One Laptop Per Child is making headlines with its $188 XO laptop, the brainchild of MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte. The project has received plenty of criticism for its failure to lower the price to $100 (Negroponte’s goal) and attract key politicians and government buyers from low-income countries. Some tech bloggers and reviewers dislike the laptop itself, which doesn’t run popular programs like Microsoft Word and has a tiny screen.
We agree with the New York Times — OLPC has the right idea, and the project’s bold vision and technological breakthroughs overshadow most criticism. Wiring the world’s youth will dramatically reduce the information asymmetries that help keep poor societies poor. Access to information using village computer kiosks and mobile devices has already changed the way adults in these societies do business, by cutting out middlemen and enabling conomies of scale. Perhaps OLPC will make it possible for young people to find ways to fund their education using freelance work portals like eLance or our own soon-to-launch SourceResponsibly.com.
Bonus: if you donate to the XO before December 31st, OLPC will let you buy one for an extra $200.