[Olpc-open] Vo initiative

KARA SPRINGER karaspringer at rogers.com
Thu May 10 10:11:41 EDT 2007

Hi,  I'm a new mailing list member.  

I'm working on a master's thesis project at ensci in
paris called Vo - Version Originale/ Voice Over.   Vo
is a web 2.0 based culture sharing initiative.  What
it addresses is the possible displacement of
traditional forms of learning and passing on of
knowledge and culture in communities that will have a
rather sudden shift into new technology - kids and
young adults who will suddenly be engaging with a
really exciting new world of information coming almost
exclusively from non-local sources in non-native
languages with the introduction of the XO laptops.  

Vo would facilitate the digitalization of work from
local artists and storytellers into a network of
personal pages and discussion threads.  Users will be
able to view the work (mostly in the form of video
clips) and to interact with it in a few different

i)  post comments, points of discussion, or questions
to the author of the work

ii)  tag the clip  - attach the clip to alternate
discussion pages.  For example, a user might see a
South African playwright reading an excerpt of one of
his works on a page whose discussion topic is
'Apartheid in South Africa', and decide to attach the
same clip to a discussion of 'Post-Colonial
Literature'.  A breakdancer who begins a discussion of
'Hip Hop in Buenos Aires' might later have her clips
appear in a discussion of 'Latin American Performance
Art', or even a page on 'Girl Power' if a community
member decided to start that thread.

ii)  translation  - on the programming side, Vo is
planning to develop web-based software that allows
users to upload their video onto a simple graphic
timeline, into which subtitles can be added.  The
original author or another user would offer an
original language scripting of the work on the
timeline, after which other users could translate the
script line by line so that it would play in real time
alongside the video footage.  The translation would be
collectively generated and edited wikipedia style -
with the original author being notified of all
language additions to their work.  

Any user would be able to contribute their own work
and ideas - the site will be completely open.  Clips
will remain online only as long as they are active –
being regularly viewed and/or tagged by users.  This
system would act to filter out non-relevant material
without excluding anyone from posting freely on the

The plan is to spend the next year gathering a
preliminary set of material for the site through
location based workshops while the project and the
programming are in development.  A pilot group of
culturally diverse artists and academics will be
invited to participate in a workshop in Toronto, CA
next month - digitalizing their work and discussing
the format of the site and its interactive components,
as well as to give insights and feedback on the
cultural implications of the project.  The next
workshop will happen in July in Johannesburg, SA
(possibly Capetown) where again a group of local
artists, academics, etc. will be invited to digitalize
their work and discuss the context of it's content or
creation, as well as to engage with a preliminary
interface design of the platform.

The idea is to get young adults and community members
actively engaging in the ideas coming out of their own
as well as international communities - constructing
discussion forums of their own topics of interest and
contributing translations in their native languages. 
I think the XO initiative is incredibly positive in
terms of education and access to information
resources, and that it's important that this isn't a
one-way flooding of developing nations with outside
sources, but rather taken as the opportunity that it
could be for real cultural exchange of first-person
stories, experiences, and voices.

This is a project that should be linked to local media
collectives as well as to existing open-source
educational resources.  for example, discussion
threads could be linked to open courseware at MIT or
UWC so that students (and non-students) whose interest
is piqued by seeing creative explorations of a topic
in the form of dance or spoken word or theatre, could
then check out more structured course material.

I'm looking for any and all feedback, direction,
hookups to people who might be interested or useful
for the realization of this project - also hookups to
olpc itself since it's positioned in direct response
to their initiative.  Vo is in a relatively
preliminary stage of development and it needs to
ultimately be a very collaborative effort since there
are so many people working to address these issues
with so many different approaches.  Above all, I'd
welcome any and all questions - answering them will be
a great help in sorting through a lot of defining

Thanks for any input you've got,


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