the screen generation, part 3

part 1 (written in 2007, published as textfile #412 of the Cult of the Dead Cow)

part 2 (a follow up, 5 years later, published 2012 on the Shituationist Institute)

and now part 3 (first published on

On cargo cult and gadget cult.

„Rather than give out laptops (they‘re actually Motorola Zoom tablets plus solar chargers running custom software) to kids in schools with teachers, the OLPC Project decided to try something completely different: it delivered some boxes of tablets to two villages in Ethiopia, taped shut, with no instructions whatsoever. Just like, ‚hey kids, here’s this box, you can open it if you want, see ya!‘“ Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction

the OLPC (one laptop per child) project found, that if you give learning technologies to kids, they learn something. what a surprise…

but the experiment went like this: people who are poor and thus excluded from education learned very fast how to handle a hightech device by motorola. after a short period of time the kids knew how to write in english, they learnt it by using the devices, and taught it also to their parents. dropping some fragments of wealth and then leaving the people alone with it, in the past from this came cargo cults (see WP for some documentations), religious practices, that fixed themselves to the technologies of transmission, resulting for example in cultist statues, that resemble the planes that drop relief items. connected to this would be the gadget cult. people who learn at a screen, don‘t just learn, they also learn how to be a screen worker. the difference to just placing children in front of a TV would be that these new screens have more interactive interfaces. instead of just being able to switch channels, now the kids can choose apps. but how similiar that is, that’s also a sad side of the project: instead of just giving access to high-tech, another cult was served, the app cult. it wasn‘t planned to teach the kids how to handle computers, but they should become users of very specific software. the kids didn‘t stick to this regulation, apparently they hacked their devices. it’s nice that this happened, but we wouldn‘t have needed this experiment to see that the app cult can be stopped. this is proven every day everywhere, by the speed in which every locked device is given mod-chips and jailbreak-codes.

3 thoughts on “the screen generation, part 3

  1. Pingback: highlights on the shituationist blog 2013 | the shituationist institute

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  3. Pingback: The screen generation, indonesian translation « €£

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