The One Laptop Per Child project has had a long, noble, bumpy road. The dream of getting computers into every small third-world hand hasn’t arrived yet, but now there’s a new plan: toss ’em out of helicopters.
OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte is done screwing around with pricing and shipping and distribution. For his new low cost edu-tablet, Negroponte is taking a page from Full Metal Jacket, PC Mag reports: “We will literally take tablets and drop them out of helicopters.” No manuals, no instructors. Just computer dropped into remote villages.
So what happens then? Will the tablet be easy enough to use that a possibly illiterate child who’s never used a computer before will be able to pick it up and go? The intention is great — the tablet will have 100 preloaded books and Wi-Fi access, which would be a giant educational tool. But that’s assuming kids notice the raining tablets first: “Adults may be able to steal it, but they won’t be able to use it … maybe an older brother will get a hold of it, use it for pornography — that’s life,” shrugs Negroponte.
A year later, Negroponte plans to return to these tablet-bombed villages and see how (and if) the kids are using them. It’s a daring plan, but regardless of how simple the thing is, couldn’t they throw in some IKEA-style picture book directions? It’d be a pretty big shame to go through all this vehicular effort in vain. [PC Mag]