Fuseproject to the Design Rescue

Wired Magazine's August 2006 issue profiles Yves Béhar and fuseproject, the new designers at OLPC and a few of the article's quotes are telling. Behar's especially.

On the original hand crank design, he was quick to see what we all knew; it was an unworkable marketing gimmick:

"There were too many parts flapping around, too many open places. It wasn't realistic," Béhar says. "It should be compact and sealed, like a suitcase. And it should really look and feel different. It shouldn't look like something for business that's been colored for kids."
Still, like I, he understands the need for technology in the developing world, and dismisses the usual "they need to eat first" argument:
Béhar thinks the laptop project is more pragmatic than his skeptics realize. "There's a criticism that comes up," he says. "I think it's the stupidest argument: Send kids food, send them water." These critics, he says, imagine all the developing world to be a famine-stricken village in Africa. "This is the typical ignorance of the West. There are different conditions in different places," he says. "And there are a lot of places where kids are not starving, where kids want to learn more than anything else."
Better yet, there are many places where the information learned via the Internet, like agricultural production, health care, and higher education, can lift up a country's standard of living quite dramatically. Increased access to information is a driver of economic development.

Before I get on that soapbox, note the reality check Wired gives Behar & the $100 dollar laptop program

Negroponte has promised to ship millions of laptops around the world. If it succeeds, Béhar's design will become an icon. If it fails, it will be something more like the first English-Esperanto dictionary - an artifact of ill-fated idealism.
The only exception I have to that comparison is that no government spent at least $150 million on 1 million English-Esperanto dictionaries.

Thanks T. A. Abinandanan

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