One Laptop Per Child

Robert Huff roberthuff at
Mon Nov 12 12:56:47 PST 2007

Bahman M. writes:
>  On 2007-11-12 Olivier Nicole wrote:

>  > That is a difficult issue, while this is an opportunity, I doubt this
>  > is the most needed thing to provide education. We are talking giving
>  > laptop to people who do not even have electricity in some cases...
>  I second the idea.
>  No doubt that OLPC is a great effort but I wonder how such ideas
>  will be useful in 3rd world countries where the IT
>  infrastructures are so poor that even dial-up Internet is not
>  available in some towns, let alone villages and rural regions.  I
>  try to be not cynic but there are so many problems in education
>  system that learning how to use a computer has a low priority.

	The problem I have always had with this is computer use does not
exist in a vacuum; it changes, and is changed by, the society in
which it happens.
	If I look at the countries of the "first world", I see places
that have walked the path from the written word to the telegraph to
the telephone to the computer.  At each step they've tested the new
technology, learning what it can and cannot do, discovering stuff
the inventors never even imagined, discarding ideas that are
techically problematic or culturally unpalatable, and adapting to it
as it adapted to them.
	Now consider dropping 100,000 OLPC on a country where the
(median and mode) hardware layer is paper and ink, the government -
often autocratic and kleptocratic - cannot manage to install and run
a 1950's era phone system, and religious leaders fulminate against
imunization as a "foreign plot".  Even under the best of
circumstaces exactly what do people reasoaly expect to happen?

				Robert Huff


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