A group of international busybodies are trying to design and build a $100 laptop computer for distribution to school children in the developing world. Unfortunately, they want grants and handouts to fund the thing, and like the guy in Australia who makes really neat little houses out of shipping containers, these do-gooders refuse to sell them (Us, tainted by evil commerce? Perish the thought!), but will gladly tax you so they can give stuff away.
I don’t get it. I never will. I, for one, would readily buy a nice, well-designed and built little environmentally friendly home built inside a shipping container. Power it with solar and wind, compost all my waste, and grow a great big garden. It’s what I dream about when I’m not wrapping foot bandages, avoiding buses or being yelled at by the Secret Service…
The market, however, will negate all their efforts. Lenovo, the China-based firm that bought IBM’s PC business, announced that it’s bottom-line laptop will cost $600. Does anyone remember when PCs cost way more than that? Now you cannot even give some computers away.
Access to inexpensive technology, now that India and China are high-tech manufacturing centers, is not going to be a problem for the world’s poor in the next few years. Now, doing useful and interesting stuff with that technology will be (that will always be the problem). But just having a computer is no guarantee that your life will be better or that your children will be smarter.4:20 pm on February 23, 2006 Email Charles H. Featherstone