One Laptop per Child Gets Rolling

I know almost all of you have heard about the $100 One Laptop per Child program that Nicholas Negroponte has been touting for quite some time now. I won’t go into the details, I just wanted to say once again how important this machine really is. I really don’t care what OS it runs, how much RAM it has, how fast it is, or any of the other techno-details that surround it. Just the fact that a guy like Negroponte has decided to make it his mission to do this says something about the man. I’ll tell you one thing, it is certainly a more responsible approach than “No Child Left Behind.”

Now I don’t pretend to know Negroponte, but I do know people who have worked for him and I know that most of them say he is (1) a genius, (2) a tyrant, (3) and rock star. He uses all of that (and some cash) to travel the world to promote his vision of the future … if you’ve ever read Being Digital then you understand why his visions are so strong — he’s been there since the get go. That’s really it … just wanted to point out the obvious. Imagine the possibilities this opens up.

4 Replies to “One Laptop per Child Gets Rolling”

  1. That laptop could probably be cut down in price by about $30 if they were to shave off about 10 lbs of the excess plastic on the casing….WOW! haha

    Anyway, I agree that the initiative and the concept is good, I just wonder how useful the product will be. But I guess I have to get around to understanding that this thing wont be a “super fast, podcasting, office running, do everything out-of-the-box” experience. Just give people (who would otherwise never experience this kind of technology) the opportunity to do and use something that they would never have been able to, and thus helps to close the tech gap.

  2. I probably should have dropped this into the original post, but here is one of the drivers behind my original post … a number of years ago while I was with Penn State’s World Campus we had a whole contingency from University of South Africa come talk to us about distance education. We spent an amazing day talking with them about all sorts of wonderful ideas related to information technology and how it can enhance and extend the learning landscape … at some point, towards the end of the day, one of our visitors calmly said something along the lines of, “maybe you don’t understand, it ten miles to the nearest town with electricity … it is a days walk to see a telephone.”

    That experience put the digital divide into perspective in a way that few of us can comprehend. So, when I say that the $100.00 laptop is a good thing, these are the people I am thinking about … not people who are interested in the “super fast, podcasting, office running, do everything out-of-the-box” machine … I am saying here is a machine that will help drag the “have nots” into a space where they can begin (and I mean begin) to experience a new style of educational experiecne.

    So plastic cases aside, what excites me about this project is nothing more than opportunity. Chris, your last statement is one we should all be thinking about as we go forward … “give people (who would otherwise never experience this kind of technology) the opportunity to do and use something that they would never have been able to, and thus helps to close the tech gap.” Amen … we shall see.

  3. I was at the OLPC office this morning, played with the current machine. It’s a lot slicker than the press photos suggest…stupid light/small. Better, the sucka is actually pretty fast. Ok, not Core Duo fast, but fast enough to do everyday work. That assumes that most people browse the Web, send mail, chat, etc. for the most part. I wouldn’t try to render video with it (although it could do it, would just take awhile), but that’s not the goal.

    Being ex-MIT, I had to look at the motherboard. It’s stupid pretty…Mark Foster is the chief architect, he did a hell of a job.

    People keep bashing the hardware. Turns out it ain’t hard to make a $100 laptop (ok, maybe it’s still a $137.64 laptop). The interesting part of this story will come soon. Mostly, what software do you put on the sucka to make it useful for kids? Brings up lots of issues about pedagogy, epistemology, and computation that have generally been avoided in most educational technology circles. Stand by…this will be the interesting stuff to watch for in the next couple months.

  4. Hey, here’s something cool from Apple’s end of things. Rapper 50 Cent is allegedly in talks with Apple in developing a low cost line of computers for inner city families that can’t afford high end technology (or tech at all).

    The article can be taken with a grain of salt, since it’s from AppleInsider. Here’s the story…

    http://forums.appleinsider.com/showthread.php?s=d8394d389b8f996ee2deb170fbbd00e8&threadid=64287

    The hip-hop star who “put Lamborghini doors on that Es-co-lade” is now looking to Apple Computer for help in placing affordable computers in the hands of the less wealthy.

    According to Forbes, rapper 50 Cent is currently in negotiations with Apple’s chief executive Steve Jobs to produce a line of affordable home computers for inner-city residents.

    “I’m creating a foundation that will be around for a long time, because fame can come and go or get lost in the lifestyle and the splurging,” 50 Cent told the publication. “I never got into it for the music. I got into it for the business.”

    The negotiations between the rapper and Apple are for a “branding deal.”

    50 Cent ranks amongst the world’s richest celebrities, raking in over $67 million in 2005 from record sales and branding deals that include a line of sneakers, a video game and his G-Unit clothing line.

    “[Jobs] is setting a new standard in the music business,” said 50’s manager, Chris Lighty. “Let’s just say we get each other.”

    50 Cent’s untitled third album is due out by Christmas.

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