Wednesday, November 16, 2005

That's 300 000 laptops

There's a project to supply sub $100 laptops to children in developing nations.

Wind-up laptops. Cool. Or kewl. Whatever. Answers to some questions:
Why is it important for each child to have a computer? What's wrong with community-access centers?
One does not think of community pencils—kids have their own. They are tools to think with, sufficiently inexpensive to be used for work and play, drawing, writing, and mathematics. A computer can be the same, but far more powerful. Furthermore, there are many reasons it is important for a child to "own" something—like a football, doll, or book—not the least of which being that these belongings will be well-maintained through love and care.

What about connectivity? Aren't telecommunications services expensive in the developing world?
When these machines pop out of the box, they will make a mesh network of their own, peer-to-peer. This is something initially developed at MIT and the Media Lab. We are also exploring ways to connect them to the backbone of the Internet at very low cost.

What can a $1000 laptop do that the $100 version can't?
Not much. The plan is for the $100 Laptop to do almost everything. What it will not do is store a massive amount of data.
Access to information is a vital part of (economic, personal, intellectual, social) development but not the whole enchilada.

As a part of development this project is A G-O-O-D T-H-I-N-G.

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