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One Laptop per Child
One attempt to repair the digital divide was the One Laptop per Child effort. As stated on the organization’s website, “The mission of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is to empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child. In order to accomplish our goal, we need people who believe in what we’re doing and want to help make education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege.” Announced to great fanfare in 2005 by Nicholas Negroponte, the OLPC project seemed destined for success.
The centerpiece of the project was the laptop itself: an inexpensive computer designed to withstand a lot of punishment. It utilized a revolutionary “mesh” network, allowing the laptops to act as repeaters, extending a Wi-Fi network far beyond their normal range. They also used minimal power, making them practical for remote areas with limited access to the electrical grid.
Unfortunately, the OLPC project failed to live up to expectations, running into many of the problems related to globalization discussed above: different cultures, corruption, and competition. In an article that examined the success and failures of OLPC, the authors state, “Expecting a laptop to cause such a revolutionary change showed a degree of naivete, even for an organization with the best of intentions and the smartest of people.” Today, OLPC is evolving their methods and their technology, trying to deliver an OLPC tablet computer.