Green Gifts, meet the XO laptop

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Green Gifts application iconLast month, we launched a new Facebook application for BC Hydro, called Green Gifts. It's a virtual gift-giving app with a twist of sustainability: a conservation tip that accompanies each virtual gift and friend-to-friend message.

So far, it's been a lot of fun. The launch was accompanied by a daily prize, awarded randomly to a Green Gifts user; our client gave away everything from hand-cranked lanterns to iPod Nanos with solar chargers.

Today, though, things took an interesting turn. With the end of the daily contest, we've announced a new prize... and a new Green Gift to accompany it.

It's the XO laptop:

In 2002, MIT Professor Nicholas Negroponte experienced first-hand how connected laptops transformed the lives of children and their families in a remote Cambodian village. A seed was planted: If every child in the world had access to a computer, what potential could be unlocked? What problems could be solved? These questions eventually led to the foundation of One Laptop per Child, and the creation of the XO laptop.

XO laptop iconYou may remember it as the hundred-dollar-laptop initiative. That figure turned out to be too low to deliver the level of connectivity and computing power the foundation wanted to put into kids' hands... but they were able to pull it off for twice the amount.

It has a Linux-based operating system with a specially-designed interface geared to kids. The keyboard is built for a child's hands. There's no hard drive and no optical drive; it uses WiFi to ferry data to and from the outside world. Spill-proof, drop-proof and as child-proof as a laptop can reasonably be made, the XO won't win any awards as a performance whiz... but it has the potential to make a big difference for a lot of kids.

Here's where folks in the developed world come in: until November 26th, we can buy an XO laptop for the kids in our lives. You pay $399, which pays for both the laptop you'll receive and a laptop for a child in the developing world. (You'll also receive a $200 tax receipt.)

So the idea at Green Gifts is that, between now and the 26th, you can send a virtual XO laptop to your Facebook friends... along with a tip that tells them about the XO (which is a sustainability marvel; you can charge its battery with a pull cord or a solar charger, and its power draw is meager) along with a link to buy one (or, more accurately, two).

Which is why BC Hydro is buying an XO, too, to be awarded to a lucky Green Gifts user after Nov. 26th. And while the folks at One Laptop Per Child will probably be happy to get BC Hydro's cheque, that's not the point of the exercise.

The real point is awareness, and giving people an opportunity to contribute to a worldwide effort to make a real difference for kids.

As we build online communities and program in the latest bells and whistles, it's easy to forget that, for many people, the killer feature is the opportunity to change the world for the better – even if it's just in some small way.


Tom2000 says

April 13, 2009 - 5:42am

Hi I really thankful to you because you are simply great. I am very happy to post my comment in
this blog. I gathered lot of information from this site. I took advantage of the G1G1 program and have had one for a while now and recently had a “geek” session with Brian Jepson of HackZine and O’Reilly. Brian is a seasoned geek and a quality Linux hacker, so we had a good time playing around with the XO. I should also mention that we generated some interest in our local Panera as we completely took over an area by a fireplace and had some strange gadgetry flying high.Nice blog.




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