Thursday, September 29, 2005

negroponte: give me $100 million and hope for the best

sep 29

i lost faith in nicholas negroponte and MIT's media lab after their previous antics in india. they set up medialab asia in india at some huge cost to the indian government and then started acting like little imperialists. they didnt have that much to offer and they wanted to dictate terms.

i guess this is why india is not in the list of privileged nations which will get the new rubber laptop. also there is the small matter of $100 million that he wants up front.

negroponte, in my opinion, is a showman. i dont believe this initiative is really going anywhere, but gets lots of publicity.

the simputer is a lot better as an alternative. note that there is no talk of local languages in the negroponte blurb. but i do like the idea of the handcrank, although that is more of a gimmick than anything else. AA batteries are available all over the place. a low power consuming battery operated device would be just fine.


KapiDhwaja said...

Another masterpiece from the mouth of the Creator. Very well written.

Brahma's Article

san said...

I agree that Simputer is better, including the fact that it runs on flash memory, whose price is continually dropping, instead of the more fragile hard drive.

Here's an interesting article from MIT Tech Review, on cheap water purification and a cheap laptop for China:

Water purification sounds good - I wonder what India has in that direction? If we can develop cheap Simputers before we can provide good drinking water, then it says a lot about our morals (or the lack of them). The made-for-China laptop sounds suspicious. Notice that it has a special mode which locks out any non-classroom related activity. Caters perfectly to the paranoid Chinese police state.

san said...

Another interesting article, which could even have applications for Simputer and other mobile computing devices:

Spintronics is a way of harnessing magnetism to perform similar functions as electronics does with its manipulation of electrical current. But of course magnetism can be persistent, while currents are fleeting.

infww said...

Simputer is a joke. Why would an illiterate buy a $400 gizmo? As I see it, the only reason that the professors who built it brought in the illiterates into the picture did so because that is the only way government will pump money into it and people will support them.

$100 laptop is on the same path. Why is he talking of poor people here? It doesn't matter who uses these laptops, the focus should be on a cheap laptop. The urge to see illiterates and poor people use computers is a stupid one. Even the poor may not have that urge as their priorities will be to fill their bellies.

Anonymous said...

forget the poor. many low and middle class people in india would think twice about buying a $100 laptop.
why blame just Negroponte for the media labs asia issue. blame the BJP govt also.
if $100 million is a lot for indians, it is a chump change for americans. if india cant put in that much why would you get the product.
the issue here is that $100 million is a lot for indians because, indian currency is undervalued. and blame the left and the congress for that.
and why blame Negroponte for not having local language content in the laptops.?
Blame the 1 billion indians who are ready to work for 300 million americans and the other english speaking countries for making English(and LAtin script) to be the only fashionable language for computing .
why blame them , when the fault lies with us.?

Anonymous said...

$100 million is NOT chump change even for the rich Americans when you view it from the Venture Capitalist perspective. They are rich exactly because they know, how not to throw good money after bad, like backing this idiotic venture.

san said...

What exactly is the benefit of coming up with a computer language in an Indian script? It sounds like an exercise in ethnic narcissism having no scientific or commercial purpose, much like encouraging Vedic mathematics.

Currency is devalued to help exports, what else? As for low-cost computers, they can help bring information and education to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it. Even if many ordinary low-income people can't afford it, smaller schools and aid organizations might. Also, as per micro-lending models like Grameen, if you let someone buy the item on a subsidized loan, they could use it to generate income that can repay that loan or purchase cost.

san said...

This is a good article the new micro-capital services industry being led by pioneers like ICIC:

Here is where features like the cheap laptop, the cheap water purifier, the small-scale micro-lending give way to the wider landscape of capital services for the low-income market.

And towards the latter part of the article, they mention broadening the offering even further into a sort of life management services. I find this type of forward thinking to be quite impressive.