Aakash, the “iPad Killer”, Vaporware has Evaporated

Aaskash, the “iPad Killer”, vaporware that the idiot Kapil Sibal promoted, has quietly evaporated in March 2015. Hindustan Times reports “India’s low cost ‘Aakash’ tablet project closed in March
Continue reading “Aakash, the “iPad Killer”, Vaporware has Evaporated”

The $100 un-PC

Entrepreneurs, philanthropists and established computer firms have for the better part of a decade invested millions of dollars to lower the cost of a desktop PC and develop cheaper alternatives. Intel has made its Eduwise laptop; AMD, a Personal Internet Communicator; Microsoft, the FonePlus. MIT computer guru Nicholas Negroponte’s Children’s Machine, now called the XO, is the most publicized recent attempt at converting the poor into computer users. But Negroponte’s idea is to spread computers to the poor, with the help of heavy subsidies from private and public philanthropy. His price is still about $140, too high for India. Indeed India rejected Negroponte’s offer of a million for cost reasons. Jain’s motive is different: he wants to make money.

And he knows India. Despite the country’s rise as an outsourcing hub, PCs are selling slowly—far more slowly than mobile phones or motorbikes—because they are too expensive, too complicated to use and too difficult to maintain. What people have been waiting for, some experts think, is a new approach to computing that boils the essence of Internet access down to its lowest cost—and lowest risk. Jain plans to offer all this in lease deals that include easy-to-use hardware, Internet connection, application software and service—for $10 a month.

Read it all.

OLPC — Rest in Peace — Part 3

Voltaire’s dictum that the perfect is the enemy of the good is fascinating because of the delicious ambiguity embedded in it. The ambiguity arises from what one identifies as the “perfect” and the “good.” If perfection is by definition unattainable, and the good is defined as an attainable “optimal” (again defined suitably), then it is by definition true that an attempt to obtain an unattainable perfection can be a hindrance to an attainable good. Then the only disagreement remaining pertains to what is considered the “perfect” and what the “good.”

Since the “One Laptop Per Child” (OLPC) proposal is being considered here, we have to have alternate proposals which can be considered in contradistinction to it. I propose, for arguments sake, the “One Blackboard Per School” (OBPS), “One Teacher Per School” (OTPS), and “One Set of Basic Facilities Per School” (OSOBFPS) schemes out of many potential candidates. First, we will consider how they stack up against the OLPC proposition. The next thing we do is to figure out which of the alternates is the one that is “perfect” and which therefore poses the threat to the achievement of the “good.”
Continue reading “OLPC — Rest in Peace — Part 3”

OLPC — Rest in Peace

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is not going to happen in India.

The Human Resources Development (HRD) ministry of the government of India recently decided to just say no to the $100 laptop that Prof Negroponte of MIT Media Lab has been furiously peddling. He wanted the government to buy, oh, about 1,000,000 of those at the modest cost of $100,000,000 and give it to school children. Mind you, noble intentions motivate this: so that no child is left behind and the digital divide is bridged and all the kids will become computer savvy and what not. Continue reading “OLPC — Rest in Peace”

Formula for Milking the Digital Divide

They don’t really intentionally kill babies just to make more money, do they? They wouldn’t, would they?

Well, I don’t really know.

Infant or baby formula was developed in the developed world when women began to join the work force and did not have the time to breast-feed their babies. What a wonderful great invention it was. Convenience for the mother, and great nutrition for the baby.

Developed as an alternative to breast-feeding, the industry promoted it aggressively in the developed world. On the way back from the hospital after the birth of a baby, the industry gave as a “gift” all that you need to feed the baby formula—the bottles and the bottle bag–and gave just enough “free” formula so that the mother stops lactating because of lack of nursing. Once the mother goes down that formula road, there is no turning back.
Continue reading “Formula for Milking the Digital Divide”

Choosing between WCs and PCs

Conferences can be terribly boring affairs. But for real tedium, you cannot beat a conference on ICT and development. So it was with a great deal of trepidation that I ended up in Bhopal a few days ago to attend one. All I had to look forward to was an endless series of talks on how ICT will totally transform everything and finally deliver the holy grail of development to the billions who are pathetically underdeveloped.
Continue reading “Choosing between WCs and PCs”

Mud-wrestling with Pigs

“ICT for Development” seems to be all the rage these days. One cannot turn anywhere without being bombarded with the conventional wisdom that ICT will solve all developmental problems, so much so that people have begun to employ the idiotic shorthand “ICT4D” without so much as a beg-your-pardon.
Continue reading “Mud-wrestling with Pigs”