[Grassroots-l] localized or "international" keyboard ?

s.boutayeb at free.fr s.boutayeb at free.fr
Mon Jun 9 17:43:49 EDT 2008

The difficulty in this discussion is to understand that we are dealing here with
a subjective issue: while it's fully understandable, from a cost perspective and
for rationalisation purposes, to unify an industrial product like the XO, the
deployment of laptops in countries with unusual keyboard dispositions will fail
with no doubt.

Let me give you a real world example: a few days ago, our grassroot organisation
"OLPC France" experimented the first program called "Discovery action" which
consisted in  lending a "demo set" with one XO, some documentation, etc. to a
school. This is a very small action, but we are confident, that we will manage
very soon to undertake greater actions with more XOs and more partners.

So, the first school teacher, a very capable and experimented person, discovered
the XO (may be one of the first XOs in a school in France) with her pupils aged
6-7 years, last Saturday. They played around with the funny green laptop, for
example with the Speak activity and were surprised by the funny guy saying
"petit ours" whith the funny accent.

Today, two days later, it's the school director's turn, who will be
experimenting with the XO for one or two more days. But, before the teacher gave
the XO to her "director", she said: "anyway, this will not work". "- What do you
mean?". "You know, it's not an AZERTY type keyboard."
Azerty referring to the layout of the French keyboard.
To understand the reaction of this smart teacher is that whe have to deal with
irrational persons who will stick to their habits.

Consequently, yes localized keyboards are indispensable, but if rational
considerations conduct to the decisions to ship standard keyboards to all
countries, the responsability of the local grassroots communities and the
partners whith wich they will manage to work on this issue will be to adapt an
inadequate product to irrational people (we have not other product and no other
people). We'll have to deal with that irrationalism, paradoxally, especially
here in France, in the country of rationalism. Either through local repair
centers either with localization sets including a screwdriver, a spare keyboard
or with a printing solution...

Finally, we have to be capable to say to this teacher and to the numerous people
who might support the project with fundings, etc., that she will receive for her
class XOs with an AZERTY-keyboard.

Whatever the OLPC foundation will decide on this respect, we will contribute,
here in Europe, with our scarcy resources, to make the future of the XO a
success and will try to convince the people here that the XO is still a great
product, despite of some misconceptions. Will we succeed? With more or less
difficulty, but yes, hopefully!

Best regards,


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