Problems with the $100 laptop

November 18, 2005 | Link of the Day | By: Mark VandeWettering

Lee Felsentstein writes about what he thinks are the Problems with the $100 laptop, and I think many of the issues he raises are good ones, worthy of serious discussion. The question shouldn’t really be “should we give a laptop to every child or not”, but rather “if we are going to invest millions of dollars to attempt to raise the economic level of the developing world, is this the most appropriate use of our money?” I think that Lee posts some excellent points to indicate that it will not be.


Comment from Dan Lyke
Time 11/21/2005 at 8:14 am

I’ve got an acquaintance who’s currently living in Africa amongst people whose life’s ambition include things like eventually buying a bicycle.

I’ve never tested it myself, but I think that if pushed, many of us in the circles you and I travel in could probably build a bicycle from scratch (ie: including the smelter). The fact that the this man lives in a situation where his subsistence farming doesn’t provide enough extra economic potential to allow for something that we regularly stuff unused in the garage for 20 years and then throw away indicates that there’s a whole basic level of… well… probably starting with “this is crop cultivation” that needs to occur before we worry whether these folks are connected to the intarweb.

People who grandstand with proposals like “a laptop for every child” haven’t really thought through the realities of severe poverty.

Editor’s note: I agree. Negropante’s idea is that education builds economies, and I think that to a degree, it is of course true. Unfortunately, I think that the contrapositive, that economy builds education is true to a much larger extent. As an adult, sometimes I fear that I am not able to learn as fast as those young whippersnappers, but I believe that I actually learn at much the same rate, I just have much less time to learn than children do. In the developing world, child labor still contributes significantly to the economic well-being of the family, and until that changes it is unlikely that children will be well educated, whether they have a laptop or not.

Comment from Harry
Time 6/16/2010 at 2:50 am

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Comment from A Detroit fan for life
Time 6/18/2010 at 5:17 am

I rather think this is gonna turn out to be a situation where the cart is before the horse. If someone is hungry and in squalid conditions it is hard to see them being enthusiastic about going online. With the mentality of marketers these days they would likely get barraged with food advertising popups.

Comment from desktop
Time 4/18/2011 at 7:50 am

They should get their priorties right and think about some of these people health not about them being online.