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Wireless Utopia

The journey towards a free wireless world.

One Laptop Per Child

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Bill Gates is against it. Google supports it. Intel does not think very highly of it. Steve Jobs offered OS X for it. It runs on Red Hat Linux. Uses mesh networking for communication. Has a crank for power generation. Does not have a local disk. Its shock proof. Its a fluroscent green box. Its the $100 laptop. And it has everybody talking. It is a concept which has drawn boquets and brickbats. A revolutionary idea which can bring the benefits of learning to the underpreviliged. And which can change the world of networking.

If the children in Africa can talk to each other without the use of a ethernet, there's no reason why others cant.

Tags: OLPC Negroponte MANET Mesh Networks Google Microsoft Bill Gates
posted by Rajiv, 5:33 AM


Hmm, the idea of one computer per child is very enticing but recent research/studies show that computers at school level really do not help students that much. Maybe the way computers are currently being used is inefficient but I personally have the feeling that computers in primary schools is just a waste of money, which India cannot afford. In the US the use of computers in primary schools has not led to more interest in Computer Science at the undergrad level, on the contrary, students' interest in pursuing undergrad and grad degree in Comp. Science is on the wane because they dont find computers very interesting. I think a lot has to do with what students are taught in schools using computers, they mostly learn to use some software and some editing tools and some very basic information about CPU, memory (I am doubtful if the concepts of these, even in a simple way, can be grasped by high school students in general). This cannot lead to any interest in computer science since there is very little scientific going on, at least in the things that are presented to the students.

In a country like India, I don't think there should be too much emphasis on providing computer education to all schools. Basic education, Science, Math, Geometry, Literature, etc. are much much more important than knowing how a computer works (even though that is seldom taught to high school students).


i dont think the aim is to make children learn about computers. the aim rather is to make them learn. if you look at the kit provided, it has a browser for the internet, wikipedia and a programming language called squeak.

there was an interesting experiment done in this regard actually. they embedded one laptop in the wall of one of delhi slum and kept checking on the progress. the childrens experimneted with it and self learned how to browse sites and search and so on. just by eperiment! will send you the link if i get it.

Said Anonymous Rajiv, 9:02 PM  

Yup. Know the experiment in whole lot of detail. It was done by someone from NIIT. It actually proved my intuition about learning. Students can pick up the 'use of computers' pretty easily. However, your point about access to WikiPedia, etc. is well made as internet connections allow students to have access to a whole new gamut of knowledge. However, basic knowledge should probably not be taught from the internet (it can be taught through the internet) since the internet is just a random collection of data with very little information as such - you never know what is correct and what is not and that would be disastrous to any student who is starting to learn about the concepts.

Said Anonymous Amit Saha, 7:55 AM  

Ya. I agree. Internet is not the place to go for basic education. But then OLPC is not trying to solve the basic education problem at all. Its just giving the children an opportunity to learn, with the hope it will be enough to teach them how come out of poverty that they live in. Who knows ond day they might just grow up to fill the gap of basic education system which is missing in thier own countries. Something is better than nothing at all!

Its basically an experiment. Theoretically everyone who uses this will be able to learn something. Practically whehter they apply the knowledge to good use depends upon the individual. The end result can go both ways; it might turn out to be a disaster whith all the comps lying unused or change the world forever by supplying a generation of self educated people to the world's workforce. Either ways the results will be very interesting.

Said Anonymous Rajiv, 9:50 AM  

The idea is not on teaching the basic knowledge .... this concept allows the child to explore the world on his own ..from his village ... yes , with some guidance... and not necessarily on computer science.
More than this I am intrigued with mesh networking ... how does it work?
Do we have such a n/w today..?
Said Anonymous Rahul, 12:23 AM  

IETF has a working group on mesh network. Its called MANET. Mobile AdHoc Network. Its still in the works.. but the basic protocols have been designed. In fact windows has an implementation of DSR protocol. Its used for dynamic routing. Very interesting concept.

WiMAX also uses Mesh Networks. Dont have much info on that but.

Said Anonymous Rajiv, 12:40 AM  

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