|Chapter 1:||The Evolution of Mobile Internet Communications|
One Laptop Per Child Is Seen as Limited
One Laptop Per Child is a large-scale, U.S.-based project to provide affordable, practical computing and Internet capabilities to people in underserved communities around the world. The effort has brought together people from the technology industry, nongovernmental organizations, and governments in the process of designing, manufacturing, and distributing these tools.
The Future of the Internet III survey was distributed at about the same time that the Olpc computers became available; they have come under some criticism in the popular media, and they met some criticism from survey participants. Scott Smith wrote, “OLPC-style efforts are already beginning to fragment at the start of 2008 even before the actual Olpc initiative gains any real ground.” Seth Finkelstein wrote, “One Laptop Per Child is a classic ‘ugly American’-style project.”
An anonymous respondent wrote, “One Laptop Per Child and similar schemes will be irrelevant. Technology will continue to become more pervasive due to affordability, rather than through subsidised technology.”
Charles Ess, an online culture and ethics researcher from Drury University and a leader of the Association of Internet Researchers, commented, “The One Laptop Per Child initiative is foundering not so much on issues of economics but more on issues of culture. Most of the non-Western ‘targets’ for the initiative use languages that are not easily captured through the use of the standard Roman keyboard. More broadly, the literacy required to manipulate most computer-based communications technologies and venues is not to be taken for granted among all populations and demographic groups—certainly not within the U.S. and Western Europe, much less through other cultures in which orality still predominates (e.g., indigenous peoples). For that, mobile phones present a relatively straightforward interface—and talking, for most people at least, is easy! In short, talking via a phone is far more universally realizable than presuming everyone will be able and willing to communicate via a Roman keyboard and an expensive computer.”