Responding to Rayvon Fouché’s “From Black Inventors to One Laptop Per Child”
In this chapter, Rayvon Fouche conveys information about African Americans and their connection with technology. Throughout history, African Americans have been depicted as “lazy” through the various examples Fouche conveys. “It is a well-known fact that the horse hay rake was first invented by a lazy negro who had a big hay field to rake and didn’t want to do it by hand”. (61). Fouche implements information from the past in order to provide better understanding to what drove the OLPC movement. For example, he uses the black inventor myth and race and technology to discuss how African Americans have helped mold and shape technology today. Through this history he provided, we get a better understanding of how technology was made and how it segregated people. It also sheds light on the digital divide and basically how America has brought it home and now wants to help influence the world do the same. Later in the chapter you see that not everyone thinks like America.
Now, focusing more on how the “nostalgia of in-need others to be saved” connects to technology. There was a part in the chapter where Fouche says how “there is an era that produces digital devices that nostalgically reference analog technologies and a nostalgia of in need ethnic others to be saved” (62). He also mentions that “technology and race is structured by the new forms of segregation, a newly defined scientific foundation for rebirth of race and digital technological aid for the developing world” (70). Fouche provides the reader with an example of the SLR cameras and how they are similar to the analog ones. This right away ties in with our culture. We are at a day and age where old or pretty much anything that’s outside the cultural mainstream is considered cool and trendy. Take for example VSCO or Instagram. These apps contain filters such as: Sepia, Willow, Gingham, Slumber and other grainy filters to make the user’s image appear “old.” While this enthusiasm for “old” may be short lived (maybe) I think my generation feels a sense of unity and strength when identifying themselves with a specific time. Take for example me, I am a 90’s kid. My friends and I enjoy looking back on how wonderful our childhood was. We reminisce about TV shows such as Hey Arnold, Rugrats, Rockos Modern Life. To old baggy clothes and old Disney movies and just so much more. We all like to look at those times because it was all simple and fun. We didn’t have IPhones, we played with toys like “Bop it” or experienced real life with friends. We had shows like Goosebumps and Are you afraid of the Dark. I know that people much older than I like to reminisce about the 70’s or 80’s. Although I wasn’t around then, I can tell by looking at their bright smiles how they appreciated how simple the times were then than they are now.
Now going back to how I said not everyone thinks like America. There was this part in the book that mentions how people need to be saved. Like with Christianity. They would go about in trying to spread the word of god to nonwhites. Now I can see how this would be positive in the perspective of the Christians, but maybe the nonwhites did not want to be educated on the word of God. There are times where I feel I need to educate people on things such as with little kids. I often see children throwing tantrums over things like not having an IPhone or their tablets freezing, or something minor (in my opinion) like that. I just want to educate them myself and tell them how I had so much fun when I was a kid and didn’t need a cell phone. I, like the OLPC had good intentions, but, perhaps those kids did not want to be educated and told what to do. Much like the Negroponte and how they placed laptops within communities and didn’t have any background knowledge of the communities at all.
Overall, after reading this chapter, I can definitely see the ups and downs to what the OLPC program had brought. The up side is that yes, technology is changing rapidly and that yes, it may seem practical to give out laptops to every child, but then again, wouldn’t it be a waste of electronics? With technology constantly changing, it would be hard for the children to keep up with. I understand the need to help people, but helping without understanding another communities needs is just terrible.