In re: The $100 laptop

So you might have heard about Nick Negroponte, founder of MIT’s Media Lab and “techno-impresario extraordinaire” (see fortune article here) project to build a $100 laptop that countries could provide to their youth to help with learning. While still only in design he has gotten money from many of the tech world’s major players. The plan calls for a small screen, a 500mhz AMD processor, no harddrive (flash memory instead), wifi connection, and a crank with which to provide power if no outlet and/or power lines exist. Gates apparently got interested partly in ahope to move away from using open source software and getting MS software on it.

All of that aside though the idea holds great promise in my mind, in certain aspects the potential for communications from email/web that a wifi connection could provide to youths could prove fundamental in creating a learning environment that is impossible in their imporvished corner. And not only for the impoverished of the so called developing world, but also Massachuetes, where the governor has signed on for a half million of these.
Why is communications so fundamental, or at least why do I and apparently these folks think so? For an example I would point to the growth of cell phones in developing areas, where a cell phone has allowed farmers to go to the right market and to recieve a better income, whereas without information they would blindly choose which town to head to.

Similarly with education I feel that providing students with information, about their options, about where they can go and what they can learn will open doors and ideas and remove any notion that they are cutoff from such opportunities. Hopefully this device will workout and will be able to get into students hands, as it can potentially provide textbooks, learning materials and communciations to areas that currently don’t have them. Of course one problem is providing the Wifi access, and this will need to be addressed, but if one connection point can be setup in the town, the devices can potentially daisy chain up and pass the signal onto each other, expanding the range and usefulness of it.

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