arrived at OLPC office, and Noe was asleep.


Basically the meeting is to discuss contents to be included in the OLPC, considering the disk space constraint of 100MB. There is a debate on the extent of localisation of the content: how much general content vs how much local content, and how contextual selection of the content would work. How about religious content - a question was raised. Who would select the content, the teacher, the government, or the student themselves? A participant highlighted the need to include cultural content and oral tradition. The discussion expanded into how teacher should interact with the students through the OLPC interface, and how are they connected to the world. SJ also patiently explain the OLPC mechanism and limitation because most of the attendees of the events have limited knowledge of the project.


OLPC would be launched pretty soon on only few countries initially, including Thailand. Unfortunately, Indonesia was not in the list as for now. I don't know yet why and what is the status on that. But OLPC has a wiki where everyone can help edit and fill in information to help OLPC staff to get connected to relevant people in Indonesia, for example.


Noe had a chance to play with a mock OLPC, as you could see in the photos. When we brought the mock up to him, he instantly knew what to do with the keyboard and screen. Obviously we as his parents spend too much time in front of the computer that Noe become so familiar with how it works.




This is Boston as viewed from OLPC office:



We stayed in OLPC office until around 3pm and continued to take a train to Government Center, planning to walk to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market.

I was surprised to see the City Hall Plaza when I exit the Government Center T Train Station. It was clearly an example of a failed public place. The scale was really wrong, it was just a big empty void, blank, its intentions unclear and people became disoriented and intimidated by the scale and monotony. The landscape design was … no landscape design, it was just big concrete empty space. And worse, it was not handicap friendly, I had to make a detour with a stroller to reach Faneuil Hall. When we get to the Hall it was a contrasting experience: a space with human scale and vibrancy. We were greeted with anti-war demonstration at Faneuil Hall.



We walked up north to Ye Olde Union Oyster House, which is the oldest restaurant in the USA.The interior of the restaurant seemed 'old', and it is said that the main oyster bar still uses the same circular table as hundreds of years ago.


The seats were a bit crammed; it seems that people from 200 years ago are thinner.

I ordered raw oyster for me and clam chowder for Noe. We got complimentary cornbread and Noe got a coloring book with a story about the restaurant.


The fresh oyster was served with two choices of sauces: horseradish or tomato. I chose tomato. The oyster was so fresh, succulent, and it bursted sweetness into my palate.


The chowder was so creamy and thick, which Noe really liked and always asked for more. This restaurant is definitely a must when you come to Boston.


After the early dinner, we continued to have a stroll along Quincy Market.



Noe then played with wind wheels.


Later, we heard a drumming noise and Noe ran towards it. There was a busker playing drims with trashcans and empty plastic boxes. Although he was using waste containers as drum, he was really good. And Noe couldn't resist joining him in a jam session. The busker didn't mind Noe joining his gig, in fact, Noe was part of the attraction.



Tired with drumming, Noe walked towards a group of african american dancers and joined them for a dance.


We then took the train back to the Hostel. I wanted to go to Fenway park to get some baseball merchandice, but was too tired. So I decided to just go to a corner shop, bought a tub of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, and head back to the hostel where I watched Colbert Report on Cuba in the public TV. I also accessed the net and upload some photos to the portable hard disk.

Then we returned to our room, took a shower, and pack for the next day, returning to Singapore.



oral tradion info

Do you have more info ont he oral tradition content. Will OLPC be incluing it in the laptops or just making auditory content possible.

Oh and Noe is so cute playing with the OLPC mock-up.

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