In Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," an eccentric candy manufacturer named Willy Wonka comes up with a fabulous marketing gimmick. He announces that in six of the billions of Wonka chocolate bars are special tickets, granting the bearer a special tour of Wonka's secret factory. Worldwide consumption of candy bars ensues. Six children (mostly brats, except for our hero - Charlie) find tickets and take the tour. As it turns out, the whole scheme was meant not only to sell candy, but to find a suitable heir to the Wonka conglomerate. The kids in the tour slowly get culled as their bad traits (gluttony, stupidity, etc.) are exposed. Only Charlie is left, and he gets to ride the glass elevator to the executive floor.
In a move that surpasses Wonka's, the Media Lab's "Toys of Tomorrow" group and its gaggle of corporate sponsors are putting on "Junior Summit II." What is Junior Summit? As far as I can tell from the web page, the chairman of SEGA Enterprises Ltd. wanted to "discover in childrens' ideas the real needs of the forthcoming Global Information Infrastructure society ... For four days, forty-one children from 12 nations gathered to explore some of the world's most pressing problems, such as the environment, peace, and world communication." Oh, and test-play a lot of SEGA games.
For the second Junior Summit, children (ages 10-16) do not need to buy candy, only prove that they can express something about the "digital revolution." The winners will receive a computer and internet hookup, and they will then decide on 60 delegates to represent them at MIT.
Does this sound familiar? Yes, it's Wonka's culling process all over again. One of these lucky 60 delegates will one day replace Negroponte. The others will fall by the wayside. The Oompa-Loompas might sing them a song as they hand out their parting gifts:
Oompa loompa doompety doo,
I've got a perfect puzzle for you,
Oompa loompa doompety dee,
If you are wise you'll listen to me.
What do you get when you make up buzzwords?
Talking about those superhighways.
What you get is a virtual roadkill
Digital revolution - ha!
Give them media degrees.
G I R L S C O U T B E N E F I T
7th floor playroom May 1, 1998 5:30pm