A laptop computer for only $100 sounds enticing, right? Better yet, a $100 laptop designed just for children. A computer students could use in the classroom and at home to study, learn, and explore. Now imagine these computers in the hands of children in the developing world, children who currently have little exposure to the power technology.
This is the dream of MIT Media Lab co-founder Nicholas Negroponte, a dream slowly becoming a reality in his One Laptop Per Child initiative. He has assembled the best and brightest in the technology world, and together they have redesigned the laptop computer from the CPU up, designed it for children in the developing world.
Backed my millions in funding by the IT industry powerful, his team is claiming amazing technological feats that will revolutionize computing at every level, not just laptops for students. He has also excited governments in several counties who are investigating buying these laptops for their next generation of students.
For three professional geeks who have unchecked techno lust and a deep experience and love for the developing world, One Laptop Per Child brings both awe in the audacity of its goal, a laptop in the hands of every child, as well as a healthy skepticism that it will achieve that goal.
- david at olpcnews dot com) was a sales and marketing professional in the UK before moving to Western Kenya where his Internet addiction is interrupted by occasional East Africa blackouts and daily fatherhood responsibilities.
David is struck by the challenges involved in helping young rural school children to access meaningful ICT skills and wonders how $100 dream machines will fit into traditional pedagogical teaching structures and integrate with current curricula.
- Jon at olpcnews dot com) is a graduate student at George Washington's International Science and Technology Policy, focusing on ICTs in the developing world. Previously, he served in the Caribbean with Peace Corps on IT projects.
Jon worries about the contrast between the well-designed OLPC laptop and the un-designed implementation plans, which focus solely on deployment and not on encouraging adoption at the local level, as well as the cultural impacts of the laptop.
- wayan at olpcnews dot com) develops and deploys international development programs that use information and communication technologies to promote prosperity and stability through private enterprise development.
Wayan celebrates the ability of One Laptop Per Child to bring technology to the forefront of economic development, and can't wait to have a 2B1 himself, but he fears the lack of a defined implementation strategy and realistic cost estimates will create great waste and disillusionment with technology.
They all hope One Laptop Per Child will succeed beyond their skepticism, for if it fails, it will be a waste of millions - millions of dollars of governments' money and millions of children's education.