Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Mini Blog

I wrote a short story this weekend, so my writing muscles were too tired for blogging. Before I wanted to be a physics major, I wanted to be a science fiction writer. I figured a PhD was a good fallback... Turns out, it takes up a lot of your time. Who knew? But I recently joined a writer's group, as a way of having a social life, and it's motivated me a bit. People have weirder hobbies, right?

Only I still can't think of anything to blog about. So you get a little lazy blogging, which means, "repeating something I read in the Tribune." You heard it here second (or more likely, twenty-second. This must've gotten some publicity that I missed):

One Laptop Per Child.

That's the name of an organization that's developing cheap laptops for kids in developing countries. They give the village a wireless router and the kids computers, and presto, internet for everyone.

Apparently, Microsoft has problems with this idea. From the Tribune story:


At long last, MIT-associated computer experts gave a demonstration of a seriously working model of the final machine to be distributed to worldwide poverty pockets, to the dismay of some industry stalwarts, notably the folks running Microsoft Corp.

...

Craig Mundie, top new technology planner at Microsoft, has been quoted saying that a better solution would be to build such a computer around a cell phone--preferably one running Windows Mobile PC.

By picking the open-source and free Linux instead of Microsoft's products, if successful, the project could affect Microsoft's overseas sales to one degree or another.

Additionally, by picking small-fry chip fabricators instead of Intel for the 500 megahertz central microprocessor, the project has shunned the American industrial establishment since it was introduced by Nicholas Negroponte at the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 28, 2005.


Annoying Microsoft isn't the actual point, of course. The point is raising a generation of literate kids with technological tools and expanded horizons.

There's a view of the prototype here.

There seem to be lots of practical features built in, like a low-power black and white mode, and a hand crank for temporarily recharging it. But I wonder...

Are parents going to really let their kids use these? I mean, it looks like something for kids, but you'd think it would be such a precious possession. And these will get broken. I can imagine hundreds and hundreds of ways for kids to break these things. Their parents will be so furious... If your computer were irreplacable, would you trust your kid with it?

Then again, will the parents be able to use them at all? Or does it take a kid to figure it out? Technology, like language, seems to be a skill learned best when learned young. That seems to be the idea behind the project. Maybe parents will let their kids play with them, because the parents won't actually understand their value.

2 comments:

Kenz Fahzer said...

Where's that short story? In an envelope on the way to Random House (the entropic publisher)?

Mary said...

Maybe someday...