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Digital Humanities in Latin America$
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Héctor Fernández L'Hoeste and Juan Carlos Rodríguez

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781683401476

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9781683401476.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 27 September 2021

The Media Machine

The Media Machine

One Laptop per Child in Paraguay

(p.38) 2 The Media Machine
(p.iii) Digital Humanities in Latin America

Morgan Ames

University Press of Florida

This chapter examines one of the largest interventions in computer-based learning currently underway, the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project. Started in 2005 by people from the MIT Media Lab, this project distributed more than 2.5 million laptops worldwide, over 80 percent of them in Latin America. Drawing on 2010 and 2013 fieldwork investigating a project in Paraguay with 10,000 of OLPC’s “XO” laptops, the chapter explores the ways in which the children who were meant to be the primary beneficiaries interpreted leisure laptop use as “learning.” It also shows that the most captivating uses of the laptops were not “productive” or programming-centric, as OLPC’s developers hoped, but “consumptive” and media-centric, focused on music, videos, and video games. It discusses the learning benefits and drawbacks of this use, as understood by participants and in light of education research, and in light of the broader context of transnational corporations interested in marketing to these children. In the process, it weighs OLPC’s utopian dreams against the interests of the child beneficiaries, concerns of media imperialism, and a potential shift in the meaning of computers.

Keywords:   Child beneficiaries, Media, OLPC, One Laptop per Child, Paraguay, Postcolonial computing, Media imperialism, Utopian

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