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ICT & new media

 di Betsy Dugas

An Evaluation of the Project by Knowledg@Warton

one laptop per child

I enjoyed the thorough overview of the questions and issues that have arisen from the OLPC effort given by the University of Pennsylvania's Knowledge@Warton.

Here are some additional thoughts about the subject:

I would like to repeat the idea that the very nature of innovation is that it does not stop. The implementation of each new idea sparks numerous other ideas. It is great to see Intel getting into the picture and adding some competition.

I understood, attending the 2007 Internet Governance Forum, that the value of being connected does not necessarily mean actually being connected to "the US and European" internet. Local cultures and neighboring countries gain great value in just being connected amongst themselves.

Some reasons:

To encourage and develop the positive values in their own cultures by building sites in their own languages with local content.

To develop their own economies that uses these new marketable skills. As we have seen in the last century, when young people in developing countries gain marketable skills it often leads them to leaving the country for better opportunities, thereby draining the local communities of potential for growth. If the biggest expense of setting up local schools with central networks is support and maintenance, then this is an opportunity to train locals to take on the maintenance and support.

Books are expensive, as Jon Hall pointed out in a developerworks podcast. Local networks, as the article mentions that nComputing is promoting, could be loaded with all the reading material. Not to mention other stand-alone educational tools that allow students to learn at their own place, and sometimes beyond what their local educators can give them.

Here, connectivity to the "big internet in the sky" is not a requirement.

Finaly the OLPC laptop is a tool. The initial vision is for children; however a tool is a tool. Think of the value to local businesses in developing countries to connect amongst themselves and with the local government.

I look forward with great hope and excitement to seeing how far and wide innovative individuals will take this initial spark - within inner cities, within non-for-profits, and within developing countries where each environment takes off on its own direction. Not to mention the parallel development of cellular technology - the race is on!