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* Posts by C. Nelson

1 post • joined 26 Jul 2007

OLPC project goes into production

C. Nelson

let's try to accept a gift graciously, please.

What I find the assertion that somehow, it's impossible or immoral to nurture more than one aspect of a group or situation at a time a bit ridiculous. There are companies whose main business is food production, and those are the ones who should send food. There are companies whose main business is clothing production, and they should send clothes.

The companies involved in the OLPC project are tech companies. Why should they somehow be forced to ignore their main strength to help only in a way that someone else can do better than them, anyway? A clothing company probably can't help with technology. A technology company can. We are able to walk and chew bubble gum at the same time, really we are.

Let's also remember that the "these are ____, what do they need ___ for?" line of argument has always been a handy excuse to deny things to people on the basis of someone else's small-minded (or, more generously, short-sighted) assessment of what they "really need." What do girls need to read and write for, they only need to keep house? Why should a farmer's kid go to school after high school, he's only gotta come home and work the land anyway? What can they do with them? Give it to them, and find out. We already know what they do *without* them, after all, and it's not improving their lives any to not have them.

Money spent on the OLPC project is not money taken out of the mouths of the starving; it's a *bonus* they would not have gotten to use on food anyway. Think of it as a gift card -- you might do your grocery shopping at Kroger's, but if someone hands you a $100 gift card to Amazon, then you shop at Amazon, and since your budget at Kroger's wasn't affected you really haven't lost anything.

Computers replace pencils and workbooks rather nicely, by the way. I can't remember the last time I did more than scribble a note on paper. And textbooks in software form can be duplicated as many times as needed so every child has a copy. Sure, it doesn't touch the teacher shortage, but I'll bet that if the software helps with the grading and assigning exercises based on what work the kids have mastered, one teacher spread among too many kids might be able to manage a little better. It's not like these laptops aren't primarily meant for school use.

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