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OLPC Project To Air-Drop Laptops

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the gods-must-be-crazy dept.

Education 130

sl4shd0rk writes "Nicholas Negroponte and the OLPC project are still going and have a new plan in the works: a laptop air-drop to help facilitate 'self-education' in areas with large poor populations. 'In the first year we'll go in and meet with tribal elders and aid organizations, people not involved with education, but then we let the kids learn,' Negroponte said. All of this work by Negroponte and others was essential, he explained, because market forces were leaving the poor of the world behind. Meanwhile, the largest countries had adopted strategies that offer little for the developing world."

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130 comments

Hmm... I'm waiting for the stories (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37932928)

I'm waiting for the stories of what happens when you drop a ton of laptops on a remote tribal village somewhere. Hope the cameras are rolling.

Re:Hmm... I'm waiting for the stories (1)

nharmon (97591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37932972)

When the laptops sit unused, the people patting themselves on the back for sending them will wash their hands of ever helping poor Africans again. You just watch.

Re:Hmm... I'm waiting for the stories (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933000)

The laptops will be used... as light sources.

Re:Hmm... I'm waiting for the stories (1)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933022)

More like as fuel for the light sources.

I hope so, which I say without any shame. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37933024)

Hopefully everybody else will, too. Just imagine how much money the world would save if everybody stopped providing aid to Africa.

Africa is one of those continents where no matter how much help you provide, they still can't move forward.

Re:I hope so, which I say without any shame. (4, Interesting)

arpad1 (458649) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933080)

There's a rising tide of African voices that agree with you since most of that aid never leaves the capitals of the nations being "helped".

Other times the aid ends up trashing the local economy since aid agencies are quite often less concerned with the results of their efforts then with shaking down rich donors.

Re:I hope so, which I say without any shame. (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#37936694)

Sadly you speak the truth, just look at the history of aid to Africa and you see one failure after another. Hell does everyone know where we got the word "technical' to describe trucks turned into battlewagons? That was what the Red Cross would call the bribes paid out to warlords using improvised battle trucks, they would put down "technical expenses' which of course just gave the warlords more money to build more battlewagons.

While I'm all for helping out poor folks i'm reminded of the old "teach a man to fish" saying, as all we are doing now is simply pissing money down a rathole and i have no doubt hurting the poor more than we are helping by giving aid to the ones that are their oppressors!

As much as i think the man is batshit on...well just about everything I do have to agree with Glenn Beck on one thing, the idea that probably got him kicked off Fox News. Its time for us to "Be Switzerland" and stop trying to control the world and instead look to our own here at home. We have Americans living in tents, we have millions that are missing meals, no jobs, its time to take care of our own and let Africa take care of its own. I bet if we got the hell out and left people alone Africa would advance and join the rest of the world. it won't be pretty, and there will be probably several civil wars, but in the end the only TRUE change comes about from the people that live there wanting to change their conditions, not from somebody throwing food and money at them.

Re:Hmm... I'm waiting for the stories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37933106)

As God is my witness, I thought laptops could fly :) (Sorrry WKRP)

The Gods Must Be Crazy (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933202)

All those perfectly good laptops are going to be pitched into the ocean. [imdb.com]

Re:Hmm... I'm waiting for the stories (1)

X10 (186866) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934856)

You're right. Let's hope they'll drop the project, rather than the laptops.

Re:Hmm... I'm waiting for the stories (1)

lpaul55 (137990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37936540)

I prefer the old idea of dropping millions of hardbound copies of Naked Lunch. More enlightening. Better fuel.

The black market for OLPCs... (2)

nharmon (97591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37932934)

is about to get an influx of supply.

What will happen is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37932952)

Give them laptops and access to the net, watch them discover ebay, see OLPC laptops appear for sale. Standard human behaviour.

Re:What will happen is.... (1)

sithlord2 (261932) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933124)


Wait 'till discover all the porn...

419 scams and other ScamSpam (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 2 years ago | (#37932996)

you can bet a good percentage of them will be traded for food and they will end up in the hands of criminals

Re:419 scams and other ScamSpam (0)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934100)

they will end up in the hands of criminals

Oh. My. God.

Computers in the hands of unethical people? We're doomed. Doomed, I tell you.

Re:419 scams and other ScamSpam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37934196)

Way to miss the point, filth.

Re:419 scams and other ScamSpam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37936416)

Way to miss the point, filth.

So the point is... um... people in Africa need food? We already know that. Is it that the unethical people getting laptops via this is somehow a worse situation than them getting them some other way?

Way to make the point, smug. I'd ask you to explain, but since that'd require you dislodging your head from your own ass before we can hear you, I understand that's far too much a request to make.

Forgetting one thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37933040)

Most people who are poor can afford an old computer somehow. Not because they want to read about open-source stuff all day, but because it's a way to make money *on the internet*. Indians making less than $50 a month can do some training and make hundreds a month on horrible sites like freelancer.com.

So if we drop these laptops to the poorest of the poor, the quintessential world vision child whose last camel just died and is living on subsistence sloth with no broth... it goes without saying that he's not going to spend time using this precious netbook... afterall he's literally poor and has practical concerns each day, he cant start earning money on freelancer.com as easy as an Indian can.

Point being there's a good chance he'll swap it for a can of beans to someone a bit less poor who will swap it for a crate of beans to a merchant who already can afford his own computer.

A helicopter? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37933050)

It's flying something behind it and I can't quite make it out. It's a large banner and it says T H A N K S... from O... L... P...C! What a sight, ladies and gentlemen. What a sight. The 'copter seems to circling the village now. I guess it's looking for a place to land. No! Something just came out of the back of the helicopter. It's a dark object, perhaps a skydiver plummeting to the earth from only two thousand feet in the air... There's a third... No parachutes yet... Those can't be skydivers. I can't tell just yet what they are but... Oh my God! They're laptops! Oh no! Johnny can you get this? Oh, they're crashing to the earth right in front of our eyes! One just went through the thatched roof of a hut. This is terrible! Everyone's running around pushing each other. Oh my goodness! Oh, the humanity! People are running about. The laptops are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement! Folks, I don't know how much longer... The crowd is running for their lives. I think I'm going to step inside. I can't stand here and watch this anymore. No, I can't go in there. Children are searching for their mothers and oh, not since the Hindenberg tragedy has there been anything like this. I don't know how much longer I can hold my position here, Johnny. The crowd...

Re:A helicopter? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933310)

I lol'd XD

I wonder how many people will get the hint from the start to read it in the voice of Hindenburg reporter guy.

Re:A helicopter? (1)

Frenzied Apathy (2473340) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934120)

As soon as I got to "What a sight, ladies and gentlemen." I immediately thought of the Hindenburg reporter and started "hearing it" in my mind like that as I went on reading.

Re:A helicopter? (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#37936096)

The voice of Les Nessman [wikipedia.org] imitating Herb Morrison [wikipedia.org] .

Re:A helicopter? (3, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#37936452)

"With God as my witness, I thought that laptops could fly!"

Not doing enough? (4, Insightful)

Scutter (18425) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933052)

Meanwhile, the largest countries had adopted strategies that offer little for the developing world.

On the contrary. Many of the world's largest countries send massive amounts of aid to the developing world, which is then promptly stolen by corrupt governments of those countries. Zimbabwe used to be a net exporter of food and now they've got almost impossibly-high inflation rates. Maybe we should work on that before air-dropping laptops into these places?

Re:Not doing enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37933168)

Nope, not on the contrary because it turns out that the largest countries want the poorer countries to be well, still poor.

Ergo, their strategy is doing exactly what they want.

You think the people involved who make thatkind of decision don't know what's going on? They do. They use it to pad their own pockets.

Re:Not doing enough? (1)

Scutter (18425) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933246)

Nope, not on the contrary because it turns out that the largest countries want the poorer countries to be well, still poor.

Ergo, their strategy is doing exactly what they want.

You think the people involved who make thatkind of decision don't know what's going on? They do. They use it to pad their own pockets.

You said "Nope" and then just agreed with what I said about corrupt governments. You should rethink how you state your position.

Re:Not doing enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37934042)

You should parse the conversation again. You said on the contrary to the largest countries had adopted strategies that offer little for the developing world. But it's not on the contrary, because they have adopted strategies that do that, and purposefully. Hence my saying, Nope to you.

Oh sure, they might say they're interested in helping, but surely you realize they can lie about their intentions?

They aren't fools with their own money. They know what they're doing.

I realize it was a bit hard to follow, but I negated what I saw as your misguided negation, rather than disagreed about what they're doing. As I see it, instead of saying they didn't have strategies that offered little for the developing world, you actually said they had. So it was you who misstated your position.

Re:Not doing enough? (1)

plsenjy (2104800) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933526)

Meanwhile, the largest countries had adopted strategies that offer little for the developing world.

On the contrary. Many of the world's largest countries send massive amounts of aid to the developing world, which is then promptly stolen by corrupt governments of those countries. Zimbabwe used to be a net exporter of food and now they've got almost impossibly-high inflation rates. Maybe we should work on that before air-dropping laptops into these places?

Though I don't disagree that this isn't what these countries need, Zimbabwe is a horrible example to use in this case. In 2006 Robert Mugabe's government implemented a policy of "fast track land reform" that gave most of the country's hereditary, white-owned farmland over to new, inexperienced black owners. Though land ownership in Zimbabwe was indeed a relic of racial-class structure from British Colonial rule, when you make such a sweeping, heavy-handed move as Mugabe did it is no surprise that they have suffered such a massive drop in food production. Here is the Human Rights Watch report on the issue: http://www.hrw.org/reports/2002/zimbabwe/ZimLand0302-02.htm#P112_20168 [hrw.org]

Re:Not doing enough? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937710)

Oh, cool, thanks for explaining that. That simultaneously solves the problem and negates the grandparent's point, right? Right?

Looting Johnny Foreigner != Exports (1)

evilandi (2800) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937420)

>Zimbabwe used to be a net exporter of food

Was that because they had a surplus, or because we chaps here in England just nicked all their veg, tossed the chalky landowners a few pennies and left the natives to starve?

*Ireland* was a net exporter of potatoes, during the potato fammine, but only because we pointed guns at them and told them to load up the boats.

Re:Not doing enough? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937646)

Hey, they were just following the standard government procedures and Keynesian charlatanism of printing money to fight recession because they weren't productive to offset high debt. Don't worry about Zimbabwe, worry about USD. Zimbabwe dollar used to be 1 to 1 to USD.

Oh The Humanity! (1)

Esion Modnar (632431) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933060)

As God as my witness, I thought laptops could fly!

Derp. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37933070)

this is not what these kids need.
this is not what developing countries need.
this will not provide food, shelter, clean water or medicine.
this will not help these children's parents provide food, shelter, clean water or medicine.
this will not keep people in third world conditions from continuing to have children regardless of their ability to care for them.

Why are we doing this?

Re:Derp. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37933222)

Because they need all those things. And more.

You can provide a person a hot meal for a day. It doesn't cure their alcoholism. Should you refuse them the hot meal because they won't stop being a wino?

This is one tool, among many, that they need. The tool of education and involvement, through the power of a computer. If you feel they need something else, here's what you do. Provide it for them. Maybe you'll even be able to provide it through a computer, or do you think it'd be easier to offer downloads of water sanitation devices to a computer, or books that themselves might be turned into campfires?

Re:Derp. (1)

higuita (129722) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933754)

this will help with education...

long term education helps with long term food, shelter and clean water
with long term food, shelter and clean water, more resources can be gather to improve live and develop the region/city/country
all those help long time education, that will again improve everything else

again, stop with the image of a kid starving with a OLPC, but thing in a kid without or little education system... check my other post:

http://hardware.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2507486&cid=37933580 [slashdot.org]

so why are you thinking that this is bad? what are you doing to improve all those items? how do you teach all that info? and finally, why do you think you know more that some of the countries that welcomed the OLPC (see the Brazil as one big example)

Re:Derp. (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933874)

One could argue that what you need over the long term is an educated population who can help themselves. So tossing some cheap laptops at their kids may lessen the need for you and your kids to provide food, shelter, clean water or medicine because they'll be able to buy it for themselves.

i see where this is going (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37933088)

1) Compromise the system
2) Give laptop away cheaper or for free
3) Get a huge Botnet!
4) ???
5) Profit!

Obligatory WKRP referrence (1)

shellster_dude (1261444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933100)

I swear I thought laptops could fly!

Re:Obligatory WKRP referrence (1)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933326)

You saved me the trouble..

"The humanity"

Seriously, how are these people going to know what it is or how to use it? First, you've got to teach them to use the laptop. They might use it to hold something up or throw it away.

Re:Obligatory WKRP referrence (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934536)

Did you read the article? Sorry... But in it they talk about how non-literate populations can learn to use these devices & even teach themselves how to read. The plan is to try distributing some & then come back in a year to see the effect. I think it's an interesting experiment, and combined with the fact that kids with the OLPC 1 are using it to teach their parents to read, it's worth trying. Spreading education is a good thing.

Start of the Zombie Apocalypse! (1)

LoP_XTC (312463) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933152)

Man I hope these OLPS's have impact smart hard drives ... otherwise I smell the start of the Zombie Apocalypse on us!

Food (1)

symes (835608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933162)

I have heard that some areas have become so reliant on food airdrops that kids, when they are hungry, look up at the sky for their next meal. They are foretting how to find food for themselves. Point being, if these laptops are dropped from the sky they might be inadvertantly eaten.

Re:Food (2)

Scutter (18425) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933262)

I have heard that some areas have become so reliant on food airdrops that kids, when they are hungry, look up at the sky for their next meal. They are foretting how to find food for themselves. Point being, if these laptops are dropped from the sky they might be inadvertantly eaten.

Maybe they could put like a Papa John's pizza coupon inside each one or something?

Re:Food (1)

DiademBedfordshire (1662223) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933402)

Look up Cargo Cults. They go so far as to make mock air strips and jets to get the "ritual" right. The ones I have heard of are all in the pacific right after world war two not Africa but the theory is the same and it wouldn't surprise me to see it on the rise.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult [wikipedia.org]

Re:Food (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934460)

Hey, the Professor from Gilligan's Island could make a laptop out of coconuts. DO NOT MOCK SCIENCE!

It would be cute, actually. Little iPhones made from soda cans "sold" in Apple Store mockups built from old Coke bottles. Children converting their little wagons into miniature Geek Squad cars. LOLSpeak replacing traditional dialects. UN aid folks being directed to someone who breaks into a Rick Astley song, or they're routed to the Goatse hut of which no one speaks. Locals wanting to make controversial comments at the weekly tribal meetings could wear the traditional Mask Of The AC.

Shit, I think I just pitched the next Jack Black film.

Re:Food (2)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934616)

This isn't just a Cargo Cult. This is the people dropping the cargo believing in it.

Re:Food (0)

higuita (129722) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933580)

What many people still dont understand is that the OLPC isnt for those dying from hunger, its for those that can already survive, but have no economic ways to really improve their long term lives.. education can help a lot in that field, but... in poor countries the education level is low and have a serious lack of government support. A small computer can help in teaching and transfer knowledge and in ten years some areas might have a real education system based in OLPC. Yes, it will take years and in the start there are always problems, its always hard to change things, but "one long journey starts with a single step".

That is why OLPC isnt just for africa, its also for south and central america and asia... example: you might not have huge hunger problems in Philippines, but many of its population would gain a lot with having their kids with a OLPC

So please, stop with the image/hype/joke of a kid starving in Somalia being given a OLPC, the OLPC isnt target for those! that only gives a bad image to the OLPC project for those that dont really know the project and make things harder.

let me put things in a different perspective... US schools are buying iPads to help teaching, countries with no or poor education systems are being given OLPC to help teaching... see, not much a difference!

Re:Food (1)

symes (835608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934110)

What many people still dont understand is that the OLPC isnt for those dying from hunger, its for those that can already survive, but have no economic ways to really improve their long term lives.. education can help a lot in that field, but...

I agree, up to a point. The thing is, improving education in economically deprived areas leads to well educated people with no means of developing further. They end up knowing that their future is bleak and, my guess is, this may lead to other problems including migration, disenfranchisement and so on. If we really want to improve their economy then I would think communication and infrastructure would be best attended to. Mobile commuications mean that people can play a more productive role in markets. For example, a fisherman can phone ahead to see where he can get the best price for his haul. Similarly, a farmer can find the lowest price for feed and the best price for his crop. And infrastructure, simple things like transport to improve access would help enourmously. How staring at a 13" screen helps is beyond me. It just stikes me as a nice western idea that if we give these guys a computer then all is well. A while back people bought outlying people tractors. They ran out of diesel and they ended up hauling the plough behind cattle.

Re:Food (2)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934492)

US schools are buying iPads to help teaching, countries with no or poor education systems are being given OLPC to help teaching... see, not much a difference!

I see! So it will fail just as hard as introducing endless piles of computers to US schools has! Good show!

I tease (somewhat), but, hey, have at it. At the very least it might result in an influx of new and interesting talent to Deviant Art.

Re:Food (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937114)

Yes, you tease, but with a reasonable point. In seriousness I would respond that one of the reasons these things fail in the US is that they are often redundant for the purposes they are attempted to be used for. Learning to read is a good example. I have met dozens of kids here in the US who have never spent a day in school, and no one ever tried to teach them to read. 100% of them could read. The only kids that I have ever met over the age of 10 who could not read (physical brain impairment aside) were kids from homes where the parents were actively working against learning.

The written word is in such heavy use in the US that it is darn near impossible to miss it. When a kid drives past McDonalds enough times, they pick up that "M" makes a "Mmmm" sound, even if no one actively tries to teach it to them. In many of these third world countries, that isn't the case. Kids don't have the written word stuffed into their faces day and night. A computer in a US school is just another of many devices displaying text. A computer in a third world country may be the only device the kid sees that has text on it.

Of course, this doesn't answer the question of whether the computers will be useful in third world countries or not. It does point out that supplying computers to the two different environments are not the same.

Noble, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37933178)

We have living proof that access to free knowledge isn't equal to the will or desire or will to acquire it. Nor the vision to apply it.

excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37933238)

where do I sign up?

Unlike the Ipad2 (-1, Flamebait)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933264)

"They are water resistant, very durable and can be dropped from 30 feet without breaking."

Whereas an iPad2 must be used in a very dry environment, even high humidity will make it die, insanely delicate, and can develop a screen crack or shatter if it was placed on a table hard or dropped 6 inches onto deep shag carpet.

The iPad1 is a far superior product to the iPad2 in durability. Whoever though making the screen glass thinner was a idiot.

Re:Unlike the Ipad2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37935110)

Thanks for the insight... Have any more totally off-topic and irrelevant rants to share? If so, you might have a bright future in blogging on Livejournal!

Re:Unlike the Ipad2 (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935554)

So OLPC is a durable paper weight?

Pernicious OLPC (1)

RatOot (1403949) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933282)

Please read http://perniciousolpc.wordpress.com./ [pernicious...dpress.com]

Re:Pernicious OLPC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37937126)

You're absolutely clueless.

Like pixie dust (2)

wren337 (182018) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933312)

We just sprinkle them over the poor, and POOF! All better.

Do they have (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933328)

an electric power supply in those villages?

Re:Do they have (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37933482)

The third sentence in the article is "At its heart is a solar powered battery, built into the back of the tablet which can be charged on a windowsill and then clipped onto the screen to activate the device."

Re:Do they have (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37936114)

pff, they're laptops, they run off batteries!

Hit and run approach (4, Insightful)

Kanel (1105463) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933356)

Negroponte tried a "PC in the wall" experiment in a poor district some years ago. This is being used as an argument for the airdrop strategy, but the experiment was in fact not successfull. The kids in the neighbourhood did learn to use the PC, but to little or no use. They played games but did not learn marketable skills or otherwise improve their quality of life.

In aid and development, To airdrop aid is the very image of a failed strategy. You bring in a celebrity and a tv-team, you throw money at the village, build a well or a lavatory, then write a report and pull out. Your funders want to see results quickly, but development doesn't work that way.
For someone in aid and development it is then obvious that Negroponte does not focus on actually improving things for the kids. Like many caricatured IT developers, he is focused on the product, not the user. He wants to prove that the user interface is so intuitive that you don't have to teach the kids to use it. He wants to show that the laptop is very robust and water proof so he drops it from a helicopter. He is using one of the vilest tricks in the IT-salesman's repertoire: That if you just buy my hardware, everything will be up and running with no extra cost. No running costs on training people to use it, no need to organize the use or for teachers to follow this up. No need to have anything centralized and government-like working for these villages to reap the benefits of IT.

It is a vile mix of PR stunts, naive IT optimism sold to supposedly uninformed savages and an appeal to prevailing ideologies among the western funders. All combined just to sell hardware.

Re:Hit and run approach (1)

Deus.1.01 (946808) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933460)

They should have dropped C64's!

Re:Hit and run approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37934272)

They should have dropped original XBoxes.... oh wait..

Re:Hit and run approach (2)

mwfischer (1919758) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933670)

"Negroponte tried a "PC in the wall" experiment in a poor district some years ago..... the experiment was in fact not successfull."
"Your funders want to see results quickly, but development doesn't work that way."

Wait, what?

Re:Hit and run approach (3, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934872)

For someone in aid and development it is then obvious that Negroponte does not focus on actually improving things for the kids. Like many caricatured IT developers, he is focused on the product, not the user.

Oh, it's worse than that. From the very start, the OLPC laptop has been designed primarily to comply with Negroponte's political IT views. The poor of the world are just a means to that end.

How is this going to work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37933414)

If you are in a poor country, watch out for falling laptops.
Seriously though, how can children understand what they read on the Internet if they are illiterate? They cannot teach themselves to read by staring at the net any more than you can learn French from scratch by reading a French book. He cites Sugata Mitras work as evidence that this can work. But the slum kids in Bombay who used the internet were not completely illiterate. Even the poor in Bombay try to send their children to school for a few years and they typically learn rudimentary English. This may not be true for isolated African communities.

Meanwhile... (1)

ZeroSerenity (923363) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933440)

Electricity is still largely unavailable, so how would the laptops be even usable?

Re:Meanwhile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37933826)

See http://hardware.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2507486&cid=37933482

Re:Meanwhile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37934114)

Solar power, foot petal an bike generators hooked up to car batteries are efficient enough. Also, did you know in some remote villages cell phones were introduced before land lines? This is because infrastructure for land lines is much more expensive but having someone with a bike ride to the city to exchange dead batteries for charged ones. That in its own right produces a local economy that is largely beneficial.

Many people here on Slashdot fall into the trap of thinking from a developed world mindset which blocks them from seeing innovative solutions. Electricity is fairly easy to generate in small quantities needed to run the laptops. If you have running water you can build a generator. If you have near constant sun you can get cheap solar panels that will last decades. If those of us in the developed world had to deal with limited electricity we wouldn't be as wasteful. Instead of having an electrical powered bike at the gym why not hook it up to a generator so you get a workout and produce a net positive electrical output? Generators are a great way to produce resistance for workouts but the developed world haves the luxury of not having to solve problems in the most efficient ways.

Re:Meanwhile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37936124)

They have solar cells to charge themselves.

Laptops To People With No Power (1)

hpinsider (2468002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933498)

So they can't read, they can't write, what can they do with a laptop?

Re:Laptops To People With No Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37935658)

Even worse, a good bit of the said poor (less privileged) people either don't have electricity or don't have the means for acquiring electricity. This plan fails badly in concept.

Slightly related (1)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933504)

Here's an interesting ultra-cheap netbook [e-ville.com] I found one day. It obviously does not come without flaws and the specs are weak, but for 65€ it offers great value and is a nice entry-level system to get you connected if you're poor.

Another FAIL In the Making (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37933542)

Once again the European white world is trying to drag the black world up to its level. Once again, it will fail utterly.

Can even start at home (4, Funny)

mwfischer (1919758) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933640)

"In the first year we'll go in and meet with tribal elders and aid organizations, people not involved with education, but then we let the kids learn,' Negroponte said"

I'm sure the people of Detroit will be most appreciative.

The GODS must be Crazy Part Deux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37933772)

From coke bottles to computers...

Re:The GODS must be Crazy Part Deux? (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935632)

or "The Demigods Must Be Crazy" since it seems Negroponte believes that's what he is. lol

I can't wait to hear the stories of how they start using these laptops besides setting new 'drop test' records.

LoB

A work-around for dubious regimes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37933816)

I've felt for a while that constructing some kind of "internet bomb" which would consist of a sat-phone internet connection and a simple web-browsing device (or even just a wifi hot-spot) which could be air-dropped would be a really useful thing to have for helping ferment revolution in some of the countries world-wide where free speech is heavily restricted.

Re:A work-around for dubious regimes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37934094)

I should add that there would be no actual bomb in the package and the whole idea is to air-drop the human right of free speech.

Education? (1)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933916)

Are they going to airdrop people who can teach them how to use this technology from the heavens? Some tools are intuitive. To people who have never seen a computers or even really much technology at all, computers are not.

Dumb idea (2)

brainzach (2032950) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933940)

The most likely scenarios is that no one will figure out a use for the device and they will realize that there is more value selling it on the market. You need to teach the villagers the value of the device first and have a way to help them learn how to use it. Self learning is good, but you need to learn the basics before you can explore on their own.

There are also the problem of adults just using the device for themselves. Do they really know that it is a kids device?

Distributing it through the schools to be a much more effective way of making progress. You can teach others how to use the device, provide support and it will be associated with education so adults will be less likely to use it.

The gods must be crazy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37934158)

They're just going to go to the end of the earth and toss it.

Cue rerun of "The Gods Must Be Crazy" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37934464)

Which is a cool movie, BTW.

Here :

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080801/

Need for boots on the ground (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934512)

When the laptops are dropped, people with guns will be waiting to received them. If something that can be converted into weapons falls from the sky, do you think happy children will be scooping up the goods while their poor parents watch in delight? Not happening.

Give a man a fish .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37934670)

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day .. give him a laptop and he will either start sending out 419 scam e-mail or w*** himself to death looking at porn.

Has anyone asked the poor? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37934750)

Has anyone asked the poor if they want to be developed?

Seriously, I'd rather live any number of "poor" native lifestyles, with their lack of medical care, occasional famine, etc. instead of being in a welfare slum, with no health insurance or affordable medical care, crappy job market, pollution, stress, etc.

Re:Has anyone asked the poor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37935648)

Seriously, I'd rather live any number of "poor" native lifestyles, with their lack of medical care, occasional famine, etc. instead of being in a welfare slum, with no health insurance or affordable medical care, crappy job market, pollution, stress, etc.

Then why are you posting to Slashdot? Why not go out there and live your subsistence farmer dream?

Re:Has anyone asked the poor? (1)

Coeurderoy (717228) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935874)

Do not be so sure, do not forget that is it not just being "poor", but there are many other lacks...

In a welfare slum you can still go to a library (most do not but it's their choice).
In a welfare slum if you are gay, or different you life is probably harder, and for example in many european "slums" there is a big problem with various kind of discriminations, but at least they are illegal, and you can take some bus/subway to a nearby place where people will let you at least spend some time unmolested.
In most african states many "differences" are against the law and the society is incredibly conservative and narrowminded.
The job market is just as crappy, many places are very poluted (do you think the companies who are pulling the natural ressources out of the earth care ?).

So on some level you are right, most poor are not asking for any development, since they have no idea what it would be...
What they are asking for is some safety for themselves and their children.
Unfortunatelly we only think about it, and only trasmit this as an accumulation of "things"...

Development as freedom to paraphrase Amartya Sen is something most people do not really care for, and unfortunatelly due to an history of oppresion and lack of public discourse, most people in most emerging countries are only thinking about how everybody should obey them, and live as they think is right, and not of protecting the rights of the individuals.

So the airdrop will generate some nice photo-ops and that's it....

Helping Parents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37935596)

This project has been clueless from day one. The founders are projecting their experience as kids from well-to-do homes who got rich because they were exposed to computers early in life during the beginnings of the PC revolution with the situation of the poor in undeveloped countries. The two are in no way similar.

To the extent that these countries can benefit from inexpensive computers (as opposed to getting rid of corrupt politicians), those computers need to be in the hands of parents, allowing them to learn useful skills, conduct business and farming more efficiently, and get better medical care. Improve the lot of the parents, and the kids will automatically be better off.

poverty issue (1)

Coeurderoy (717228) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935704)

It seems that using real bombs would be more efficient that OLPCs to get rid of the poors ?

Oh... it's poverty, not poors... then it would probably not work..

Not the brains. The mouth. (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935770)

"Nicholas Negroponte, the brains behind the One Laptop Per Child..."

Not the brains. The mouth.

Raspberry Pi makes OLPC irrelevant (1)

PedroDeAlvarado (626756) | more than 2 years ago | (#37935908)

The OLPC hardware is too expensive. Even middle-income countries like El Salvador and Honduras have struggled to get them introduced into schools. The Raspberry Pi project ("An ARM GNU/Linux box for $25" - http://www.raspberrypi.org/ [raspberrypi.org] ) might just obsolete OLPC.

Re:Raspberry Pi makes OLPC irrelevant (2)

starmonkey (2486412) | more than 2 years ago | (#37936598)

The Raspberry Pi project ("An ARM GNU/Linux box for $25" - http://www.raspberrypi.org/ [raspberrypi.org] ) might just obsolete OLPC.

I doubt it. As much as I like the Raspberry Pi, it doesn't come with a keyboard or display or power supply, and certainly isn't designed for use by the illiterate. As much as I think the OLPC idea is far from being proven to be effective, it's designed for rugged use away from the power grid.

Re:Raspberry Pi makes OLPC irrelevant (1)

PedroDeAlvarado (626756) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937632)

Display: any old TV or monitor. Power: micro-USB standardized GSMA Universal Charging Solution. Keyboard and mouse: via USB port. (You'd be surprised at how prevalent TVs and cellphones are in less deveoped parts of the world.) Granted, you can't use the Raspberry Pi away from the power grid, but I would surmise that in areas were there is no electrification, there aren't many teachers or schools, so you can't really make use of the OLPC, either.

As God is my witness, ... (1)

hduff (570443) | more than 2 years ago | (#37936202)

... I thought laptops could fly!

I think... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37937084)

We should drop Negroponte out of a helicopter.

If at first you don't succeed.... (3, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937174)

Total distribution of XO laptops: 2 million.

Peru 870,000
Uruguay 470,000
India 250,000
Rwanda 120,000
Columbia 65,000 (?)
Argentina 60,000
Mexico 50,000

Total Latin America: 1.51 million
Total Asian: 24,000

It strains coincidence when your global "one size fits all" program for the education of young children succeeds only among those who share a common (essentially Western) language and culture.

Teacher training and ongoing support

The organisation's strategy of simply giving underprivileged children laptops and "walking away" has been criticised because "laptops are getting opened and turned on, but then kids and teachers are getting frustrated by hardware and software bugs, don't understand what to do, and promptly box them up to put back in the corner." This "drive-by" implementation model is the official strategy of the OLPC project, and the mantra "You Can Give Kids XO Laptops and Just Walk Away" are Negroponte's own words.

Nigeria

Other discussions question whether OLPC laptops should be designed to promote anonymity or to facilitate government tracking of stolen laptops. A recent New Scientist article critiqued Bitfrost's P_THEFT security option, which allows each laptop to be configured to transmit an individualized, non-repudiable digital signature to a central server at most once each day to remain functioning.

In 2007, XO laptops in Nigeria were reported to contain pornographic material belonging to children participating in the OLPC Program. In response, OLPC made plans for adding content filters. The OLPC foundation maintained the position that such issues were societal, not laptop related. Similar responses have led some to suggest the OLPC takes an indifferent stance concerning this issue. According to Wayan Vota Senior Director at Inveneo and founder of the independent OLPC News, "The use of computers to look at porn is [a] social problem, not a hardware one... Children have to be taught what's good and what's bad, based on the cultural context."

One Laptop per Child [wikipedia.org]

The problem with the airdrop is that OLPC's root premise is that kids don't need a teacher or guardian.

It has never been quite so simple as that:

When we first started distributing wind-up radios to orphaned children in Rwanda in 1999, a common response was that our radios helped to combat ignorance and ease isolation. In May, when we launched our Prime radio, the response was the same.

Children who head households, as well as at-risk widow headed-families are hungry for information they can trust that will help them learn and grow. They want to listen to the news and practical programmes that will support their personal development, impact behavior change (in relation to sexual and reproductive health), inform on health issues like family planning and HIV/AIDS and peace and reconciliation.

Beneficiaries, who are identified by our local partner organisations, are trained in the use and care of the Prime as well as how to become listening group leaders. They are the responsible "guardians" of the radios on behalf of their family and of their neighbours. Over the years in Rwanda we've seen that roughly 20 listeners share our radios, although many more might gather to hear an important announcement or programme.

The Prime's bright LED light will decrease the use of hazardous candles and kerosene, enabling people to see at night. To the very poorest, even a candle or a tablespoon of kerosene is beyond their daily reach. Children were particularly excited about being able to see well to study.

Prime in Rwanda [lifelineenergy.org]

AM radio and Shortwave broadcasting are 90 years old.

But the geek --- in his own version of magical thinking --- will assume that using his generation's bleeding-edge tech effectively will be easy for even the youngest of children.

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