Friday, September 30, 2005

Nano laptop?


We are getting more details about Nicholas Negroponte's " $100 windup-powered laptop targeted at children in developing nations". See a related C-Net presentation, that has absolutely gorgeous pictures of this laptop. It's truly wonderful, looks stylish, and has many thoughtful features built into it. At the end of it all, if the laptop does have all those features at such a low price, heck, I want one!

Having said that, I have to pour some cold water here. In all this excitement, we should not -- and I repeat, we should not -- lose sight of the bad aspects of Negroponte's initiative. I have already said why I think the 'laptop-for-poor-kids' meme is a bad one, and expanded on my views in my comments on Charu's post.

Finally, let me quote from the official website for this initiative:

How will these be marketed?

The idea is to distribute the machines through those ministries of education willing to adopt a policy of "One Laptop per Child." Initial discussions have been held with China, Brazil, Thailand, and Egypt. Additional countries will be selected for beta testing. Initial orders will be limited to a minimum of one million units (with appropriate financing).

Do you see, now? The idea is to sell millions of them to education ministers. If that's not stomach-churning, I have a soft-copy of 'Friday the 13th -- the 30th of September edition' that I am sure you will greatly enjoy.

2 Comments:

  1. Venkatesh said...

    Abi,
    I think this is a good initiative. knowledge should be easily accessible to everyone and I guess this is one of the ways of doing it. Not sure how sucessfull this would be though. US has seen the benifit of free public libraries so that Americans can educate themselves and India needs some initiatives similar to those. I would be bloggin my thoughts sometime next week on the same.

    Rgds,
    -V
    my blog

  2. Abi said...

    Venkatesh, I said it is a bad idea because many poor countries, including India, have very fundamental needs in schools -- teachers, blackboards, buildings, benches and desks, toilets, and ... . Is a laptop the most important thing a child in a government-run rural school need?

    There is another point, not quite related to the above. If a 100 dollar laptop can be developed and marketed commercially, it will succeed on its own -- only if it is good and useful. I don't think anyone would quarrel with that idea. Now, what does it say about Negroponte's laptop when it depends so crucially on governmental crutches by way of a minimum order -- signed by the education minister -- for 1 million units?