The OLPC; One Laptop Per Child project is the brainchild of Nicholas Negroponte and other veterans of the renowned Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It’s a social welfare movement aimed at providing children in the developing world with low cost computers to explore, experiment and express themselves.

So meetings were held, designs proposed and several discussions later the XO-1 laptop was conceived as the viable tool to achieve the above stated goals. Its a specially designed ‘no frills’ rugged portable computer with open source software and wireless networking capabilities that allows users specifically in developing countries to run basic computing tasks ranging from word to image processing and manipulation. A pretty decent device in general that will probably educate many children albeit the relatively expensive $100 price tag that clearly puts it out of reach of its intended audience.

OLPC embarked on well thought out strategy to ensure the product reaches its intended audience. This has primarily been structured by negotiations and agreements with governments and developing agencies. They also leveraged on the 2007 Christmas season by enticing spender generosity in America ‘Give 1 Get 1’ offer that allowed consumers to buy one device and simultaneously paying for another one to benefit a needy child.

As Adam Smith once said -:

“It is not from the benevolence of the
butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their
regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity
but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of
their advantages.”

The project has had its fair share of setbacks, with typical reneging of promises by governments in developing countries and perhaps the biggest blow was fallout between Intel and OLPC in December 2007. OLPC planned to leverage on Intel’s hardware expertise to keep costs down, Intel on the other hand has its own plans for the low end developing world market. Despite escalating production costs that soar above the $100 selling price, the brains behind OLPC still remain optimistic.

The solutions in bridging the digital divide lie far much higher than the generosity of the Western world. I am not questioning the sincerity of such projects such as the OLPC but all stakeholders can certainly take a cue from India’s rise to a technology giant. It was not through charity that India got to where it is today but from the right leadership, policies and programs aimed at empowering its masses to greater heights. This was certainly achieved without a magic gadget.

  • BROWSE / IN digital divide negroponte olpc one laptop per child


How about one ps3 for every child… it will be the OPS3PC movement sponsored by the generous folks at sony entertainment, a brain child courtesy of your truly. :)

motensity added these pithy words on Jul 27 08 at 07:58

Mmh probably till Sony get their business model right on the PS3 then we can think about that.

Maji added these pithy words on Aug 15 08 at 02:26

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On Laptops and Bridging The Digital Divide!



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