[Oberon] Re. OLPC - One Laptop Per Child

John Drake jmdrake_98 at yahoo.com
Thu Dec 14 03:01:29 MET 2006

A few points to consider.  First the OLPC project
isn't ONLY aimed at Africa.  India and China are
two of the fastest growing economy in the world.
Second, according to the FAQ, they aren't going
to just show up on the back of a U.N. food truck
and start handing out laptops to kids with 
bloated stomachs.  The plan is to SELL laptops
to countries who will then distribute them to
schools.  Its safe to assume that the laptop will
remain the property of the local schools.  While
there's still the possiblity of theft and 
corruption, it still reduces the probability
(in some countries anyway) that they'll be traded
for a "bag of corn".

Finally this really needs to be looked at as
an "appropriate technology hardware" project
more so than a "charity" project.  Like I said,
they're SELLING the machines.  And frankly, at
$100 I'd buy one myself. (Though it doesn't look
like they will initially be available for 
personal sale.)  Have you ever gone to a toy
store and looked at "children's computers"?
They're usually over priced crappy hardware
for which you can only buy overpriced crappy
software.  Sure, there's the option of buying
an old laptop, reformatting the harddisk and
installing Linux, but most of the ones available
for $100 are usually so worn out that they
need to be junked.  

Earlier Chris Glur mentioned the apparent
failure of the Simputer.  While it looks to
me like the Simputer is still alive it,
it certainly hasn't taken off.  One of the
reasons cited by Wikipedia is the perception
that it was a "poor mans computer" and slow
adoption by government and NGO agencies.
Anyway, I personally don't think it would
be bad if some OLPCs and/or Simputers found
there way to the open markets of Nairobi.
I think they could be usefull for example
to legitimate businessmen who now use Internet
cafes.  Even without a connection at their
own home they could answer emails offline
and upload them when connected and save
on connection charges.  Just an idea.


John M. Drake

--- Bob Walkden <bob at web-options.com> wrote:

> Hi,
> yes - an interesting discussion.
> > 	Internet. The guy who can't think of what people
> in an African
> > 	village would do with a laptop seems to lack
> imagination: 
> Well, an internet connection in every village is a
> very different
> proposition from one laptop per child, which is what
> baffles me. 
> I have also spent quite a lot of time travelling in
> different parts of
> Africa, mainly Ethiopia, and several other
> developing countries. I've
> even used some of those internet cafes, and I
> believe I have perhaps a
> more realistic view than most Westerners about
> people's living
> conditions there. Your brother's closing point is
> certainly the most
> accurate in my opinion:
> > 	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.  
> Otherwise it all sounds rather like 'let them eat
> cake'.
> --
> Regards,
>  Bob 
> --
> Oberon at lists.inf.ethz.ch mailing list for ETH Oberon
> and related systems
> https://lists.inf.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/oberon

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