Trashing the OLPC

The Economist trashes the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) in a recent column. The tone is negative from the start with the title One Clunky Laptop Per Child the reader quickly gets the idea. The main argument is however strange. The criticism is not about the idea but is focused squarely on the technology that has been produced. The Economist goes so far as to call the idea brilliant.

The problem with this approach is that with its focus on the technology the field is left open to the idea that the project would have worked if the computer had been better. This approach ignores the problem that simply chucking technology at people will automatically solve problems.

Laptops are not really what is needed to help children in developing nations. What they need is schools, tables, chairs, paper, books, teachers, pencils and the infrastructure to attend a school. Laptops, even cheap ones, are a luxury.

The OLPC has been criticized before read more on Wikipedia.