Since everybody is talking to somebody, I decided to talk to myself and here is a personal interview on this XO laptop thing. The following, are the excerpts courtesy of myself.
Why the laptop? People are starving; they need food instead of those laptops? Thanks for your concern. How much food have you tried sending to them? By the way, you should note there are more illiterate than starving people in my country. This doesn’t mean I support the minority starving but development should be a multi-pronged process. We feed our hungry and educate the mentally hungry too. This laptop can actually boost the agricultural production. I think you have heard of the mesh topology networking thing, have you? And you have heard the most common reason for the Internet in developing countries is something like this ‘we can check for prices of our commodities, we can communicate to buyers.’ So you see, better prices for the agricultural products which interestingly support most of these ‘starving’ people unless they are in a war torn area. The meteorological department can send messages of when rains are coming. The agricultural department can send info of when to plant and what to plant, better farming methods, the list is endless. So when a kid is carrying this laptop to school, a parent instructs him or her on what information she/her would like. The kid goes to school where there should be some Internet connection and voila, information. You see, the most common method of information dissemination this side is by radio and some parents can’t afford them or are away when this information is aired so they have to it from the social gathering area read a bar, where sanity levels are very much doubtful. So this system of communication can be like this: From the government to district headquarters to school via the laptop to the home. I feel like drawing that chart for you. How is it possible? Just set up an electronic school bulletin board when pupils can download that info. And I like this method better. It has less talk and less translation and can reach the last man/woman any time he/she wishes. And any feed back to the government can be done in the reverse direction. That’s the way things are done in a decentralized government. If your government is not like that, get your head up and running.
Will it really help an illiterate man in the village? Well, added to the above, it is an education tool. Have you heard of 50 to 60 year old men joining primary schools?(I would love to see a 50 year old man trying his big fingers on that tiny XO laptop.) After children getting information at school they can save that on these machines and take it to their parents. You see what I am talking about: small-long distance adult education via the XO laptop.
What about that criticism of not knowing how the laptops will be repaired, the right policies and such stuff? Hey, it is time people began forgetting about spoon feeding. The OLPC guys made the laptop. They don’t have to show you where you are going to get money from, or what to do with it, blah, blah. Anybody with some imagination should begin firing up that imagination. That’s what happens when a revolutionary idea is born.
What about the O/S? Windows or Linux or what? I think you should leave arguments like these to people who can make money when they make such noises. If you are one of them go ahead buddy somebody has to benefit while others lose. I have always been open on this and my opinion is this which is biased with reasons: If these machines are loaded with Windows they will become toys. You should watch what children do to their toys when they ‘misbehave.’