I rarely get involved in rallying folks to humanitarian causes or try to entice people to donate time any money to charities. When I do, it’s generally about something I feel quite strongly about.
About 2 years ago the faculty members at the MIT Media lab launched a project called One Laptop Per Child, the idea being that if a laptop could be built for $100, millions could be produced and distributed all through the developing nations through donations, government support, and other forms of philanthropy. The driving force is to try and make a direct impact on the socio-technological gap that is so apparent across the worlds population.
The result of this project is the XO Laptop, a machine designed by the OLPC team to address the specific challenges that will be encountered by children using the machine where there are no power outlets, or no internet, and where conditions may not be as squeaky clean as they are in your typical home office. The laptop itself, by modern standards, is underpowered, but the design is so open, so green, and so sturdy, you can’t help but be impressed.
This is a laptop designed for children to carry around with them, anywhere, anytime. It is waterproof, dirt proof, the battery lasts many many hours, it can network itself to other laptops arond it (a ‘mesh’), and it can run off a $10 solar panel (and recharge from it too).
There is an excellent video review of the XO by David Pogue on the NY Times website. Even if you aren’t interested in the machine directly, watch the video for an idea of what it’s all about.
Now, the XO laptop didn’t come in at $100. It actually came in at $183. As things ramp up, they hope to get the price down, but it’s still a little more than they anticipated.
So as part of their launch, the OLPC project has a special offer.
On November 12th, you can go to XOgiving.org and enroll in the “Give one, get one” program. You pay $400, and get an XO laptop of your very own. “Wait, $400? That’s twice what you said!” – Yes, it is. Because if you purchase an XO laptop for $400, a second laptop will be sent to a child in a developing nation.
My wife and I are seriously considering one of these laptops for our 8 year old son, and the added benefit of benefiting a child elsewhere is just icing on the cake.
If nothing else, watch the David Pogue video for all the details on the machine. It’s a remarkably green, well designed, and rugged little machine.