Pogue writes in a New York Times article about the marvels of the XO machine just about to become available by the millions. It has been designed and developed to connect individual children in underdeveloped countries with the Internet. Pogue has the rare courage to explain the problems the project is now encountering, now that it is really beginning to happen. What could be the obstacle to millions of little kids all over the world having their own machines to interact with the Internet. As Pogue says so well, the problem is us:
No, the biggest obstacle to the XO’s success is not technology — it’s already a wonder — but fear. Overseas ministers of education fear that changing the status quo might risk their jobs. Big-name computer makers fear that the XO will steal away an overlooked two-billion-person market. Critics fear that the poorest countries need food, malaria protection and clean water far more than computers.
(The founder, Nicholas Negroponte’s, response: “Nobody I know would say, “By the way, let’s hold off on education.’ Education happens to be a solution to all of those same problems.”)
But the XO deserves to overcome those fears. Despite all the obstacles and doubters, O.L.P.C. has come up with a laptop that’s tough and simple enough for hot, humid, dusty locales; cool enough to keep young minds engaged, both at school and at home; and open, flexible and collaborative enough to support a million different teaching and learning styles.
It’s a technological breakthrough, for sure. Now let’s just hope it breaks through the human barriers.
Watch David Pogue video review of the XO here.