Poor People Need The $100 Laptop Because It Can, Like, Do Stuff

from the what-a-vision dept

Nicholas Negroponte's been talking about his vision of creating a $100 laptop for the world's poor for quite some time now, and says that the first batch of devices could reach users in the middle of the year. It's never been clear to many people just why this project is so important, mainly because Negroponte and his group haven't clearly explained its benefits, particularly to the countries they expect to buy the machines, some of whom say their resources are better spent on more teachers and classrooms. Negroponte's in the news again, talking up the device, or XO, saying that despite its meager specs, it's actually better than a "real" laptop, and that he'll give up his current laptop for one. He also derides current uses of computers in education, saying that it's "criminal" that kids are being taught how to use applications like Excel, Word and PowerPoint, instead of "making things, communicating, exploring, sharing". Again, it seems like Negroponte's a little bit out of touch and very obtuse in his communication. It's not hard to see why schools in developing nations would want to teach kids how to use office applications, since they likely see it as a skill that will serve students well down the line, particularly when compared to the much more nebulous activities Negroponte mentions. He's right in that there's much more computers can offer than word-processing and spreadsheets. But to sell developing nations on the XO, he's got to make it much more clear what kids can do, and why it's beneficial, not just talk in abstract expressions in an attempt to sound visionary. Still, it remains unclear exactly why his special efforts are needed, when the market is driving down the price of "real" laptops pretty well on its own -- keep in mind, too, that the $100 is just a target that can only be reached once economies of scale kick in, and the XO will initially cost more.


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  1.  
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    Frink, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 3:02pm

    what a great idea

    Now that the poor of the world will have access to a cheap laptop they can quit worrying about food, shelter, disease, genocide and all that other annoying stuff. Now all they need is a place to plug the thing in to recharge it and they will be on their merry way around the world on the information highway, learning all the things they need to make themselves a better life.

    I feel better.

     

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    Beerhunter, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 3:23pm

    Why?? For instant messenger of course! My kids can't live without it

     

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    Ians, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 3:23pm

    leapfrog

    Well, a lot of the value in the $100 laptop is that it is designed as something of a durable good for places without normal electrical and communication grids. To the best of my knowledge, the rest of the computer industry is not heading in that direction (see the exploding batteries of last year).

    As for Negroponte's inability to give specifics about what the children will learn from using the computers, I think he's right to be vague. We have a multi decade long process of mandatory public education in this country and have for the entirety of the computer's existence, yet it has consistently failed to teach people the knowledge they will need to work with computers as anything but complicated calculators and notepads.

    Kids are pushing the expansion of computer knowledge and expertise from the bottom up, we are not teaching them from the top. So, instead of simply teaching people to be proficient with the programs that drove the personal computer market 20 years ago, the spreadsheet and wordprocessor, the $100 laptop aims to give children a relatively stable, and completly open, platform for whatever they think a computer should do.

    If you're trying to set the stage for real innovation in the computer industry, I think this gets you a lot closer than anything else people are trying.

    Assuming, of course that it works.

     

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    Murray, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 3:27pm

    Negroponte is a great thinker and writer. But he's got a blindspot shared by most other utopians. The practicality of the free market is ignored because the concept of profit is considered evil.

     

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    misanthropic humanist, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 3:35pm

    $100 laptop

    "Nicholas Negroponte's been talking about his vision of creating a $100 laptop for the world's poor for quite some time now, and says that the first batch of devices could reach users in the middle of the year."

    That's really good news. I joined up with the scheme to buy one at 3 times the cost to support the project and I'm looking forward to buying mine and helping those who need it.

    "It's never been clear to many people just why this project is so important"

    Some people are just dumb, stubborn and bitter. They resent helping out other countries while their own is in decline and they feel smugly superior to other creeds and races. I think we can safely ignore that small minority as we all move onwards.


    "mainly because Negroponte and his group haven't clearly explained its benefits"

    Like he needs to? Do some people need everything spelled out in capitals?

    "their resources are better spent on more teachers and classrooms."

    There are many things these countries could do with more, none of them invalidate the $100 laptop project, that would be twisted reasoning.

    "Negroponte's in the news again, talking up the device, or XO, saying that despite its meager specs, it's actually better than a "real" laptop"

    It is indeed. This project has been a fantastic success because it has forced focus on negelected technological issues which vastly improve the laptop concept, ones that traditional manufacturers have ignored because it was not profitable to do so. I speak of durability and efficiency - two areas not well catered for by the old school capitalist lowest common denominator maximum profit model.



    "He also derides current uses of computers in education, saying that it's "criminal" that kids are being taught how to use applications like Excel, Word and PowerPoint, instead of "making things, communicating, exploring, sharing"."


    Absolutely. The man is spot on the nail. Teaching children proprietry software instead of fundamental skills is no better than wasting their lives teaching them religious mumbo jumbo.


    "Again, it seems like Negroponte's a little bit out of touch and very obtuse in his communication. "

    Hold on?! How did you get there? That's a complete non-sequitor bit of opinion thrown in for no reason at all.


    "It's not hard to see why schools in developing nations would want to teach kids how to use office applications, since they likely see it as a skill that will serve students well down the line"

    No, I think you are quite wrong. You are shoehorning the debate into terms which fit your preconceptions of what technology is and how others should use it according to your own norms. They may never choose to follow the same path as us and may develop entirely different technological paradigms. In fact I would imagine Westernised "office" skills are the LAST thing that would be useful to developing nations - unless you are secretly hoping these people may become cheap labor to serve your own interests. I am already using an operating system built in South Africa, not from Europe or the USA, and I think that is a very positive thing.

    "Still, it remains unclear exactly why his special efforts are needed, when the market is driving down the price of "real" laptops pretty well on its own"

    That's a valid point. The trend towards low cost technology means that we will be able to produce these things for negligable cost in no time. However, the project is dealing with the political obstacles to reducing the *price*, not the cost.

    " keep in mind, too, that the $100 is just a target that can only be reached once economies of scale kick in, and the XO will initially cost more. "

    A redundant sentiment, since that applies to almost all technology. What is more, eventually it will cost far less than $100 - look forward to the $50 laptop, and then to the $10 laptop.


    What is worth adding is that there is plenty of poverty here in our own contries too. Many of us actually jealous because we would like our own children to have access to quality commodity tools instead of the expensive, crippled rubbish thrust upon us by BigMedia Inc.

     

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    danimal, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 3:45pm

    Here come the onslaught of haters I'm sure, so I'll preface with this...before you say why it's such a stupid idea, please share what you've done in the last 12 months to try and change the world (and buying a Prius doesn't count!).

    It's sad really that anyone can say something is a bad idea that will take years to mature and they're off poo-poo-ing the next potential idea. Just for the record, the initial surge of distribution for this product will not be for the poorest of the poor countries and, even if it was...

    Why can't we do both? Sure, people need to eat and they need vaccinations, but they also need something (anything!) to pull them above water so that their problems don't continue to be endemic to their culture or birthplace. Until we've tried everything I say "what do we have to lose?".

    And, really, comparing this device to a $400 laptop stateside is just a ridiculous comparison. Might as well compare it to a potato gun. It's a completely different device built for a completely different purpose. The XO's primary focus is to allow clusters of individuals to exchange information relevant to their lives in their native tongue without need for widespread government or private-sector infrastructure in place. It allows future generations a platform to better their lot in life and open doors that are presently inconceivable to them.

    It may not work. So what? It's a laudible goal and comparing kids in Uganda to kids in Chicago is just stupid and shortsighted. Kids in poor countries will utilize this because it allows SHORT-TERM life improvement, not our public school "you need this so you can get a good job 15 years from now" mantra. Kids are all about them (and to some extent, their families) and the now. This has the potential to fill that need and if it doesn't work then we can all just continue buying our Prius's and sending our $.29 a day and the world should be all fixed by the year 3527.

     

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    Will Zachmann, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 3:49pm

    Negroponte's Delusions

    Negroponte is a nitwit. He is a classic case of an isolated academic with his feet planted firmly in the clouds.

    All that notwithstanding, however, his project is a nifty example of classic 'conceptual art' in action -- and is fundamentally a lot more interesting than, say, covering the Grand Canyon in Saran Wrap.

    So I applaud his irrelevant frivolity! We need more imaginative space cadets in this now unfortunately excessively practical 21st Century world!

     

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    Solo, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 4:13pm

    Fucusing too much on the tool maybe...

    From what I read a while back, Negroponte was focusing on the educational part of the project, and, incidentally, the medium would be a $100 laptop for individual to use.

    At the time, I gathered he had a real course of action to educate people, and the form would be the XO, as a mean of communication.

    I do not know how the vision has changed since. Like many, I have been focusing on the hardware (and OSS combo tied to it) and paid little attention to the 'educating the 3rd world' aspect of it. Selfish me.

    You have to admit that teaching Word and Excel in school is a good way to prepare the mass anonymous kids for the grandiose life of cubicle slave worker bee. Not exactly creative, not exactly liberating socially, not especially open minded.

     

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    Joseph Ripp, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 4:16pm

    100 Laptop

    Once again someone who lives in the world of theory and models is sprouting their answer to the age old problem of poverty ,stupidity

     

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    Beefcake, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 4:24pm

    Negroponte Owns Sony Stock?

    It's a great plan to dump all the fire-prone batteries. And it's perfectly safe because the people we give them to can't charge them in the first place.

     

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    MyNameIsMatt, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 4:27pm

    Giving our greatest tool

    If you don't delving into the matter much, then it's easy to push this off as an art experiment or foolish thinking, but you'd be wrong. For those who don't see the benefit, I'd refer you to the official site and their take on the learning benefits: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Learning_Vision

    Anyone who thinks you can get far in this world, be it in first or third world countries, without computer knowledge is fooling themselves. Computers are crucial to the world as they connect diverse ideas and open up content that is beneficial, but locked away from those who don't have physical access to it through books or papers. There is an ever growing gap between developed and developing nations, and if we hope to involve developing nations in the world economy (to our very great benefit), then we need to share the best technology we have at our disposal with them. And now someone (and his team of someones) has found a way of doing that economically. This is about as good as it gets really.

     

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    misanthropic humanist, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 4:28pm

    Re: Negroponte's Delusions

    I suppose you think Kennedy was a nitwit for aiming for the moon?
    Gates was also a nitwit for imagining ordinary people having computers in their homes? Page and Brin, a couple of prize nitwits for thinking anyone would want to use computers for search right?

    Don't take out your own dull lack of imagination on the rest of us. We simply have higher aspirations that you.

     

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    Joseph Ripp, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 4:32pm

    100 Laptop

    Once again someone who lives in the world of theory and models is sprouting their answer to the age old problem of poverty , stupidity and all the malady's the worlds poor suffer from.

    If only those poor could get online and learn how to grow crops and water the fields, heck, no more worlds hunger, all from the $ 100 laptop and a couple of websites.

    I can see it now the hordes of Zulu's comparing how the proper placement of the latest plate to shove in the front lip, or the shanty's in Rio who can now see Giselle on the catwalk, even better in Darfur get the best recipe for Pork Pibil, mouthwatering, yes cheap laptops are a good thing but not for all, now as my limo runs down the diamond lane on the 405 my exit is near to my gated manse on the hill I must bid ciao

    Rev Ted

     

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    HotGarbage, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 4:38pm

    Novel, albeit low-tech idea

    I have a great idea, let's teach them how to , say, I don't know, um...farm so that they can produse food to feed them selves. Don't give them laptops so they can surf porn, give them U-haul trucks so they can move out of the desert where they can hope to grow food. Maybe send hand tools so they can build themselves an existance start providing for themselves.

     

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    Krz, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 5:05pm

    In all fairness, if you were Negroponte and you'd developed a machine that couldn't run Excel, Word and PowerPoint (or anything industry-standard); wouldn't you say the same thing?

    In the wise words of Mr. Herman ... "I meant to do that"

     

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    Wifezilla, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 5:09pm

    It could be useful....but...

    Without an internet connection I don't see how someone in an impoverished country could really make the most of a laptop. WITH the internet, they can finally get real news instead of the crap fed to them by their corrupt governments. They coud communicate andparticipate in the free exchange of ideas...something they are denied.

    SO what are the odds of the people who need it actually getting it in their hands??

     

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    MyNameIsMatt, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 5:22pm

    Please educate YOURSELF before sounding dumb

    Many of you talking bad about this enterprise obviously lack a basic knowledge of what or how this works. Governments and major NGOs are buying these laptops and distributing them to schools for the teachers and children. Ideally, the school acts as the main hub that helps get the children a connection to the broader internet, but even if it can't, then mesh networks can still be setup locally using the laptops. These aren't being given to Zulu tribes, but large organizations that can handle the distribution to communities that would benefit from the use of these laptops.

    Yes, many of these machines won't get used or will have other problems in getting them to the people who benefit the most, but it's a good project, with good goals that are attainable and beneficial.

     

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    akira, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 5:27pm

    100 dollars is a lot of money in third world countries. Plus, it will face the same problems that food and other resource s face; the big guns will hoard them all. So at the end of the day, its worthless.

     

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    misanthropic humanist, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 5:32pm

    You embarrass me

    Wow, this article is really exposing some of the sad, bigoted haters for what they really are. I am ashamed of you, deeply ashamed that others might think your views are representative of my culture.

    "I can see it now the hordes of Zulu's comparing how the proper placement of the latest plate to shove in the front lip"

    If you made that comment about about how poor African Americans
    would only use computers to listen to rap music, or how giving them to Arabs or Jews would only help them kill each other you would be crucified. But it's okay to insult those in poor, far away countries because you don't have to face the music.

    "In all fairness, if you were Negroponte and you'd developed a machine that couldn't run Excel, Word and PowerPoint (or anything industry-standard); wouldn't you say the same thing?"

    Yes. I'd say as clearly as Mr Negroponte is saying right now... The machine was never intended or designed to run that shoddy proprietry junk, my computers are designed so that third world citizens can have access to first class software.

    "Without an internet connection I don't see how someone in an impoverished country could really make the most of a laptop."

    Erm.. by using data on disks perhaps.

    "WITH the internet, they can finally get real news instead of the crap fed to them by their corrupt governments."

    Oh Christ on a spacehopper! You're an American right? Please stop dragging your country through the mud, the irony is embarrasing.

    "They could communicate and participate in the free exchange of ideas...something they are denied."

    Where do you get these misconceptions from? Have you ever been more than 100 miles from your birthplace?

     

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    Rozanne, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 5:50pm

    A few small points

    As a South African - a few small points:

    - There are no zulu tribes, to my knowledge, wandering plains and waiting to stick things through their tongues. The majority of South African children do go to school (in cute little uniforms) and would benefit from a programme like this. It wouldn't be practical to give children laptops to take home (in most likelyhood it will just get stolen on the walk or taxi ride home), but making cheap laptops available, not only to children but adults in developing nations also, is a great idea.

    Try to follow it up with a programme that will provide free wireless hubs in townships (shantitowns) and in public places. Consider the infrastructure for this - it must be fortified! Solidified in cement and crime-proof! But it is necessary.

    Oh, and I do hope they make sure that, if they do provide internet access, they provide decent "parenting" software also - the last thing we want to do is unleash the wonders of the underworld of the internet on thousands of little children.

     

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    Charles W - T Consaul, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 6:54pm

    $139.00 laptop for sale last November!

    Granted, this model had all kinds of rebates and bundled offers attached to it, but the fact that someone had the idea to put a one hundred dollar laptop out there will eventually drive the economy to make it a reality. It's the old Science Fiction thoery of economics and progress. If someone can imagine it and get anyone else to buy in on the idea (in essence, read about it) then eventually the idea becomes reality. It is not as efficient as we might hope, (it is after all the twenty first century and I still do not have my flying car) but it is a recognized phenomenon. If there are any complaints about the software being bundled with the one hundred dollar laptops (which I would love to play with myself by the way - of course I would have loved it more if they had kept the wind up generator, even as an add on?) then we only have to direct the recipients of these colorful machines to the cornucopia of freeware programs offered on such sites as nonags, as well as other worthwhile sites.

    I realize that there are a growing number of skeptics in life who believe as I used to, that if you give a man a fish, he will eat for one day but if you teach a man to fish, whoever has to scale that fish and cook it, will hate you for the rest of their life. I submit, that just like the Science Fiction theory of economics and progress, if you open a person's eyes to a different reality than the one they currently embrace, eventually they will want to own that reality. I have known decent people who live in major cities like New York and San Fransisco, who have rarely been more than six blocks from where they live. Even here, I see those who might suggest that, in the words of Sam Kinison, we teach the poor and destitute to "Go To Where The Food Is!" when in reality they have no idea where the food or anything else is. First we have to re-awaken them to the fact that there is a whole world with other ideas and possibilities out there. Then, maybe we could invite them to share in it. So build those hundred dollar laptops, as well as those flashlights with the hand crank and the radio inluded with them (just as useful in exposing the innocent to culture provided that there is a signal to reach them) and when you are done, consider giving the same things to our inner city kids. Until they become as popular as X-Boxes and I-pods, nobody is really going to want them anyway! Come to think of it, what everyone really needs is the hand crank generator. Do you realize that there are adaptors out there to recharge cellphones with them?

    The only really disappointing thing I have seen come out of all of this, is the adaption of the blow it up yourself battery pack over the hand crank generator. I wonder if someone could come up with a hand crank generator about the same size as the battery pack? There, I have written it down and you have read it. Now, someone wiser and less dysfunctional than me will develop it and insert it into the hundred dollar laptop. This will cost the natives an additional ten to fifteen dollars, but it will create at least fifteen or twenty jobs and stimulate the economy? Someone else might even come up with a solar generator or a tiny windmill generator. the possibilities are endless!

    Just avoid the old lemon juice and sea salt experiment. Everyone knows that this is just
    "A Salten Battery"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 7:15pm

    Re: $100 laptop

    "Absolutely. The man is spot on the nail. Teaching children proprietry software instead of fundamental skills is no better than wasting their lives teaching them religious mumbo jumbo."

    You consider the "sugar" OS viable? You seriously need to reevaluate your idea of usable skills.

    "You are shoehorning the debate into terms which fit your preconceptions of what technology is and how others should use it according to your own norms."

    Actually, if the point of this project is to bring developing nations into technological line with the rest of the world, your argument is foolish, again not that sugar will be bringing about any sort of paradigm shifts. Maybe they will help bring kids into the PGL, forget typing, programming, etc.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 7:24pm

    Very Great Idea Indeed

    Now all the world's poor countries can be like Nigeria and crap... poorer than hell, grab a laptop, plug in to the internet with a 14.4kbps modem shared between four or five computers, and start online scams to rip us out of our money. Look at this.

    http://www.riversiderugby.com/rugbyblog/?p=8

    http://videos.antville.org/stories/1241274/

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 7:57pm

    People can live without computers.

     

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    MyNameIsMatt, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 8:21pm

    Then why are you using one?

    "People can live without computers."

    Then why are you using one? I bet you couldn't get away without using one every single day, and you make a stupid comment like that. What is with all of this hate for helping countries in need with an innovative program such as this?

    Yes, people could invest the money being spent on this in many different ways, and some might argue one way as better than another, but the fact is Negroponte knows computers and he's using what he knows to try and improve places that could use improving.

     

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    Chris, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 8:49pm

    My two cents.

    I've been raised around computers for the greater majority of my life, and have only one thing to say about them. They're just a means to an end. People use them for two things: entertainment or knowledge.

    These laptops are designed for knowledge. If you give to a country a device capable of containing every written text, versus the maybe 6 books of general reference, or outdated encyclopedias from the 70's, then they just might be able to advance their standard of living enough to generate a considerable difference to their day to day lives.

    To try and say that a device that could potentially create a network of communication that is leaps and bounds beyond any current installments, is just a stupid idea, well then you're a damned idiot. There are some schools around the world, where education stops after children have obtained a 6th grade education. Even if the schooling still stops, the resources for knowledge will remain. Those who WANT to learn as much as they possibly could would now have this opportunity. IF this project is a success, to any extent, it will be a major improvement.

    And to the "realists" about a Zionist's visionary trying to preach from cloud9 about the cure to poverty, here's a reality check. Providing a way to extend the length of a persons life, and not providing a way to end those circumstances that create their lives to end shorter than they maybe should, is the source of the problem. If people are diseased, kill them. No more sick people, no more diseased. Dieing of malnourishment? Famine? Genocide? Kill them all. Remove the source of the problem and the problem is gone. So trying to feed the hungry, vaccinate the infected, or cure the diseased only extends the life of those people in poor situations to create more people who will be exposed to the same problems. This is probably the best thing to come along to actually help people in impoverished nations. Granted it might take a generation or two, the potential for benefit is truly awe inspiring.

     

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    anti-misanthropic humanist, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 8:55pm

    communists all around me

    I'm not sure what socialist bill of goods you've obviously consumed, but you couldn't be any more wrong.

    First off, there are laptops built for durability as the market exists for it. The market for extreme battery life coupled with efficient components is just barely starting to exist, and incredibly huge sums of money are being spent to create fuel-cell packs for laptops to enable 8 hour a day for a full month worth of power. Components in the past that focused on efficiency (VIA, Efficieon) have failed in the marketplace pretty horribly due to a lack of demand. Capitalism works. As usual, this is creating a product for which there is limited demand, and then trying to drum up government buyers out of good will instead of solid data and need.

    Additionally, you betray your hard-core open source movement pretty readily. First-class software is, defined by the largest, most profitable and efficent corporations in the world, Office and Windows, along with various other proprietary software used for more industry-specific types of data analysis. Linux unfortunately is a "me too!" OS, and OpenOffice feels and operates like Office of yester-decade. While some may use it as a low cost option, corporations need the best, and the best is and always will be proprietary because history has shown for the last several hundred years that the best results are obtained not from good will but from the promise of rewards (pay, salary) for good work, even genius.

    All that said, Linux has it's place, OpenOffice has its place. But trying to suggest they are replacements for traditional applications that businesses want skilled laborers to be effective with is false.

    Additionally, it also sounds like you'd be a typical liberal proponent of throwing money at schools to fix their poor performance. That is what this laptop deal is equivalent too, and that's all TechDirt is saying. They're pointing out that anaylsis should be done to show what true good comes out of these laptops because fact does not always follow popular opinion or even common sense. As usual though, the question of "why" money should be thrown about is in this case and many others met with "why, isn't it obvious?" instead of hard factual data.

    If the case of private schools caries to this, I can understand why. Private schools obtain reliably better performance for significantly less money per child while sacrificing bells and whistles (like new Macs in libraries, computers in every class room, etc) with no loss in education.

    In the end, these things are just fragile laptops. They will wear out just like the most durable of toys, and just like toys, they'll be remembered fondly but have no lasting impact.. most likely, anyway. Except, of course, on their governments already critically strained budget.

     

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    anti-misanthropic humanist, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 9:02pm

    on jobs and growth

    Oh, and another thing.

    What would do these people infinitely more good, and this has played out in third world countries across the globe, is simple security and a government open to anyone who might want to set up shop.

    Look at various gold mines in Africa and South America for example. Local towns people get the first real income in the towns history, and what do they almost always tend to do? They send their children to get a higher education in college.

    A better use of money, in a long run growth and prosperity sense, would be to cease any violence, get electricity to be reliable (at least for businesses), along with probably water and roads. Even small, low paying jobs are better than no jobs, and its a snowball effect over the course of generations.

    Laptops, by themselves, create no jobs, and laptops without any of the above just leads to a few kids who could probably handle a mouse and keyboard if not for the gunmen running around, or if not for business staying away from lack of electricity, water, and access to transportation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    misanthropic humanist, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 9:51pm

    Re: communists all around me

    "I'm not sure what socialist bill of goods you've obviously consumed"

    Let's get something straight here bud. I'm a misanthropic humanist, the only thing that pisses me off more than cheap labor capitalist wankers and bleating me, me, me liberals are nanny state socialists.
    Oh, and religious bigots too. I apply my contempt in a way that's fair to all - no idiot left behind. I guess my ideologies are beyond and outside your frame of reference, I see all ists and isms as some kind of mental deficiency that inhibit a mans capacity for rational thinking. That's why I hate Humanists too, because they are intollerant and fall into the category of religious bigots even though their dogma is atheism. Look at that Dawkings tosser. Sure he is right, and a good debater, but the guy is just as smug and self satisfied as any fanatical Christian, Muslim or Jew. So, why limit your hate to communists? Broaden your horizons and live a little. :)
    I love PEOPLE. Many people don't realise their ideologies are the enemy.

    "but you couldn't be any more wrong."

    About what? You need to state that for the argument to work.

    "First off, there are laptops built for durability as the market exists for it."

    But they are not cheap. Durability is a premium not a standard.

    "Components in the past that focused on efficiency (VIA, Efficieon) have failed in the marketplace pretty horribly due to a lack of demand."

    That's because they were marketed in our countries where efficiency is a non-issue. Perhaps green taxes will change that soon. Fwiw I am writing this from a VIA Nehemia processor that consumes 4W of electricity, not entirely dissimilar to the $100 laptop we are talking about.

    "Capitalism works."

    That's a meaningless, unqualified piece of opinion. Shake off your dogma.

    "As usual, this is creating a product for which there is limited demand,"

    Nonsense. Have you any figures on the "demand" for this device? The evidence I have seen so far suggests demand will outstrip supply on a big scale. These laptops are SO DESIRABLE here in the our own countries that a fear is they will be sold on the black market and find their way back into Europe and the USA at high prices. I'm prepared to pay 3 times the target price for one...and the kids all want one too, doesn't that speak enough of demand to you?

    "First-class software is, defined by the largest, most profitable and efficent corporations in the world"

    That may be your definition, it is not mine. First class software and hardware is defined by its functionality. To equate the profitability of the company with the quality of the product is disingenuous.

    "While some may use it as a low cost option, corporations need the best,"

    You have drifted off-topic. We are not talking about corporations, the subject is schoolchildren in poorer developing countries.

    "the best results are obtained not from good will but from the promise of rewards (pay, salary) for good work, even genius."

    You are comparing apples, oranges and bannanas in the same breath. And you show you have not the feintest grasp of genius by lumping in with "reward".


    "All that said, Linux has it's place, OpenOffice has its place. But trying to suggest they are replacements for traditional applications that businesses want skilled laborers to be effective with is false."

    Okay, now you're showing your colours. To you this all about "businesses" that "want skilled laborers". You are not even in the right ballpark man.

    "Additionally, it also sounds like you'd be a typical liberal proponent of throwing money at schools to fix their poor performance."

    Hold on. I was just a communist 5 minutes ago, now I'm a liberal. Make up your mind.

    Yes, education is expensive and money is generally required to make it work whether you choose to "throw" it or otherwise.

    "They're pointing out that anaylsis should be done to show what true good comes out of these laptops because fact does not always follow popular opinion or even common sense. As usual though, the question of "why" money should be thrown about is in this case and many others met with "why, isn't it obvious?" instead of hard factual data."

    I get that. But here's where we differ in a fundamental way. To me it is obvious. It's BLOODY OBVIOUS in fact. Sure, I don't think the programme is without problems or pitfalls, but to apply the level of overanalysis you are advocating is just crazy. That in itself is a bonfire of wealth to keep pundits employed. Do you use pie charts and linear algebra to perform a cost analysis investigating the financial viability of multiple defecation scenarios before going to the bathroom, or do you just take a shit when you need one like the rest of us?

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    B, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 10:00pm

    Maybe...

    It depends on how this is played out. Most countries that are considered "3rd world" are in that position because of their location or struggles (or even both).
    Much of Africa retains its "3rd world" status because a lack of water. Its pretty hard to grow enough food to feed your family and advance your country. A laptop is not going to fix these problems unless a formula for "Instant Water" is included on these $100 machines. It would be better for these countries to invest the money (that would otherwise go to these laptops) on better irrigation techniques and/or technologies. Or even spend this money on a better police force (if struggle is one of your country's primary issues).
    If it is planned on being distributed to schools (like one person pointed out), I don't see how much a laptop per student is going to help them. Even at $100 per student (if that's how it would work), the money would be better used elsewhere. Laptops are not the only way to get students more involved in education. Smaller class sizes would be a far better solution. It would create jobs (teacher wise) and help struggling students get more attention.
    My ending note would have to be this is a Utopian idea. If money was not an object, this plan might be far better. The problem is I see $100 per laptop more useful somewhere else. Put it into areas that will give you longterm growth. Many school districts and governments might see this plan as an "easy fix" by the way the information is presented, but it will have been wasted money.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 10:12pm

    Re: what a great idea

    you do realize that the $100 laptop is going to be solar powered right? sure you can say "what about night time", but giving that no one will use it throughout the whole day it should (in theory) sub stain enough batterie life for a few hours after it gets dark

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Enrico Suarve, Jan 3rd, 2007 @ 4:58am

    But will it fix everything all at once?

    No of course it won't

    Like any truly huge and utterly complex problem there is no magic silver bullet, no single course of action that if taken will fix all the evils and end all difficulties - if only it was that simple

    Is a $100 laptop going to end poverty, famine and injustice all by itself? NO

    Is a $100 laptop going to help shelter someone - probably not

    Is it likly that by giving people access to a tool, which should enable them to tap the wealth of information on the internet you will improve their lives - er yeah, probably

    3 things I have used the internet for recently (other than work):

    Getting information on how to fix my car
    Getting information on how to fix my washing machine
    Keeping up to date with news in my country and the world

    All right I live in a country which I laughingly call a 1st world country, but is it totally impossible to imagine that people in 3rd world countries would not be able to use this even for these types of simple thing? (and yes dufus I do realise they may not have a car or a washing machine - but I am pretty sure that they or their community will have something they would like to maintain or improve)

    The comments re proprietary software are also confusing - if the objective of this excercise were to create little office slaves then yes, MS Office would probably be the most realistic choice. Otherwise anything which helps them get and share information, whilst becoming at least a little technologically literate would be useful

    Half the people I work with are older than the home PC yet they manage to work Word and Excel OK - I imagine if they had access to a computer at all as kids they would have picked it up even faster

    In short no this won't fix everything, but it will improve things, and mixed with other initiatives could be PART of the answer to the problem eventually

    Please could people try to stop thinking in terms of instant gratification all the time?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    JB, Jan 3rd, 2007 @ 5:22am

    Re: $100 laptop

    Kewl response

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Bruce, Jan 3rd, 2007 @ 10:27am

    OK - Possible laptop uses

    Without going into all of the horsepower issues of these books, how about this-

    School texts transported on a disk or two, instead on trucks, horseback, etc that could be better used for food, tools, medicine. Updating becomes simple.

    Multimedia - not fancy, but something that someone can review at their own pace, in their tongue and dialect, that may explain how to treat a disease, better utilize farm land, etc. Sure, a VCR could work -but we run into the same issues of power, expensive equipment, and it having to be done in a group.

    These are just two ideas - but they aren't particularly pie-in-the-sky either.

    YEah, these can be

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2007 @ 12:39pm

    teaching kids "computer" skills

    Teaching kids to use Word/Excel/Power Point = BAD
    Teaching kids to use Open Office = BETTER (but still missing the point)
    Teaching kids to write their own programs = BEST USE OF COMPUTER TIME

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    M. Tangeant, Jan 4th, 2007 @ 10:44am

    demand overview

    In response to the following comment: "Nonsense. Have you any figures on the "demand" for this device? The evidence I have seen so far suggests demand will outstrip supply on a big scale. These laptops are SO DESIRABLE here in the our own countries that a fear is they will be sold on the black market and find their way back into Europe and the USA at high prices. I'm prepared to pay 3 times the target price for one...and the kids all want one too, doesn't that speak enough of demand to you?"

    Yes, but that's your demand. What's critical to making this a success is that demand coincides with the target market, of which Americans and Europeans wanting a fashionable piece of electronic equipment are not a part. It doesn't matter how badly you or I want one, only whether or not a large number of schoolchildren and parents of schoolchildren in developing nations regard this as necessary enough that they would spend their own money to puchase one. Even though they won't actually have to directly pay for one out-of-pocket, this is still a good indicator of demand. Since governments will be responsible for footing the bill for at least a portion of the purchase price along with covering the cost of the distribution network, associated governmental staff, etc. the people of the developing nation will be paying, albeit indirectly, for some part of the product. If they feel that money is best spent towards a laptop as opposed to other state provided amenities, then the project has a chance at success. I am no expert on developing nations and will not speculate as to the priorities of their people.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    PETER, Jan 4th, 2007 @ 11:58pm

    Re: Negroponte's lack of decency,accountibility,mo

    The "100 Dollar "One Laptop Per Child" slogan which was

    catapulted by Negroponti on a "Nolens Volens" basis is


    extremely harmful and serves no purpose other than the

    worst sort of ego tripping over the backs of people who

    struggle on a day to day basis to survive.

    To survive on a day to day basis for a substantial number

    of people in Africa,Latin America,Indo China and not

    necessarily limited to these regions and taking place on

    a smaller scale in countries which are technically speaking

    not at the bottom of the pit are deserving more respect

    than what Mr.Negroponti is willing to grant them.


    Each and everyone as individual or on corporate or

    governmental basis who is willing to participate in the

    discussion how developing countries can be assisted

    to level the playing field and create fundamental

    and sustainable conditions which allows them to

    participate in the global economy.To achieve this a

    massive number of structural problems needs to be

    adressed whereby education and access to information

    are of key importance and the amount needed to

    lift up the quality of tuition as well as infrastructure is

    in most of the developing countries simply not feasible

    and is not only a matter of money let alone a matter

    of the availibility of pc's for educational purposes.

    The last 50 years fortunes have been thrown at

    developing countries without any results , supply a tractor

    and not the diesel makes that a 50.000 usd machine

    functions 2 days and month later at best taken apart

    for spares and old iron.

    All sorts of initiatives which aim to bridge the gap

    between the the digital divides without any form of

    coordination and cooperation is first of all a destruction of

    capital and secondly gives the false impression something

    is done to bridge the gap.The 100 dollar OLPC initiative

    of Mr.Negroponte equals the lowest lack of respect and

    compassion for people who literally fight for their survival

    from one day to the other, he is creeping over the backs

    of the poor to gain attention and publicity,no one came

    even close for the "slut of the year" award in 2006 and

    he is well underway to achieve the same for 2007.

    To start with the 100 dollar benchmark which he tagged

    without even being nor coming close and surrounded by

    all sorts of ridicolous arguments and are causing all sorts

    of problems for other initiatives and the figure of 100 is

    missleading and should never have emerged.

    It is not about 100 or 200 dollar for a laptop which was

    developed with financial gifts from Google and free

    software related services of Red Hat and others and not

    following the normal path of calculating Costs Of Goods.

    A company like INTEL is spending an arm and leg on

    educational projects which are less sexy and don't draw

    the sort of attention but are much more needed and

    valuable and INTEL is not mixing charity and Costs Of

    Goods.

    Moore or Moors Law explains the 18 months or so cycles

    roughly doubling strength and halveing the price and

    size of processing power will with or without OLPC

    continue to decrease computer related products.


    The worst part is the lack of any scientific proof or

    sense to give laptops as a kind of toy and the children

    will ultimately figure out how to play or operate it and

    are without any practical value or relevance.

    Every dollar spend regardless by who is taking a dollar

    away of the investments needed for implementing an

    infrastructure which provide access to broadband based

    information for the poor and not only today but as a

    regular service for the lowest possible price allowing

    even the poorest people to have in house access to

    the web and this is what is ultimately and urgently

    needed and this will provide the access for schools and

    if local government succeeds to adapt educational

    methods and material more focusing on individual skills

    development in stead of having to deal with classes of

    40 / 45 children with a fixed in house computer

    infrastructure is something else as a challenge when you

    know that at this moment streaming water,books, toilets

    and classrooms are the day to day challenges.

    By just throwing in a few million laptops which in a year

    will have dissappeared and or non functioning will be the

    outcome and increase the gap.

    All initiatives and investments so far only confirm another

    law. Charity, philantropy, aid to developing countries

    is a dead end street.Mixing charity and market driven

    way of doing things is hindering developing countries

    to become accountable and frustrating those who

    provide funds and witness that in 50 years nothing other

    than the tractor as example is replaced by OLPC.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    qendrimi, Jan 7th, 2007 @ 5:33am

    tung tung

    tung qao qao qao

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 2:18pm

    Great, give people cheap computers so that they can make viruses for us. Sad but true.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    The Deli Man, Apr 5th, 2007 @ 6:01am

    Computers for the Poor>?

    The Poor do not need cheap laptops, what they need is food. How can so much time be spent trying to get a cheap laptop into a poor persons hands, when they would do better with a ham sandwich or maybe some electricity to light up their nights.

    Geez you clowns are so stupid and ignorant as to even be considerate of such a stupid idea.

    You are more than likely all Government Cheese Eaters leaching your friggin way through life. Now go get a friggin Job and stop promoting ways to get free or cheap stuff.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Eddie Sammurai - The Deli Man, Apr 5th, 2007 @ 6:11am

    Re: Maybe...

    I agree with you.

    They need life support, not tech support!


    Are You a Government Cheese Eater?
    Most here (excluding me...and possibly you) are!

    "deli man"

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    jajwalczak, May 21st, 2007 @ 10:47am

    Re: Re: Negroponte's lack of decency,accountibilit

    Do you know how I can contact Negroponte about ordering laptops? I am involved with an orphanage in China which I visit every year and I would be interested in ordering laptops for them. Can you help me get connected?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    wildine orelus, Aug 23rd, 2007 @ 5:05pm

    Re: Re: Negroponte's lack of decency,accountibilit

    my comment is ,since am poor i need help with a laptop.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    ajeoae, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 12:50pm

    perspective

    I think there's a real lack or perspective here. The laptops are not going to kids who are starving and need the neccesities of life. The target is kids who are in poor or developing nations (aka. "the world's middle class" or what the US would consider lower class).

    The laptops would replace the cost of books, as all the learning materials could be stored on them or fed to them via a 350gb server (~$200 wifi server).

    In other words, stop looking at these as if they were laptops, and look at them more as a tool for learning. They are very simple in their interface and provide a wealth of interaction and information. And the fact that they are built off of the linux kernel means they will scale in their usefulness as the owners get older...they could learn how the infrastructure of the internet works (*NIX) and will be prepared to build their own infrastructure in the future.

    Getting food and healthcare to developing nations is just as paramount, and isn't being replaced...but it's also "giving a man a fish" over and over. (you know the saying...teach a man how to fish and he'll never be hungry?)

    I'm sorry to say, I disagree strongly with everyone here that thinks this is a dead end project. If anything, even it if benefits 20% of the kids that it reaches, it will improve the quality of life through knowledge.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    helen johnson, Nov 21st, 2007 @ 10:48am

    student

    i will like for you people to please help to give me a laptop or computer and may god bless you and your family thanks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    calenti, Nov 25th, 2007 @ 9:59am

    The key value of these devices isn't the price, or the apps - it's the connectedness. China has 10% yearly economic growth and tons of jobs, yet they're desperately working to keep their people - in collusion with the American technology companies like our BFF Google - behind the great firewall of China.

    Why? Because all a mere paycheck can produce is physical comfort and a ticket to the great flea market of capitalism - but real change is produced by the inspiration that comes from ideas and connections. Let people start sharing ideas and they will find their own inspirations. Those home-grown inspirations and connections are what change countries and end suffering.

    Sure some will look at porn, and some will start stock scams, and some will learn how to make crystal meth and car bombs and some will play tetris all day. But some won't. And a few of those will connect with ideas and people and do something truly wonderful and extraordinary - the 10% good that blows away the 90% crap.

    And stop demonstrating your ignorance by lumping the poor together - the entire world outside of the US and Europe is not like Darfur. Different places need different tools. Places like Darfur need physical safety and means of survival, but so many other places like Bangkok, Myanmar, Johannesburg, Kinshasa, Axtapa, Rio de Janerio, Palau, Guangzhou, Lahore, Beslan, Tirana and Manila need more than that.

    Do you think only America or Europe can produce a Vincent Cerf, a Steve Wozniak or a Tim Berners-Lee? How many geniuses, how many spritiual leaders and people of real potential sit alone and isolated in the darkness of the disconnected Earth? Is a turkey auction to buy them a building filled with outdated library books that will be burned down by the next tribal war really going to change that?

    These chickenhawks and keyboard libertarians wouldn't know charity or real assistance if it bit them on the karma. Teach a man to fish, sure - just don't ask them to share the water.

    To most of them it's just parroting the Limbaugh perversion of the Bible quote about the poor always being with us - something you feel bad about, you write a check at the holidays or maybe sponsor some people from your church to go over there and teach a few English classes via Bible readings and have a prayer breakfast, all the while believing that if those lazy mud f*cks would just get off their assets and work they could have a TGI Fridays and Shoppes complex on every corner too.

    It's willfully ignorant - far from an insult, that's a point of pride with that bunch - and disgusting and insulting and those people are never going to change so the world has to just proceed without them.

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Barbara, Dec 2nd, 2007 @ 4:37pm

    Laptops

    I just was 20/20 and am very interested in purchasing the $100 laptop computers. I know children who cannot afford one and would be helped immesurably by having one in their household. Please, I would be willing to pay the cost of providing computers to these underprivileged kids. How can I go about it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    80cent, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 6:24am

    hi

    hello
    now all you have to do in terms of you in need of laptop,is contact me at john_abe4real@yahoo.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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