Last week in Davos, Microsoft’s Craig Mundie commented that using cell phones might be a more sustainable approach than the development and deployment of the $100 laptop project for solving the digital divide problem .
A new Technology Review article defends the laptop, and offers some opinions of researchers and professors involved with the project.
John Perry Barlow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation comments that:
“Cell phones make a lot of sense from a certain standpoint,” says John Perry Barlow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation advocacy group. “They’re great for calling and for a certain kind of e-mail. But if you want to experience cyberspace in any meaningful way you can’t do it with a cell phone.”
Also in support is Seymour Papert, Professor Emeritus at MIT:
“If we think of technology as purely access to information, and education as access to information, you might start making a case for the cell phone,” he says. “But education is not just access to information. It’s doing things, making things. You can’t program on a cell phone.”
However, in the end, Tech Review says that its all about creating value and closing the digital divide, so whichever proves to do that better should deserve to be the winning technology:
Whichever device ends up being most useful in third-world cultures as a conduit for information and education, the entire world will benefit, as millions of minds are stimulated.