One Laptop Per Child has understandably focused on children, its in the name even, and they keep saying it's a educational project, not a technology project, but Michael de la Maza brings up an interesting point: what about the adult users of the 2B1 Children's Machine? He's right to say:
"Adults will use the OLPC to comprehend, to connect, and to create just as kids do."I know I wanna be the first adult on my block to buy an OLPC 2B1. And I know I am not alone.
In my work, I see adults just as transfixed by the power of technology to educate and connect. They too want to learn about the world outside their physical boundaries, want to communicate with others, and want to improve themselves through both. Now I don't think adults will go as far as Mr. de la Maza suggests when he says:
"The OLPC may be so compelling that adults have children just so they can get their hands on one."I think they'll do like I and buy one on the grey & black markets, or even get an adult version from Quanta Computing.
"I expect that an OLPC-enabled dating service that meshes with bricks & mortar social institutions will be available within a few months of the first large deployment of OLPCs.While I do not disagree, I do think there will be other uses before and in more demand than Match.com Thailand.
The OLPC has many hardware and software features, such as instant messaging and telephony, that make it a wonderful partner in starting and nurturing romantic relationships."
Based off my work with cybercafes in the developing world, I say the first deployment will coincide with a dramatic increase in emails (and possibly VoIP phone calls) to rich relatives asking for financial support. Not Nigerian 419 scams, mind you, but more basic requests to known family members for direct assistance. This is not a bad thing in general, for it will hopefully increase remittances or at least foster better communication between residents and Diaspora.
Then, once they exhaust their funding sources, there will be a jump in image downloading, specifically pornography. Again, at its basic, porn is not a bad thing. We all enjoy it, and for some of these countries it may afford an outlet for sexual urges otherwise gone wrong. But there will be a major social impact when conservative cultures are face to screen with the diverse cornucopia of nudity existent on the Internet today.
I only hope that the introduction of OLPC 2B1's into a country creates a wellspring of local, adult-written content. That the next voice of Africa or South America emerges when gifted storytellers have the tools to expand their audience globally. That the Internet becomes more diverse, not so Americentric, and we have One Digital Voice Per Person.
Also, I do hope that the OLPC laptops allow adults to quickly increase their long-term socio-economic status. Either through direct income generation or through the children's prestige in mastering technology, only when parents see a tangible return will they fully support 2B1 usage by children. Granted, increased long-term income generation, and not just reselling the laptop, will be a difficult proposition.
Michael, do you have any ideas on that?