Bursting my $100 Bubble

  2005-11-17


As a geek I’m excited about the $100 laptop for children in developing nations. Sadly, my glee is not entirely altruistic: the latop will use Linux which means Linux could suddenly become the most popular laptop operating system in the world.

Unfortunately, Sid Steward has a point:

…you’re [educators are] on your own — there is no content, no curriculum.

My mother and father, both teachers, would be most displeased with this focus on technology rather than content and curriculum.

Unfortunately, Sid has another excellent point:

Finally, what is the advantage of ‘one laptop per child’ over ‘$100 in books per child,’ or rather ‘$100 of school supplies per child.’ The notion that “500MHz, 1GB, 1 Megapixel” is a magic formula for superior education and economic acceleration goes unquestioned, for some reason.

I do think Sid is being a bit pessimistic. $100 for a computer may overcome many of the distribution, localization, cultural, and other complex issues surrounding getting goods such as books and school supplies around the world.

Also it creates an excellent opportunity for another organization — whether commercial, governmental, or non-profit — to step in and provide the content. Text book and curriculum companies around the world should be preparing content specifically for these laptops.

The question then becomes, what if there’s enough funding to provide the laptops or the curriculum, but not both.

No matter what, the $100 laptop idea itself has the potential to revolutionize the world, and it is exciting to watch the story unfold.