OLPC — The Rube Goldberg Variation

As if the OLPC was not Rube Goldbergian enough! What will they try next, I wonder. Try this definition of a Rube Goldberg device from the Wikipedia and tell me that it does not fit the OLPC to a t.

A Rube Goldberg machine is an extremely complex apparatus that performs a very simple, very easy task in an indirect and convoluted way. The most horrible examples of his machines have an anticipation factor, as the machine makes slow but steady progress toward its goal.

The term also applies as a classification for a generally over-complicated apparatus or piece of software. . . The term “Rube Goldberg machine” first appeared in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary with the definition “accomplishing by extremely complex roundabout means what actually or seemingly could be done simply.”

Rube Goldberg’s inventions are a unique commentary on life’s complexities. They provide a humorous diversion into the absurd that lampoons the wonders of technology. These satires of man’s ingenuity resonate in modern life for those seeking simplicity in the midst of a technology revolution. Goldberg’s machines can also be seen as a physical representation of the pataphysical, carrying a simple idea to a nonsensical, ornamented extreme. His work has inspired many cartoonists.

You cannot do better than that, can you? I am afraid that reality can imitate fantastic absurdities beyond our expectations. Here’s how you notch up the absurdity one additional peg: power the OLPC using belts, levers, cows, and a car alternator. (Hat tip: Shiv Senthilvel.)



Categories: One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)

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