'

Computer Aid Intl: OLPC doesn't get it

Negroponte fails to understand the dynamics of technology and governments in the Third World, UK nonprofit says.

The verdict is still out on the feasibility of the One Laptop Per Child, according to Tony Roberts, chief executive and founder of U.K. charity Computer Aid International, who criticized the program as having a "fundamental misunderstanding of the history of the IT industry," reports News.com

Roberts, who heads one of the largest charitable suppliers of refurbished PCs, wants the project to succeed but has raised concerns about the fundamental structure of OLPC.

"They are looking to introduce a nonstandard, untested platform...which they will only sell to governments. "The decision to buy will be made by politicians who are elected every five years, and politicians generally don't take the decision to risk their political future on nonstandard technology," said Roberts.

OLPC is the brainchild of Nicholas Negroponte and aims to develop a portable PC for use by children in the developing world for about $100. The price has risen since the plan was first announced to about $135 to $140.

Negroponte claims computers in the developing world have not worked because the children did not see the computers as their own and as a result did not engage with them as expected.

"People say, 'We just gave 100,000 PCs to schools, and they are still sitting in their boxes.'" Negroponte said. "The problem is that you gave them to the wrong people. The kids don't think they are theirs and see them as government property, or they are locked up after school."