[Air-l] One Laptop Per Child

David Brake d.r.brake at lse.ac.uk
Fri Jun 9 15:26:01 PDT 2006

I have come late to this discussion and since I had been meaning to  
blog about this anyway I took advantage of this opportunity to  
resurrect a collection of links I collected back in November and add  
some comments of my own. You can find my thoughts and a number of  
relevant links on the Media at LSE weblog here:


In brief, much of the criticism of the OLPC project is for reasons I  
agree with but some seemed a little doctrinaire. This is not an  
'inferior' technology as Christian Fuchs suggests - it is an  
appropriate one. Even if 'conventional' laptops costing ten times as  
much were made available in the countries where the OLPC will be  
trialled, they would arguably be less useful as they would be less  
durable and would rely on more expensive components and software.  
These laptops will not tie their users in to Western commercial  
technology and standards as Christian fears (at least not any more  
than they are already) because they are based solidly on open source  
software. And rightly or wrongly these are not aimed at the countries  
whose inhabitants live on $2 a day - they are aimed at middle-ranking  
developing countries like China, India and Brazil which have enough  
money to consider this kind of investment in their children (though I  
would still argue that this major sum spent in 'conventional' ways on  
teachers or books would yield a better result).

As for Jeremy's concern that no effort is going into teacher training  
and support, I am a little more optimistic - since pilot  
organizations will be investing a lot of money (relative to their  
budgets) on these devices I would hope some of them at least will  
devote some careful thought to the issues that Jeremy and others  
pointed out and turn deaf ears to the OLPC team's assurances that  
these are pure 'machines for learning' - no teacher input required.

David Brake, Doctoral Student in Media and Communications, London  
School of Economics & Political Science
Also see http://davidbrake.org/ (home page), http://blog.org/  
(personal weblog) and http://get.to/lseblog (academic groupblog)
Author of Dealing With E-Mail - <http://davidbrake.org/ 
callto://DavidBrake (Skype.com's Instant Messenger and net phone)

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