Christmas morning in our home was extraordinary. It seems as though everyone was thrilled with their gifts and general mood was absolutely wonderful.
Brian and Nick, our 8 year old twin boys, were the recipients of the XO machines (with one left over for Dad to play with). My reasons for this approach were detailed in my last post.
I was fully prepared to be absolutely wrong about my assumptions, but it looks like I was right about most of them. And there were a few surprises as well. You should read the last post about the details of my family, but to say that we had mayhem on Christmas morning is a bit understated. So, I couldn't really keep track of what everyone was doing, and I did lose track of what Brian and Nick did initially with their laptops.
I do know that Nick opened the box and promptly 'poured' the XO out of the open end onto the floor! Well, the first test passed... whew... it had no impact on the operation. When Brian saw that Nick got a 'laptop', he promptly dived under the tree to find his - nearly knocking over the entire tree.
About an hour later, I found both boys up in their room, 'playing' with their XO's. With absolutely no help from Dad, they were chatting with each other, and had already made a little video of themselves! I was more than a little impressed, in fact I was blown away! I guess this is pretty intuitive.
Being 8 year old boys, they were pretty easily distracted, but have spent a fair amount of time with the XO. They showed me some things I failed to find, on my first pass of the machine (and I've owned a software company for 20 years and have a computer science degree!). Now, it seems to have fallen into that lull place, but I think that has more to do with some other gifts they received, than to do with a lack of excitement about their 'laptops'.
My impressions as to why the older kids wouldn't want these machines were also born out. In fact, when I tried to explain the 'philanthropic' nature of the OLPC project, the older guys seemed somewhat unimpressed. I did think that they would 'get' that, and it might make them more interested in owning one, but alas, they didn't 'get it' at all. They thought it was cool that Brian & Nick got their laptops, and figured that without AIM, iTunes, and Word, they wouldn't use them anyway.
When I get a little more time, I'll post my own impressions. But, the take away for me is that kids can really use this machine with little or now help from adults. I read in a CNN story yesterday that there were concerns that the kids would overwhelm the teachers in developing countries. I can really see how that could happen. These are impressive little machines whose technology will provide some wonderful opportunities to the worlds children. I think that Nicholas Negraponte should be a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. I wouldn't be surprised to see that come up in more blog entries in the next year!