[Air-L] help on africa and computer donations

Paul DiPerna pdiperna at blauexchange.org
Tue Aug 28 10:19:47 PDT 2007

In terms of who is the politically (or market) connected charismatic operator in this story, I see Barrett as at least the equal of Negroponte, if not more so.
 The report was suggesting Intel's market power and Barrett's political power were preventing a new product (One Laptop) to be distributed in developing countries, and even introduced here in the United States.
 Negroponte was exerting power through discussions with foreign governments.  Barrett/Intel seemed to be doing it both ways - through government channels and business channels.  I don't necessarily see one approach more or less subversive than the other.  Both kinds of activities need to be publicly and intuitively transparent, so consumers or public officials can base their best decisions whichever way.
 And for whatever it's worth, I think Barrett and Intel have done a lot of good the last 5-10 years when it comes to promoting competitiveness and the need for systemic education reform here in the states.  He is a catalyst.
 In any case, all of my blather above is moot.  
 In July, Barrett got a seat on One Laptop's board, further concentrating power on how laptop technology will probably flow in developing countries.  And maybe this is a good thing for now.. I don't know.  While a market matures in it's early stages, innovation could benefit from this kind of arrangement.  But my gut tells me this is not a good thing for an indefinite amount of time.  

   - Paul


----- Original Message ---- 
From: Jimmy Wales <jwales at wikia.com> 
To: air-l at listserv.aoir.org 
Sent: Tuesday, August 28, 2007 11:25:19 AM 
Subject: Re: [Air-L] help on africa and computer donations 
Paul DiPerna wrote: 
> The business/political dynamics at play between the One Laptop 
> Project and Craig Barrett/Intel are interesting.  The CBS report 
> implicitly raises some profound questions about how oligopolies (here 
> in the US. for example) can actually stifle technological progress 
> and the diffusion of an innovation to the masses.  I'm not a business 
> analyst by any stretch of the imagination, but that was one of my 
> takeaways. 
My takeaway is the exact opposite: a politically connected charismatic  
operator can hijack the governmental developmental agenda to achieve  
unfair advantage, destroying emerging markets with an inferior and  
frankly absurd product that no one wants or needs... in the name of charity. 
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