More OLPC Give One Considerations

It's the second day of sales for the OLPC Give One Get One program on Amazon; the site is still up and still claiming next day delivery is available (anyone who gets theirs in a day, please talk back below). I posted several musings yesterday on this latest effort by the OLPC, but wanted to share a few more thoughts.

It's the second day of sales for the OLPC Give One Get One program on Amazon; the site is still up and still claiming next day delivery is available (anyone who gets theirs in a day, please talk back below). I posted several musings yesterday on this latest effort by the OLPC, but wanted to share a few more thoughts.

The first comes from a closer reading of the Amazon listing/FAQ for the G1G1:

How do I access Tech Support? Because OLPC is a non-profit company, we are unable to provide direct technical support. One goal of the project is that children will learn to troubleshoot the XO themselves and subsequently use their experiences to help others. In this spirit, volunteers have created great guides and forums for your XO laptop and its software, which can be found at: laptop.org/gettingstarted. If you have questions that are not addressed in the troubleshooting section, please click here to send us an email.

This is followed by another customer review:

I have had my XO for almost 10 months. The wifi stopped working in the first week and despite over 100 emails with the volunteer support team, has never worked again. One month ago the keyboard, track pad and all buttons stopped working. I have found no fix for this, and after spending hours troubleshooting I have come to the conclusion that I must have a lemon. However, if you get a lemon--which does happen, I am proof--be aware that there is little to no support to be had...

This isn't to say that all of the reviews on Amazon (or in the general media, for that matter) are negative. Quite to the contrary; the XO has a lot of fans. However, the point about tech support should be well taken by average consumers.

Secondly, even the documentation on Amazon makes it clear that the $399 purchase does not literally give a laptop to a child in a developing country:

How will my donation be used? Your donation will be used to cover the cost of manufacturing, sending and setting-up laptops in some of the most remote and isolated parts of the world. This may also include power and connectivity infrastructure, teacher preparation and other technical and educational support.

Trust me - I'm not opposed to building Internet infrastructure in developing countries. This can be a huge boon to education, especially where access to libraries and print resources is extremely limited. Simply keep in mind that your donation is not, in fact, shipping a laptop to a kid at the same time one ships to your own child for the holidays.

The take home message? As another reviewer put it on Amazon, "Caveat Emptor!"