Friday, October 19, 2007

Parliament and the Internet

William GladstoneAn interesting visit yesterday afternoon to the Palace of Westminster for the annual Parliament and the Internet day.

We heard a lot about the new Police Central E-Crime Unit (which will come into existence shortly if the Home Office approves its funding). The Unit will support the 43 police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in investigating the "e-" component of crimes (rather than "e-crime", which most of those present agreed was a slightly dated concept).

We also heard about Alun Michael MP's plans for a "UK Internet Governance Forum", which like its international counterpart will act as a space where government, industry, law enforcement and civil society groups can partner to meet the challenges of the information age.

Most exciting speech of the day was from MIT's Professor Nicholas Negroponte, who gave us an update on his One Laptop Per Child project. The cute green $100 devices are now rolling off the production line, and will be arriving in various developing countries in the next few weeks. Negroponte's vision of the laptop as a breakthrough educational tool was inspiring.

Coincidentally one of this vision's key parts, the LOGO programming language, has just celebrated its 40th birthday. As a LOGO turtlechild myself, I am highly appreciative of programming as a tool to teach thinking. Negroponte did a great job in his presentation of overcoming the wave of cynicism that has hit OLPC. Let's see if the real-world deployment of the machines leads to the step-change in developing world education that he hopes for.

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