Web Review – Changing the World One Laptop at a Time

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Web,” from Righteous Pictures and Sundial Pictures, a challenging and informative documentary presents the genesis of the One Laptop Per Child Program, and intertwines the concept of community, connectivity, communication and friends.

Directed by Michael Kleiman, “Web” follows recipients and the families of the One Laptop Per Child program in the remotest areas of Peru and interviews intellectuals from premiere institutions including Vint Cerf, “Father of the Internet” and Google VP Jimmy Wales, Founder, Wikipedia , Nicholas Negroponte, Founder, One Laptop per Child , Robert Wright, NY Times Best-Selling Author of “Nonzero,” Clay Shirky, Acclaimed author of ”Here Comes Everybody & Cognitive Surplus,”  Richard Clarke, The nation’s first cybersecurity advisor to the President  Obama and Walter Bender, Co-Founder, One Laptop Per Child & Founder, Sugar Labs.

“Web,” opens in the deep Andes region of Palestina, Peru where one room houses all primary school children. On this day they’re all grouped together listening as the teacher asks questions about computers, the internet and electricity. At the end she calls out a name, a child answers and he is given a personal laptop, another name is called, and the process is repeated, until all have received a personalized laptop.

They, like most, have no idea what to do with the computer, or how to even turn it on, or the potential or possibilities. By the end of day one, the children are learning to take pictures and are seeing themselves outside their limited world for the first time.

The documentary is fascinating as it bridges worlds, not unlike the internet capability for every computer owner. The director, who knows limited Spanish and agrees nonetheless to head off into this remote area where limited English is spoken, becomes affectionately known as the gringo to the children, who have no idea to the extent of the difference of their lives with the rest of the world.

In addition to the intellectuals who present evolutionary ideas on the changes in communication, connectivity, and education “Web” also focuses on the OLPC program which is discussed in two different theories: that of asset and determent.

“Web” also highlights the need for a global connection to internet as the villages are truly limited and the need to have access grinds at those who have been instilled with a thirst for knowledge.  Suddenly, the unknown is known and intellect increases.

That, of course, is the challenge and the premise behind the idea of bringing one laptop to every child. It will change education. It will change how we relate to one another, how children learn and how to engage children in their own learning process.

“Web”proves through these Peruvian children who became pro-active and interested in their own learning without understanding they were learning, and became active members of a global community who three years ago had no idea the village where they lived existed.

These children who a short time ago, were isolated and without knowledge of the vastness of the world, are now writing their own history by creating a Wikipedia page for the small village of Palestina, Peru.

“Web” presents and answers the question “Are those in darkness, without knowledge, ever the same once exposed to light, to knowledge?  In developed countries education is taken for granted due to access, in underdeveloped nations where children receive the laptops the thirst for knowledge is insatiable.

Although not presented in the documentary, One Laptop per Child is not free global program funded by billionaires with a conscious.  

Peru paid 200million to have 800,000 laptops delivered and yet, the idea, that one laptop can unlock the mind is an investment, an educational investment that may in twenty years yielded a return if one child follows education and knowledge to a higher plateau.

The intellectuals are engaging, interesting, stimulating and even admit, when presented with seemingly simple questions, as intellectuals they presents long winded and circulatory responses finally coming around to the point.  

They present opinions on the ever changing social space, what constitutes relationships and the concept of friendship.

The idea as the global concept of community has also changed so that friendship, would take the inevitable decline into a FBF, or a “like” button which then equates to friendship. The striking difference in this exchange was that the intellectuals seemed to be stumped at the definition or evolution of friendship while the Peruvians seemed to understand and articulate the concept of friends with ease.

The idea is presented that a retro community is building based in the technology age. Grasping the ideals (family, a close knit group of people who should share the same or similar bonds) of the 1950’s while embracing the technology advances that seem to change at dot com speed. And the importance that some regions of the country and world will be lost only possessing a concept of friendship and community based on social programs.

“Web” which is a very informative and challenging, also brings up the concept of community and connectivity. How connected are we in a physical community as opposed to a social community? More? Less?

“Web” is engaging, informative, provocative and will leave you thinking. “Web,” is designed to engage those who see the film, in conversation, face to face, and online.  

“Web” opens November 16, 2013 in select cities. See it.



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