Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cheating in Computer Science

Thanks to a tweet from XRDS (ACM's magazine for students) I came across a great article by William Hugh Murray. Despite its title it isn’t just about cheating in CS but rather contains a very interesting – and I feel accurate – description of the current status quo in much of the education system.

There’s a short teaser below, you can find the complete article on the Web site of Ubiquity (an ACM publication).

“I suggest that we have gotten the cart before the horse. We are less concerned with whether students learn the right thing than whether they learn in the way that we rely upon to measure how well they learn when compared to their peers. We do this without even having considered whether the measurement is even useful, much less necessary or even counter-productive. We do it without considering whether encouraging sin is a good way to teach morals. We do it for no better reason than tradition, habit, and inertia.”

Good food for though, ey? :-)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Photos from Buenos Aires (and Montevideo)

The week before Christmas I had a chance to travel to Buenos Aires to attend a workshop organized by the Argentinean Ministry of Education within the context of the country’s Conectar Igualdad program. I hope to be able to blog about the workshop in more detail in the future but for now I at least managed to upload some photos which I took while exploring Buenos Aires during my stay. As always you can find the complete album over on Flickr as well as see a selection of some of my favorites below.


"El Metodo" playing on Calle FloridaIMG_2160

 Conectar Igualdad poster in PalermoIMG_2185

 Buildings on Plaza del CongresoIMG_2217

Skyline at Cementario RecoletaIMG_2228Train stop in La Boca

Monday, November 8, 2010

EduTechDebate: OLPC in South America

As people following this blog or my tweets will know I spent my summer traveling through Uruguay, Paraguay, and Peru to try and get a better understanding of how the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) projects in these countries are going.

Apart from documenting my experiences over on OLPC News, the OLPC (Austria) blog, Flickr, several OLPC and Sugar Labs related mailing lists, this blog, and plenty of tweets I also had an opportunity to share some of my thoughts during talks I gave in Montevideo, Lima, and Washington, D.C.. However the most important component of these documentation efforts awaited me after my return to Austria and have kept me quite busy over the past few weeks.

The result of these efforts is a series of five articles with a total of more than 15,000 words which was posted over on, a discussion platform about ICT for education in developing countries which is sponsored by The World Bank’s infoDev and UNESCO:

OLPC in South America: An Overview of OLPC in Uruguay, Paraguay, and Peru

OLPC in Uruguay: Impressions of Plan Ceibal’s Primary School XO Laptop Saturation

OLPC in Paraguay: Will ParaguayEduca’s XO Laptop Deployment Success Scale?

OLPC in Peru: A Problematic Una Laptop Por Niño Program

OLPC in South America in Context of Deployments Around the World

I thoroughly enjoyed the process of writing these articles as it gave me a chance to reflect upon my experiences, go through all of my notes, look at the photos I had taken, etc.

In terms of what happened after the publication of the articles it was particularly interesting to see the reactions to my piece about Peru’s Una laptop por niño. My critical views of the project resulted in a significant pushback by Oscar Becerra (head of DIGETE - the Peruvian Ministry of Education's department which runs Una laptop por niño) who posted a numbered 19-part response to my article in the comments. Combined with two Peruvian media reports which mentioned my article, several discussions threads on Spanish mailing-lists, a Peruvian blogger translating the entire article to Spanish, an honorable (or maybe slightly less so;-) mention in Walter Bender’s Sugar Digest, and a total of 147 comments on the article itself it’s save to say that it created quite a stir and some good discussions.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson - Changing Education Paradigms [video]

Back in July I blogged about a talk from Phil Zimbardo about "The Secret Powers of Time" which the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) had subsequently animated and turned into an absolutely spectacular video.

Now this week I had another RSA Animate video being mentioned by many of the people who I follow on Twitter. This time it's based on a talk by Sir Ken Robinson who many know from his famous TED talk on "schools kill creativity". The focus of this video is Changing Education Paradigms and again it's absolutely well worth watching, both for the content as well as the fantastic presentation.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

One Laptop Per Child in South America talk at The World Bank [video]

While I was in the United States in early September I gave a talk about the current status quo of the OLPC projects in Uruguay, Paraguay, and Peru (which I had visited on my olpcnews road trip) at The World Bank. I was joined on the panel by Wayan Vota, publisher of OLPC News and EduTechDebate, and The World Bank's Sr. Education Economist Cristian Aedo. While I unfortunately ended up talking longer than planned we still had some time in the end to take audience questions which led to some very interesting discussions and insights.

Anyway, I have embedded a recording of the talk below. Please note that the session only starts at around 9:15min and that the slides I used are available for download here.

You can find the OLPC News posts I've written about my experiences in South America here and we'll be publishing plenty more information on both OLPC News and EduTechDebate over the coming weeks.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Recording of my talk at escuelab [video]

On Wednesday evening I gave a talk in Lima's escuelab called "One Laptop per Child: Una perspectiva europea" (slides of the presentation). While the audience in the room - 4 people - was the smallest I ever spoke for we also had a handful of people watching the presentation via a video-stream. The talk itself wasn't that different from the one I gave in Montevideo at the end of July however the audience discussion that followed it was one of the best ones I've ever experienced. People who watched the stream submitted a handful of great questions via the chat and one person even called in to make some comments and ask something. In combination with having a teacher in the room who just received his OLPC XO laptop 2 weeks ago this made for excellent and very enjoyable audience participation. If you're interested (and speak Spanish) you can watch the whole 2h session in the embedded video below:

Learning to Change - Changing to Learn [video]

Can't remember who facebook'd or tweeted this video (it might have been Sascha Pallenberg) but I found it to be quite inspiring and well done:

My favorite quote is definitely:

"It's the death of education, it's the dawn of learning."

Sharing photos from Peru in 2000, 2005 and 2010

While wandering around around Trujillo earlier this week I stumbled across the store where I had some photos developed during the 11 months when I lived in the city. This made me think about how the act of sharing photos from my stays in Peru has changed over the past 10 years.

It was the year 2000 and digital cameras - let alone mobile phones with digital cameras – were still unheard of. In order to be able to give my family in Austria a better idea of how the environment I was living in looked at I took photos of my room, my house, my host-family, my school, the city center, etc. I then went to the store mentioned earlier, handed in my film-roll and then came back a day later to pick up the photos. I then wrote a short explanatory sentence on each photo and went to the post-office sending the letter off to Europe. I think it took two or three weeks before the letter arrived and another few days before I saw the e-mail from my mother saying that so.

Fast forward to 2005 when I went back to South America to travel through Peru and Bolivia for five weeks. By that time (and after weeks of research!) I was the very proud owner of a Kodak DX7590 digital camera and two 256MB SD cards. Being trigger-happy I filled up the cards within a few days and for a moment I was at a loss about what to do next. Luckily I wasn’t the first traveler in that situation so Internet cafés had started offering burning photos from memory cards to CD for a little fee. Being worried about losing my photos in case my back bag was stolen I actually got two CDs with copies of each SD card. I ended up carrying one set of CDs on me at all times with the second set being stored at the hostels I was staying in. As I was keen to share the photos with family and friends I spent more than one afternoon sitting in an Internet café, complaining about the upload speed (or lack thereof) and hoping that my e-mails with the photos attached would actually make it across the Internet.

Now in 2010 things have again changed. Instead of my Kodak DX7590 (which unfortunately has shown considerable signs of age after having been a trusted travel companion across Taiwan, China, Mongolia, Russia, USA, Nepal and Europe) I relied on a Canon IXUS 100 IS. In some ways that move meant giving up flexibility in terms of being able to adjust photo settings. On the other hand it gives me more flexibility due to the fact that the camera is so small that I have it on me at all times. And as the saying goes: the best camera is the one you have on you. Equipped with multiple 8GB SD cards and my laptop storage wasn’t going to be a problem either.

In terms of photo sharing I started using Flickr two or three years ago and have been quite happy with it. In particular it has helped me keep up some discipline when it comes to going through my photos, finding the “best of” from each series and also keeping track of what each photo shows since 100_7704.JPG isn’t a particularly useful photo title. I subsequently also mention photo uploads on Twitter and highlight some of them here on the blog.

For my current OLPC News South America Road Trip our publisher Wayan also hooked up the @olpcnews twitter-feed to my Flickr account. This means that every upload photo that I tag with olpc is automatically mentioned on the @olpcnews feed and subsequently also re-tweeted on Wayan’s twitter feed. As a result many of my photos tagged with olpc receive upwards of 150 views with some of them even getting more than 300 views.

What a difference 10 years make, right?

I can only imagine what things will be like the next time I’m back in Peru (hopefully in less than 5 years). Already this time ‘round I could have done the whole geo-tagged, real-time upload thing if my mobile phone wasn’t three years old.

One thing I expect to see in the future are mash-ups that can automatically superimpose relevant information on the photos (e.g. details about the city a photo was taken in) or put photos in useful correlation (e.g. showing photos of the same square or church which I or others took five years earlier).

Oh, and of course the cameras / phones / retinal implants these photos will be taken with will all have >25 MegaPixels, yet still come with crappy lenses and optics…. ;-)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Illustration and Visualization

Thanks to a tweet by @dchris I found this truly awesome “illustrated guide to a Ph.D.” by a Matt Might - Assistant Professor at School of Computing, University of Utah - which I’d really recommend you to take a look at.

(Even more so because it’s done with a particularly strong sense of purpose - scroll down to where it says “why genetics research?” to find out what I’m talking about.)



To me this is a perfect example of just how powerful illustrations and visualizations can be. I should really spend some time learning more about these crafts because I think my studies, work and writing could really benefit from knowing better how and when to apply illustrations and visualizations to communicate something.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

More photos from Peru

Thanks to the relatively good Internet connectivity at my friend’s house here in Chiclayo I was finally able to upload several dozen photos that I took in Peru over the past week or so. You can see some of my favorites below and find the whole Peru album here.



IMG_1191 Playing soccer with a view


Using Record to take photos is very popular


Typical street vendor in Huaraz

IMG_1494 /me, my XO and a llama

Friday, August 20, 2010

Upcoming talks in Lima and D.C.

One of the side-effects of my involvement with the One Laptop per Child project has been that it has given me a chance to regularly speak about and present the project. The audiences I’ve presented for in the past 3 years range from visitors of 26C3 and students at various Austrian universities to OLPC aficionados in Washington, D.C. back in December 2007.

Now the main focus of my current OLPC News South America road trip was to listen and talk with – rather than for – people involved in the South American OLPC / Sugar projects. However I’m happy that I’m also getting a chance to speak about my experiences a couple of time.

The miniJAM! artistico on my last day in Montevideo was a great start that also allowed me to practice presenting in Spanish (which I did for the first time since I finished school). I mainly talked about the activities of the OLPC / Sugar communities in Europe as well as contrasting my experiences in Uruguay with the ones I made volunteering with OLE Nepal in 2009.

Now last week the details for two upcoming talks were finalized:

Wednesday, August 25: 7:30PMEscuelab, Lima: One Laptop per Child: Una perspectiva europea

Monday, August 30: 12:30PM – World Bank, Washington, D.C.: One Laptop Per Child in South America: Reports from on-the-ground

If you happen to live in these cities and/or know people there who might be interested in learning more about OLPC and Sugar Labs in general and my views of the status quo of the projects in Uruguay, Paraguay, and Peru in particular then please spread the word and stop by at the talks.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

First photos from Peru

Due to the lackluster Internet connection in my current hostel in Huaraz I hadn’t really had a chance to upload photos from my first week here in Peru. But tonight - with a couple of hours to spare between an early dinner and going out for drinks - I sat down and started the process. Of course this is turning out to be even slower than I had expected (current upload speed is 9.2KB/s) so let’s see just how far I get before I run out of patience…

For now I’ll leave you with this photo with a view of the Cordillera Blanca mountain range:


Update: Yippie, 100% complete! Head over to the Peru album on Flickr for some impressions of Lima and Huaraz.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Photos from Paraguay

I’m making use of the surprisingly fast Internet access in my hostel here in Lima to finally upload some photos from the past two weeks which I spent in Paraguay.

To say that I had a great time there would be quite the understatement. With outstanding company, a very dynamic olpc project run by ParaguayEduca, multiple interesting school-visits, a long-awaited hands-on with OLPC’s XO-1.5 HS laptop, and an amazing weekend trip to the waterfalls at Iguazu and the Itaipu dam my time in Paraguay was packed with awesome experiences.

From a touristic point of view the Iguazu and Itaipu trip will very likely be the highlight of this year’s travels. As always the photos can’t do these places justice and it’s also hard to describe them in words. The one thing I can say is that the waterfalls at Iguazu are one of the most impressive natural sights I’ve ever seen (right up there with the Gobi desert!). The massive human artifact that is the Itaipu dam on the other hand also left quite an impression on me.

IMG_0796_stitch Iguazu waterfalls

IMG_0673_stitch Itaipu dam

Apart from that weekend I spent most of my time at ParaguayEduca’s office, talking to people there and working on olpcnews articles. Additionally I went to Caacupé a couple of times to visit some of the schools there which are part of ParaguayEduca’s 4000 XO pilot project. Needless to say I had a great time observing how the teachers and students use their XOs, especially when they were as much into it as this pupil:

IMG_0934 Hard at work

Click on the links for more photos from Paraguay and the Iguazu / Itaipu trip.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Impressions from the olpc realness summit

At the end of May I participated in the olpc realness summit which the fine folks from Waveplace had organized. Reading my corresponding announcement on olpcnews it’s not hard to see that I was excited about that event, and not just because it took place in the Caribbean;-)

“To say that I'm excited about this gathering of people would be quite the understatement. In fact this summit will likely turn out to be the single most interesting and exciting week since I first got involved with One Laptop per Child 3 years ago!”

To say that the days I spent on St. John were awesome would also be an understatement. On the one hand it was great to meet lots of very awesome and inspiring people and hear about their work. On the other hand I also had the chance to spend 1 1/2 hours each day at Gifft Hill School where some of the girls from Columbus School for Girls, led by Christine Murakami and Dana Paine, were teaching a group of students eToys. I loved being in that room every day to work with the pupils and also ended up giving some short introductory lessons on various aspects of Sugar.

100_4105 Gifft Hill School pupils

Anyway, I finally got around to look at the photos I took on St. John and upload a bunch of them to the olpc realness summit 2010 album on Flickr. At the same time I’ve also started following up on some of the ideas discussed during the summit and I hope to see some progress made in that area over the coming weeks.

100_3958_stitch Maho Bay Panorama

More photos from Uruguay

I arrived in Paraguay’s capital Asunción last night and given that it is a Sunday I decided to go for some relaxing here at Casa de Innocenti (a.k.a. Beertarium). Among other things I spent some time looking at the photos I took over the past few days and uploaded several dozen of them to the Uruguay album. I always have a hard time choosing favorites but the ones below are some of nicer ones in my opinion.


Lunch is served


Awesome store front


Pupils in 3rd grade


Perfect light


Another sunset

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Photos from a weekend in Piriápolis

My weekend was spent hanging out in Piriápolis – a popular coastal town east of Montevideo - with my Uruguayan hosts Pablo & Micaela and Mark from Holland. It’s safe to say that the grand majority of the time was dedicated to purchasing, preparing and eating asado.

When we didn’t eat we mostly talked about OLPC, went for walks (where we talked about OLPC), read (mostly about OLPC stuff), and wrote (about OLPC related topics).

Can you see the pattern? Do I really need to explicitly say that a weekend focused on sharing asado and thoughts about OLPC with great company was amazing? :-)

Anyway, I just uploaded a bunch of photos from this weekend to Flickr and you can find them all here. In case you want to see the full Uurguay album then this is the link to click on.


/me is Apostle of the Apoxolypse

While taking a spin around the Web by checking some RSS feeds in Google Reader I saw that a new blog post called “Apostle of the Apoxolypse: Derndorfer's wandering star" had been published over on the OLPC blog. Not being quite sure what to expect I read the entry and basically couldn’t stop laughing all the way through. So obviously I’ll have to recommend you to read the entry which you can do here.

Thanks a lot SJ, you totally made my week!

apoxolypseLook ma, I'm on the Internet

Friday, July 16, 2010

eXpO fotos in Montevideo

Yesterday I went to see a photo exhibition here in Montevideo. That alone wouldn’t really be blog-worthy but what was special about this exhibition is that all the photos had been taken by Uruguayan pupils on their XOs (remember that in Uruguay every pupil who goes to a public primary school – about 400,000 – has received an XO as part of Plan Ceibal). I wrote up a quick, and photo-heavy, story with my impressions for olpcnews so I’d suggest you check out the article for more information and photos.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

First photos from Montevideo

After spending the majority of the day catching up on news, e-mails and arranging a bunch of meetings for the coming days I went out to wander around Montevideo for a bit. Unfortunately the light wasn't too good for taking photos however I think the ones I uploaded to the Uruguay set do give a decent first impression of what things look like around here.

House on Av. 18 de Julio

Monday, July 12, 2010

Phil Zimbardo - The Secret Powers of Time [video]

I stumbled across this video via the blog of Caterina Fake (a Flickr co-founder) and found it to be interesting in a number of dimensions. First of all I've been interested in the topic of time and how it's perceived differently by individuals and cultures for quite some time. Secondly the way the video is animated is simply spectacular and thereby really adds to the content that's being presented. After some quick googling I discovered that the video was prepared by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) and they provide a number of other videos that seem worthwhile watching (if only I had the time to watch them...;-). Thirdly the video is based on a lecture by psychologist Philip Zimbardo who, as I discovered via Wikipedia, is well known for being the brain behind the famous Standford prison experiment. To cut a long story short: I'd definitely recommend you to watch this 10min video, I promise it will be well worth your time.

P.S. Paul Graham's latest essay deals with "How to Lose Time and Money" and therefore complements this video quite nicely...

olpcnews South America road trip

Yes, I'm back on the road doing some traveling!! This time 'round I even have a name for my trip: the olpcnews South America road trip. While I'm not going to go into all the details here - this is what this olpcnews article is for - I'm going to be traveling through Uruguay, Paraguay, and Peru for the next 6 weeks to visit the OLPC projects in these countries. So while my focus will very much be on documenting my findings and impressions over on olpcnews I'll use this blog for posting my more personal and non-olpc ramblings.

For now I'm going to leave with you with a photo of Palacio Salvo here in Montevideo but rest assured that I'll be adding plenty of photos to my Flickr account over the coming days and weeks...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Google's Urs Holzle on speeding up the Web [video]

I stumbled across this video of Url Holzle, Google's Senior VP of Operations, talking about speeding up the Web at the Velocity 2010 conference over on Data Center Knowledge and found it to be absolutely fascinating!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jeff Bezos: "We are What We Choose"

I found these Baccalaureate remarks that Amazon's Jeff Bezos delivered to the Princenton Class of 2010 via @interfaced and found them to be quite inspiring. I've added a short teaser below but I'd really recommend you to read the whole speech:

My grandfather looked at me, and after a bit of silence, he gently and calmly said, "Jeff, one day you'll understand that it's harder to be kind than clever."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Entrepreneur State of Mind [video]

Since I'm already in blog-posting rather than getting-things-done mode I might as well post a third video. The YouTube description really says it all:

"It's a spoof of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' "Empire State of Mind," from the guys behind (thank you!). We made it because there's a new type of dork that is cooler than ever. Look at tech entrepreneurs, hipsters, Computer Science Barbie - they're all super popular new dorks!"

Everything is OK [video]

Speaking of great videos here's another one that recently caught my attention:

Isn't it absolutely hilarious?! This really is activism at its very best!! :-)

BP Spills Coffee [video]

I assume most of you know this one already but if you don't I'd really recommend you to watch it:

This is definitely one of those videos where you're not sure whether you're supposed to laugh or cry, right?

Monday, May 10, 2010

One Laptop per Child at GADI 2010

As I had previously mentioned back in March I gave a talk about OLPC in the “ICT and Society” (“Gesellschaftliche Aspekte der Informationstechnologie”) lecture series at Graz University of Technology. A recording of the 45min presentation (which I gave in German) is now available here and if you’re interested in a copy of the slides then please e-mail me.

Excellent article on Facebook

I just stumbled across the Facebook’s Gone Rogue; It’s Time for an Open Alternative article over on and think it’s a truly excellent summary of many of the reasons why I strongly believe that:

“Forget about spam, identity theft, black hats and December 21 2012. Facebook is what everyone today should really be afraid of.“

The reason why I find it so scary isn’t just the site’s ever increasing number of users (more than 400 million at the time of writing – that is more than 5% of the world’s population!). Rather it’s the fact that Facebook will set more than one precedent when it comes to how people use the Internet and think about privacy (online as well as offline) in this 21st century.

Hence to me Ryan Singel’s introductory sentence already make more sense than most of the stuff that all these social media experts normally babble about in the media and at conferences:

“Facebook has gone rogue, drunk on founder Mark Zuckerberg’s dreams of world domination. It’s time the rest of the web ecosystem recognizes this and works to replace it with something open and distributed.“

So next time before you post something on Facebook think about whether you really want a company with these kinds of Terms to own your data:

“For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos ("IP content"), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy  and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook ("IP License"). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”

Update (2010-05-10): Just stumbled across an excellent info-graphics called The Evolution of Privacy on Facebook by Matt McKeon and I’d really recommend you to take a look at it! (found via @mjollnir)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Crossing Europe 2010

As I’m sitting here on the train on my way back to Vienna I can’t help but think: “Wow, what an amazing festival it’s been!”. The festival in question was the 7th edition of what is undoubtedly the cultural highlight of my calendar: the Crossing Europe film-festival taking place in Linz, Upper Austria.

Even though I didn’t manage to see quite as many films as in previous years – I think that record is still 18 or 19 – I’ve never before been so satisfied with the program. Out of the 15 films which I saw since Thursday afternoon only 3 were absolutely disasters and the rest ranged between really good and absolutely amazing. In fact it’s never been harder for me to try and pick my favorite(s).

Having said that I think it’s safe to say that Zvonimir Jurić and Goran Dević definitely deserved winning the jury’s award for Crnci / The Blacks (Croatia). The movie is an excellent and thought-provoking account of a small Croatian special forces unit and its members’ emotional states during the last hours of the war in Yugoslavia.

Other films that I particularly liked were

Three other movies that deserve a special mention are:

  • South (Austria) for the filmmakers dedicating 12 years of their life to making it happen.
  • Kynodontas / Dogtooth (Greece) for being seriously, I mean very seriously disturbing (in that regard it’s right up there with Twentynine Palms which I saw at the first Crossing Europe).
  • Hadewijch (France) for simply being the most pointless and boring movie I have seen in my entire life.

(Incidentally I just found out that Twentynine Palms and Hadewijch are from the same writer/director…)

Apart from the movies itself the overall atmosphere at Crossing Europe is always awesome. I met a lot of people which I hadn’t since last year’s festival and a number of interesting folks from all around Europe.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed Crossing Europe 2010 and would like to thank all the people who made it happen!

You can find more information about Crossing Europe on the festival’s Web site, its blog and via @crossingeurope on Twitter.

P.S. Oh, and don’t forget about Crossing Europe 2011 taking place from April 12 through 17, 2011;-)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Jeff Jarvis @ TEDxNYed: This is bullshit

One of my favorite ways to spend spare time in the past 3 years has been to watch talks given at the annual TED conference. More recently TED has established a new format called TEDx which has enabled independent groups to organize TED-styled conferences all around the world. At one of these gatherings Jeff Jarvis gave a a great talk called “This is bullshit” and I’d thoroughly recommend watching it since it contains a lot of interesting thoughts and spot-on observations on both education and the news-media:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

this i don’t believe

Normally I use Twitter to share links but this comic from which I just found via Google Reader Play is just too good not to be reposted here:


Friday, April 2, 2010

Un jour... à Paris... ensembles pour OLPC et Sugar...

Back in mid-May 2009 many members of the European and North American Sugar and OLPC communities followed OLPC France’s invitation to attend Sugar Camp 2009 in Paris. As expected the meeting turned out to be a great success and it was literally one of the best weekends I had in 2009.

Laurence Buchmann, a French filmmaker, documented Sugar Camp 2009 by interviewing many participants and filming some of the activities going on there. The resulting 13 minute video called “Un jour... à Paris... ensembles pour OLPC et Sugar...” was now posted over on and I think it gives a great insight into and overview of both the Sugar project itself and the larger Sugar and OLPC communities.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Upcoming presentation at TU Graz on March 24

I’m really looking forward to next week as I’ll be spending 2 days in Graz. The main reason why I’m going is that I’ve again been invited to give a talk on OLPC as part of the “ICT and Society” (“Gesellschaftliche Aspekte der Informationstechnologie”) lecture series at Graz University of Technology. Apart from the really impressive set of speakers one of the coolest aspects of this yearly lecture series is that it’s also being livestreamed. So if you’re interested in watching my talk (which I’ll give in German) then mark your calendars and head over to at 4:15PM on Wednesday, March 24, and tune in. I’m also thinking about how to best integrate some sort of backstream so even remote participants can ask questions, most likely I’ll rely on Twitter and a public Google Wave to achieve that.

Apart from the presentation I’m also looking forward meeting the fine folks involved in the Austrian OLPC pilot project at Pädagogische Hochschule Steiermark again. Plus I’ll also get to meet some other friends and I’m pretty certain that I’ll spend at least one evening enjoying the great food and drinks at Sägewerk.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Millenium Learners Conference 2010

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across a tweet with an announcement that the "New Millenium Learners Conference 2010" would take place here in Vienna between February 22 and 24. I now spent the past 2 1/2 days at the conference which turned out to be really interesting and inspiring.

I won’t go into any further details here since I covered the conference in three quite extensive blog-posts over on day 1, day 2 and day 3.

As you can see over there I used quite extensively to broadcast and record the various sessions and I hope to be able to blog about my experience with it in the not-too-distant future.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Recently read (February 2010)

I haven't been too good when it comes to tackling the large number of unread books that are strewn all over my room. I did however read three of them in the recent months that I'd briefly like to talk about here:

I originally stumbled across "Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures" by Heidi Postlewait, Kenneth Cain and Andrew Thomson while wandering through a small bookstore in Kathmandu's Thamel area during my first week in Nepal last summer. Not being quite sure what to make of the title and the cover (see below) I forgot about it again until the book came up during a discussion with some Australian friends a couple of days later. Hearing that it was supposed to be an interesting read I put it on my Amazon wishlist and ordered it upon my return to Austria.

The book is basically a collective memoir by the three authors who met as recently joined and idealistic United Nations employees in Cambodia in the 1990s. Their accounts detail their involvement in various UN missions from Cambodia to Somalia, Rwanda, Haiti and Bosnia. The mood of the book changes dramatically as they describe their experiences ranging from the good life they often had in Cambodia, to personal losses and the nerve-wrecking experience of excavating the victims of massacres in Rwanda and Bosnia. Some of the descriptions, especially the ones related to the massacres, are indeed haunting. Overall the book provides an interesting insight into the lives and experiences of three dedicated individuals who each in their own way tries to make the world a better place. It was really hard for me to put the book down and so I finished it within two or three days.

I can't recall where or how I originally heard about Thomas Pynchon's "Inherent Vice". However when I was hanging out at the Thalia book store in Hamburg on my way home from Stockholm I saw the cover and remembered that the book was on my "to-be-read" list. After diving into the book for 30min I knew that it would make for a great holiday read. Turns out I was right because I really had a great time reading this novel which one comment on Amazon perfectly describes as:

"A hilarious cross between The Big Lebowski and Illuminatus! (the trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson & Robert Shea -- not to be confused with the similarly-titled bestseller), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Raymond Chandler novels."

BTW, this book isn't recommend for people who get annoyed by the word "groovy"!

Last but not least, the book that kept me up until 4AM last Monday was "The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders" by Emmanuel Guibert, Didier Lefevre and Frederic Lemercier. The book is a beautifully designed mixture of a graphic novel and photos taken by Didier Lefevre when he accompanied a team from Médecins sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) into northern Afghanistan in 1986. To say that the book is powerful would be quite the understatement. Its content and visual presentation combined with Lefevre's great photos are literally mind-blowing. For me this was also the first time I've seen such a mixture of illustrated and photographed panels and this makes it all the more memorable an experience. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who even has the faintest interest in travel photography, the work of MSF, Afghanistan and/or the account of a traveler on the journey of his life.

Next up on my reading list are Junot Díaz's "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" and "The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World" by John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan. I had started reading both books last year but never got around to finishing them.

Mmm, on the other hand William Gibson’s “Spook Country” and the famous “Freakonomics” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner have also been on my list for quite some time…

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nicely done video on OLE Nepal

Found this video on Twitter the other day and thought it’s worth sharing here:

Of course it doesn’t come close to my favorite OLPC feel-good video from about 2 years ago… ;-)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Interview with

At 26C3 Adrian (@amonter5) from (@meetforeal) did a short interview with me about OLPC, Sugar Labs and the current state of things. The video was posted earlier today and you can watch it below:

I have to say that I’m quite content with it except for the fact that I have to learn to suppress those “ammm“-s. Oh, and next time I should also consider putting on some make-up before an interview because you can see every minute of sleep deprivation in those bags under my eyes… :-D

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Stuart McMillen – Part of Nature

While catching up on some tweets I stumbled across the amazing "Part of Nature" comic by Stuart McMillen. I’d definitely recommend looking at it as it nicely sums up many of the main issues when it comes to topics such as climate change, resource consumption, sustainability, etc.

P.S. McMillen’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death” comic is also well worth seeing.