The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

30 September 2005

At least it doesn't run Windoze

Hundred-dollar laptop computers for Third World children? Sounds nice to me, but Tamara K's not so sure:

Does the screen have high enough resolution for serious pr0n usage by the cannon-fodder thugs of Third World strongmen, and is it equipped with WiFi for the surreptitious uploading of "419 Scam" emails through the local missionary school's network?

I guess it's easy, when coming up with a visionary system to wire every dusty schoolyard from Moyobamba to Mbala, to forget that no nascent computing technology seems to catch on with us great unwashed un-visionary types until it's adept at three things: Games, Porn, and Email.

Geez. Even I am adept at only one of those.

Addendum, 1 October: Andrea Harris thinks this is a really bad idea for different reasons:

As a matter of fact, typewriters might be more useful to Third World students than a laptop that won't hold much data, and won't be able to be on for more than ten minutes if you have to use the hand crank (really, what can you do on a computer in only ten minutes?). A manual typewriter needs no electricity, its ribbons can be re-inked to save money, and they are sturdy, especially if made entirely of metal — no delicate, easy-to-break but impossible-to-fix parts. I used a typewriter throughout my highschool years that was a solid piece of iron from the forties. Will these laptops be useful two years from now, let alone twenty? I rather doubt it. The people that came up with this idea have rocks in their heads; they'd be better off offering them to schools here, instead of saddling overburdened school districts with expensive Dells and HPs that kids drop and spill soda on. As for the plight of Third World children in need of education, I think that the ongoing war against terrorists, who are the main cause of instability in vulnerable parts of the world, will do much more to help them than crates of shiny, useless toys.

We ought to get some of these for 42nd and Treadmill. We have people on staff who can break machines faster than four-year-olds in a sugar rush, and, well, $100 is quite a bit less than $1100.

Posted at 6:20 AM to PEBKAC


I have visions of Sally Struthers walking through a wasteland of unwashed children with distended bellies carrying laptops.

Posted by: Donna at 8:14 AM on 30 September 2005

And it's hard to balance a computer on a distended belly, I suspect. (No, I haven't tried.)

Posted by: CGHill at 8:26 AM on 30 September 2005

It does sound sort of stupid at first thought, but I saw this Frontline piece on internet ready kiosks that they'd set up in India. Because girls aren't allowed at school after a certain age in some places, they were using the communal computer to learn. It was kind of cool. *shrugs*

Posted by: aldahlia at 3:21 PM on 30 September 2005

Since food is stolen before it gets to the third-world poor, what naive intellect thinks that computers will go where intended?

Posted by: mike at 7:14 PM on 30 September 2005