60 Minutes Last Night?


Did anyone get to watch 60 minutes last night? They had a report on Nicholas Negroponte and his involvement with One Laptop Per Child, a non-profit organization that is trying to bring affordable $100 laptops for all the underserved children in developing nations.

The report was very eye-opening for me. I had heard of the project but didn't give it much thought. However, after the interview I came away disappointed with Negroponte and his organization. I believe his intentions are good, but his lack of business skills and toxic relationship with the tech industry will inevitably doom his efforts to bring laptops to children.

Apparently, Intel has developed a cheaper and better laptop, but somehow Negroponte is angry about it because he thinks Intel is getting in the way of his mission. Intel's computer called "the Classmate" is much like the laptop developed by Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child organization as it  is specifically engineered to fit the needs of the underserved children of developing nations. 

Negroponte is upset with Intel because he thinks the Classmate will put him out of business; and instead of trying to partner with Intel, Negroponte has chosen to react with unwarranted hostility. Clearly, bringing laptops to the BILLIONS of children in developing nations can't be done by any single organization, yet Negroponte seems to think that One Laptop Per Child is the only organization that can do it.

It is this type of this do-it-alone-because-I-am-the-only-one-fit-to-do-so-because-I-care-more-about-people-than-you-do approach that will cause his organization to fail. Negroponte may be a good guy, but he needs to realize that he must cooperate with the tech industry and other non-profits if he wants to be successful. Also, he should realize that a little competition is a good thing, and reacting negatively to competition is harmful.

Finally, Negroponte, One Laptop Per Child, and others need to figure out how these laptops can specifically improve the lives of folks living in developing nations. 60 minutes did say the kids were more likely to go to school, but they didnt say exactly what the kids were doing while at school with their laptops. Playing games, taking pictures, and horsing around is ok so long as it doesnt take away from the curriculum. Perhaps instead of feuding with Intel, Negroponte should work on developing a curriculum that invovles these laptops that is an improvement on what came before. Giving these kids a nice toy is surely generous, but giving them a laptop in tandem with curriculum enhancements would be even better.