Friday, December 28, 2007

The XO Laptop, Higher Education & Mesh

My XO continues to amaze me. I haven't had as much time as I would like to spend on it, but I am continually impressed each time I use it. One thing I have learned for sure- my little green machine has an incredible wireless range (approx. 3 times that of most laptops). I was in a Peet's Coffee shop two days ago, which had no wireless connection for their customers, along with two others who were working on their laptops, but not online. It took me two minutes to connect to an open wireless network a couple of blocks away. Others looked perplexed when they saw what appeared to be a green and white toy machine connected to the Internet, which they could not access. I told them that the next time they were able to get online they should google "One Laptop Per Child" and learn how to get the most advanced technology available. And that's what I want to discuss in this post.

I plan to meet up with a couple other XO laptop owners soon so we can all mesh. What is mesh? Well, here's my earlier post on the mesh network to check out if you are unfamiliar with the term. Be sure to watch the short video.

Now I'm not a techie by any means so keep that in mind, but I'm trying to understand some things. Why don't our expensive computers contain mesh networks? Doesn't this make perfect sense, especially in the context of higher education? Isn't collaboration more important than ever when it comes to research? Once I saw how the mesh network worked, I imagined the students at my university using this technology for course projects (with profs and librarians meshing right in the middle of them and assisting as they work), and then I imagined university students from all over the country being able to mesh, and then I thought of the global community. It blows my mind that a computer that cost under $200. to build contains these advanced open source technologies. Is open source the answer? If so, why isn't higher ed totally embracing the open source community? Maybe even leading in the open source movement? Perhaps this is already happening and I'm simply unaware? Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated!

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