Sunday, June 11, 2006

The $100 Laptop

Well, it appears Mr Negroponte has a new prototype of his laptop, and with some refinement. And its looking pretty darned good.

Ever since his project hit the mainstream media, there has been a level of buzz in the Pacific about how good it would be to give this out to kids here. What most don't realise is that it is an economy of scale issue. I understand that a Government must commit to purchase a certain number (which I understand to be larger than the population of some  island countries). Reading comments from others around the world, there  is also the question of priorities. Most developing countries are more  concerned with provide electricity, clean water, sanitation and basic health services to their population. A laptop for every kid in the village would not exactly fit into the picture per se, and I, for now,  don't see Governments shelling out $$$ for these just yet. Then I hear people say let's talk to the politicians and they will listen to us and act. Again, and I say this from observation and experience, it ain't that simple. Yes some may listen, and will most definitely agree its a good idea, but ask them for the $$$ to fund it and you will get a polite answer on funds being committed on priority projects such as those mentioned earlier, which is valid.

There are also questions on how getting and paying for Internet access for these laptops, particularly in rural areas. Of course, the Internet is not the only application for the laptops, but in today's age, an important one. Mr Negroponte and his team have done the necessary engineering (and continue the refinement process), now it is time for the rest of us to work out how these will be deployed and how the deployment will be sustained in the long run, what the constraints for acceptance will be, how exactly a curriculum will be developed (and how quickly) to support (a more holistic) educational use for the laptop, and how to make sure the laptop does not end up as a boat anchor or table-top...... ;-)

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