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Jabari Zakiya [opinions]

Penguinz in da hood

fsmsh.com/1911 [penguins] [marketing] [minorities] [ps3]

People in this country are pretty funny, they really are.

It’s a damn shame how we exert so much energy for what we want, and considerably less for what we really need. People will queue up for a week, and risk weather and robbery (“Violence Mars PlayStation 3 Launch”) to secure the “opportunity” to spend $500+ of slave labor earned money to buy a PS3 while probably oblivious of how that same amount of money could buy them computing power that could set them free(r).

What we need are more Penguinz in da hood and fewer PS3s.

But I can almost hear some not in da hood geek shout, “dude, ya can run Linux on a PS3, and still have all the awesome games too...” Right, but it misses the point.

Penguinz versus PS3s, where I live, its a no brainer. Given the choice they’d take the PS3 invariably every time. Why?..Marketing!

In da hood people usually get only what others are willing to sell them, and many times, that’s not what they need. Because Linux/FOSS is basically free, there hasn’t been any incentive to inundate da hood with free CDs with (pick your distro) on it, like AOL used to do with its CDs ubiquitously stuck into just about every paper you could get.

Now I can almost hear someone else say, “well, most people in da hood don’t have computers to run Linux/FOSS on”...yeh, right. Did most people in da hood have computers to run AOL on? Back in the day almost everybody I knew with an email address had it with AOL, and they used something to get onto AOL.

No, people in da hood are exposed (even over exposed) to what’s going on in society, its just that most of the things they are exposed to aren’t “easily” accessible, with the key word here being easily. You see Gameboys, PS2s, and Nintendos in the hood, and computers with Microsoft on them, and even a few Macs, because certain people made concerted efforts to sell those things to people in da hood. And people in the hood made specific financial decisions (and sacrifices) to get these things.

So, why aren’t Penguinz in da hood just as ubiquitous as PS2/3s. The answer is obvious, the FOSS movement hasn’t specifically seen fit to target the hoods in this country where Black, Brown, and poor people proliferate, to put Penguinz in them as they have foreign underdeveloped countries and societies, with such efforts as the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) initiative.

As for all the marketing prowess the Mozilla Foundation and OpenOffice.org are supposed to have, they’ve just blown a bigtime, practically free, opportunity of mass marketing Penguinz in da hood this holiday season. You see, there’s this animated movie (Happy Feet) out with all these—guess what—PENGUINS! in it. Did anybody in the movement see this coming? Why hasn’t there been a deal made where penguin laden CDs of (pick a distro) are given out in the lobbies of theaters. In this same vein, a couple of years ago you had an Academy Award winning documentary on—guess what—PENGUINS! (March of the Penguins) and not a Tux mascot in sight in the theaters. Since people in da hood go to the movies a lot these would have been perfect opportunities to market to them. Because I can tell you, a lot more people from the hood went (along with their imploring kids) to see cute little penguins march across Antarctica than have gone to see about how those cute little penguins won’t be around much longer if we don’t change our fossil fuel burning ways, in an Inconvenient Truth.

So I challenge the FOSS movement to make a new years resolution for putting Penguinz in da hood a high priority. For every 10 OLPC PCs put into Soweto, put just one in Watts, or Southeast DC.

I ain’t asking much, just a little vision and love for my peeps here.

After all, if Barney and Kermit can make it in da hood so can Tux.

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