[IAEP] Peru, OLPC and Wikipedia

C. Scott Ananian cscott at cscott.net
Wed May 12 14:39:16 EDT 2010

On Tue, May 11, 2010 at 3:39 PM, Martin Langhoff
<martin.langhoff at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Mon, May 10, 2010 at 11:49 PM,  <forster at ozonline.com.au> wrote:
>> the interviewed social Darwinist is Robert Wright, the author of  Nonzero
>> http://www.nonzero.org/
>> The filmmaker is Righteous Pictures http://righteouspictures.com/
>> Wright seems to believe that there is a higher purpose to biological
>> and social evolution, that in some way, we will be fulfilling our
>> destiny if we become one globalised culture.
> When I watched the videos, I did get a similar feeling of concern. And
> Robert Wright's answers can be read as neo-social-darwinist. But note
> the "can be read"... I am not sure if he is actually darwinist;
> reading his book right after reading Guns, Germs and Steel may lead to
> a completely different perspective.

"Concern" would be too strong for me.  My personal reaction was, "wow,
great to see the OLPC being used for education" and then "yeah, blah
blah, the web will transform us all blah blah whatever".  The
filmmaker has a thesis -- the web allows the next stage of evolution,
or something like that -- and I don't fault him for that: what makes
art interesting is when it goes beyond presenting facts to instead
build an idea, even if it's an idea you personally don't agree with or
find compelling.  After all, "Mother Courage" is a great play by
Brecht, whether you agree with Brechtian ideology or not.

Anyway, the film incidentally documents a powerful use of the OLPC
computers to allow kids to educate themselves (and if you think that
allowing them to read Wikipedia is cultural imperialism, no one's
stopping you from building better resources and/or editing the
articles).  For allowing me a moving glimpse of another world, I liked
it a lot.  As to whether or not the filmmaker's thesis is compelling
(or offensive -- after all, art is powerless if it cannot offend at
times) -- well, this clip is obviously a very abbreviated version of
the filmmaker's argument.  I'm willing to wait and see the whole
thing, rather than judging the "executive summary".  But that in the
end would be an artistic, not a "factual", evaluation.

                         ( http://cscott.net/ )

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