Jan 31 2008

MyLife: The $100 computer

Published by at 8:57 pm under Uncategorized

Loud Murmurs author and super Vancouver technologist David Drucker got his hands on an XO-1 $100 laptop. The machine is a product of the non-profit One Laptop Per Child Foundation, which intends to help children and families in the developing world benefit from the information age

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A second computer went off to a child in a developing country (Presumably, the one David had was distributed to help promote the project to ignoramuses like myself).

I’m conflicted on the idea of giving laptops to children in countries where development is typically measured in numbers of people with access to clean drinking water or basic education. But it would be hard to argue that scarce funds should not be spent on technology until absolutely everyone in a poor country has the basics; after all, even in the developed world, there are those who fall through the cracks.

Countries that aren’t tapped into globalization (eg. North Korea, Myanmar, Yemen) are the least successful ones on the planet, and modern globalization is driven in part by computers and their associated infrastructure. Ultimately, giving computers to people in poor countries is on balance a good thing.

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6 responses so far

6 Responses to “MyLife: The $100 computer”

  1. Facebook » MyLife: The $100 computeron 31 Jan 2008 at 10:06 pm

    […] Currents wrote an interesting post today on MyLife: The $100 computerHere’s a quick excerpt Loud Murmurs author and super Vancouver technologist David Drucker got his hands on an XO-1 $100 laptop. The machine is a product of the non-profit One Laptop Per Child Foundation, which intends to help children and families in the developing world benefit from the information age. A second computer went off to a child in a developing country (Presumably, the one David had was distributed to help promote the project to ignoramuses like myself). I’m conflicted on the idea of giving laptops to […]

  2. Davidon 02 Feb 2008 at 11:37 pm

    Thanks for the posting and pict (you’d think I could keep my eyes open… :) )

    I know what you mean about putting the putting the cart before the horse (or in this case, the microchip before the public utilities and waste treatment, clean water, enough food to eat, teachers, hospitals… argh. So much to get, where to start!). I can only hope that access to technology, connections to the Internet (and each other), introductions to the concepts of software programming, media, and other tools can act as a catalyst. Kids need a reason to want to improve their world. While a computer won’t provide this per se, perhaps it’s another piece of the puzzle. I also hope I’ll get the chance to connect with one or more of the kids who are also holding one of these PCs.

  3. dirkon 03 Feb 2008 at 12:10 am

    JN said…”I’m conflicted on the idea of giving laptops to children in countries where development is typically measured in numbers of people with access to clean drinking water or basic education”…

    gotta agree with you there.Although I am not conflicted.I think the whole idea is a waste of time.The infighting between Chip manufacturers AMD and Intel on this issue illustrate that its more about business and developing market penetration .
    Like please if the world can’t even supply pencils and books and basic education.What possible hope is there for $100 laptops.
    2/3 of the world live on 2$ or less, the majority have never made a telephone call.
    Nope someone has their priorities mixed up.

  4. Raulon 03 Feb 2008 at 11:43 am

    Thanks Jonathon,

    After reading this, I think we do agree in a lot of fundamental things. It’s true, as Dirk indicated. Someone has their priorities wrong. What do poor children in developing countries need first? Eat properly or check their email? I mean, I applaud the interest of providing people with opportunities to further their education (that’s I think one good possibility for 100 dollar laptops), but come on, where is the money for sanitation, public health campaigns, etc.

  5. jnarveyon 03 Feb 2008 at 5:24 pm

    David: You’re welcome. Very neat present.

    Dirk and Raul: You guys both make some good points. But I do like the optimism inherent in the inspirational plan for the XO-1.

    David mentioned to me the other day that youth in developing countries that have received these machines have started making money from fixing them (Evidently, when they do crash, as even high-end computers are wont to do, they are relatively easy to repair). Who knows? Maybe these computers will spur the growth of high-tech skills amongst a small technocratic elite?

    Ultimately, if developing countries don’t develop technical skills somehow, they’ll get caught in a permanent cycle of poverty. Perhaps the kids fixing these machines today will become the technological and entrepreneurial leaders in their countries tomorrow.

    Thanks for your comments, guys. Let me think on this some more…

  6. Outsmartson 08 Feb 2008 at 10:52 am

    Just because they don’t have running water doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have an XO. By helping to educate these children in this way perhaps future generations will be in a better position to help themselves.

    BTW I love my XO. Does everything I want and more (from a blogging device to e-mail reader to internet access on the go) and comes in at thousands less than the other devices I was looking at….

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