$100 laptop set to bridge digital gap?


This is an interesting idea, and good effort, but I am not sure if it is realistic of the demands placed by computer users worldwide. Just because the user is in a third world country, does not mean the demands are first-world demands. Also, what is the use of students learning Linux, when companies want employees that know and have experience on Windows and Office?

At the end, its a feel good thing, but with Microsoft and Office being a huge standard, I don’t know that creating bare-bones computers is all that helpful. A better option would be to encourage corporations to donate second hand computers to schools.

The visionary is Nicholas Negroponte, director of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his idea consists of a new kind of laptop computer that will cost just $100 (about R636) to buy.

It will also be a little different in design from the sleek machines some of us in the West have learned to love or covet.

It will be foldable in different ways, encased in bump-proof rubber and will include a hand-crank to give it power in those corners of the globe where electricity supply is patchy.

The first prototype of the machine should be ready by November and Negroponte – who was one of the first prophets of the internet before most of us understood the word – hopes to put them into production next year.

He expects to churn out about 15 million of them in a year, shipping most of them at first to children in Brazil, Egypt, Thailand and South Africa.

Describing the unusual design of his sub-laptop on Friday, Negroponte insisted that it would “have to be absolutely indestructible”.

The mission is to create a tool that children almost anywhere can use and can easily carry between their classrooms and their homes. For that reason, for instance, the AC adaptor cable will double as a shoulder strap.

Technology is a big need in third world countries. Instead of trying to create low-cost computing that isn’t competitive, we should be fighting third world corruption, opening up free trade, and helping these countries develop their own technology production capabilities. That’s just my thoughts–who knows, maybe the idea actually works and does help. Perhaps I am missing something here.

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