Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Online Movie Recommendation 19

This week's* online movie recommendation is from the collection of interesting videos at TED. It is a talk by engineer Amy Smith about her work to invent technologies that will improve the lives of impoverished foreigners:

I have long thought that the $100 laptop idea was foolish. Not because it wouldn't be nice to give poor kids a free laptop, but rather because applying that same amount of money and brainpower to "lower hanging fruit" could do so much more to improve the lives of the world's poor than can be done by handing them a laptop. I understand how the researchers working on the $100 laptop can get caught up in the romance of their idea, but they seem to have forgotten the basic definition of engineering: An engineer is someone who can do with one dollar what any bungler could do with two dollars. Mr. Negroponte's $100 laptop will do a lot of good for the children of the world. I think Ms. Smith is doing for $10 a lot more to help poor children than Mr. Negroponte will do with his $100 laptop. I also expect that alot of the poor children given a free laptop will sell them on the black market for much less than they are worth in order to buy things that their family needs even more, and that no amount of making it look distinctive will stop that. Ms. Smith's project, on the other hand, seems well targeted to do lots of good for the amount of money spent. Imagine what good Ms. Smith could do if she had Mr. Negroponte's budget... but philanthropists want to look cool too, and charcoal presses are not nearly as hip as computers.

*I know I've been lax on online movie recommedations for a couple of years, but I am going to reinstate it as a weekly/roundtuit feature.


It is 188$ now and not 100$. This is not a product from Intel or AMD. This is a product out of some stupid idiot from MIT. Now we will see starving children in TV documetaries but they will have green laptops in the background.
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