The $100 laptop: What went wrong – MSN Money

The $100 laptop: What went wrong – MSN Money:
Anyway, in general a free computer to everyone on the planet it interesting. The tool is cool. And there are many massively problematic issues involved. But that’s interesting is that this article is publishe din MSN Money. MSN isn’t part of this. I’ve read the M$ does not like open source. I wonder how much big computing, like big oil and big tobacco is willing to thumb the nose at doing something good (Gate’s work on aids in africa is not part of this debate of course) useful when it might get in the way of a little well planned out hegemony. But that’s just my personal opinion on it.

This is one place where i disagree with Jason. The ‘cool tool’ is not a solution, it is a distraction from more serious infrastructural and educational issues and the ‘leapfrog’ of those infrastructures that it ‘represents’ actually will be impossible. I don’t think big computing is actually against this, in fact, most of them have bought in. You see, you don’t sell these things to people… You sell them to governments and the money that comes from governments will be be backed by other governments, so there is no real possibility of profit/loss . The economics of this project looks great, I think, for companies. The future of these objects as computers… is not great. The design is completely wrong for any use outside of a clean, classroom environment. It has too many moving parts and it is ‘american cool’ instead of globally useful. If you look at army troop laptops, designs that actually work in diverse environments…. they do not look like this and there is a good reason for that….. Design is one issue with OLPC, but there are certainly major socio-political implications… I’ve written on that before here. I think… OLPC is a bad program and mainly exists as a promotional tool. Putting the same money into the Million-book project’s bookmobiles would be far more productive.

0 comments on “The $100 laptop: What went wrong – MSN Money

  1. jean says:

    couldn’t agree more.

  2. jason says:

    I don’t think we’re that far off… and I wasn’t trying to be complete in my thinking about it. I’ve not actually had one of these computers, and my goal for ZCC was a computer that could stand real world elements: dirt, dust, water, abuse. And then to have the computers function in a first language environment. If this project is just a poorly designed one, then it is poorly designed, not necessarily a useless concept.

    That said, I do question bookmobiles as well, not in terms of the exact present implimentation, as I don’t know that much about it, but conceptually. Personally, I’d rather support micro-economic self-publishing initiatives, especially for languages that are under-represented, rather than bringing in texts from outside of a community or community experience. Facilitating publishing rather than merely providing access to someone else’s texts.

    But in the end, it was the intersection of the issue and the forum that caught my eye.

  3. jeremy says:

    yah, I think the Indian simputer project has been the best one that i’ve seen so far, the new intel 300 dollar computer for the developing world is also a much more realistic design. Ideally, i think the simputer is the best design, it is an all in one that mapped onto both language and the modes of thought of the users… instead of projecting computational universalism.

  4. CleverGirl says:

    I’m with Jason on the bookmobiles. I’ve run a library project and we literally did not have enough books in the required language because they simply did not exist, particularly books specially aimed at children and youth which was our target audience. Even in some of the major world languages, culturally appropriate/relevant books do not exist. One of my diss participants talks about learning English in Pakistan and how the concept of the picnic was completely alien to them and they just didn’t “get” this one story revolving around a picnic. The world needs more publishing if bookmobiles are going to be useful beyond the first 6 months.

    And I also stand by comments I made on Jason’s blog about this article and here on your blog in the past relating to the OLPC: the problem, again & again, with designing these kinds of technologies *for* the rest of the world and not with the rest of the world is that no one really considers how it’s going to be used or what it’s educational/business/etc purpose is. Until someone thinks differently about the method & the purpose, there is just not going to be any useful design possible.

    Oh, and as long as “we” get to decide who gets access, how, and why, then we will be no better than any other colonial master out there.

  5. I quite disagree. I heard Mark Foster discuss this at Stanford. (The video is online.) One exemplary point: who else offers a two watt computer which can present an ebook that is 200 dpi readable in direct sunlight?

    This, if they sell five million or more (prepaid, in million unit lots), will become the biggest education experiment in the history of the world.

    In 2000, Maine had a budget surplus and the governor bought Macintosh iBooks for the seventh graders. At that time, 80 percent of the teachers were opposed. Two years later, 100 percent of the teachers approved and the truancy rate had dropped to near zero. I hope we will hear from some of the kids and from folks who compare their progress with non-laptop enabled students.