Boston Linux & Unix (BLU) Home | Calendar | Mail Lists | List Archives | Desktop SIG | Hardware Hacking SIG
Wiki | Flickr | PicasaWeb | Video | Maps & Directions | Installfests | Keysignings
Linux Cafe | Meeting Notes | Blog | Linux Links | Bling | About BLU

BLU Discuss list archive

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

The $100 laptop closer to reality

Brendan <mailinglist at> wrote:
> I can certainly see a much easier time using these in some little village who
> may have a few old books, and here comes durable, power-efficient laptops
> with wifi and hand-cranks hooking up to the net for the first time, learning
> from google...

There was an interesting article in IEEE Spectrum a while back, about a couple
who decided to export technology into the third world.  They got volunteers to
donate and install these solar-powered lighting gadgets.  The first generation
consisted of a three-component assembly:  solar cell for the roof, battery and
switched light.  They lit up homes in a couple of villages with these.  Then
during their next visit, they came up with an improved version with fewer
component.  The problem?  These exported things weren't really appropriate to
the local setting:  no one knew anything about fixing them, and they weren't
durable.  They lasted a while, and provided a definite benefit in the short
term, but when they broke the villagers just simply learned to do without.

Sustainability is what's missing from Negroponte's proposal.  It's interesting
that you (Brendan) brought up the issue of "durability" and "power
efficiency"--this made me think of those do-gooders from IEEE.  I suppose it's
nice to go into the third world and help some people, but the overall goal of
lifting up the rest of the world remains unaddressed.

The parable about teaching a man to fish, rather than giving him a fish,
applies here.  What the man really should be getting beyond just a hook and
line is an education in mining and metallurgy so he can make his own hooks in
the future, and some grounding in environmental protection so he and his
villagers don't eliminate the fish or the stream they depend on.

And back to our regularly schedule discussion of open software.  Fortunately,
open software is available to anyone who wants to learn it, even if they don't
know how to fish, and even if they find out that a $100 laptop won't run it
because of DRM restrictions.


BLU is a member of BostonUserGroups
BLU is a member of BostonUserGroups
We also thank MIT for the use of their facilities.

Valid HTML 4.01! Valid CSS!

Boston Linux & Unix /