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Dvorak Says We Should Send Rice, Not Laptops, To Children

Cranky-Pants Blasts OLPC

In case you haven't been following along with our occasional coverage of John C. Dvorak, we think he could lighten up a bit. This angry man has made a career out of bemoaning everything from Web 2.0 to the iPhone, and now the OLPC XO, the laptop designed for children in developing countries. Dvorak thinks that the OLPC XO is a slap in the face of the developing world. A modern day "let them eat cake," to steal his analogy.

Allow us to boil down Dvorak's arguments for you:
  • Money would be better spent donating $200 worth of rice
  • Millions of people are starving to death
  • Kids will be spammed and see ads
  • There are bomb-making instructions online
  • There are lots of illiterate people
Yes, there are places in the world where people are starving and the money would be better spent on basic necessities. But are they really the intended audience? The laptops are clearly aimed at those where information and education are the biggest concerns. Handing people food is great, but "teach a man to fish" and all that jazz. Not to mention that many countries would be better off without our charitable donations and heavily subsidized agricultural goods. They drive down prices in foreign lands, keeping local farmers from being able to make a living.

We also want to take issue with a particular piece of information that Dvorak takes from a "world hunger website:"

"Nearly one in four people, or 1.3 billion -- a majority of humanity -- live on less than $1 per day."

Wait, what? "one in four" is 25 percent, "1.3 billion" is less than half the population of China, and some how that's a majority? The most recent estimates actually put the population of the Earth at around 6,634,570,959 which would mean one in four would be closer to 1.7 billion. None of those three figures align.

As for his concern that these poor children have to deal withj spam, all we can say is, "oh well." Life is too short to worry about Viagra ads in a child's inbox. Then there are his worries about the type of information available on the internet, such as bomb making instructions. If Dvorak is worried that these children don't even have water, what is the likelihood that they'd have bomb making materials?

And, finally, Dvorak suggests that the OLPC laptop would be useless since there are large populations of illiterate children in Africa. I don't know if he's been paying attention, but the whole purpose of this thing is to get educational materials to children through the laptop so that they won't be illiterate.

Referenced story from PC Magazine

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Tags: charity, cranky pants, cranky-pants, CrankyPants, dvorak, Laptop News, LaptopNews, olpc, xo



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