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One Laptop Per Child and Intel Join Forces

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the they-thought-of-the-children dept.

Intel 143

dan the person writes "A Wired piece informs us that Intel and the OLPC project have put their bickering behind them. They have joined forces to ensure 'the maximum number of laptops will reach children'. '"What happened in the past has happened," said Will Swope of Intel. "But going forward, this allows the two organisations to go do a better job and have better impact for what we are both very eager to do which is help kids around the world." "Intel joins the OLPC board as a world leader in technology, helping reach the world's children. Collaboration with Intel means that the maximum number of laptops will reach children," said Nicholas Negroponte, founder of One Laptop per Child. The new agreement means that Intel will sit alongside companies such as Google and Red Hat as partners in the OLPC scheme.'"

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I have a bad feeling about this (2, Insightful)

Azuma Hazuki (955769) | more than 7 years ago | (#19850901)

Wonderful. Intel, maker of the Classmate PC, a DIRECT COMPETITOR to the OLPC (or so they say) is now teaming up with it. This is a transparent bid to relegate the OLPC to permanent second-class citizenship. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Re:I have a bad feeling about this (3, Insightful)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19850947)

I can see two tiers of low-cost laptops, as discussed in the Wired piece, being an advantage to a rollout, and the technical assistance (possibly some funding) from Intel being invaluable.

Intel knows that if this effort is successful, their future customers will be using these devices.

LinuxBIOS and Open Specifications for Intel? (4, Informative)

billybob2 (755512) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851553)

One of the key requirements for the OLPC is that all the components are open source (even the firmware for the wireless component). AMD has worked very hard to make the OLPC compatible with LinuxBIOS [linuxbios.org] and OpenFirmware, which are 100% Free/Open Source. I certainly hope Intel will do the same.

Sing the Open Firmware Song! (1)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 7 years ago | (#19854155)

Open Firmware is the only firmware standard in existence to have its own song. Download or listen to Mitch Bradley singing the Open Firmware Song (278k) [sun.com] .

-Don

Re:I have a bad feeling about this (-1, Redundant)

iAlta (1098077) | more than 7 years ago | (#19850985)

I think this is good news. Computer to third nation children is just positive.

Three possible scenarios... (2, Insightful)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851261)

I expect one of three things to happen:

1. The second generation of OLPC units will ship with Intel inside.

2. Intel will suck as much information as it can out of the OLPC project before going its own way again.

3. Intel will stay onboard at OLPC but do its best to bog the project down while pushing its competing solutions to the developing world.

None of those scenarios particularly appeal to me, but if I had to choose between them I'd go for the first one.

Easy solution (5, Funny)

aztec rain god (827341) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851421)

Two laptops per child!

Re:Easy solution (1)

Aqua_boy17 (962670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852151)

Hmm. I didn't know they made dual core children.

Re:Easy solution (3, Funny)

dn15 (735502) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852633)

Actually three. They'll also get Apple's new $100 laptop, the iOLPC. Competitively priced at $150.

Re:Three possible scenarios... (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851465)

4. The system will come with suck ass on board video and will also need to come with 1gb - 2gb + 15 of ram + 15gb+ of flash just so it can run vista as by the time like the OLPC v2 comes out XP will be not sold any more. Right now the classmate has 256mb of ram with on board video and it can run xp but that needs 2GB of NAND Flash and trying run vista on 512mb with on board video will not work.

Re:Three possible scenarios... (1)

daskinil (991205) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852483)

should run vista just fine with 1gb of RAM and on board video, at least that what my laptop has, i gots no lag- and its not exactly a new or high end laptop

Re:Three possible scenarios... (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19853251)

but It will still need a lot disk space for it.

Re:Three possible scenarios... (4, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852631)

...just so it can run vista as by the time like the OLPC v2 comes out XP will be not sold any more.

If the XO ran Windows -- any version -- it would be worse than useless for the purpose of the OLPC. The whole point is to have software designed for education, wrapped in an operating system that's completely user-modifiable (to encourage the students to creatively hack it). This is fundamentally incompatible with Windows.

Re:Three possible scenarios... (1, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19853973)

The whole point is to have software designed for education, wrapped in an operating system that's completely user-modifiable (to encourage the students to creatively hack it). This is fundamentally incompatible with Windows.

Yea it's like the real world: you're free to develop products that work within it, but you can't change laws of physics. This should be pretty distressing for a child.

But I say we take this further. If Vista is useless since you can't have a kid recompile it, how useless is a hardware you can't reconfigure it? Kids that want to become chip builders will definitely be harmed by this. I say, let's make every PC come with a tiny CPU manufacturing facility built in.

Guys what's wrong with you. Not every kid in the world will become an instant geek when it touches a Linux laptop: that's not the idea.

There are great number of reasons why Linux is better than Vista: Vista is huge (can't run on a light machine), expensive (...), and closed, which makes the platform non-free (means, manufacturers have to go pay someone or ask someone to fix something for them).

That's the big idea behind using Linux, not that every kid will wake up in the morning and compile his kernel for breakfast.

Re:I have a bad feeling about this (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19851293)

I have a bad feeling about technology in general. Back about 10 years ago, I couldn't wait to see the day when we figured out more efficient ways of creating oxygen so we could completely demolish all the trees to build massive cities. (Of course, this was a very ignorant view for many reasons, seeing as how most of our oxygen comes from the sea, and, if we were to destroy all trees there would be a multitude of problems completely aside from oxygen, etc.)

Anyway, my point is this. I don't claim to be 'grown up' or amazingly insightful or even intelligent beyond what society would consider the norm, but, I do believe we are shooting ourselves in the foot by becoming so dependent on technology. We have no idea what the end result will be with the ways the new generations are going to be surrounded by things most people never even considered as children. You have to admit, this next generation about to be born is going to live in a sci-fi world compared to what people from B.C to 1930 AD were born into, so to even speculate one way or another how this is going to turn out is pure speculation, we have nothing to base our comparison on. My speculation is this. Everyones going to become even more dependent on technology for everyday things. (we already depend on the technology i speak of everday, for transportation.) Imagine a big enough solar flare happens and EMP's 99% of the computers on the earth. How do you rebuild our technology based society when the computers that made computers no longer function? What happens when 100% of the coders on the surface of the planet only know shit like C# and have no idea how the fundamental systems were designed? What good is an extensive knowledge of Perl/C++/hell even LISP python and fortran, if, all the hardware you used to compile and create is dead. If that big enough emp happened, all of our current technology would become extinct. Could you imagine the panic? We consider ourselves to be an intelligent, non barbaric people. Apparently the only thing that keeps our barbarism in check is our gadgets. Weaksauce.

Re:I have a bad feeling about this (3, Interesting)

Alistar (900738) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852417)

Heck, we basically live in a sci-fi world looking through the eyes of a 1930s person.

They would have never have thought you could get a computer into the size of a watch.

Secondly, there is more to computer and technology group than coders.
I don't know what your background is specifically, but something that electronic engineers learn in their very first year of classes is a little thing called the transistor and boolean algebra. Thats kind of pretty much where our modern electronics stem from at the moment.

I can build you an AND gate an OR gate, a NAND gate out of 3 cent transistors. If I plug enough of those transistors together in logical patterns I can basically make the equivalent of a processor (it would huge and weak compared to today) but its a start. Size would take a step back till the miniturization could be redone I suppose, but its not quite the apocalyptic scenario you make it out to be.

Re:I have a bad feeling about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19852861)

I don't quite think you grasped the concept of the scenario I described. Where would you get these transistors in a world where everything was EMP'd? You'd have to make them from scratch, because all of the computer driven machinery that mass produced them for 3 cents consumer cost, simply wouldn't exist.

Heck, we basically live in a sci-fi world looking through the eyes of a 1930s person.

They would have never have thought you could get a computer into the size of a watch.

 
that was my point, exactly. but, to make it hit further home realize this -- we understand that in the 30s it was sci-fi, we understand that most of the technology existing right now was somewhat sci-fi to us, growing up -- now think about this up and coming generation. constantly surrounded with electronics we could have never imagined as children. to them it will be standard, commonplace, banal - so the thought of the 30s people looking at it as sci-fi won't really be interpretable by them, or, at least, not in the way it is to us.
 
 

Secondly, there is more to computer and technology group than coders.
I don't know what your background is specifically, but something that electronic engineers learn in their very first year of classes is a little thing called the transistor and boolean algebra. Thats kind of pretty much where our modern electronics stem from at the moment.

 
at the moment im the it manager for a decently sized company. im 24, and have been working on computers (as a job) for 10 years. i had to get my underage workers permit way back in the day to do it. i've always had a strong drive to learn all i could about technology. my point is this. sure, electronics engineers learn that stuff, but, generally speaking, most of them don't understand it, or use it enough for it to be second nature to them (walk up to a random EE thats been in the field over 8 years and ask him if he could, from scratch, build a working archaic pc. lets assume he's one leet bastard and does somehow manage to build an archaic pc, completely from scratch, using no modern day electronics during the process of building it.. continue reading.). if everything went down, it would take us many years to rebuild the basic framework, and it would be drastically different from the original framework. so different, in fact, that unless many man hours were spent on compatibility between what 'was' then, nothing would remain the same as it is today. this EMP would kill all the hard drives in the world, and the computers that manufactured said hard drives. how would you store data? all ram and motherboards are dead. how do you even attempt to write data to the nonexistent hard drive? im telling ya man. if every electronic device was destroyed, all at once, it would be rebuilding -everything- from square 1. by the time we had the basics redone, most of the IT gurus of today would be dead, and, even if they werent, their 'advanced' knowledge would in effect be obsolete because the entire foundation/framework of the new electronics would be completely redone and virtually nothing would be as it was.

Re:I have a bad feeling about this (1)

Alistar (900738) | more than 7 years ago | (#19853427)

I am afraid I still have to disagree, you do make good points, but:

The first transistor was created in 1947 according to a quick google search.

Thats 60 years from the first transistor to what we have now. Thats not a long time especially considering that we will retain our knowledge of how they worked. I'll admit, we will lose a lot of stored knowledge yes, but surely you would have to admit that it would not take 60s years again.

Now assuming progression of any sort, that gap widens and, without any further information on this scenario, this would increase the technical learning curve to beyond a single generation.

However, it should also be noted that as things pass from cutting edge to mundane and consequentially are considered common knowledge, the age in which one acquires this knowledge becomes lower. For example, in 1947, the first transistor was probably not taught in first year engineering courses, but now heck I know 14 year olds that know how it works, and given the proper materials could probably fashion a crude one from scratch. So as the technology gap increases so does common knowledge of this technology.

Well there would certainly be setbacks, I cannot argue this, I still believe that we could bounce back within a reasonable time frame.

OLPC is a project - Classmate is a device... (2, Informative)

Glasswire (302197) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851445)

The current device that the OLPC has created is neither the last nor possibly the only unit that the project might support. If you look at roadmaps, esp since Intel is 18 months ahead of AMD on manufacturing process technology, it will have much more powerful cpus than the dated old National Semi Geode technology that AMD bought - in a similar or lower power profile. Check out Silverthorne [intel.com] to see what's coming.
Negroponte was probably right to use Geode when the the first OLPC unit was designed, but looking into the future, Intel cpus will make much more sense for this.
In any case, there's no reason Intel can't create a different model for other markets, but with full embrace of OLPC by Intel, the project is actually much more viable.

Re:OLPC is a project - Classmate is a device... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19852475)

Um, I think the problem is the way Intel handled this. Initially, rather than try to work with the project, they disparaged it time and again. Now that they have a product worth putting in these laptops they are all smiles and roses. It's pretty disgusting behavior from a corporate behemoth...

Re:OLPC is a project - Classmate is a device... (1)

jabuzz (182671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19853059)

I don't see a thing in that about power consumption. Given that the Geode LX that OLPC are using consumes a mere 0.5W I very much doubt that Intel will match this.

Re:OLPC is a project - Classmate is a device... (2, Informative)

Mokurai (458416) | more than 7 years ago | (#19853639)

Silverthorne is described as running at 5W or more, while the Geode LX runs at less than 2W average for most applications when correctly using suspend/resume. The Geode should remain the choice in places where regular power is lacking. Although OLPC availability should speed up access to electrical power in many areas, on the Articulate Voting Populations principle.

(Disclosure: I worked on Geode documentation for National Semiconductor in 2000. AMD has the descendants of my documents online.)

Intel Geode (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19850905)

Oh, well for AMD. I wonder if it the Geode is going to be kicked out of it.

Though, I can't think of anything in Intel's lineup that competes with it at the low end that is x86.

Re:Intel Geode (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19851031)

Aye, that's the big worry isn't it? Isn't the Geode 0.7W to 2.?W for the whole platform (CPU + mobo), whereas Intel's lowest energy CPU is 3.?W all by itself?

(can't remember the numbers, too lazy to look them up)

Does (1)

Disharmony2012 (998431) | more than 7 years ago | (#19850913)

The OLPC still run on the AMD Geode?

Gar (3, Funny)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 7 years ago | (#19850927)

Just give them a Speak & Spell. It'll have as much value at a quarter of the price. Plus it already exists.

Re:Gar (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19851005)

You can give one to the Mexicans in the US while you are at it.

Their plan all along? (2, Interesting)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 7 years ago | (#19850963)

Does anyone else think that this was part of Intel's plan all along? Basically: create a cheap computer, and call the OLPC garbage, then offer an olive branch in exchange for a piece of their contract and a chance to push their crap PC worldwide?

Re:Their plan all along? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19851027)

no

Re:Their plan all along? (1)

charlieman (972526) | more than 7 years ago | (#19854589)

So Embrace,Extend and Destroy?

So i guess (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19851079)

that AMD processor won't last long in the OLPC machines ...

Re:So i guess (3, Informative)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851449)

RTFA. AMD will power first and second series of OLPC machines. Intel will provide platforms (propably some low level P4/Xeon with resistant structure) for _servers_ which will serve those little boxes in class room and outside of it.

After that it is hard to say - I think AMD processors are more suitible for OLPC for now, but what will future bring - who knows.

Re:So i guess (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851773)

I think AMD processors are more suitible for OLPC for now, but what will future bring - who knows.
I'm really surprised they went with AMD. They are using the Geode line, which is basically a souped-up 486. Intel don't have a direct competitor since they sold their XScale line off, but I don't understand why they went with Geode rather than an ARM9 core of some kind. Going x86 limits them to two suppliers (only one really at that performance level), while a large number of companies produce ARM chips. Additionally, ARM chips are in pretty much every single mobile phone, and so they are used to huge volumes. The only things I've seen Geode chips in have been relatively low volume.

With the whole software stack being Free, it's not like they need to run legacy x86-only code...

Re:So i guess (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852149)

You are right that going x86 limits them to two suppliers in this space, but the suppliers are not AMD and Intel, they are AMD and Via. Any C3 series CPU beats the holy crap out of the Geode while having comparable power consumption if run at the same frequency. In addition to this, the more recent ones have crypto accel which can become very handy when trying to establish mesh networks in the middle of nowhere. Add to that a very reasonable and throughly open source platform for the rest. The only missing bit Via did not have was wireless, but it could have probably teamed up with someone for a project this size.

Re:So i guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19852525)

I spent the last couple years working with desktop-class applications on the PXA2xx family of XScale processors. I don't blame OLPC for chosing the Geode, I wish I could have done the same. Some arguments for the Geode over an ARM system:
  • It implements the x86 architecture, which has far better support for desktop applications than ARM
  • There are far more desktop developers working on x86 than there are ARM
  • Power consumption of the Geode is competitive with that of high-end ARM systems (really!)
  • ARM systems at the time didn't play well with high-resolution screens - 640x480 was a stretch, let alone 1200x900
  • Firefox is a dog on many (all?) ARM cores I've come across. No cache, often no FPU, and GCC isn't quite there yet.
  • The Geode isn't *that* slow - the LX family is surprisingly quick
  • The off-the-shelf tools for media (video) playback on Linux are far better for x86 than ARM
  • AMD is a partner, and on the board

Re:So i guess (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19853219)

I don't understand why they went with Geode rather than an ARM9 core of some kind.

I've been looking at this issue, and basically using a PC-compatible architecture makes so many things easier, especially when you're talking about desktop apps, driver support, etc. etc. etc. Linux on ARM is a confusing mess to get working for people used to PC's. I've got a Geode board here running an OLPC image, which is a basically a Fedora I can telnet into and get work done using standard tools. Replicating this around the world should be a good thing.

Re:So i guess (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 7 years ago | (#19854339)

"Linux on ARM is a confusing mess to get working for people used to PC's."

Are you talking end users or developers? End users don't see any difference. Most stuff already works with arm, so apparently developers don't see much of a difference.

Re:So i guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19854259)

Actually the Geode LX is more like a Pentium internally. Just because the Cyrix 5x86 plugged into a 486 motherboard doesn't mean anything.

Re:So i guess (1)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852135)

I suspect Asustek's EEE PC is one reason they decided to join. They're going to hit the po' folks crowd with a $200 dollar laptop and let OLPC worry about indoctrinating their children.

Re:So i guess (4, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851815)

No, OLPC and Intel are simply joining forces to create the new Soylent processor - One Child Inside(TM).

Does that mean US parents can buy them now? (4, Interesting)

bADlOGIN (133391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851107)

Before the US becomes a 3rd world country due to competition from
India and China who can get the OLPC Laptop in special deals to
make their next generation of children more competitive?

Re:Does that mean US parents can buy them now? (4, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851257)

Before the US becomes a 3rd world country due to competition from India and China who can get the OLPC Laptop in special deals to make their next generation of children more competitive?

I've seen two examples of schools in my local neighborhood bragging about how their gifted fifth-grade students were using Powerpoint to give their school reports. In one case, I saw an example of it with all sort of pictures, and the GATE teacher bragged, "and one report had a video on it!!"

Of course, I'm thinking how pathetically easy it is to put together this sort of presentation, and I was struck not by the content (as I should), but by how much the teacher valued the flash over the substance of the report.

If we want to make our children more "competitive", maybe it would be a better idea to keep computers away from them as long as possible. Any idiot can learn to use a computer. I'd rather end up with educated children.

Re:Does that mean US parents can buy them now? (3, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851481)

Of course, I'm thinking how pathetically easy it is to put together this sort of presentation, and I was struck not by the content (as I should), but by how much the teacher valued the flash over the substance of the report.
I had the same problem in pen & paper days. Some of my teachers were more worried about the presentation and neatness of handwriting than they were about what I actually wrote. One of my teachers even bragged about how his teacher used to beat the crap out of him if the letters on his page weren't exactly the 'right' height. I think you're probably seeing a modern version of the same phenomenon. It's usually a sign of an incompetent teacher. When they don't know their stuff, they just can you for something irrelevant to seem like they're doing something. Fortunately, I found those teachers to be in the minority.

Re:Does that mean US parents can buy them now? (0, Redundant)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851685)

I had the same problem in pen & paper days. Some of my teachers were more worried about the presentation and neatness of handwriting than they were about what I actually wrote.

Well, I don't know if I'm willing to go this far. There's a difference between neatness and flash. If I was a teacher and had to squint at chicken scratches trying to understand what a student wrote, I'd make neatness count as well. Part of education is learning to be organized and have reasonably clear penmanship (another item that computers are corrupting). While I believe content is important (as I stated), I'm not going to say that content is the only thing that's important.

(that said, clearly insisting on letters exactly the right height is fairly absurd)

Re:Does that mean US parents can buy them now? (2, Insightful)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 7 years ago | (#19854367)

I guess you would also give bad grades to black kids because they had different accents? Who the hell are you?

Re:Does that mean US parents can buy them now? (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#19854681)

I guess you would also give bad grades to black kids because they had different accents? Who the hell are you?

Uh.... no.... but I would give bad grades in a speech class to someone who mumbled. This isn't about different styles of writing, it's about legibility. I wouldn't care if someone puts a horizontal line through their Z or not, but there's no excuse of total sloppiness to the point that you can't read it.

Too many people give excuses about their writing. Anyone can write neatly, and above the age of 10, they *should* be able to write neatly. It doesn't take an obsessive compulsive to produce decent lettering. I can write fast and sloppy, or I can write slow and neat. It's not that hard, it just takes a teaspoon of patience (I know, I know -- patience in the instant gratification generation? What an idea.)

Re:Does that mean US parents can buy them now? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851935)

Same here. My average grade in English was a C, because I have terrible handwriting. At GCSE, when we were allowed to use a computer, it shot to an A*. Now I make a living as a freelance writer (if only I could charge /. my standard rate I'd be rich). Handwriting and command of the English language were so tightly connected in the minds of some teachers that good work in poor handwriting would get bad marks.

Re:Does that mean US parents can buy them now? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852775)

At GCSE, when we were allowed to use a computer, it shot to an A*.

Your grade turned into a search algorithm?

Re:Does that mean US parents can buy them now? (3, Funny)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851817)

If we want to make our children more "competitive", maybe it would be a better idea to keep computers away from them as long as possible. Any idiot can learn to use a computer. I'd rather end up with educated children.

Which might explain why they're not giving out these things in US. It's all a conspiracy for US to gain intellectual supremacy over the world.

NPR revisits a school with laptops (grade 7 & (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19851937)

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?story Id=4660781 [npr.org]

Basically, the students aren't doing any better with the laptops.

Re:NPR revisits a school with laptops (grade 7 &am (1)

Aliriza (1094599) | more than 7 years ago | (#19853061)

This laptops will only be a step to expensive ones , I am sure we'll continue to hear this story in the next 10 years.

Good point. I hope OLPC is designed on education (1)

bADlOGIN (133391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852553)

Your example is an all too classic The problem with applying "business tools"
to education. My wife is a high school English teacher. Do you know how well an
outlook calendar "maps" onto a class schedule? It doesn't. However, that doesn't
stop the all too stupid administration from expecting teachers to use it because it's
"a calendaring tool we have already paid for".

The great potential about the OLPC Linux distribution is that only applications
relevant to education need be written, packaged, and included. There's no 3rd party
trying to tell/sell applications that don't work for education. At least, that's
my hope.

In the grad scheme of things, I fear you may be right. Perhaps of the XO Linux
distribution includes a PowerPoint knock-off and no math plotting packages it will level
the global playing field down to one stupid common denominator...

Re:Does that mean US parents can buy them now? (4, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852745)

I've seen two examples of schools in my local neighborhood bragging about how their gifted fifth-grade students were using Powerpoint to give their school reports. In one case, I saw an example of it with all sort of pictures, and the GATE teacher bragged, "and one report had a video on it!!" Of course, I'm thinking how pathetically easy it is to put together this sort of presentation, and I was struck not by the content (as I should), but by how much the teacher valued the flash over the substance of the report.

You know what the worst part is? This is actually a regression from what we had 15 years ago when I was in 5th grade!

Back then, we had Hypercard -- like PowerPoint, except programmable. Not only could we have embedded videos in our stacks (if sufficiently fast machines had been available, anyway), but we could also program animations, link together our cards/slides in non-linear ways, and even build applications with it.

Between Hypercard, LOGO, and games like Number Munchers and Oregon Trail, computers were better used for education back then than they are today!

Re:Does that mean US parents can buy them now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19853775)

Back then, we had Hypercard -- like PowerPoint, except programmable.

Um... PowerPoint, like the other Office applications, has been scriptable via Visual Basic for Applications for years now. It even has its own little IDE built-in. You can assign scripts to on-screen objects that run during the presentation when you click on them or move the mouse over them.

Admittedly, this is not PowerPoint's primary purpose, and other things like HyperCard (or Squeak!) may work better for scriptable presentations. But if you were determined, you could write your own Myst-like game in PowerPoint.

Re:Does that mean US parents can buy them now? (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19853875)

This is actually a regression from what we had 15 years ago [..] Back then, we had Hypercard -- like PowerPoint, except programmable.

Uhm yea right... Powerpoint is also programmable (VB), but the UI is just good enough that you don't need to do it. I mean there's no much to *program* in a *presentation* right, let's be fair...

Next thing you'll claim graphical UI is a step back from the superior command prompt (since it's harder).

Re:Does that mean US parents can buy them now? (1, Insightful)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852045)

I remember reading an article about schools in the US who have given out laptops to children. The article concluded, that laptops have been a mixed blessing, and certainly have not contributed to higher grades. In fact, they have been deemed a nuisance in the classroom by some, causing disruption and being a distraction to students (surfing porn in class, lol). Maintenance issues have also been cited as a major drawback of such programs.

Of course the OLPC is directed at very young children, children who live in third world countries and have software that is specifically designed for classroom use.

Laptops in classrooms are certainly the future, but the whole thing needs to be well thought out and isn't just a matter of handing out laptops.

Having said that, I do support the OLPC project and hope western countries will realize the benefit of these computers.

Re:Does that mean US parents can buy them now? (1)

smannell (157236) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852537)

I agree with your sentiment, but just to be anal; it's Old World, New World, and Third World. The US is part of the New World, and will be even after the dollar becomes useless and our GNP is less than that of Bangledesh.

Re:Does that mean US parents can buy them now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19853339)

You may be anal, but you are also wrong.

The term "Third World" usually refers to one of two things:
#1- Countries that did not specifically align them selves with the First World (the US, Europe, and the "West") or the Second World (the USSR, eastern bloc, and communist countries) following World War II, or
#2- Countries in the developing world, regardless of their political affiliations

good news for the RIAA (2, Funny)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851141)

The RIAA is really looking forward to the day when every child in the world has their own computer. There's tons of countries in the developing world that they'll now be able to target with threats of lawsuits for downloading copyrighted music!

Re:good news for the RIAA (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851551)

I better copyright those kids and claim them as my own, this way the RIAA will have to pay ME royalties whenever they sue them! :D

does this mean... (4, Insightful)

shutupkevin (1127139) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851193)

that we're going to have a lot more children discovering internet porn sooner? :O I can just imagine the next generation of kids.

Re:does this mean... (0, Troll)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851599)

that we're going to have a lot more children discovering internet porn sooner?
Sooner? Didn't your parents have the special magazines in the sock drawer?

:O I can just imagine the next generation of kids.
Good for them. At least they won't have to find out at such an early age what disturbing fetishes their parents have.. *shudder*

Re:does this mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19852363)

..or your own 2600 leader's "mishabits," for that matter.

Remember to properly log out, people, sometimes it matters. -Things can't stay hidden at the loft forever, gotta air some times.

Re:does this mean... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852821)

I can just imagine the next generation of kids.

Yeah, imagine a whole generation of kids growing up without the unhealthy guilt our prudish society indoctrinated into us!

Re:does this mean... (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19853903)

that we're going to have a lot more children discovering internet porn sooner? :O I can just imagine the next generation of kids.

I just realized something: each baby when born is looking and sucking his mom's boobs few times each day. This sort of perversion should be really unnatural and stressing for the child.

Imagine the terrible kinds of effects this has on its poor baby psyche. Those mothers are monsters!

Cost cutting measure? (5, Funny)

slapout (93640) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851209)

OLPC guy #1: Looks like we're not going to be able to make this thing for $150. How are we going to get costs down?

OLPC guy #2: Guess it's time to sell some more ad-space. Where are we on the phone list?

OLPC guy #1: Looks like we're doing to the "I"s.

OLPC guy #2: Start dialing.

Re:Cost cutting measure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19852945)

HAHA it is like THE SIMPSONS you SO FUNNY and not LOSER!

with Intel involved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19851245)

Call me a cynic, but with Intel involved their claim of "maximum number of laptops will reach children" means that no child will get one.

Computing for everyone... (3, Insightful)

going_the_2Rpi_way (818355) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851377)

It's a great idea and a noble goal. But there's still a lot of valid questions about how good an idea this specific project is. Aside from the clear opportunity for people, government and corporations to take advantage of good intentions, there's a consistent theme of imposing western/northern hemisphere values for the wrong people place/application.

It's not unlike the good intentions that led to rebuilding of "better" houses in Sumatra for instance after the great Tsunami. Modern, western style housing just doesn't make sense there. It uses and demands much more freshwater than traditional homes and no-one can afford to run them. As a result the population has typically abandoned the new homes, which remain unoccupied, in favour of traditional homes.

In fact I would argue that corporations (and governments who use money to buy these computers) will likely breed more hostility and resentment than anything by disseminating computers to people who can't afford three squares a day.

Re:Computing for everyone... (1)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851743)

There are also questions as to how -useful- laptops are. Over the last 10-20 years, as computers were introduced in US schools (high schools?), did grades (or any other educational indicator) go up overall? The few 1-3 nerds in every class might've benefited, but overall, I doubt technology impacted everyone's ability to learn (if not caused more harm).

From my experience, kids who have laptops spend their day browsing the web or chatting... not learning. Every class that has computers turns out to be a waste (I've yet to see a class with computers that isn't a waste; and I taught quite a few of them).

If nothing else, I think laptops for everyone will dumb down the world's kids (sure they'll know how to type, email, and IM, but they won't know how to THINK).

Re:Computing for everyone... (1)

FunWithKnives (775464) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852921)

If those kids weren't browsing the web, they would more than likely be sitting in front of a television like zombies, being force-fed what to think. You may have a valid concern regarding computers in classrooms, though I believe that they can be a very good thing as long as they are implemented properly, but kids browsing the internet after school instead of laying on the couch, watching some fucking reality TV show is a good thing. Passive entertainment is nothing but a problem, as far as I am concerned.

Re:Computing for everyone... (2, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852925)

From my experience, kids who have laptops spend their day browsing the web or chatting... not learning. Every class that has computers turns out to be a waste (I've yet to see a class with computers that isn't a waste; and I taught quite a few of them).

Back when I was in elementary school, the classes that involved things like Hypercard and LOGO weren't a waste. Perhaps the problem lies not with the concept of putting computers in the classroom, but with the dumbass teachers who think MS Office is the ultimate concept of computing!

OT: housing in Sumatra (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852873)

It's not unlike the good intentions that led to rebuilding of "better" houses in Sumatra for instance after the great Tsunami. Modern, western style housing just doesn't make sense there. It uses and demands much more freshwater than traditional homes and no-one can afford to run them. As a result the population has typically abandoned the new homes, which remain unoccupied, in favour of traditional homes.

How so? In particular, how exactly do Western-style homes require more fresh water?

Re:OT: housing in Sumatra (2, Interesting)

going_the_2Rpi_way (818355) | more than 7 years ago | (#19853195)

I know it's off-topic (sorry), but (s)he asked, so here goes....

For starters, you're talking about houses that are built on the assumption of a centralized water supply system, which doesn't currently exist to any meaningful degree. The same can also be said for the new schools and nurseries. In addition to assuming water will be supplied, the builders assume an availability and usage rate of water that while reasonable in North America or Europe for instance (and we use LOTS of water, btw) is simply unrealistic and prohibitively expensive to run -- it becomes a burden. It's like driving a SUV when you can only afford gas for a moped.

It's not a simple issue, but to provide some context even a family that manages freshwater sparingly (saltwater for bathing, etc) will spend about 30% of their household income on water. Aside from the potential losses in the house itself (from e.g. higher flow rates than would otherwise be used), the very nature of centralized systems (which are typically leaky and lossy even in modern North American and European cities) raises the expense for a user, even before factoring in excessively leaky pipes and the repercussions from a lack of metering.

If you're interested/curious about other aspects, let me know and we can talk more about it in a more appropriate forum.

Re:OT: housing in Sumatra (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19853325)

...(s)he asked...

Hint: My screen name is Mr. Chaotica. ; )

In addition to assuming water will be supplied, the builders assume an availability and usage rate of water...

What, you mean in the specific fixtures used and the design of kitchens and bathrooms? Even so, why should having unusable kitchens and bathrooms cause abandonment of the entire house? All they'd have to do is shut off the main valve and cap the drains (to avoid unpleasant sewer gases) and it'd be fine. The result -- having to carry in all their water -- would (presumably) be the same as what they'd have otherwise anyway.

Re:Computing for everyone... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19853907)

Aside from the clear opportunity for people, government and corporations to take advantage of good intentions, there's a consistent theme of imposing western/northern hemisphere values for the wrong people place/application.


No one in the developed world is forcing developing nations governments to choose to spend their own money to buy into the OLPC project. It's not like the US Marines are landing on the beaches of Brazil and distributing XOs at gunpoint.

All OLPC does is work with countries that decide they like the idea to meet their needs, and sell them computers. If they don't want them, they don't have to buy them. And since its a nonprofit and therefore its not like Nicholas Negroponte has stock to skyrocket or derive dividends from, I doubt they are going to be corruptly influencing government officials to buy into the project the way a for profit vendor might.

(OTOH, I'd say that, compared to the XO, the ClassMate certainly seems to have some of that first-world priority, wrong-tool-for-the-job character for some of the OLPC target countries, but its probably a better choice for some of the more developed and/or industrialized areas that have not been interested in the OLPC per se but might be interested in something vaguely similar.)

It's not unlike the good intentions that led to rebuilding of "better" houses in Sumatra for instance after the great Tsunami. Modern, western style housing just doesn't make sense there. It uses and demands much more freshwater than traditional homes and no-one can afford to run them. As a result the population has typically abandoned the new homes, which remain unoccupied, in favour of traditional homes.


Actually, I think that's exactly how the XO is not like that kind of housing project (though, again, I suppose the ClassMate might be.) While frequently derided in forums like slashdot (and, for that matter, by competing hardware projects and software vendors for whom the XO is a poor fit) for not meeting the expectations of a modern, western-style computing device, the XO (and the specs for the OLPC projects other devices like the school servers) are very carefully designed for the environment and role planned, in consultation with the people who would be using them.

In fact I would argue that corporations (and governments who use money to buy these computers) will likely breed more hostility and resentment than anything by disseminating computers to people who can't afford three squares a day.


Where governments maintain populations that can't eat adequately, that itself generates quite a bit of resentment. The marginal resentment resulting from giving those same people computers would probably be small. But, anyhow, governments whose main problem is starving populations aren't generally participating in the OLPC project. A few really crushingly poor countries might get the OLPC early on as a result of Libya's exploration of purchasing the OLPC not only for its own schoolchildren, but also for those in some poorer African countries,

Re:Computing for everyone... (1)

going_the_2Rpi_way (818355) | more than 7 years ago | (#19854103)

All OLPC does is work with countries that decide they like the idea to meet their needs, and sell them computers

I'd refer you to the history of Eritrea and Ethiopia, Uganda, or countless others. It's not uncommon for regimes, or even benevolent governments to have priorities different from the populace (this even happens in North America, but since we're talking about 'developing'). And if you don't think governments can be coerced into buying specific products through purely economic methods, you haven't been paying attention.

Where governments maintain populations that can't eat adequately, that itself generates quite a bit of resentment. The marginal resentment resulting from giving those same people computers would probably be small.

Which is my point to start with. Spending -any- money on a computer for someone that doesn't have access to food or water is ridiculous. Imagine watching your son die from hunger and the next day getting a lovely plastic computer - for free! How would that make you feel? Spend the money on food or water first. Then maybe on basic healthcare, or classrooms with at least pencils and paper so kids and adults can learn to read and write.

Also, these types of projects have a history of being abused or counted towards 'aid' commitments.

Anyhow, I'm hardly the only one saying these things and I know a lot of these and related issues (like security) are being discussed by the OLPC, but they've yet to really be answered.

Re:Computing for everyone... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19854547)

I'd refer you to the history of Eritrea and Ethiopia, Uganda, or countless others. It's not uncommon for regimes, or even benevolent governments to have priorities different from the populace (this even happens in North America, but since we're talking about 'developing').


No doubt, government decision makers can have different ideas of what is useful than the people, and even when they don't, both government decision makers and the people can be wrong at the time they make decisions and those decisions can be misguided and resented by the people at the time they bear fruit, however much they were in accord with the desires of the people when made.

Nevertheless, other than the abstract possibility that such a disconnect could be occurring here because it has occurred in the past, no real reason has been presented for believing that the participation of specific governments in the XO project is such a disconnect.

And if you don't think governments can be coerced into buying specific products through purely economic methods, you haven't been paying attention.


Since I specifically discussed the possibility in the post you are responding to, and discussed why I didn't think it was likely to be a factor in the OLPC project, I don't think you should be accusing other people of not paying attention.

Where governments maintain populations that can't eat adequately, that itself generates quite a bit of resentment. The marginal resentment resulting from giving those same people computers would probably be small.

Which is my point to start with.


That's odd, since its directly contrary to the point you offered that it was in response to. I think you mean "it presupposes one of my points", to wit, your idea that these will largely be going to starving people. It meant to do that, illustrating how your resentment point was overstated even presuming the point underlying it was true. I also addressed the misguidedness of that underlying point.

Spending -any- money on a computer for someone that doesn't have access to food or water is ridiculous.


So? Access to food and water isn't a problem for the vast majority of the people for whom these computers are being purchased.

Imagine watching your son die from hunger and the next day getting a lovely plastic computer - for free! How would that make you feel?


Why should I imagine that? How is it relevant?

Spend the money on food or water first.


Insofar as food and water (and electricity, healthcare, roads, physical structures for schools, etc.) are problems in the target areas, most of the countries involved are spending resources to address them already. In many cases, there is a point of diminishing returns where there is a limited amount that can be done efficiently at a time, and you have to complete that before moving on to the next project. These problems can't just absorb more resources efficiently to cut down the time to solve them.

Then maybe on basic healthcare, or classrooms with at least pencils and paper so kids and adults can learn to read and write.


Uruguay has a 98% literacy rate. Argentina about 97%. Libya, Brazil, and Peru above 80%. Getting "classrooms with at least pencils and papers so kids and adults can learn to read and write" is quite simply not a fundamental pressing need in most of countries that are involved in the OLPC.

Also, these types of projects have a history of being abused or counted towards 'aid' commitments.


What "type"? Examples?

Re:Computing for everyone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19854411)

there's still a lot of valid questions about how good an idea this specific project is.

Just from the distribution and storage aspect, this project is a clear winner.

The $175 cost of one OLPC laptop needs to be compared with the costs of providing the same wealth of learning materials in traditional textbooks and hardcopy libraries. In the target areas for OLPC, the shipping costs and the janitorial and maintenance costs for hardcopy libraries is going to exceed the laptop expense. The ease with which digital educational materials can be upgraded or molded to fit a village's specific needs is also significant. The way OLPC can be dovetailed with the OpenCourseWare movement is yet another boon.

OLPC is not intended as a replacement for traditional hardcopy based education. It is intended as a way to bring basic literacy into areas that traditional means have never been able to penetrate.

Energy crisis... (1)

drwhite (456200) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851407)


So in the next few years almost every child in 3rd world countries one will have an model OLPC? Talk about an environmental crisis...All the energy that will be needed to power these babies!

Shouldn't we be more concerned with stabilizing third world countries first then giving them technology?

Re:Energy crisis... (1)

Eco-Mono (978899) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852053)

They're crank-powered. Totally clean, renewable energy! Well, unless you count the methane emmissions from rice-and-beans diets ;)

Notice someone missing? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851459)

...so, umm, what happens to Microsoft?

Since the OLPC is running a FOSS OS core, and Intel is part of the OLPC now, I guess this leaves Windows out in the cold.

Not that I mind that or anything, but I find it interesting - after all, Intel and MSFT had teamed up to build the OLPC former competitor, yes?

As for AMD, I suspect that they and Intel will have to put their differences aside (w/o all the sniping commentary from AMD over a charity team-up announcement, at least as shown on the CNET version of TFA... man, that was just tacky).

/P

Re:Notice someone missing? (2, Informative)

musicon (724240) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851723)

Actually, Intel's Classmate PC is designed to run either Windows or Linux, and on all of the reviews I have heard thus far Mandriva Linux was the installed OS.

Additionally, although it's unlikely to work well within the system's constraints, Microsoft is also at least evaluating the OLPC, and is one of 1500+ developers signed up with them.

Finally (slightly off topic), now that Intel has sold off the ARM division, I don't know that they have a low-enough wattage CPU at this time that could be a viable replacement for the Geode.

The Letter 'i' (1)

alexj33 (968322) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851495)

They just need to put a letter 'i' in front of its name in order to make it catch on.

One VM per child? (1)

A non-mouse Coward (1103675) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851833)

So between this and yesterday's news [slashdot.org] , are we going to see OLPC output one VM per child for those where infrastructure is possible to do so?

We should fight this!!!!! (1)

EvilPickles (943600) | more than 7 years ago | (#19851839)

We all know that computers/video games are a waste of a time, entertainment is a huge distraction to our children. Getting many children involved in computers at an early age will spell disaster for our education system!! There are children now and there always have been who have refused to learn, and succeed, but this program "a lap top for every child" will distract so many students from the things that matter in life, such as an education, jobs, and other important thing that the education of our children will tank!! We cannot let them do this!!!

I don't know about the specs for all these computers, but getting a child started with one would certainly be a "starter" making them wish for more powerful computers, games, and other serious wastes of time!!

A mind is a TERRIBLE thing to waste!!

Thank you for reading. :D

Waits to be flamed (2, Interesting)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852175)

The OLPC concept is good, but seriously I think we have more pressuring issues to deal with. I'm not against the advancement of technology and what the OLPC has done has been good for what it was designed for.

But at the same time I feel like it's a waste of money compared to better causes, like I dont know, FEEDING or MEDICINE for kids. Granted I grew up poor, and I wish I had a laptop when I was in high school and younger would have been able to kick start my career even earlier. But even then if it came to me having a free laptop, or seeing the kid down the street who eats government peanut butter on bread (no jelly) every day and no medical insurance. I'd gladly give it up to feed him/her for a while.

From a small thinking perspective this project is great, from the big picture it's just diverting funds that could have been better used. For those about to flame me, Yes we should go to Mars! But we should we get things straight down here first.

Re:Waits to be flamed (1)

phedre (1125345) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852281)

I have to agree with you. I remember when a friend of my dad wanted to start a project to get computers into the classrooms of some south african (i think) village. After much discussion, we all decided that it was not the most pressing issue in the village, and that they could be better helped in other ways, as you said.. food, clothing, medicine, shelter, REGULAR school supplies.. etc. you get the idea.

Re:Waits to be flamed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19852521)

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish, let him feed himself for life.

We need to send send them fishing poles.

Sending poor people people consumables is all well and good. But at what point do you cut off the welfare?

Would it not be better to teach someone to do something and give them the accomplishment, than giving them something that will be gone tomorrow?

S

Re:Waits to be flamed (4, Insightful)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852715)

... it's a waste of money compared to better causes like ... FEEDING or MEDICINE ...
When the choice is cast as black-and-white as "Laptop or food/medicine?", I'd bet most people would choose the latter -- it's a no-brainer. The problem is that the problem isn't so simple and casting the problem to be so is somewhat disingenuous.

You have to remember that philanthropy is often done by people with passion. Nicholas Negroponte [laptop.org] was the co-founder of the MIT Media Laboratory, so naturally he's passionate about computers. One thing about the nature of passion is that one who is passionate wants to instill the same passion in others. Negroponte has passion about computers (and money, which definitely helps), so let him express his philanthropy as he wants. So perhaps the question shouldn't be, "Why isn't Negroponte giving food and medicine?" but rather "Why isn't there some other rich philanthropist who is passionate about feeding kids and making sure they have decent medical care?" There's no shortage of rich men.

Also, let's face it: giving food and medicine (a) just isn't sexy to the press and so doesn't garner support easily and (b) giving food and medicine is a never-ending job. Unlike giving a kids a laptop, you have to feed them three times a day every day. Even the most passionate philanthropist would likely burn out.

Another thing you need to consider is the potential for kids to rise above their situation. Feeding kids just makes them not hungry; the results of giving kids access to the internet is unknown buy potentially unbounded.

Consider what was done in Born into Brothels [kids-with-cameras.org] : poor children of prostitutes were given cameras. Could the kids have used more/better food/medicine? Of course. But what resulted from the cameras was (a) art and, for a few children, (b) a way out of their bleak station in life from their art and notoriety is garnered. As useful as food and medicine might be, it offers no hope of escaping their bleak lives. Who knows what kids might accomplish with laptops? Wouldn't it be interesting to find out?

Re:Waits to be flamed (1)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19852825)

That has to be the best writeup I've ever seen considering the topic. It's definitely helped my view of the world and will make a nice reference next time this kind of topic comes about.

Guest I just never saw it from that angle before, and I agree.

Re:Waits to be flamed (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19853053)

When the choice is cast as black-and-white as "Laptop or food/medicine?", I'd bet most people would choose the latter -- it's a no-brainer.

Are you sure it's a no-brainer? After all, which is better: having to support a large population [effectively] permanently on welfare, or creating a small population that can support themselves?

While it might be morally distasteful, the pragmatist in me says that the latter situation is actually better!

Bill Gates? (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#19853101)

Why isn't there some other rich philanthropist who is passionate about feeding kids and making sure they have decent medical care?


I think you said Bill Ga&%@***NOTHING TO SEE HERE - MOVE ALONG - SLASHDOT MINISTRY OF TRUTH***

Re:Waits to be flamed (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19853011)

But at the same time I feel like it's a waste of money compared to better causes, like I dont know, FEEDING or MEDICINE for kids.

Why? All that would do is create an excess of useless (i.e., uneducated) people who would then just suck more and more welfare. That's a waste of money! It's much better to have educated people, who could actually figure out how to eventually support themselves, even if you end up with fewer of them because the rest starved.

Yes, I agree, this isn't the nicest way to look at it, but it is the most pragmatic.

Also, by the way, your whole argument is moot anyway because the OLPC project is focusing on "developing" countries -- those that are slightly beyond the "basic survival" phase of development. The children under consideration do have food, water, and shelter; just not cable TV and malls.

Re:Waits to be flamed (1)

orasio (188021) | more than 7 years ago | (#19853861)

Also, by the way, your whole argument is moot anyway because the OLPC project is focusing on "developing" countries -- those that are slightly beyond the "basic survival" phase of development. The children under consideration do have food, water, and shelter; just not cable TV and malls.

I am from Uruguay, the first OLPC country. They _do_ have access to cable TV (paid or unpaid) and malls, but the issue is that poor kids don't get the same opportunities in life that we get.
We have virtually universal alphabetization, but differences in education are huge, nonetheless.
Poor kids don't get to finish high school, and seldom get a college degree.
Public education is not bad, but middle class kids can buy books, get private teachers, have internet, and also get extra curricular activities.
This kind of thing can make it feasible (as in less hours -> cheaper) for public school teachers to help poor kids with their homework, for making school texts universal, and research material too.

I think this kind of thing is a cornerstone to giving them more fair opportunities to compete in the real world.

Re:Waits to be flamed (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19853593)

The OLPC concept is good, but seriously I think we have more pressuring issues to deal with.


Then deal with them. The OLPC project will continue without you, I'm sure.

Not everyone has to be involved in everything done by every private charity on Earth.

But at the same time I feel like it's a waste of money compared to better causes, like I dont know, FEEDING or MEDICINE for kids.


Please, feel free to give to organizations providing those, instead.

Granted I grew up poor, and I wish I had a laptop when I was in high school and younger would have been able to kick start my career even earlier. But even then if it came to me having a free laptop, or seeing the kid down the street who eats government peanut butter on bread (no jelly) every day and no medical insurance.


Yeah, I've been that kid eating the government food, in high school. I wouldn't have traded (manifestly, as I could have and didn't), the broken old PC I had or the brand new full retail boxed version of Turbo Pascal 5.5 Professional (when it was "the latest and greatest") someone bought for me to have a little more or slightly better for a while.

From a small thinking perspective this project is great, from the big picture it's just diverting funds that could have been better used.


I think you have that backwards. From a naive and shortsighted perspective, its diverting funds that could be better used. From a broader perspective, its lowering the cost of education in developing countries, reducing the pressure, in the long-run, for them to have to choose between basic education for the whole population and providing essential services to the worst-off populations. And most of the funds "diverted", either in private charity dollars that actually go to the OLPC project or government education expenditures on the project by the recipient countries, would not have gone to the "better" uses you suggest if they didn't go to OLPC, they'd go to other, perhaps less cost-effective, education programs in the recipient countries or to other programs that interest the kind of people who would be interested in the OLPC project in the case of the private donations of money, programming effort, etc., to the project.

Re:Waits to be flamed (2, Interesting)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19854073)

But at the same time I feel like it's a waste of money compared to better causes, like I dont know, FEEDING or MEDICINE for kids. Granted I grew up poor, and I wish I had a laptop when I was in high school and younger would have been able to kick start my career even earlier.

You know, growing up in this world isn't about being comfy, having everything given to you, or everything being absolutely fair. Those are concepts that don't exist.

"No pain no gain".

Truth is if developed countries just keep sending trucks of food and medicine in Africa (say), they'll just be more and more dependent on it, and "adapt" to it, versus seek to be standalone. I'm not saying OLPC will suddenly change all of that. But consider which is better:

growing old in your mom's basement and mom giving you food and medicine every day, mommy's great big boy

or

educating yourself and looking for a job, even at the cost of it being very hard for you at times

The chain has to break at some point. People will die, and some will survive. Those who survive will no longer need food and medicine be fed to them, and will possibly have some form of self-sustaining economics developed. It's cruel, but it's how we came to be in the first place.

Re:Waits to be flamed (1)

MagikSlinger (259969) | more than 7 years ago | (#19854743)

But at the same time I feel like it's a waste of money compared to better causes, like I dont know, FEEDING or MEDICINE for kids. Granted I grew up poor, and I wish I had a laptop when I was in high school and younger would have been able to kick start my career even earlier. But even then if it came to me having a free laptop, or seeing the kid down the street who eats government peanut butter on bread (no jelly) every day and no medical insurance. I'd gladly give it up to feed him/her for a while.

I've grown up and don't flame people like this anymore. Because I realise jshriver is without a clue about the developing world. These arguments comes from ignorance about what life in the developing world is like. For starters, giving them aid may make you feel good, but it doesn't help the recipients stand on their own two feet which is what they really want to do. Are you aware sub-saharan Africa is the world's fastest growing cell phone market? 82 million subscribers and climbing.

Africa has mostly moved beyond the image of the starving, shivering child. There are a few areas like that, but <Lewis Black mode> f--k me, there's a @#$!-damned war going on there!</Lewis Black mode> Mostly, the developing world would like to start their own businesses, grow their own food and keep the money they make away from corrupt dictators. But well-meaning people keep interfering with their plans to do this, including ironically the World Bank and IMF (but I digress).

You want to help that child in Africa get a better home and school? Camapaign to end American subsidies for farming [mindfully.org] . That will do more to help them than giving them your crumbs from the table.

quickly traded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19853545)

I'm betting that any computer that makes it to the hands of a needy family will quickly trade it off for a weeks worth of food and they'll end up back in the US anyway.
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