Business - Written by Dan Herman on Monday, September 24, 2007 11:12 - 2 Comments
Tech solutions to under-development
We’ve written a couple of times about friend of New Paradigm’s Nicholas Negroponte’s $100 laptop project (see here and here), and while most of us are effusive in our praise of the program, I for one am rather ambivalent about it.
It’s not that it’s not a great initiative; its potential for improving access to educational materials and the Net is great. But in the context of developing countries, and in particular the least-developed countries, there are much more immediate needs. So when I read this article on the BBC about the project I couldn’t help but think “no kidding.” In it, Negroponte notes, “I have to some degree underestimated the difference between shaking the hand of a head of state and having a cheque written…And yes, it has been a disappointment.”
But herein lies the disconnect between what we’ve hyped as technological solutions to under-development and reality. While this project stands to create substantial long-term benefits for future generations, it doesn’t put food on the table, power in street lights, or create jobs in the short-term. A good friend of mine, and former colleague at TakingITGlobal, likes to tout the “information as power” argument with respect to projects such as this but I’m a structural power guy at heart and thus am more in tune with the “money as power” thinking behind projects such as Kiva.org or Global Giving.
Question is whether any of these projects will work at a broader macro level – thoughts?
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