Here are links to a couple of articles about the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative. The machine is quite impressive, as is the software. There are several features I wish were available on “grown up” computers. I think this represents the first real update to the graphical user interface in a long time. There seem to be many ideas taken from Jef Raskin’s Humane Interface.
For an example of the OLPC’s innovation, read about The Journal, a wonderfully thoughtful approach to working with files.
I also reprint from Wikipedia, below, Negroponte’s response to the issue of theft/black market. He believes (and I agree) that one way to limit this problem is through social pressure. “Um, what are you doing with that? It’s supposed to be in the hands of a child.”
The grey market is a very serious issue. I don’t want to be dismissive of it for a moment, and there are three ways of addressing it. Way number one is to have no market at all for it. I mean you can’t sell it, who could buy it, and that isn’t bullet proof. That’s a little bit dreaming, but it’s part of the equation. The second is to put the technologies into the device that help stop that. [The laptops distributed to middle schoolers in Maine are Apple iBooks] so they are not only great stuff to steal and we don’t necessarily have corruption of that kind, but it’s pretty transferable technology. They’ve put little things so the machine disables itself after a while if it hasn’t connected to the school. You can put GPS in it, you can put all sorts of stuff. But then the third one, which I’m doing and I like is to make this machine so distinctive that it is socially a stigma to be carrying one if you are not a child or a teacher. Now you can obviously take it down to your basement, but I hope your spouse will even say: �Oh God! Honey! What did you do?� […] So those three combined will I hope at least limit this to one percent or two percent.