It-Tlieta, Jannar 29, 2008

The Dream And Difficulties Of Getting A Computer To Every Child

Nicholas Negroponte, a professor at MIT, had to dream that every child, from the most remote place all over the globe would have his own personal laptop. Thus providing children with new possibilities, whose idea of a computer was distant due to lack of resources. However, laptops tend to be very expensive and extremely fragile.

Until this day, the cheapest and most reliable laptop, has been created. After two years of hard work, with Negroponte trying to influence public officials from one continent to another. Hoping to succeed in his lifetime project; Children who cannot afford to go to school, can have their own lessons and lectures from this low-budget laptop that can stand harsh conditions.

"You can pour water on the keyboard. You can dip into – you know, you can dip the base into a bathtub. You can carry it the rain. It’s more robust than your normal laptop. It doesn’t even have holes in the side of it. If you look at it: dirt, sand, I mean, there’s no place for it to go into the machine."

Nicholas Negroponte

Although the machine is designed for children and looks like a toy, it’s a very serious, innovative laptop. It also offers numerous features, one of the first laptops to offer an anti-glare screen that really works under sunlight. It also incorporates a pair of radio antennas that offer twice the range than the ordinary Wi-Fi that five thousand dollar laptops include. Another advantage is that one doesn’t need any electricity at all for his system to function, only a regular crank, even a salad spinner could function as a power genertaor. The battery lasts approximately 10 to 12 hours with heavy usage, one minute of spinning would total to one hour of work. A further feature found in the laptop is security. If a child had to sell or have his laptop stolen, within 24 hours the device would stop any process and become useless. Other features include the abilty to create and edit artwork and music composers.

The biggest challenge that Negroponte and his team had to counter with was competition. Intel, the chip-manufacturing company presented another low-budget laptop, the Classmate. Negroponte clearly stated that Intel’s real intent was business-related, whereas his work is totally charitable - aided by Google and other companies.

"We’re not trying to drive him out of business. We’re trying to bring capability to young people, and it’s more than just Intel. It’s going to take the whole industry to do this. There are lots of opportunities for us to work together. That’s why when you say this is competition, we’re tying to drive him out of business: this is crazy."


Could it be that Negroponte is fearing that his lifetime project is due to immediate failure? Thus leading him to blame Intel for their actions? Or is the monster company solely concerned towards business?

Negroponte was also asked by Stahl if ‘One Laptop Per Child’ is down-to-earth and realistic enough. He stated that if his project was realistic he wouldn’t have started it at the first place. Infact Negroponte and his group, would be happy if they came close to their actual dream and making it possible for poor kids to have their own source of education.

Wayan Vota, director of Geekcorps. Although totally attracted towards the idea, he has his doubts, questioning the method by which children could learn on their own.

"If you hand a child a violin or a piano they can make noise with it, right? But will they be able to make music? If you give a child a computer they’ll be able to operate the computer but will they really be able to learn without having a teacher, whether it’s formal, informal, to help them along that learning path?"

Wayan Vota

However, Negroponte is pretty close to his definitive purpose. After having teamed up with Intel, the dream has become true. Apart from that it is also possible to purchase one of these low-budget laptops, for the price of two. One for the buyer and the other for another child in need.

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