Tunnel Vision? OLPC
5 January, 2008
EDITORIAL By Ron Teitelbaum.
You get what you pay for. The world is much better for all the corporate contributions to end poverty and the huge commitment over the years to help educate the worlds children. There is no question that the world owes a huge debt to these companies. Now that corporations have made such great strides throughout the world they should be paid handsomely for their computers and software. After all, corporate resources can never be matched by a Non-Profit.
These companies can spend their wealth to help make things better. They can afford to pay people to teach the teachers, and support their computers, and develop educational software for many many years to come. Of course they will do that without regard for expenses because they have so much money they can afford it.
Don’t believe anyone that tells you they are only in it for the profit or to enhance market share. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to create knockoffs and dump them on the market? Of course you get what you pay for. And they are paying for all of it, right? They will surely continue with our without competition from OLPC.
OLPC’s goal to educate the worlds poorest children, a vision of Nicholas Negroponte, could never compete. After all how much better can it get if all you are doing is eliminating the profit, engaging the worlds brightest minds, and providing the best possible platform for children to learn. Who cares if you developed a great little machine that uses fantastically innovative technology that will not only hold up to the extreme conditions found through out the developing world but will lead the way to new technologies for regular computers too.
Why do you need an education platform when you could just teach everyone existing standard presentation software. Why do we need education software for developing countries at all when we could just be teaching basic office skills instead? We all know that if the worlds children could just do a better presentation they could help themselves. All you really need is a good pitch and a good pair of bootstraps.
The endless pursuit of market share, the tunnel vision without regard to right and wrong, is what we are paying for. It is how the world works. The world has no room for idealism and lofty goals. We know that because if the corporations really believed in helping solve real problems they would be supporting and not competing with OLPC. They would be working to find a way to use their resources to help. They could support the project and include their hardware and software instead of directly competing. Why should they when the world is willing to pay them instead?
Be sure if you are backing the wrong side that you get it all in writing, and that you are prepared to accept less, if that is what you decide to pay for. The world doesn’t need a rugged little green child friendly extremely powerful education platform, go ahead and get pulled into the corporate solution instead, in the end you will pay.