I’m not big on so-called ‘social experiments’. “Let’s introduce X (a drug, tobacco, chocolate, socialism, TB, etc.)” into a fledgling society and stand back and watch the results. Many times these things simply don’t end well.
Never Yet Melted recently blogged about an experiment wherein a corporation dropped boxes of solar-powered Motorola Zoom Tablet PCs into an isolated Ethiopian village. A village without electricity or even written words. No books, no street signs, no streets. The boxes weren’t even opened. And they sat back to watch what would happen.
As reported at the EmTech MIT conference last week…
“We left the boxes in the village. Closed. Taped shut. No instruction, no human being. I thought, the kids will play with the boxes! Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, but found the on/off switch. He’d never seen an on/off switch. He powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs [in English] in the village. And within five months, they had hacked Android. Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera! And they figured out it had a camera, and they hacked Android.”
There is innate curiosity and intelligence in human beings. At least those not lulled into the crass commercialism of fashion, gadgets and style. These folks eke out an existence; they don’t have everything handed to them. JDZ of Never Yet Melted suggested we do this with American inner city public schools. I’m thinking the children therein are probably too jaded by school age.