Contender for Most Insane Tech Article of the Year: “Why the OLPC Promotes Terrorism”

by Joey deVilla on January 21, 2008

Panel from a “Batman” comic with Batman in a sensory deprivation tank as Lex Luthor says “He is completely out of touch with reality…alone with only his breathing!”
Really, the article is this out of touch with reality.

If you’re looking to both laugh and cry at the same time, looking no farther than an article written by Robert Graham in the Errata Security blog titled Why the OLPC Promotes Terrorism, which should be a contender for the most insane tech article of the year. It’s so filled with the type of over-the-top pronouncements that one normally sees on extreme right-wing blogs that I had to reread to make sure that it wasn’t parody, and even now I’m not 100% sure. (Next to this article, Zed’s rant sounds rather restrained.)

OLPC displaying Osama Bin laden on its screen

The article’s two main points is that the OLPC is evil because:

  • The design of the OLPC reflects the needs of its creators rather than its users, which to rob third-world children of their dignity.
  • It’s a tool to indoctrinate third-world children into the preferred ideology of its designers, which is rabidly communist.

The article has:

  • Bizarro statements: “The processor is more than fast enough to run software written in capitalistic programming languages like C++, but the majority of the user interface is written in slow left-wing languages like Python.”
  • Reasoning that would make Bill O’Reilly proud: Graham states that features like mesh networking feature are meant to reinforce the notion that individualism is bad and socialism is good.
  • A pointless conclusion: “Yet, at its core, it’s still a computer than people can use to hack the United States. It is a weapon that can attack our nation’s infrastructure much more effectively than a gun would. Here is a picture of us installing Metasploit on it” — as if Metasploit only ran on the OLPC.

Graham’s preferred machine for the third world? Intel’s Classmate PC: “[It] runs the same Windows or Linux desktops that everyone else in the world uses. Intel’s computer has no enforced educational agenda. It doesn’t have communist software on it, yet the children collaborate with each other anyway without software forcing them to.”

Graham’s article has a couple of things I agree with:

  • The OLPC is not without its problems and is not above criticism
  • I don’t see anything wrong with Intel releasing a competing machine, in spite of Negroponte’s huffing and puffing to the contrary

…but for the most part, it’s FOX News-style insanity. If you’re a techie looking for a laugh, Graham’s article is the place to go today.

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