I think this is very good. I used to think that these kind of efforts were a waste of money but giving these kind of toys to kids may become like putting a seed in the soil. If the soil is good one may trigger the flame in a future engineer, one may influence in a positive way the lives of kids in poor countries.
Carry on OLPC!
I haven't played with any of their devices although I am really interested in getting one to gain some experience. However, in general, Laptop is a more generic device than a tablet. I wonder the benefit of having a tablet over a laptop. Would tablet be a better educational device than a laptop? It may be for a smaller kid, age under 6. Yet, would developing countries rather buy a generic device to share among more kids than to acquire a specific device which only suits a smaller group of kids?
Bill, while I agree with many of the points you make in your piece, do you not think it's better to have lofty aims and fail to deliver as much as promised than not to try at all?
OLPC is a not-for profit, and they may not be great at execution, and they may love a good self-congratulatory pat on the back.... but even if just a handful of kids benefit from their work, I would be the first in line to shake their hand. Because at least they are making a point of the issue.
Since when is aiming to provide kids in poor countries with laptops a bad goal to aim for? Have you seen how happy kids are once they have those laptops? (I have... first hand... it's awesome!)
It's a great goal...and, sure, there are bumps on the road, but they're trying. And I applaud them for that. Tearing into not-for profits just seems a little harsh.
I don't want to sound cynical, but reality is that OLPC has always been a journalist's delight as a story, while delivering very little excerpt self-congratulatory press stories; they are long on talk and short on delivery, even if you agree with their goals. I have followed it since it started and it's a combination of guilt-washing, "feel-good" karma, and smooth talk, delivering little of value except promises and concepts. Check out my two EETimes commentaries about OLPC at http://www.eetimes.com/design/analog-design/4170200/OLPC-Tech-salvation-or-ego-trip- and http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4080876/Comment-One-Laptop-Per-Child-hit-by-competitive-reality.
The pictures make me feel they are not so rugged. I wonder if these are still being made to showcase as a prototype of course with some govts buying some quantities or really bring them for mass production for like below $50. What are the challenges for this kind of project?