Everyone else is posting this, so I will too

It’s big news, but it should be — Nicholas Negroponte at MIT has unveiled plans for a $100 laptop that will be given to children in Brazil, China, Egypt, Thailand, and South Africa. I’ve heard rumblings of this project before, but it’s official announcement is fantastic news. Taking off from my last post, I’m looking into if and how technology can actually be a boost to the developing world. Techno-people like me, often by default, think that it can, but I want to investigate this with the freshest eyes and ears possible.

One necessity is to keep this kind of project open-source and non-profit. The $100 laptop will be running Linux (maybe Ubuntu?), which is a good thing since not only are commercial operating systems like Windows and OS X too expensive, but if they were used the project would be directly tied to commercial interests and then the making of money would gain priority over the educating of people.

I suspect one big challenge will also be to convince governments and corporations— the places you need to get donations from— that this kind of project is worth it. I suppose this is a job for the PR folks, assuming there are some working on the project. And to a larger degree, the job will be to convince the world at large this is a sound investment, that the returns can be stunning if we all put in the effort.

How’s that for positivity?

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  1. Unfortunately, efforts that don’t reap concrete outcomes — money — there is often too litle energy and interest put into a project like this. And, folks with big bucks — and a social conscience — are a real necessity…but, sadly, not as prevalent as those where monetary rewards are the primary rewards. Still, it’s something that should definitely be pursued.

  2. I don’t know if I subscribe to the belief that computer technology is inherently good. It is a tool to be used for good or deviant deeds. I think it is great to want to do good and to find ways to better lives around the world.

    What concerns me is that in this scenario we (the technologically philanthropic) are playing big brother/sister to our technologically deprived. What if we don’t like what they do with the technology? What kind of responsibility do we bear for handing them a tool that they might use to wage war on each other?

    I’m not advocating witholding the goods of our developments, I just worry about the responsibility and the conditions we consider attaching to our good-natured giving.

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