The $100 laptop

A team at MIT is developing a $100 laptop to distribute to low income children in poor nations. More from CNN.

Negroponte and some MIT colleagues are hard at work on a project they hope will brighten the lives and prospects of hundreds of millions of developing world kids.

It's a grand idea and a daunting challenge: to create rugged, Internet- and multimedia-capable laptop computers at a cost of $100 apiece.

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I'll be happy when...

I'll be happy when they come out with the $100 laptop battery.

That's great, but...

...who will teach them Free Cell?

In all seriousness ...

this is one of the most absurd things I have heard in quite some time. Clean drinking water, fertile seed, perhaps a goat or cow: those are things they could use. A laptop is really a low priority.


Any third world government that spends millions of dollars on overpriced night lights is failing the people they are to serve.


When you don't have enough food, clean water or shelter a digital divide cannot exist. Ask Maslow about needs, a laptop ain't up there.

Hold on there Babalooie

Re:Hold on there Babalooie

I read through the post, Rochelle, but I don't see the relevance. Care to interpret?

Re:Hold on there Babalooie

Work with me, Grumpy! Okay, it was a stretch.

‘Social needs help set the scene for esteem-driven needs, where a desire to develop a strong and integrated ego is secondary in importance to developing a social circle.’ (Green, 2002. Pp. 55) Blogging can also be applied to Maslow’s hierarchy of ‘esteem’ needs, through the utility of social features.

If the hungry kids get laptops, they can blog, and reach some of their basic needs, per the psychobabble above. Who needs whole grain and clothing when you can blog?

Re:Hold on there Babalooie

Even though I was being a little silly, I've gone back and done some more searching, and there have been some attempts to work Maslow into discussions of universal access, like here .

You can already have....

The Xbox is a computer, specifically a 733 MHz Intel Custom Pentium III, 64 MB DDR SDRAM, 8GB Hard Disk, built in NIC, 4 nonstandard but rewireable USB ports, and a 250MHz graphics processor. You can buy one for 100 bucks used, grab a used monitor for 25 bucks, and a copy of MechAssault for 5 bucks used.Google for exact steps but they are not hard and you can then install Linux ( you need Mechassault to do it heh) and hook up a keyboard and mouse via USB and if not up to the wiring work you can get a premade adapter for about 9 bucks.So in total we spend 140 bucks for a functioning computer system capable of doing ANYTHING other than top end games or CAD processing ( and I have run AutoCAD on much worse of systems)

Re:Hold on there Babalooie

I've often worked Maslow into discussions of Universal Access. I think Maslow is on target, and Universal Access is nonsense. There may be a digital divide, but what difference does it make. When I go to Haiti or places without Internet access I don't go into withdrawl; I just find alternate ways of doing what I do online. I read newspapers, use the telephone, perhaps send a telegram if needed. I talk to people to get news and information I need, you know like we used to do before we all spent our free time glued to a CRT (or LCD now).

There are far , far greater problems that must be tackled before Universal Access can become a realistic concern. Certainly Internet access can serve as an adjunct to our advancement in meeting basic needs but it will never be a basic need until we reach at a minimum the penultimate Maslow level.


The concept of digital divide is more of a marketing tool than a cultural difference. Those that make hardware, networking equiptment, and software would like to sell more of it. Not that there is anything wrong with that being that most if not all of us on LISNews are Capitalists. However these companies' need to sell has created an artifical need - the digital divide. Do cows not graze unless there is DSL, do children not learn in unwired classrooms. I had my first undergraduate degree before the Internet went commercial, yet I got my MLS primarily through Internet mediated instruction. Could I have gone to library school on campus, yes of course. Would I have been a better librarian, probably - at least right out of school as the opportunities for practical experience on campus were much greater.

There are true divisions: rich and impoverished, hungry and fed, those adequately housed and those living in tin roofed shacks. These are real world divides not invented marketing ploys. People have real needs, real moral rights to adequate pay for their work, access to adequate nourishing food, and adequate shelter. There is no established moral right to cablemodem or a computer, not because they are not useful tools, but because they are not integral to one's survival.


I bet if you asked a family on the Veldt if they wanted a free $100 laptop or a free $10 pig you would end up with a truck full of laptops at the end of the day and an empty pig truck. You can't put a Pentium on a plate.

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