Wednesday, November 30, 2005

More on the Negroponte $100 Fiasco

David Henderson makes some great points about the miguided $100 computer project, but I think he gives Negroponte far too much credit:

"Few people admire Mr. Negroponte more than I do, but his plan for how to distribute the computers is a tragedy in the making."

The results that Mr. Henderson points out were completely avoidable from the start, and they are inexcusable for someone with Mr' Negroponte's stated intentions.

For one, the entire project was inspired by the use of donated laptops by some Cambodian families. But when you read the story, you realize the laptops were being used as light bulbs. The target audience is far, far away from needing a laptop to put them over the top into the information age.

Further, the results of a public project like this are already being felt in places like Thailand, where schools that can barely stay open are being tasked with creating a network infrastructure to support these computers. Taking the decisions out of locals, the higher-ups in the government get to sign on to a sexy project like this one, and everyone crows about the vision, and avoids thinking about the results.

Last, November's over. The prototype didn't even get made. Trevor Bayliss came away less than impressed, saying the prototype "could have been made with Lego". This is the man tasked with creating the crank charging system.

Bottom line, read the David Henderson piece, it's more important to understand the economic mechanisms at work than to even worry if the product will ever exist.


Anonymous allan said...

In talking with my son we wondered what the final cost of this unit will be.

Add in to the fixed cost the cost of government oversight and it could be more expensive that what is already available.

I have noticed the early "under $100.00" idea has vanished, and money itself is being mentioned less.

10:56 AM  

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