×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Negroponte Hints At Paper-Like Design For XO-3

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the in-that-it-is-not-made-of-raspberries dept.

Displays 69

waderoush writes "In May 2008, Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of the One Laptop Per Child Foundation, unveiled an e-book like design for the second-generation XO Laptop, consisting of a pair of facing touchscreens. In a new e-mail interview, Negroponte says that design has been thrown out, and that instead the foundation is working on version '1.75' of the existing green-and-white laptop with a more powerful processor, as well as a '3.0' version that would look 'more like a sheet of paper.' Negroponte also addressed a range of other questions about the OLPC project, including the significance of the project to make 1.6 million e-books readable on the XO laptop and the organization's push to reach more children in Latin America, Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

69 comments

It makes sense (4, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#29963332)

I think that in any third-world country access to "open source" text books on any subject at zero extra cost would be more important than the actual "educational computer" functionality. It makes sense that the primary design goal should be that it is a good ebook reader. It looks neat and at $75 it is a fraction of the cost of current readers ... I want one!

Re:It makes sense (-1, Troll)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 4 years ago | (#29963394)

Exactly, why do we are about OLPC. Is there any evidence it is not just a waste of resources?

Re:It makes sense (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29963548)

Exactly. I am so tired of hearing this guy try to get attention. Please, produce something useful or disappear.

Re:It makes sense (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29963650)

Dear Mr. Negroponte,

  Want to help third-world countries to get affordable laptops for their children? Here is a reasonable way to do it:

  • Ask Dell, Asus, HP, Lenovo, Sony, Apple, and whoever else for the lowest priced laptop they and their OEM manufacturer partners can offer. Compare the specs, the best offer at the lowest price wins the contract for the next 3 years. If there is no good offer, order at the OEM manufacturers directly. (But there will be a good offer.)
  • Put Ubuntu (fresh standard install, nothing else) and a few hundred essential textbooks on it.
  • Make deals with governments/politicians to make sure the laptops get distributed in a halfway fair manner.
  • Repeat after 3 years.

If the children in those countries feel a need for it, I'm sure they're smart enough to write some "sugar" interface or similar trash themselves. and if they need Windows(tm) I'm sure they'll figure out where to find it.

Re:It makes sense (1)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | more than 4 years ago | (#29965130)

  • Make deals with governments/politicians to make sure the laptops get distributed in a halfway fair manner.

Program crashed. Politicians != fairness. Impossible instruction given.

Re:It makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30044508)

And how does that solve problems that might be encountered by the laptop users in third world countries?

Such as:

- Poor access to power. The solution to this requires low power computers and the ability to use alternate forms of power, such as a hand crank.

- Durability. These will be used by children so may not be treated with due care and attention, also it should be resistant to dust and water.

- Easy to fix. If you have two broken computers it should be fairly easy to take a working part from a broken computer to fix another computer with a different fault.

- Sunlight readable. Remember that you need this ability whilst keeping a low power profile.

I'm sure there are other potential problems as well. Netbooks go some way towards meeting some of these problems, but not as well as the OLPC, which has been designed with these issues in mind. Also remember that netbooks didn't appear until after the XO-1.

The OLPC may not be achieving the success originally planned or meeting its target price, but it is helping drive the development of small cheap computers which meet the needs of the needs of these poor countries much better than what is currently available.

Yes, perhaps these people could write a sugar-like interface themselves, but I don't see that as being likely, look at the the interface designs of many open-source apps, for one reason and also that only the OLPC project has developed a sugar-like interface despite the fact that first world countries could probably benefit from it almost as much no-one else has developed it.

Finally, remember that what these countries really need is an affordable versatile educational tool, a laptop can be used as such, but only with the right software, the OLPC aims to provide a lot more than just a cheap laptop.

Re:It makes sense (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 4 years ago | (#29972206)

Wow, never been modded down as troll before. I guess my point was this: OLPC appears to judge success by laptops distributed (and money donated). I think this is a poor measure of success. A better measure would be education improved, so studies showing that children who were given OLPC laptops had showed to some sort of improvement over children who were not (obviously, you would need to do randomized treatment assignment to figure this out). But ultimately, you want them to be better at some sort of occupation (child rearing, farming, manufacturing, trade) and so the real results would have to be measured much later.

Even this would not really give you the answer to the real question you want to know though, is this use of $200 better than another use. i.e. would safe drinking water, treatments for diseases, or some other program help more?

Re:It makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29963422)

Absolutely, 'cause we wouldn't want any of those poor dears to ACTUALLY HAVE A FREAKIN' LAPTOP! That might lead to them doing something great like networking their whole country and pushing the westies out. Can't have that now, can we?

Re:It makes sense (1)

skgrey (1412883) | more than 4 years ago | (#29963440)

I understand the desire for a laptop device that is able to do more than read textbooks. The audience is kids in school, both starting out and more advanced. You want software that also helps the kids learn to read, do math, and possibly watch some basics videos about the world.

My three year old is able to sit down with my iPod touch and run through a variety of games. He knows how to unlock it, scroll through the menus, and choose which game he wants. There are coloring games, letter and number games, and shape games. He is also starting to do the same on my laptop. Learning with this type of technology has come much more naturally than the flashcards and flat books.

Sure an ebook reader is a great possibility, but I think part of the point is to engage the children as well and teach them in more constructive ways than just flat reading.

Re:It makes sense (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 4 years ago | (#29963612)

"Dear kind sir, I am the three-year-old child of millionaire skgrey. My father's bank accounts are overflowing, and I would like to share some of my family's good fortune while he is distracted by slashdot. I merely need some bank account numbers of yours for good faith to proceed with this gifting.

"With great hope,
Junior"

Please don't let your kid get too curious with the laptop!

Re:It makes sense (1)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 4 years ago | (#29963476)

E-book readers will be the killer app for next year's net-tablets, IMO. The good ones will likely use Pixel Qi screens [youtube.com]. As for OLPC, they're doing great pioneering work, which launched the netbook phenomenon. Pixel Qi will provide OLPC the paper-like screens at cost. In e-book mode, the battery should last days, not hours, and with the overall reductions in cost for the multi-touch display, processor (can you say ARM?), and power system, net tablets for under $100 may just be possible. Frankly, I'll hold out for a $250 10" tablet that looks like Apple designed it, but runs Ubuntu Netbook Remix. It'll read like e-paper, but also can play HD videos.

Great vision, but is technology the answer? (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29963362)

From the OLPC website:

Mission Statement: To create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning. When children have access to this type of tool they get engaged in their own education. They learn, share, create, and collaborate. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future.

They even go on to say that this is about education, not laptops [laptop.org]. So why are they working on building these devices when if all they want is a cheap Panasonic Toughbook? It seems that instead of trying to build cheaper devices, they could partner with a company (like Panasonic) to provide this kind of technology on the cheap.

By focusing so much on the technology, we are forgetting that the purpose of these devices is to enable kids around the world to become more connected. This can be done with an old Toshiba Satellite laptop from 2001, you don't need the latest and greatest software to access the Internet.

Re:Great vision, but is technology the answer? (3, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29963428)

Oh come on, how are they going to get a good education on a Toshiba laptop from 2001? YouTube will barely render on one of those things, and will be really choppy, to say nothing of the fact that they'll only be able to see the lowest quality porn. I mean really, haven't these people suffered enough?

Re:Great vision, but is technology the answer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29963554)

The peasants have no BSD TCP/IP stack.

Let them use Trumpet Winsock.

Re:Great vision, but is technology the answer? (1)

TheGreatOrangePeel (618581) | more than 4 years ago | (#29963626)

Well, I see a slew of problems with using Toughbooks from 2001, but I think the point that's easiest to make without writing a whole college length essay on the matter is that it'd be hard to collect 50,000 (the number of OLPCs sold to Mexico) Toughbooks, let alone the 260,000 sold to Peru (soruce [olpcnews.com]). Even if they did have Toshiba or some other company make brand new machines, doing so at the $100 that they were originally shooting for would be impossible as no such machine existed at that price point when OLPC started.

Re:Great vision, but is technology the answer? (1)

renoX (11677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29963750)

>So why are they working on building these devices when if all they want is a cheap Panasonic Toughbook?

Probably because being rugged isn't good enough for their need and they also want to have laptops which are: low power and readable outdoor..

Re:Great vision, but is technology the answer? (1)

Daniel Serodio (74295) | more than 4 years ago | (#29964352)

Of the the most compelling (for its market) features of the OLPC is its tiny energy consumption, which can even be recharged with a hand crank. Some of these people don't even have an energy outlet at home.
Try that with a 2001 Toshiba Satellite.

Re:Great vision, but is technology the answer? (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#29965072)

It seems that instead of trying to build cheaper devices, they could partner with a company (like Panasonic) to provide this kind of technology on the cheap.

Wait, so instead of partnering with companies to produce a cheaper laptop, they should partner with companies to produce a laptop, but cheaper?

Yeah, they're already working with existing companies on designing these things. They have a variety of specific needs. They want them to be rugged but lightweight, since they'll be used by children. They need them to use very little power, since the idea is to use give them to children in areas where power infrastructure isn't good. On top of all their other engineering needs, they need them to be cheap.

Do you really think that they'd have bothered with all this if normal hardware manufacturers were providing lightweight, rugged $75 laptops that were readable in sunlight and powered by hand-crank? Do you think they would have received so much support?

Re:Great vision, but is technology the answer? (1)

fyoder (857358) | more than 4 years ago | (#29966456)

It's questionable whether a publicly traded company like Panasonic could do it, unless they argued that the good will generated by a massive at cost project is of sufficient benefit to share holders to justify it. Part of the power of OLPC, potentially, is that it doesn't have to generate a profit.

Of course, the downside to that is that they can more easily do stupid things, like not take a profit where its available by exploiting demand in the first world and marketing it there as well, instead doing some weird buy two get one thing.

OLPC (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29963372)

Seriously, who is funding this shit? Some people have WAY too much money and need to learn about a little thing we Republicans like to call "objectivism" (Ayn Rand, look it up /. libs)

Sorry what? (2, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 4 years ago | (#29963432)

Dual screens? E-paper? Touchable displays?

Surely what you really need to make it cheap is cheap components and low R&D costs. Toughen up a netbook for god's sake! At the time the last OLPC came to everyone's attention, it was a fairly revolutionary idea. Then Asus released the Eee range and others quickly followed suit. Nearly all of them make the OLPC look like last year's trash and for not much price difference.

Re:Sorry what? (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29963510)

At the time the last OLPC came to everyone's attention, it was a fairly revolutionary idea. Then Asus released the Eee range and others quickly followed suit. Nearly all of them make the OLPC look like last year's trash and for not much price difference.

Exactly. The lesson here is that if you really want private enterprise to do something, you have to set up a nonprofit to do it first and give it away to poor people. That way, the for-profit companies will think you're threatening their turf (even if they had no intention of doing whatever it is you're doing in the first place), and they'll go out of their way to compete with you (and crush you).

So, I suggest we form a non-profit company called "one trip to Mars for every child" and announce we're going to be designing a spacecraft to take poor children on trips to Mars. I predict Boeing and Lockheed will have competing Martian colonies with twice-daily commuter service within a year.

Re:Sorry what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29963920)

Then Accenture can sponsor One Trip to the Bathroom Per Child and have an excuse to limit the amount of time and number of times employees can take a piss.

Re:Sorry what? (3, Insightful)

c (8461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29963956)

> I suggest we form a non-profit company called "one trip to Mars for every child"
> and announce we're going to be designing a spacecraft to take poor children on trips
> to Mars. I predict Boeing and Lockheed will have competing Martian colonies with
> twice-daily commuter service within a year.

As a counter-example, I'd point out that your scheme hasn't been a huge success for the plethora of "three square meals a day, clean water and some clothing for every child" non-profits. It could just be they need a snappier name...

c.

Re:Sorry what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29964916)

You kidding me? Look at how many privately run prisons there are in the US.

That was the joke, right? Prisons?

Re:Sorry what? (1)

c (8461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29966176)

> You kidding me? Look at how many privately run prisons there are in the US.

As bad as the incarceration rates are in the US, I haven't heard about a whole lot of children in them. Then again, who knows what RIAA/MPAA lobbyists are doing behind the scenes...

c.

Re:Sorry what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29974602)

You mean FEED?

Feed
Educate
Entertain
Destroy

Seriously, we managed to survive without all this "first world" crap for many years, it's just an excuse to make these people lazy while we impose our own culture on them.

Let's fix our own problems first, m'kay?

Modded funny but I think you were close (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#29964968)

Only a non-profit could take the risk of a new form factor that no one thought they would need or want. Laptops kept getting bigger and bigger. Who knew people would once again want to put up with tiny keys and bizarre resolutions. Actually there are many who bemoan some of the sacrifices now.

I am still awaiting the netbook craze to settle down into a form which the majority thinks is both very portable and easily accessible. Its getting close.

As for why N. wants a new device, because its far easier to get money for tech than books.

Re:Modded funny but I think you were close (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29966470)

far easier to get money for tech than books.

Bingo. Nicholas may have failed to achieve his original dream project, but instead of walking away he has sacrificed some dignity and cred with some true-believers in order to keep pushing to get world education the best deal he can.

The new hardware is silly, but it keeps the press on the topic of third world education. Otherwise third world education would return to being a bullet point in UN media kits, and essentially undiscussed in daily life. The hardware is media savvy -- it's photogenic headline-ready material. It means Nicholas still gets phone calls & meeting requests answered, instead of shufted to a minor secretary.

Oh, and don't hold your breath waiting for "the netbook craze to settle down into a form which the majority thinks is both very portable and easily accessible". It's not going to happen that way. Partly because the "majority" spans a large variety of hand sizes (ie, how many /million/ is the market of Asian women right now, and how much is it increasing every quarter?), but also because the tech is getting smaller and more powerful and cheaper annually. Cell phones have shown we're past the point where economies of scale mean one or two dominant form factors -- the world market will support several sizes of ground-up-designed personal computing hardware. It's not going to 'settle down' in the way like you and I have got used to in the last 30 years.

Personal interface is more likely to 'settle' into the same variety of sizes as we had with paper. Pocket notepads, steno-pads, moleskines, binders, legal pads, and easels. At least in the immediate future while interface remains hardware. Projected interfaces and voice-guesture-face recognition will supplant all that before we get too used to it.

Great picture of a 26lb Osborne with an iPhone. That's a /lot/ of change in only 25 years.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/somegeekintn/3252569621/sizes/l/ [flickr.com]

Re:Sorry what? (1)

chocomilko (1544541) | more than 4 years ago | (#29965748)

Exactly. The lesson here is that if you really want private enterprise to do something, you have to set up a nonprofit to do it first and give it away to poor people. That way, the for-profit companies will think you're threatening their turf (even if they had no intention of doing whatever it is you're doing in the first place), and they'll go out of their way to compete with you (and crush you).

Funny AND true!

Re:Sorry what? (2, Insightful)

acklenx (646834) | more than 4 years ago | (#29963520)

Without the OLPC driving, the industry had no interest in net books. And they still don't have much interest in durable netbooks. And, well, the cost does matter. And since the cost does matter I would question the dual screens on the device (assuming added a second screen makes it more expensive). It doesn't need to look and feel like a book - certainly not for people that haven't ever held a book. And even for those that have - let go of the past.

Re:Sorry what? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29963682)

The screens are about $20 a piece, so a second screen, which doubles the screen area, is only $20 more - MINUS the cost of building a cover (folding the screens serves that purpose). So the incremental cost is less than $20. It's too bad they dropped the two-screen model ... it's a good idea. If you've ever worked with dual monitors on your computer, going back to one is unthinkable. It just works so much better.

Re:Sorry what? (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29967120)

"Without the OLPC driving, the industry had no interest in net books."

So the fact that OLPC computers have been so profitable convinced the industry to make netbooks?

Re:Sorry what? (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29972148)

Did they ever get the manufacturing cost under $100?

I saw an old EEE (Celeron - 600mhz?) going for $135 new a month back.

Epic Sales 101 failure. EPIC. (2, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29963512)

What's that you say? You have a better version coming next year? Well, thanks for being so honest - we'll put our checkbook back in our pocket rather than giving you money for the obsolescent model now.

Oh, what? There'll be an another new version soon after that? Well, that's just great! Give us a call back if and when it's ever available - we'll do lunch.

Re:Epic Sales 101 failure. EPIC. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29964090)

Really? Are you serious? Do you think the likes of AMD, Intel, HP, Asus, Dell or ANY other tech company (including OLPC) is ever going to say that they're not going to make better stuff next year? People buy now because they have or perceive an immediate need for such a device. Obsolescence is just part of the cycle of technology that has to be accepted at the time of investment. I will, however, make an exception for you if you're posting by abacus.

Re:Epic Sales 101 failure. EPIC. (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 4 years ago | (#29965636)

What's that you say? You have a better version coming next year? Well, thanks for being so honest - we'll put our checkbook back in our pocket rather than giving you money for the obsolescent model now.

And what reasonable company doesn't come out with a "better version" of whatever they sell next year?

Re:Epic Sales 101 failure. EPIC. (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29971074)

They don't make a point of marketing it to end customers - and in this case, the governments are the purchasers - until they're ready to sell it though. In particular, they don't boast about how much cheaper it'll be than the current model. Really, there's not much else Negroponte could do to kill sales of the XO 1 other than boasting that the XO "1.75" will cause 30% less cancer.

2 displays == 2x the cost (1)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 4 years ago | (#29963622)

So why not make individual units which can optionally be connected together to then function as a 2-display unit?

William

Re:2 displays == 2x the cost (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 4 years ago | (#29963912)

So why not make individual units which can optionally be connected together to then function as a 2-display unit?

Sounds like a great idea. Is there a tablet PC / cell phone that when put next to another one will act as an extended double screen for one of the devices ? Put 12 cell phones together for a normal size (albeit mozaicized and overpriced) monitor. Bonus points if they guess their positions relative to each others.

Re:2 displays == 2x the cost (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 4 years ago | (#29965670)

2 displays == 2x the cost

That's only true if the entire cost comes from a single display. It's like saying that having 2 GB of RAM in your computer makes it twice as expensive as it would be if it had 1 GB of RAM.

Priorities (-1, Troll)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#29963876)

I'd have thought One Meal Per Day Per Child might be slightly more important, but hell, at least it's something for Negroponte and his ilk to ponder over brandy and cigars at the Gentlemens Club.

I just can't help thinking that sorting out such basic problems as hunger and poverty should be slightly higher on the list than whether they can play Facebook and post on Twitter.

Re:Priorities (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#29964264)

When you're a computer scientist, your most effective path to help others is to leverage your computer science knowledge. Attempting to fix the world hunger problem without the appropriate background would be a foolish waste of time.

Then again OLPC has been a foolish waste of time so far, so it may not have mattered either way.

Fixed it for you (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29967152)

When you're a computer scientist, your funnest path to help others is to leverage your computer science knowledge.

Re:Priorities (1)

StormyWeather (543593) | more than 4 years ago | (#29964326)

Yea, because keeping them ignorant of computers, unable to access huge amounts of knowledge about farming, irrigation, planting techniques, home building techniques, and plumbing best practices is the way we want to go here. I suppose to you it's best if we just shovel rice at them until we fall on hard times as a society ourselves and aren't able to anymore, then they just starve to death.

To you all the internet is is Facebook and porn I guess, but if you start googling things about how to build the base foundations of a society I think you would be surprised. There is a plethora of information from road building to aqueduct construction on the internet.

Re:Priorities (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#29964528)

huge amounts of knowledge about farming, irrigation, planting techniques, home building techniques, and plumbing best practices is going to change fuck all in a place like Ethiopia when all they need is rain !

Sometimes, unfortunately, shovelling rice at them is all that can keep them alive.

Re:Priorities (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 4 years ago | (#29964738)

Imagine if it were possible to do more than one thing at a time. Then we could provide food aid as needed, AND work on raising education levels.

Nah, it'd never work.

Re:Priorities (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#29964896)

Yes, unfortunately, in a place like Ethiopia which is so volatile weather-wise, and so much of the basic necessities like food and clean water is dependent on having a good rainfall each year, the best (and possibly most cost effective) thing in the long run they could do is move everyone somewhere else, and cordon off the whole damn place as uninhabitable.

Re:Priorities (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29967214)

Considering that the developed world hasn't been able to provide food for everyone who needs it why should we add another task to not complete?

You know, I believe I've worked at start-ups like that ... they didn't make it.

Not everyone is starving or rich (1)

js_sebastian (946118) | more than 4 years ago | (#29965886)

huge amounts of knowledge about farming, irrigation, planting techniques, home building techniques, and plumbing best practices is going to change fuck all in a place like Ethiopia when all they need is rain !

Sometimes, unfortunately, shovelling rice at them is all that can keep them alive.

The world is not neatly divided into "have an SUV" and "on the brink of starvation". The OLPC project (now rebranded to lowercase olpc according to TFA, for whatever bizarre reason) is targeted at places where children have their basic food needs fulfilled, and have a school they can go to that at least sometimes gets electricity. One of the biggest deployments is in Peru, for instance. If you feel that shoveling rice at ethiopians is the only worthy humanitarian cause, please put your time and/or money where your mouth is and do something about it.

Re:Priorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29969912)

huge amounts of knowledge about farming, irrigation, planting techniques, home building techniques, and plumbing best practices is going to change fuck all in a place like Ethiopia when all they need is rain !

Sometimes, unfortunately, shovelling rice at them is all that can keep them alive.

Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.
The XO can teach them to build a better society. Shoveling rice at them just increases their dependence on other countries.

Re:Priorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29973468)

Teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.

Unless there's no fish... tada welcome to the problem!

Re:Priorities (2, Informative)

znu (31198) | more than 4 years ago | (#29964640)

Seriously? I thought the world had gotten past the notion that computers were frivolous toys or first-world luxuries.

The truth is, food aid doesn't really work, at least by itself. You feed the current population, don't solve any of the systemic problems that led to the hunger, and you end up with another generation of hungry people.

What the developing world needs is development and mass empowerment. And that means, among other things, education. If you know of a tool that packs more educational potential into a less expensive package than a $100 networked computer system that's resistant to the elements, requires little or no supporting infrastructure, and can be preloaded with large quantities of information relevant to the populations it's given to, please name it.

Re:Priorities (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29967260)

Unfortunately, most of the systemic problems developed because of the actions of more developed nations. Education can't solve it beyond the extent that some lucky ones might be able to escape and become part of the system.

Re:Priorities (3, Insightful)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 4 years ago | (#29965730)

I just can't help thinking that sorting out such basic problems as hunger and poverty...

The only real solution to these problems is education. Everything else is just a temporary fix.

Re:Priorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29986426)

Education... and fair international trade rules.

As long as local non-tech products continue getting heavily subsidized by first world governments, third world can't compete fairly. They can't compete in tech, for lacking infrastructure and money; so if they can't compete in non-tech, they are busted for life. And they can't charge heavy tariffs on foreign products to level the playfield, because they have a debt to pay to their main competitors.

Nowadays in some countries it is not an education issue: they have knowledge. It's a matter of fixing a false free market, so it ceases to be free only for the rich.

Of course, having initiatives like the OLPC can be very useful for those who are lagging, and useful still for those who got it right. Getting something cheaper is allways useful, isn't it?

Re:Priorities (3, Insightful)

pwfffff (1517213) | more than 4 years ago | (#29967070)

"I just can't help thinking that sorting out such basic problems as hunger and poverty should be slightly higher on the list than whether they can play Facebook and post on Twitter."

Shouldn't it also be more important than you posting on /. then? How many orphans have YOU fed today?

Re:Priorities (2, Informative)

cusco (717999) | more than 4 years ago | (#29967106)

Paruro, Peru, is a beautiful town of about 5,000, high in the Andes. It's the sort of place that hasn't existed in in the US for a century, where there are more horses than cars, everyone cooks with firewood, and children and dogs run loose in the streets. They have an Internet cafe there, all of a dozen PCs sharing a satellite link. While stopping in occasionally to check my work email I saw kids enrolling in classes in the University in Arequipa (otherwise two day's travel each way to enroll), a grandma in Lima met her first grandbaby on webcam, farmers checking prices to see whether it was better to sell in Cusco or Abancay, merchants checking on the status of goods they had ordered, THE mechanic looking up a manual for a backhoe, a mother chatting with her daughter in the university in Paris, and a lady looking for patterns for wedding dresses. If you think the Internet's just good for porn you have no imagination at all.

Great post (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 4 years ago | (#29971294)

Really. After all this time I still see all these other posts where people *just don't get it* on why being connected to the net, or why being able to give kids hundreds of textbooks on a little machine, etc, isn't valuable. The folks here in the US who live rural get the same routine, from apparently the same sort of people, "why should they need or want broadband way out there" etc. It's like, if you aren't already rich (by entire world standards), live in a heavily urban area, and have all the toys and gadgets and gizmos and technology you can want, that you are supposed to remain stuck at the "send them bags of food then forget about it" levels forever. "Oh look Buffy, how quaint, those cute little backward natives are playing on a computer. Why, there are still goats walking in the street, this is unacceptable though, they should be stripped of those time wasting machines that they couldn't possibly understand or make intelligent use of, and made to go back the way they were!"

Really, it sounds just like that to me sometimes.

I find it rather patronizing/condescending and jingoistic (in a broad sense) and really quite naive of those people to keep thinking that. Access to the net and having access to a computer are just a wonderful thing for *everyone*, you at least get a shot at doing something useful with it, like your examples, it doesn't matter where they are. And for kids in some poor area, it just might give them a little hope, some fun, some education, and who knows from there, but to feel part of the 21st century has to be enabling to a large degree, even if the rest of your life is more rough than not..

Re:Priorities (1)

geekangel (1060450) | more than 4 years ago | (#29973690)

Twitter in the third world:

What are you doing?

Starving to death

What are you doing?

Still starving to death

What are you doing?

...

Niggerponte (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29964450)

tee hee!

The attention whore problem (2, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#29972662)

The trouble with the OLPC is that it's mostly a vehicle so that Negroponte can hang out with heads of state and such. Actually shipping product is secondary. It's all about national-level deals. Remember when OLPC had a "buy 2, get 1, give 1" program, and they botched basic order fulfillment?

Those things should be in bubble-packs alongside the graphing calculators, with the price down to the original $99 by now. They don't need a fancier model. They need a cheaper model. They're being run over by the netbook industry. Netbooks are down to $100 if you buy in bulk from China. Look on Alibaba.

similar to the "fund-raising" problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29974600)

Apparently to raise money among the "money-ed" people, non-profits often throw elaborate parties for the money-folks to press the flesh and be seen (and eat some fancy meal and get to experience some donated entertainment).

Seems to me that if you really wanted to help people in far off places, you would just write a check. However, that apparently doesn't keep all the local mouths properly fed (e.g., the executives and workers for the non-profits, the preferred catering and event planning companies of the money-folks, the professional fund-raising telemarketers, etc, etc)

Actually I often find it quite amusing to read thing like this [charitywatch.org]... "In AIP's view, $35 or less to raise $100 is reasonable for most charities." To me, that's a sad statement on the efficiency of typical fund raising activities. It's almost as if many charities exist mostly to service/employ their executives and workers, rather than actually doing whatever beneficial work they should be doing.

If you also take in consideration that the money that charities/non-profits raise is tax-advantaged (donor gets a tax break and the charity doesn't have to pay tax on the "income"), vs say like a company that has to get money from the customer after tax and additionally has to pay tax on it, the situation is actually quite sad.

Actually, I don't fully blame Negroponte. It's really the system of non-profit charities that makes this type of business plan even remotly viable. It's a good gig if you can get it, too bad we are all (collectively) paying for it with tax preferences.

beside Negropontes motives (1)

kubitus (927806) | more than 4 years ago | (#29975616)

the new OLPC has what I dreamed of:

-

two screens making up two pages like a book - allow me to read as I am used to.

two screens allowing one for reference data, the other for the input to an application -

- or in the case of lecture - one page for the teacher, one for the student

one of the sreens duplicating as touch sensitive keyboard allow me to enter my text

and 1.6 Mio books available plus the Gutenberg Project allow me to read ( as lot )

I would have preferred a lower-power-guzzling CPU

and as an option solar cell case to allow me to read my SF stories on the beach without dying batteries!

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...