Thursday, November 03, 2011

OLPC continues its descent into madness

I was very excited about the potential of the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project at its outset. The dream of putting a working, low power computer into the hands of poor children to empower education was exciting. And the prospect of escaping a world of $1000+ portable computing was engaging as well.

But the reality of OLPC has been depressing. The OLPC XO-1 was delivered underpowered (both in terms of CPU and battery life) and overpriced. It failed to make serious inroads in poor nations, and generally wound up becoming expensive doorstops and showpieces for donors to the "Get One Give One" program. It's real legacy was showing computer makers that there was a demand for low-priced, highly portable computers, which lead to the Netbook revolution and ultimately set the stage for game-changers like the iPad.

But still, the OLPC project's founder continues to dream dreams with no connection with reality. The newest brainstorm of Nicolas Negroponte? Throwing tablets out of helicopters onto unsuspecting villagers in poor nations. No, really. The expectation is uneducated tribespeople would welcome these new and exciting tools... ignoring the fact that many have probably never seen a computer.

Oh, well. OLPC lost my faith - and my donations - years ago. Here's hoping they do more good than harm before the charity is finally forced to admit its failure and fold.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can see why he is a university professor...

I wonder if he is related to John Negroponte?