The OLPC project will launch its third iteration at this years CES, but 6 years after launch it may still not reach the elusive USD 100 target. Meanwhile, a small startup in Canada has orders to ship 2 million of its USD 50 tablets to Indian consumers. It is time the OLPC was put to rest.
Here is another lesson to be drawn from the experience of the OLPC XO series. Don’t take Nicholas Negroponte seriously. Even he doesn’t.
Proponents of the OLPC assert that it is “changing education”, transforming students into self-learners, and making “discussions about whether to have computers in the classroom” obsolete. But in a world where schools still struggle to have a building and a blackboard, surely such enthusiasm is overstated.
Google Flu Trends generated excitement on the possibilities of tracking and predicting disease outbreaks. But the swine flu outbreak illustrates key limitations of this methodology, and also areas where it could be enhanced.
Thomas Friedman’s suggestion that funding for innovation is broken and the government should step in is far off the mark. Neither is it substantially broken, nor is the alternative he proposes any better.
India has announced a $10 laptop, and critics cry that it isn’t technically possible. But the Tata Nano has shown that what we can build is limited less by technology and more by our imagination and the assumptions that frame our world.
There is little doubt that a new “space race” is on, and that competition will intensify in the future. China may be ahead, but India’s approach – of avoiding excess and seeking collaboration – bodes well both for its space program and for the prospects of collaborating to share the spoils.
Nicholas Negroponte likes to point out that the OLPC project is “about learning, not about laptops.” So the Harvard International Review and OLPC News take a close look at that value proposition. It is a point worth pondering, for the OLPC is drawing serious money, most famously with Libya committing USD 250 million for 1.2 [...]