“I have to some degree underestimated the difference between shaking the hand of a head of state and having a check written,” said Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of the nonprofit project. “And yes, it has been a disappointment.”
This is quote from a NY Times article i bumped in following Samantha’s post on facebook. This is a bit sad and interesting at the same time. I don’t know if it was naive of Negraponte to believe that distribution through governments will work in the first place, but i don’t want to think that. I think we have to give credit to man and his vision. Maybe one has to go through the bureaucracy of working with governments before they can examine alternatives. Maybe this is a part of social structures governing our world? Or maybe i am reading too much Durkheim recently :)
So, OLPC are launching a Christmas sale where people in North America could by that laptop for four times the price ($400 instead of $100, but that is still rather cheap) and by doing that donate another one to a kid in developing country. Sounds interesting, but there was one thing that really annoyed me:
“Staff members of the laptop project were concerned that American children might try the pared-down machines and find them lacking compared to their Apple, Hewlett-Packard or Dell laptops.”
I think this indicates a bit of a hypocritical approach. On the one hand you promote development, but on the other you are doing this by offering people a second class tools? Is this how development should work? Something that is not good enough by my standards i will give to the other who in the first place has less? I don’t see why, particularly with such an innovative approach to technology and its potential role into development, this set of mind was characterizing OLCP’s team approach. I would expect them to think out of the box and actually provide that neat, cheap tool that not only wouldn’t be inferior, but would be an equal competitor to the existing, more expensive models. After all they put many years, brains, and money into developing it.
Gladly though, the studies they run among youth this summer showed that the laptops are actually perceived as cool, and i think this is the way it should have been in the first place. Originally the laptop should have been designed to be cool and good, to be a working machine. Maybe it’s time we rethink the way we think about development in the first place.