[Oberon] Re. OLPC - One Laptop Per Child

Ivan Pulleyn ivan.pulleyn at gmail.com
Wed Dec 13 23:29:51 MET 2006

Hi everyone,

This is a very interesting discussion. I think Oberon would be a great
tool for teaching computer science on low-end hardware platforms like

My brother is a professor the University of Oregon who has spent many
years working in places like Sierra Leone and Malawi. Here were his
comments when I forwarded him this thread and asked him what he
thought about OLPC.


	Hi Ivan-- yes, I had heard about this idea. I feel sort of
	torn: I do think there's a lot that could be done by giving
	people in remote areas of Africa (or elsewhere) access to the
	Internet. The guy who can't think of what people in an African
	village would do with a laptop seems to lack imagination: for
	example, there are millions of people in rural Africa who have
	no access to schools or colleges who would love to take online
	distance education courses to get a degree. Or they could use
	it to find out how to treat diseases, or predict the weather
	(very important for farmers), or to apply for jobs. On the
	other hand many of them really do have more immediate
	priorities-- like getting enough food to eat, medicine,
	clothing, etc. I guarantee that if free laptops were given
	out, immediately three quarters of the laptops would be sold
	for a bag of corn or rice and some beans, or for medicine to
	help an ailing relative. The people who would benefit would be
	the ones who are already relatively well-off. We think of
	rural Africans as being uniformly poor, but it's not true:
	there are people who are relatively wealthy (e.g. they have a
	house with a tin roof instead of a grass roof). For those with
	some money and who are educated enough to even to know how to
	use a laptop, this would be great. And, yes, those people DO
	have cell phones. But for about 9/10th of people in rural
	villages in Africa, however, the priorities are still food,
	medicine, shelter. If Americans want to give Africans laptops,
	they should also help to provide education and income-earning
	opportunities (health care, etc.) so that people know how to
	use the laptops and don't have to sell them for a bag of
	corn. --Peter

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