Around the world, something quite extraordinary is happening. Muslim and Hindu, Shiite and Sunni and Sufi, religious and secular, Pakistani and Afghan, are united in praying for the swift and complete recovery of Malala, who is called, “beloved,” “The Ambassador of Peace and Education,” “braveheart,” “the brilliant brain,” “saviour of girls.” Pakistan and Afghanistan have both held special ceremonies and a national day of prayer. People have been photographed in the streets with tears running down their faces. We see pictures of girls holding up signs saying, “I am Malala.”
Though she has been transformed by myth and the coincidence of her name to the national heroine of Afghanistan, Malalai of Marwand, we should not forget that Malala is a 14-year-old girl with dear friends and a loving family whose hearts ache for her.
My Malalai is living, and they praise others’ beauty.
Though they have eyes, they are blind.
“When gun-toting men stopped their school wagon in Mingora last Tuesday around 12.45 p.m. asking for Malala Yousafzai, none of the three girls inside spoke. This, despite the terrorists threatening to shoot all of them if they did not identify Malala.
Today, stirred by the braveheart, who dared to stand up to the Taliban, and her friends, Shazia and Kainat, who refused to identify her even under threat, girls across Pakistan are saying ‘I am Malala.’
This is happening not just on the social media – which offers a degree of anonymity and security – but also on television and on the streets; some with their faces uncovered. ‘I-am-Malala’ has been trending not just in Pakistan but also in Afghanistan where girls’ education is equally at risk from the very same elements.
On Saturday, the Afghanistan Education Ministry organised a nationwide prayer for her at schools. She is being likened to ‘Malalai of Maiwand,’ the ‘Afghan Joan of Arc’ who rallied the Pashtun army against the British in 1880.”
Friends of Pakistani girl shot by Taliban vow ‘never to be subdued by militants
Malala Yousafzai: a young Pakistani heroine
OVER A COFFEE : Attacking Malala: the soul of Pakistan — Dr Haider Shah
Copyright © 2012 Henry Edward Hardy
Nasty UNdispatch blog attack on One Laptop per Child — a response
image copyright (C) Henry Edward Hardy 2008, 2009
Undispatch, which says it receives part of its funding from the United Nations Foundation, has published an attack on the One Laptop per Child project on its website titled “One Laptop per Child – The Dream is Over” at http://www.undispatch.com/node/8859.
The blog, which says it is by Alanna Shaikh, makes several criticisms of the OLPC project.
I served as systems administrator for OLPC from February 2008 until January 2009 and continue to volunteer for the project because I think it is one of the most wonderful and laudable development projects ever attempted, despite the many setbacks and disappointments it has endured in trying to fundamentally change world-wide education, development, and the laptop market.
I wrote a response to UNDispatch two days ago on their blog site. My response did not appear. I wrote to UNDispatch to ask for them to approve my post, and provided them with a copy. It still did not appear.
A response from OLPC Chairman and founder Nicholas Negroponte was published on the UNDispatch site today.
Here is my initial response which I submitted to Alanna Sheikh’s blog post on UNdispatch (with slight editing for typos and to add live links):
This blog post makes several questionable and false statements. And it has a generally nasty and condescending tone which makes me rather sad.
OLPC did not “abandon” human power sources, however conventional wired electricity, generators or in some cases, solar power are much more efficient. Making children do hard physical labor to power their computer is not such a great idea. The hand crank was fragile and did not provide enough power. However, foot-treadle devices such as can be used to power a truck battery work reasonably well.
OLPC has not “abandoned the special child-friendly OS”. It has shipped approximately 700,000+ units with Sugar and perhaps 7,000 with Windows (my unofficial estimates). OLPC has provided funding and support for SugarLabs to continue this free software development work, and Sugar is available as a desktop on any Fedora or Red Hat desktop post Fedora 10. The number of XO laptops sold for poor countries is about ten times the total number sold though the several “Give One Get One” promotions in North America and Europe.
The idea that the laptops were developed without end user input is patently false. There is an active and vocal community of OLPC users thoughout the world who participate — see http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Participate through the OLPC wiki at http://wiki.laptop.org and many locally-based organizations. Among these are Plan Ceibal in Uruguay, Open Learning Exchange Nepal, and OLPC Rwanda. A partial list of regional groups can be found at http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Regional_groups . There are many local grassroots small deployments in dozens of countries. Last night at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society Open House we heard about a local grassroots deployment in Haiti spearheaded by Kevin Wallen(sp?) and Helene Dietrich(sp?) and the tremendous empowerment and social transformation and pride it has brought in that community.
The phrase “to call a spade a spade” has rather unfortunate racist connotations and seems singularly inappropriate on this UN blog.
OLPC pioneered the netbook market. It has set an unequaled standard in simplicity of maintenance, low power consumption, ruggedness and durability, high quality screen, long-range dual wireless capability, use of free and open source software, and openness to community collaboration. Designing and developing the hardware, software, applications, distributing the computers, and coordinating the hundreds of local initiatives was done by no more than 23 employees (at one time) including me.
Hundreds of volunteers work on the OLPC project through developing applications, answering end-user tickets via the support gang, helping administer the back-end infrastructure through the Volunteer Infrastructure Group and many other initiatives.
The XO has brought joy, pride and a window on the world for hundreds of thousands of children in poor and working class communities throughout the world. Although I left OLPC in January, I am very proud of the work we have done and consider the year that I spent there as systems administrator to have been the high point of my life intellectually, educationally, and morally.
Henry Edward Hardy
speaking only for myself
My letter to the editor of UNDispatch:
To whom it may concern,
I am the former senior systems administrator for One Laptop per Child. I am writing to draw your attention to a very problematic post appearing on your site, “One Laptop per Child – The Dream is Over”. I posted a response and correction two days ago, but your moderators have not yet approved it.
While a OLPC employee, I had the privilege of working with UNICEF at the UN in New York on the “our stories” project on March 29-30 2008 and the UN staff could not have been more supportive, cordial, or helpful. See http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Story_Jam_New_York/Results#Report_by_Henry_Edward_Hardy
So it is very disappointing to see such a vindictive, hostile, and inaccurate report appearing on a blog financed at least in part by the United Nations Foundation.
I look forward to my response as submitted two days ago being approved and appearing on the site today.
Henry Edward Hardy
senior systems administrator, One Laptop per Child 2008-2009
speaking only for myself
As of this posting, I have yet to receive a response from UNDispatch or to see my response posted on their site.
In Defense of OLPC and the XO Laptop
Negroponte’s Response to UN Dispatch: Dream is Alive
Could One Laptop Per Child be a bad thing?
Debate About Computer Program for Impoverished Students
OLPC: criticisms and a defense
Copyright © 2009 Henry Edward Hardy
This is taken from a response I made on a mailing list discussing technical means of implementing “filtering”, or computerized censorship, of children’s access to the internet in a school environment.
I’m a bit disturbed when I hear people using the euphemism “filtering” for automated, computerized censorship. I understand there may be legislative or political mandates. However, we should never talk about this as though it is a good or desirable or acceptable thing.
I realize this may be seen as off topic from the merely technical discussion of how to implement computerized censorship, but when we calmly discuss technicalities of something which is obviously wrong without questioning it, then the discussion needs to be aired.
“Filtering” is what you do to the water in a fish tank. “Censorship” is when a state or quasi-state agency proscribes and limits access to certain classes of written material.
Here are a few tests we should apply to any such proposed system.
Does it allow access to information about “Romeo and Juliet”? (Underage sex, gang-oriented violence, suicide, murder)
Does it allow access to “Huckleberry Finn” (Slavery, frequent use of the word “nigger”)
Does it allow access to “The Catcher in the Rye” (Use of “fuck”, blasphemy, drinking, smoking, lying, promiscuity, implied pederasty)
Does it allow access to “Heather has Two Mommies” (Lesbianism)
Does it allow access to “Our Bodies, Ourselves” (Information about human health, sex and sexuality)
Does it allow access to “Slaughterhouse-Five” (Genocide, strategic bombing, sex)
Does it allow access to “Of Mice and Men” (Retardation, sex, rape, murder)
Does it allow access to “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Sexual roles, patriarchy, racism, and theocracy)
Does it allow access to “The Kite Runner” (Homosexuality, rape)
Does it allow access to “His Dark Materials” (Anti-state, anti-catholic, magic and witchcraft)
Does it allow access to “One Hundred Years of Solitude” (Alchemy, murder, debauchery)
Does it allow access to “1984” (Torture, illicit sex, anti-state and anti-party politics)
Does it allow access to “Canterbury Tales” (Promiscuity, anti-clericalism)
Does it allow access to “The Decameron” (Anti-state, anti-Catholic and general ribaldry, such as the Third Day, Tenth Story, “How to put the Devil in Hell”)
And in terms of websites particularly,
Sites which criticize the ruling party or government.
Sites which criticize or parody the predominant religion.
Blogs, in general
And classes of internet services such as
Peer-to-peer file-sharing services such as Bittorrent, EMule, Gnutella
In general, censorship is bad and morally wrong; and automated, computerized censorship especially so; and we should never refer to it by a purpose-made and innocuous-sounding term like “filtering” or treat it as though it is morally or pedagogically acceptable.
What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books.
–Sigmund Freud, 1933
Copyright © 2009 Henry Edward Hardy
Here’s a new promotional slideshow/video from One Laptop Per Child:
NB: I am the sysadmin for OLPC.
Copyright © 2008 Henry Edward Hardy