Criticism of the OLPC XO-1 concept

In John C. Dvorak's PC Magazine article "One Laptop per Child Doesn't Change the World", he writes:

Does anyone but me see the OLPC XO-1 as an insulting "let them eat cake" sort of message to the world's poor?
I like Dvorak and I often follow him on the TWiT podcast and CrankyGeeks on TiVo, but he polarizes issues in ways that sometimes aren't that useful, except for bringing attention to an issue. Hopefully the audience is paying enough attention to think for themselves, but that has proven repeatedly not to be the case.

In my view, if some service like "Mechanical Turk" pays living wages for these folks, then it was worth it. On average and over a lifetime, each of these students should be able to earn more than the cost/value of the computer.

Yes, the literacy rates and language barriers are an issue in making the computers useful at all. There would be, however, huge motivation to focus on literacy and additional languages, if some people are able to earn money with these machines.

So, Dvorak has given all of us XO enthusiasts a mission: enable students to make money using these machines by providing services like Mechanical Turk in the languages of the students and figure out how they can collect the resulting goods.

OK, I admit, this isn't a perfect idea. I've heard concerns that these laptops will be stolen if a market emerges for them and having them be a source of money would certainly make them valuable. This is also, to a degree, advocating some sort of child labor, which is a reality, despite the many objections we have in the developed world.

Better ideas?


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