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Author Topic: One $100 Laptop per Child Project
radiorahim
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posted 08 February 2006 12:41 AM      Profile for radiorahim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This project has been getting alot of press lately...and it will run Linux!

quote:
The proposed $100 machine will be a Linux-based, with a dual-mode display—both a full-color, transmissive DVD mode, and a second display option that is black and white reflective and sunlight-readable at 3X the resolution. The laptop will have a 500MHz processor and 128MB of DRAM, with 500MB of Flash memory; it will not have a hard disk, but it will have four USB ports. The laptops will have wireless broadband that, among other things, allows them to work as a mesh network; each laptop will be able to talk to its nearest neighbors, creating an ad hoc, local area network. The laptops will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data.

web page


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cogito ergo sum
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posted 08 February 2006 12:52 AM      Profile for cogito ergo sum     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It's such a cool laptop design overall. I'd love to see them also sold in the developed world for, let's say, $200. That way those of us over here could get a really cheap, all-conditions laptop while subsidizing one for children in less developed countries.
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nuclearfreezone
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posted 08 February 2006 03:18 AM      Profile for nuclearfreezone     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Gee, let's feed these kids first. And put some clothes on their backs, a roof over their heads, and provide fresh, clean drinking water. Then maybe we can talk computers.

This reminds me so much of Jean Chretien going around back in '97 or '98 saying that every classroom needs a computer and the internet while 1 in 5 children lived in poverty in Canada.

Besides, more "plastic fantastic", half of which will end up in the landfill anyway.

How about a billion jackets or a billion beds for kids? Or a billion healthy meals or a billion glasses of water? Or a billion pieces of fruit? Or a billion houses for homeless, orphaned kids or kids who live in refugee camps? Or a billion years of peace?

Sorry to rain on your parade but I think we need to redirect our priorities.


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cogito ergo sum
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posted 08 February 2006 03:46 AM      Profile for cogito ergo sum     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
No one is suggesting that those laptops should take priority over food so what's wrong with wanting to provide computers (and access to the modern world and education) to poor kids who aren't dying of hunger?
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anne cameron
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posted 08 February 2006 12:39 PM      Profile for anne cameron     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
...and then who pays the monthly internet fee? Give impoverished kids a computer they won't be able to use because internet access costs more than the family has to spend on food?

I'm agreeing with the idea of feeding them, making sure they have decent drinking water, a place of shelter, someone to give them a cuddle and tell them they are wonderful treasures.

And if there's money left over after every kid has some security and medical care, send a few crates of books.


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v michel
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posted 08 February 2006 12:44 PM      Profile for v michel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Computers are a great technology to use in aid of education, if there's something educational to access. Is the free market going to jump in and fill the highly lucrative vacuum in educational material for children in developing nations written in their native languages? I kind of doubt it.
From: a protected valley in the middle of nothing | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Albireo
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posted 08 February 2006 12:54 PM      Profile for Albireo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by anne cameron:
...and then who pays the monthly internet fee? Give impoverished kids a computer they won't be able to use because internet access costs more than the family has to spend on food?
From the link at top, for what it's worth:
quote:
The laptop will have a 500MHz processor and 128MB of DRAM, with 500MB of Flash memory; it will not have a hard disk, but it will have four USB ports. The laptops will have wireless broadband that, among other things, allows them to work as a mesh network; each laptop will be able to talk to its nearest neighbors, creating an ad hoc, local area network. The laptops will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data.
And:
quote:
What about connectivity? Aren't telecommunications services expensive in the developing world?

When these machines pop out of the box, they will make a mesh network of their own, peer-to-peer. This is something initially developed at MIT and the Media Lab. We are also exploring ways to connect them to the backbone of the Internet at very low cost.


[ 08 February 2006: Message edited by: Albireo ]


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Andrew_Jay
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posted 08 February 2006 12:56 PM      Profile for Andrew_Jay        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by cogito ergo sum:
No one is suggesting that those laptops should take priority over food so what's wrong with wanting to provide computers (and access to the modern world and education) to poor kids who aren't dying of hunger?
Exactly.

Besides, I understand that the first countries in line (who buy the laptops themselves, by the way) are Brazil, South Africa, Thailand and Egypt - certainly not well off, but far better off than most developing countries.

quote:
Originally posted by anne cameron:
. . . send a few crates of books.
The intention is that this project will be both cheaper and more accessible than books.

I also question why education would rank so lowly amongst your priorities.


From: Extremism is easy. You go right and meet those coming around from the far left | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged
nuclearfreezone
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posted 08 February 2006 03:57 PM      Profile for nuclearfreezone     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hungry kids can't learn.
So, instead of providing computers to poor kids who aren't hungry, why not take all that money and spend it on taking care of poor kids who are hungry, first, and then if there's anything left over, buy computers.
Besides, do we really need to "modernize" the whole world? Do we really need to turn the whole world into a consumer "heaven"?
Computers do not equal education. I was educated quite well without one, thank you very much. Yes, books are expensive. But they don't go out of date, they don't need new operating systems, and they work without batteries or electricity. And they don't have to be new books. There are millions of used books out there. Maybe they can do a book drop on their way to bombing the next country.

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nuclearfreezone
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posted 08 February 2006 04:08 PM      Profile for nuclearfreezone     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by cogito ergo sum:
No one is suggesting that those laptops should take priority over food so what's wrong with wanting to provide computers (and access to the modern world and education) to poor kids who aren't dying of hunger?

"The modern world"? What's that? Is that what we have here? Pollution? Traffic jams? Garbage in the streets? People getting fat and sick on fast food? People buying consumer goods (junk) that they don't need? Everybody working too hard and living too fast? Stuck in office towers all day breathing fake air where you can't even open a window? Our kids in daycares from birth? Driving too fast? Horrible car accidents? Drinking and driving and dying? Teenage angst and teenage drug use and teen suicides? And our version of poverty in the "modern" world? And food banks?

Is our so-called modern, "civilized" world all that better that we should foist it on others? Why?


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Papal Bull
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posted 08 February 2006 04:12 PM      Profile for Papal Bull   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Please, read the thread!

Anyways, books DO go out of circulation and what have you. Dropping them a history text-book only to have a big discovery that turns a particular hypothesis on its head is a good example. Plus, these aren't going to be taking precedent over feeding the poorest of the poor. These are going to be purchased by semi-developed (in some ways) countries like Thailand, Egypt, Brazil, etc. that will be given/sold amongst the children to AID them in their learning. In addition to that the system will work brilliantly because of the wealth of information you can have at your fingertips. Something that is unbelievably useful in grade/high school before citation becomes all important (I love Chicago Style and one day will found my own evangelical institution to force this down EVERYONE'S throat). However, I don't think that this will at all halt or slow the attempts (weak as they often are) at feeding/helping the impoverished children.


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v michel
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posted 08 February 2006 04:12 PM      Profile for v michel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by nuclearfreezone:
Computers do not equal education. I was educated quite well without one, thank you very much.

Yeah, I would like this project a lot more if teachers in the developing world had proposed it themselves. Instead, it sounds like another instance of one group making assumptions about what another group needs and then delivering it without asking.

There are many ways to teach, and many ways to learn. I don't buy that there's a one-size-fits-all solution for the developing world, as though the developing world were homogenous. There are so many different cultures, educational systems, beliefs, and skill sets in different places. Surely those need different educational aides. If some of those educational aides are cheap laptops, that's great, but I'd trust an actual teacher in one of those places more than an MIT prof in making that determination.


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nuclearfreezone
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posted 08 February 2006 04:13 PM      Profile for nuclearfreezone     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Oh yeah, and after you've introduced them to the "modern" world don't forget to send little packets of Ritalin and Prozac. They'll need it.
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Papal Bull
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posted 08 February 2006 04:23 PM      Profile for Papal Bull   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by nuclearfreezone:
Oh yeah, and after you've introduced them to the "modern" world don't forget to send little packets of Ritalin and Prozac. They'll need it.

Not really. I'm on the computer more than most people and I've never been on either medication. That's just silly cynicism; it's irresponsible doctors that like to make the diagnosis that give you the medication that creates the problem. But whateva.


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Albireo
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posted 08 February 2006 04:27 PM      Profile for Albireo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
One other concern: if these laptops are going to children in impoverished places, what are the odds that the children will actually get them, and be able to keep them?

If they are perceived to have real value, then some corrupt official might sell them off before they even get to the kids. Or the local thug takes them from kids and sells them. Or for that matter (and less troubling) a kid gets a laptop and her/his family sells it because they need the money to eat.


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Andrew_Jay
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posted 08 February 2006 06:05 PM      Profile for Andrew_Jay        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I understand that that hideous green colour was chosen to deter thefts or trade on the black market - i.e. it makes them very idetifiable, and suspicious outside the hands of a kid.

Think of it like bowling shoes


From: Extremism is easy. You go right and meet those coming around from the far left | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged
AWd
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posted 08 February 2006 06:10 PM      Profile for AWd     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by nuclearfreezone:
Hungry kids can't learn.
So, instead of providing computers to poor kids who aren't hungry, why not take all that money and spend it on taking care of poor kids who are hungry, first, and then if there's anything left over, buy computers.
Besides, do we really need to "modernize" the whole world? Do we really need to turn the whole world into a consumer "heaven"?
Computers do not equal education. I was educated quite well without one, thank you very much. Yes, books are expensive. But they don't go out of date, they don't need new operating systems, and they work without batteries or electricity. And they don't have to be new books. There are millions of used books out there. Maybe they can do a book drop on their way to bombing the next country.

How do you propose we successfully feed starving kids? I'm not saying we should not try, but I have yet to hear 'how'. Can it be done without creating another famine in the future?


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Albireo
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posted 08 February 2006 06:26 PM      Profile for Albireo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Andrew_Jay:
I understand that that hideous green colour was chosen to deter thefts or trade on the black market - i.e. it makes them very idetifiable, and suspicious outside the hands of a kid.
That'll only work until that kind of look becomes all the rage....

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nuclearfreezone
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posted 08 February 2006 06:30 PM      Profile for nuclearfreezone     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Papal Bull:

Not really. I'm on the computer more than most people and I've never been on either medication. That's just silly cynicism; it's irresponsible doctors that like to make the diagnosis that give you the medication that creates the problem. But whateva.


I was referring to our "modern" lifestyle here not necessarily computer use.


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nuclearfreezone
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posted 08 February 2006 07:00 PM      Profile for nuclearfreezone     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by AWd:

How do you propose we successfully feed starving kids? I'm not saying we should not try, but I have yet to hear 'how'. Can it be done without creating another famine in the future?


We produce enough food right now to feed everyone. North Americans waste 40-50% of our food. It's thrown out or wasted. George Bush, instead of asking for $120 billion to feed the people, asks instead for $120 billion to kill the people. We have more wars now than ever before in the history of mankind and I suspect more are on the way.

Instead of sending planes full of bombs and soldiers we could send planes full of food or clothes or beds or whatever.

Come to think of it, it's not the children of the world so much that need educating, it's our leaders who need to be re-educated as to what LIFE is all about.


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radiorahim
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posted 08 February 2006 08:41 PM      Profile for radiorahim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I wish that folks would take the time to read the link before posting.

As for requiring electricity, these laptops don't require one to constantly change batteries or to be plugged in to the AC line current.

That's one reason why they decided to go with laptops rather than cast-off desktops from the developed world.

These laptops have a crank-up generator which charges an internal battery. This technology has been around for years and was most recently used in the "Baygen" series of portable radios built for use in the third world.

I have a crank-up powered radio myself...that also runs off of solar power.

The other thing that these laptops will do is provide a light source in homes that currently don't have electricity. They are currently being tested now in remote Cambodian villages.

They also have built-in wi-fi cards so that local area networks can easily be built and yes over the long haul they can be connected wirelessly to the internet.

They also have a very rugged design so that they won't break if they get dropped or rained-on or whatever.

Is supplying kids with laptop computers going to solve every single problem in the third world? Of course not. Nobody claims it will.

But it will help deal with the "digital divide" between those who are "connected" to the world and those who are not...to those who have access to information and those who do not.

Information is power and power is something that folks in the third world don't have.

Books are incredibly expensive and cost alot of money to ship. So is paper, blackboards, chalk, pens, pencils etc. The need for alot of this stuff is eliminated. Ever calculated the shipping cost of sending 10,000 math textbooks from say London, England to Nairobi, Kenya? But that math textbook can be shrunk down to say a one or two megabyte .pdf file and instantly transferred to every kid in a classroom.

Hell kids in Ontario have a hard time getting textbooks. Third world kids will wait forever.

The machines run on Linux which can easily be adapted to local languages that Microsoft and other big software vendors aren't interested in. Window$ is not currently available in Yoruba.

In fact I understand that Bill Gates is rather pissed that he's been left out of the project.

They can become an economic development tool. A kid might be able to help one of their parents sell local crafts on the net for instance.

They can help with the dissemination of basic health, agricultural, environmental and other sorts of information.

Sending food aid might help in the short run to deal with a crisis but it doesn't help over the long run. In fact, often times donated food puts local farmers out of business.

The laptops may end up being used in all kinds of ingenious ways that none of us has ever thought of. Quite frankly, I have alot more faith in the ability of third world kids to "think outside the box" then alot of the posters on this thread would give them credit for.


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Fidel
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posted 08 February 2006 08:44 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, I've read that 80 percent of chronically hungry nations export cash crops to "the market" on a regular basis. Colonialism disguised as free market nonsense has been going on since before 1847 when six million Irish starved to death as pork and corn were shipped off from a dozen Irish sea ports.

Korea, Taiwan, China and Singapore were third and fourth world nations with hundreds of millions of hungry people leading up to the 1950's. How did they transform themselves into the Asian Tiger economies that they are today ?. Did the IMF suddenly decide to create a billionaire investor class to make all the right moves in those countries?. Why are IMF darlings Thailand, East Timor or Argentina still struggling with basic infrastructure, and why does Singapore, with very few natural resources own the lowest infant mortality rate and oil-rich Angola, one of the worst ?.

[ 08 February 2006: Message edited by: Fidel ]


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v michel
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posted 08 February 2006 08:49 PM      Profile for v michel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It's a weirdly consumerist approach to solving a problem, isn't it? The idea that acquisition of a material good is the solution? It just seems strange to think that the ability to provide power to third world people, or education to children, lies in the aquisition of a plastic box.

That's not necessarily a criticism. Just more of an observation about our value system (materialistic) and how that's being translated in global education efforts.


From: a protected valley in the middle of nothing | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
radiorahim
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posted 08 February 2006 09:04 PM      Profile for radiorahim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
It's a weirdly consumerist approach to solving a problem, isn't it? The idea that acquisition of a material good is the solution? It just seems strange to think that the ability to provide power to third world people, or education to children, lies in the aquisition of a plastic box.

That's not necessarily a criticism. Just more of an observation about our value system (materialistic) and how that's being translated in global education efforts.


No more so than giving someone a shovel. Its alot easier to dig a hole in the ground with a shovel then it is to try to do it with your bare hands.

The computers are a tool...albeit a pretty powerful tool that this project puts into the hands of third world kids.


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v michel
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posted 08 February 2006 09:12 PM      Profile for v michel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I guess books would be a more appropriate parallel than shovels. Is the solution to illiteracy to provide more books to people? Or to teach them how to read? You could make a good case either way, but your answer reveals something of your value system. Likewise with providing laptops as the solution to social ills.

If there's a need that laptops will meet, that's great. If people in the third world are thinking "I would love to accomplish x but I don't have the material object required to do so, and that object is a laptop," then I say give laptops to everybody! I just haven't read much to indicate that is the case. What I have read suggests that this is a great idea cooked up in an MIT lab, not one initiated by the laptop recipients themselves, and the recipients frankly aren't that sure how helpful the laptops are going to be.

The reasoning seems to be "these people don't know what they are missing, they don't know enough to know that they need this technology, and once they get it everything will change!" and I'm dubious about that.

[ 08 February 2006: Message edited by: vmichel ]


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Makwa
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posted 08 February 2006 09:23 PM      Profile for Makwa   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by radiorahim:
The computers are a tool...albeit a pretty powerful tool that this project puts into the hands of third world kids.
Sheesh, what a bunch of grouches. Not every kid in the developing world is falling over from hunger, and a lot of those kids could learn plenty from a basic linux box. When they are in high school and writing their own programs in bash files using vim they will be way ahead of their peers - this is how development grows, from the ground up. Gosh, my daughter grew up in the country in a developing nation, and a tool like this would have been great.

From: Here at the glass - all the usual problems, the habitual farce | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
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posted 08 February 2006 09:33 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
The computers are a tool...albeit a pretty powerful tool that this project puts into the hands of third world kids.

I agree with everything radiorahim has said in this thread, with the possible exception of spelling it "Window$" .

This is an awesome idea.


From: ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
radiorahim
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posted 09 February 2006 02:09 AM      Profile for radiorahim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I agree with everything radiorahim has said in this thread, with the possible exception of spelling it "Window$"

Hey...I've got a reputation to live up to


Saw an interview on the boob tube recently with a grade school teacher in Mozambique. What was the first thing on his "school room shopping list"? He wanted a computer. He didn't even have electricity in his rural school yet. The guy would probably kill for a beatup old 486.

Last time I was in Cuba (and I visited a couple of schools) what did they really want more of? Computers! And that was ten years ago.

What is the Brazilian government doing right now in poor neigbhourhoods? Setting up free internet cafes...running Linux and free open source software to cut costs. I've read about similar cafes being setup in Ghana...even though the AC is so unreliable that they keep frying the power supplies.

Books are nice. I read them all the time. But they're heavy and schools need lots of them. Know what it costs to send a 30 kilogram parcel from Toronto to Kenya via surface parcel post these days? $180.

How many books can one store as .pdf files even on a puny little 500 megabyte flash memory card?

Lots!...and on every subject imaginable.

A teacher can easily zap a book around a classroom using the network created by the built-in Wi-Fi cards in a matter of minutes. That's powerful stuff.

Where is the open source software revolution really going on these days? In Asia, Africa and Latin America. Where does the world's most popular desktop Linux distro come from? Not from the U.S. or Europe but from South Africa. And the third most popular distro is a French/Brazilian distro.

Yes indeed folks in third world countries want to get online. This project helps to accomplish this in a very inexpensive way using appropriate technology.


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