One Laptop Per Child

I remember reading Nicholas Negroponte’s book, Being Digital, in 1995. He predicted the convergence of mass market media into digital delivery: audio, video, broadcast, print.

Negroponte is founder and chair of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) non-profit organization. The mission of OLPC is to design, manufacture, and distribute laptops that are sufficiently inexpensive to provide every child in the world access to knowledge and modern forms of education.

The cost of the laptop is to be within $100. From their FAQ page:

The proposed $100 machine will be a Linux-based, with a dual-mode display””both a full-color, transmissive DVD mode, and a second display option that is black and white reflective and sunlight-readable at 3× the resolution. The laptop will have a 500MHz processor and 128MB of DRAM, with 500MB of Flash memory; it will not have a hard disk, but it will have four USB ports. The laptops will have wireless broadband that, among other things, allows them to work as a mesh network; each laptop will be able to talk to its nearest neighbors, creating an ad hoc, local area network. The laptops will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data.

Here is a mock-up of the proposed machine. I hope OLPC is successful in bringing technology to larger groups of children across the world.
100 Dollar Laptop

2 replies
  1. Stephen Meyer
    Stephen Meyer says:

    To be honest when I first read this I thought in my head (and quite sarcastically) “or maybe you should give them fresh drinking water.” But thankfully I re-thought the concept and my assumptions and realized that maybe there is more value to the information that can be gained than I originally attributed to it. So now an argument rages in my mind about what cause I would rather support, I imagine this is a very controversial issue. I guess it comes back to the old “give a man a fish…” Thank you for a great post, I truly love the push for insight and as a media student I appreciate the value given to an access of information.

    Reply
  2. Richard Cleaver
    Richard Cleaver says:

    What assumption do we make about children in developing countries? Do we assume that all of them are starving and near death? Do we assume that all they need is food and water?

    Unicef assesses severe deprivation against seven attributes:

    Shelter
    Sanitation
    Water
    Information
    Nutrition
    Health
    Education

    You can learn more about Unicef’s view of the state of children in developing countries here.

    Nutrition and water are essential to the welfare of children in developing countries. However, “giving a man a fish” is more than just providing a way to eat. And more than simply existing.

    Education and information are just as essential to improving the welfare of children in developing countries.

    We have so much here in Canada that we can easily disregard the need for personal development in developing countries as non-essential to life.

    We were not put on this planet just to eat food and drink water. The One Laptop per Child is intended to complement other efforts to improve the welfare of children in developing countries.

    A noble cause and I hope it works out.

    Reply

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