Sunday, December 11, 2005


Negroponte's $100 laptop

Have you heard about what the founder of MIT's Media Labs, Nicholas Negroponte, is now leading? A $100 laptop for children in developing countries. There are many stories on this and I won't go into detail other than saying it's lime green, hand crank powered, running FOSS, able to create a wifi mesh network with other laptops of its kind, and 100 million are planned to be distributed in a few years.

Might this technological invention have parallels to the 80's server and mainframe market? Peter Gordon from The Standard thinks so.

Good insight:

...the US$100 laptop is most definitely a computer project and it will be as
revolutionary as the original PC or the Internet, and for the same reasons.

The PC industry now exhibits many of the same problems that the mainframe
and mini-computer industry showed back about 1980
legacy designs, attempts to
maintain proprietary standards, slow-moving bureaucracies as much if not more
concerned with legal and political issues rather than innovation.

The PC brought simplicity back to computing: almost anyone could program them, almost
anyone could use them and almost anyone did. The initial versions of new
innovative software spreadsheets, operating systems, databases were often
written in a couple of weekends: many of the resulting companies or their
descendants are still with us, while many of the mini- and mainframe computer
companies have vanished.

I didn't live (with an adult brain) through the 80's enough to know the truth of that, but I do believe open source is going to be revolutionary, and education is the world's most powerful enabler for positive change.

A little too rosey:
The US$100 laptop will open the industry up once again, for three
reasons: first, there will be lots of them, perhaps as many if not more than all
other PCs put together
creating a tipping point for almost universal adoption
of the computer technology and, second, for open- source (i.e. non-commercial,
non- proprietary) software platforms.

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