Yesterday I read an article on cnn.com about a speech that Bill Gates gave in which he poked fun at the MIT project olpc (One Laptop Per Child). Gates feels this is the wrong direction (low cost, lower tech machines) for the goal of bringing computer technology to the impoverished world.
“The last thing you want to do for a shared use computer is have it be something without a disk … and with a tiny little screen,” Gates said at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum in suburban Washington
To me Bill is missing the point. First of all its not a “shared use computer” we are talking about its ONE laptop PER child. The point is creating a laptop device that is so inexpensive that it can be purchased by or donated to the governments of small, third world countries and given freely to school children there to help further education and open up those areas for communication. It isn’t designed to end poverty or to revolutionize those worlds its just designed to give them technology options they don’t currently have and won’t get with expensive computing platforms being designed by Microsoft
I am not a Microsoft basher by any stretch of the imagination though. I love all my toys from my 8 computers running various forms of XP or Windows 2000 to my Windows Mobile powered Pocket PC, but that doesn’t bring the power of the Internet and the information age to a child in Africa. This MIT project just might.
One has to wonder just which type of green Bill Gates is concerned about when he bashes this project.
Additional resources: olpc Wikipedia