The mailperson delivered two boxes containing adorable tiny little green OLPC laptops! THEY ARE SO CUTE AND TINY AND GREEN! We haven’t turned them on yet, since Ben’s semester isn’t over for another few days. The keyboard is just the right size for my spindly fingers :-) As you will see if you explore the website, it uses an absurdly low level of power, is designed to be not easily damaged by school-age children, and has an extremely high-resolution screen such that the tiny monitor isn’t as much of a setback as it would otherwise be. Our machines don’t come with human-power options, but they can be purchased separately, which we will do at some point.
I was initially skeptical of the OLPC project, but looking through their website and press releases and such, I’m impressed. One could certainly make arguments that this sort of thing isn’t necessarily the highest priority in poverty solutions, but if there is an organization out there who wants to focus specifically on closing the digital divide, I think they’ve found a truly excellent way of doing it. They’ve additionally made a very good low-impact, low-waste, low-power laptop for use by adults (maybe in a slightly bigger model) in the sustainable locally-grown future. For me, this computer does exactly the things I need a computer to do, without all the high-power stuff that I never actually use (except image editing, which I don’t actually *need* to do, and don’t do all that often anyway). For storage, I can just get a thumb drive.
And buy buying one for myself, I’ve also bought one for some deserving small child in the third world. (Or, I don’t know, maybe it’s a bratty little kid who who’ll throw it in a lake. But I kind of doubt it. ;-) ) What would be perfect, but I’m sure way too much administrative overhead for them, would be if I could learn about the child who got “my other laptop”, and send them letters and stuff, and maybe help pay for more of their schooling at some point, or something like that.