Let them eat laptops: the limits of technicism

Winston, Brian (2007) Let them eat laptops: the limits of technicism. International Journal of Communication, 1 . pp. 170-176. ISSN 1932-8036

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Let them eat laptops: the limits of technicism
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Nicholas Negroponte, the MIT Media Labs 'onlie begeter' and one of digital techonologies most
persuasive salespersons, has a new project. With undeniable logic and unimpreachable intentions he
wishes every Third World child to be given a laptop. His reasoning is that without education, all other
attempts at development are doomed to fail and that since education can be accomplished by computers,
the way to make good its grievous failings in the South is with computers. He has therefore developed
an elegant device of considerable sophistication but great ease of use – a brightly-coloured, plasticencased
clockwork-powered computer which costs (or rather, he promises, will cost) around $100. This
contrivence, a toy in appearance but a serious machine in operation, is what he intends to give away in
millions and, according to his own publicity, he has already apparently had great success both in
persuading Southern governments – Rwanda, Libya, Uraguay – and manufacturers – Quanta Computers --
to back his scheme. Negroponte's website is somewhat coy about how much money the initiative will
involve but the budget is clearly in the order of billions: two billion children in the developing world x $100
a machine. Seed money alone -- from the likes of eBay, Google and Norstar, all at $2 million each --
would seem to exceed $12 million .

Keywords:Media, Technology
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Media)
ID Code:12182
Deposited On:19 Feb 2014 16:45

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