Forget MACbook Air, the coolest thing on the horizon in the computing world might be something bound for the third world.
I long been a fan of the OLPC program. OLPC stand for One laptop Per Child and is basically an initiative to get laptops in the hands of children in developing nations. Bravo I say.
Sure, I agree with my brothers criticism that really impoverished people need clothing, food, clean water, shelter and education far more than they need a laptop. Further more, the donated laptops might just end up being sold on the black market (ebay?) creating a dependency cycle of people needing to get them, to sell them, to survive. Yes, sure that may not solve much, but one would hope that's doesn't end up being the norm. I would think enough units would go into the right hands to make a difference. Isn't something this charitable better than nothing in its absence?
Further more, some of the people getting excited and involved with the project may not be the type to expend so much time and energy helping to provide wells or housing. The people driving this project are tech people, they like tech and it motivates them. It hard enough to motivate people to be charitable as it is.
I've seen other criticism too, but rather than defend OLPC further I just wanted to point out how the project could also benefit the rest of us. The next genration OLPC (the XO-2) is quite innovative and more importantly super cool! Once you put OPLC “give 1-get one” program (where you buy one laptop and another is donated to a child on your behalf) together with the next generation ebook-styled XO-2 (pictured), there are going be be a lot of people buying one for themselves just for the coolness of it. I mean, check it out! Who wants a Macbook air now?
The OLPC XO-2 in Laptop mode
The OLPC XO-2 in book mode
The OLPC XO-2 in Flat mode
The next gernation OLPC (the XO-2) will have:
Dual 16x9 proportioned sunlight-readable touch screens
Keyboard and touchpad both replaced by touch screens
Physically smaller than XO-1; size and weight more like a book
1 watt power consumption
Target price of US$75 to large educational buyers
You can find out more about the OLPC here.