The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, the brain child of Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of the MIT Media Lab, is getting a lot of attention in various circles. The device at the center of attention is a remarkable feat of engineering and design. It is technically everything that one can expect to get when brilliant, dedicated people put their minds to solving a problem: innovative, creative, and challenging conventional wisdom.
I am a fan of the device — an inexpensive device which has some amazing capabilities. I am not pursuaded about the utility of the device in the context in which it is being planned to be used. I don’t think it is relevant in the context of the education of the poor within third world developing countries. It may be relavant in the context of the poor in developed countries, or it could be great in the context of the non-poor in the developed countries, however. Therefore, the OLPC will do close to nothing for the poor in India. Worse still, I am afraid that if India were to adopt the OLPC paradigm, it may end up hurting the poor in India.
Here are some posts that I have written about the OLPC in the Indian context.
[This page first created on Feb 19th, 2007. Further updates as they happen.]