Throughout the course of this quarter we have learned the importance of equal access to digital technology, and the internets influential power. Undoubtedly there is a digital divide between those who are fortunate and those who are not. Although we see the digital divide within our own country, we frequent users of computers and mobile devices, take our easy access for granted. Digital technology and the Internet are far less prevalent in developing nations and third world countries. The development of the One Lap Top Per Child program and device have sought to make digital access a reality for those who have never experienced the resources that Internet enabled computers can provide. The program’s mission is innovative and I understand that computer devices provide an endless amount of education and connection to the outside world, but I question third world government spending on the OLPC and where computers fall on the priority list in the larger picture of benefiting those who are living in poverty.
On the surface, this project appears to be favorable, but taking time to understand the implications, I would not participate in this program if I was the leader of a third world country. Priced at only $188 dollars, these computers may seem like a bargain, but it is important to note that this price does not include the cost of setup, maintenance, and Internet access. Those of us who have owned computers for quiet some time understand that computers can be costly to keep functioning properly and connected to the internet. Critiques have also brought up this idea of “Affodability and scalability over high-tech solutions”. Pointing out that “a $2,000 library can serve 400 children, costing just $5 a child to bring access to a wide range of books in the local languages and English; also, a $10,000 school can serve 400–500 children ($20–$25 a child)”, said John Wood, founder of Room to Read (Wikipedia). This is a very important point to make, because although internet technology aids us in our everyday lives, we must first provide the necessities that sustain a reasonable quality of life.
The lack of necessities is especially a reality for many people who reside in less fortunate African nations. At a UN conference African officials not only question the motives of the project, but also made it clear that, “the project demonstrated misplaced priorities, stating that clean water and schools were more important for African women would not have time to use the computers to research new crops to grow” (Wikipedia). Without the support of the leaders of these nations that many would consider the neediest, I do not see this project being popularly excepted. When considering this project, we must take into consideration that these are individuals that do not see the importance of computers in their lives because they have never used them. Once these people are provided with the essentials, they should then be introduced to the technology we enjoy. Once they are educated on the use of computers and their importance, then large scale investment in OLPC type devices will have a much larger benefit for these individuals and their societies.