Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"The Soul of a New Laptop"

How about a laptop computer that sells for $100.00? In “Networks Breakthrough Designs” in the May 7 issue of Forbes, describes how this dramatically new innovation came into being and is scheduled to go into production late this summer. The article written by Jonathon Fahey says the idea is to get millions of computers in the hands of Third World kids. Nicholas Negroponte, Former director of the Mit media lab started building interest in this idea in 2005. He enlisted the help eventually of 1500 people from all different technical fields and from around the world, whose efforts have resulted in thousands of late-stage prototypes already built. “The laptop is called XO designed thru a network of ideas-some borrowed, some stolen-that cross pollinate. It took 500 years to cobble together St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice with parts and ideas from far flung places that were incorporated into this church”. Compare with two years to develop a $100 laptop.

Negroponte’s nonprofit group, One Laptop per Child, has raised $31 million from donors such as Google, Nortel, News Corp., Red Hat and the computer is being built by Quanta using Amd and Marvel chips and Red Hat—Linux-based open-source—software. The suppliers expect to make a small profit on the laptops.

This country we live in has many kids and adults now and a lot more coming that will not be much better off than most third world countries today. I know, I visit the classrooms to observe the students (and teachers) and ask questions.

If the laptops work as expected, expect something similar to be available shortly here in the U.S.—affordable computers for all to own.

Read the article, especially if you’re sold on the Public Library System spending $35,000,000.00 a year of new tax dollars without even talking to the people on the line in the public school system in Peoria. Most of those working with kids now see what is coming down the line and while we must have books, eventually less will be read as hard copy. Fiction and romance will always be popular but remember that those who would catch us, surpass us and enslave us, are not reading much fiction and romance or playing endless, sit on your butt, games.

The Peoria Public Library officials did not seek input from principals and librarians in #150 including Mary Ward who is over all #150 school libraries. I visited all of them and asked each the same question and the answer was no; they did not. Who should know better how kids will be using libraries in the future, than those who work with these kids 180 days out the year?

What is coming down the line is exciting and scary. Most kids and many adults will be computer savvy in the next decade and those who aren’t, will either be in charge or in professional positions where they have others do the computer work for them. The rest, mainly non-readers and dropouts, may be competing hard for some of the better trade positions that pay well and don’t require computing skills. The rest of the rest, most likely will be working and competing with those whose major asset may be a work ethic, integrity and willingness to accept responsibility. These competitors may continue to come into the U.S. as legal or illegal immigrants to take most of the low skill jobs.

Count on it and count on outsourcing of ordinary skills to continue, no matter which party is in power. Expect our welfare role supporting our own not working society to increase.

This article is interesting and I can’t do it justice on this site. Well worth reading or look it up @ (wiki.laptop.org) If it works as planned, stay tuned.

1 comment:

ben said...

It's good to see a report about One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) in a media outlet that's not part of the 'tech' world. If you don't mind, I would like to take the opportunity to preemptively dismantle a common strawman presented by One Laptop opponents.

Many people attack OLPC as wasteful, saying that we shouldn't give/sell computers to kids who can't even eat regularly or keep a roof over their heads. The answer is, duh! OLPC is not meant for environments like the sub-Saharan towns in Christian missionary commercials. It's meant for developing countries like Brazil, Libya, and Indonesia; these are places without a lot of money, but (by and large) they are not nations of mass-starvation, disease epidemics, or civil war, struggling for survival on a daily basis.