Day 1 at “Open Minds” – Too much but not enough!

After my first official full day at the Open Minds conference I can officially say that I am totally blown away.  The culture and climate of the community supporting and using free and open Source software in K12 education is amazing.  This are passionate people that are not going away.  I think what the State of Indiana has done with great success is a true sign of what is to come.

More to come but for now check out our keynote speaker’s website:  mako.cc

See what Indiana has done:  http://www.doe.state.in.us/technology/inaccess.html

Free Culture Manifesto

After attending the Open Minds conference and having some time to relfect, I feel comfortable saying I have officially drunk the kool-aid!  I think this manifesto from the Larry Lessig inspired FreeCulture.org sums some of it up:

FreeCulture.org Manifesto

The mission of the Free Culture movement is to build a bottom-up, participatory structure to society and culture, rather than a top-down, closed, proprietary structure. Through the democratizing power of digital technology and the Internet, we can place the tools of creation and distribution, communication and collaboration, teaching and learning into the hands of the common person — and with a truly active, connected, informed citizenry, injustice and oppression will slowly but surely vanish from the earth.

We believe that culture should be a two-way affair, about participation, not merely consumption. We will not be content to sit passively at the end of a one-way media tube. With the Internet and other advances, the technology exists for a new paradigm of creation, one where anyone can be an artist, and anyone can succeed, based not on their industry connections, but on their merit.

We refuse to accept a future of digital feudalism where we do not actually own the products we buy, but we are merely granted limited uses of them as long as we pay the rent. We must halt and reverse the recent radical expansion of intellectual property rights, which threaten to reach the point where they trump any and all other rights of the individual and society.

The freedom to build upon the past is necessary for creativity and innovation to thrive. We will use and promote our cultural heritage in the public domain. We will make, share, adapt, and promote open content. We will listen to free music, look at free art, watch free film, and read free books. All the while, we will contribute, discuss, annotate, critique, improve, improvise, remix, mutate, and add yet more ingredients into the free culture soup.

We will help everyone understand the value of our cultural wealth, promoting free software and the open-source model. We will resist repressive legislation which threatens our civil liberties and stifles innovation. We will oppose hardware-level monitoring devices that will prevent users from having control of their own machines and their own data.

We won’t allow the content industry to cling to obsolete modes of distribution through bad legislation. We will be active participants in a free culture of connectivity and production, made possible as it never was before by the Internet and digital technology, and we will fight to prevent this new potential from being locked down by corporate and legislative control. If we allow the bottom-up, participatory structure of the Internet to be twisted into a glorified cable TV service — if we allow the established paradigm of creation and distribution to reassert itself — then the window of opportunity opened by the Internet will have been closed, and we will have lost something beautiful, revolutionary, and irretrievable.

The future is in our hands; we must build a technological and cultural movement to defend the digital commons.
 

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Day 0 at “Open Minds” – I met the ASUS Eee PC

I just arrived in Indianapolis for the “K-12 Open Minds Conference”. The conference keynote and sessions begin tomorrow but I got a chance to swing thru the vendor area tonight and I got my first shot at the ASUS Eee PC. I first read about the Eee a few months back. I have since ordered one to test it out. I am very excited about this little machine.

1) Form factor – It is small, but to be fair it is billed as a sub-notebook. I wouldn’t want to use it for 8 hours a day with the smaller scratch pad and keyboard but if I were in 4th grade it would be perfect.
2) Linux/Intel – It runs Linux. It can also run Windows. The customized Linux version is built with the student in regards to software and configuration. No reason you couldn’t put your own OS of choice on it.
3) Speedy – It ran OpenOffice and FireFox on a free Sheraton wifi network very smoothly.
4) VGA output – With a VGA connector and 2 USB ports on the right side you could easily plug into a montior and full size keyboard/mouse. The native resolution is 800×480 but I was told bu ASUS that it will go 1024×768 on a separate monitor.
5) Multimedia – Built in mic and webcam!!
6) Expandability – You can upgrade the 512MB of RAM or you can add to the built in 2 or 4GB flash drive thru the SD slot.
7) Price – $250-$350 (depending on camera and memory options)

I am excited with what could be done with this machine in the hands of students. The price is low enough for schools to afford (we spend the same amount for a PDA or Alphasmart) and/or for parents to afford on a regular basis and there is no compromising functionality. Yes, the keyboard and drive and other features are “smaller” but it is a fully functioning laptop.

I was very impressed with this machine. Even more impressed that this is only rev. 1. I can’t wait until mine arrives!

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