[[k.0_lab]] Zero Dollar Laptop vrs OLPC

_alejood alejo.duque at europeangraduateschool.net
Thu Oct 25 17:05:04 EDT 2007

razones de peso para comparar el OneLaptopPerChild de la empresa  
M.I.T y asociados con lo que en muchas grandes ciudades ya existe, el  
0 USD Laptop.

The Zero Dollar Laptop Manifesto

The zero dollar laptop is here!

The  zero dollar  laptop is  widely  available to  individuals in  the
developed  world.  It’s  also  available to  businesses,  governmental
organisations  and  NGOs.  It’s   also  available  in  the  developing
world. Distribution is ramping up.

The zero dollar laptop comes in a variety of specifications.

The current typical specification of  the zero dollar laptop in the UK
is around 500mHz,  with 256mB RAM, a 10 gigabyte  hard disk, a network
card, a CD-ROM, a USB port and a screen capable of displaying at least
800×600 pixels in  16-bit colour. Many zero dollar  laptops are better
specified. (Its close cousin,  the zero dollar desktop, typically runs
at 1000mHz or faster.)

The zero dollar laptop is constantly  being upgraded - so by next year
its specification will be even more powerful.

The   zero  dollar   laptop  is   powered  with   free,   open  source
software. Users can get involved as deeply as they want - the software
packages available  include easy  to use graphical  applications, more
complex  professional  applications,   and  expert  level  programming

Free software upgrades for the zero dollar laptop are constantly being
made available, from a huge variety of software producers.

The  zero  dollar  laptop   is  not  intended  simply  for  multimedia
entertainment. Though it can an educational playground, it can also be
a genuinely useful production platform.

The  zero   dollar  laptop  allows   kids  to  learn  and   adults  to
produce. (Only when people are  able to use computers to produce their
own  data does information  communication technology  become genuinely

The zero dollar laptop has already been distributed. (You weren’t told
about it at the time of distribution.)

Individuals, businesses  and non-profit  organisations can all  have a
say  in how  the  zero dollar  laptop  is rolled  out  in their  local
area.  It’s not up  to government  think-tanks, multinational  NGOs or
national policy boards.

The  zero  dollar  laptop   is  available  to  individuals,  education
organisations, NGOs and businesses alike.

The carbon footprint of the zero dollar laptop is zero.

You, as an individual, may already own a zero dollar laptop.

What’s it doing? Sitting on your shelf, unused, because you’ve already

Your employer  or your school  may own a  large number of  zero dollar

What   are  they   doing?  Are   they  getting   recycled  responsibly
(i.e. destroyed) by the company  that supplied them? (That’s often the
company  that just  happens to  be  supplying the  next generation  of

Perhaps surprisingly, you  may not know how to  install or operate the
zero dollar laptop.

You may never have installed a free, open source operating system. You
may never have installed any operating system.

Nowadays it’s quite easy. You can download a full version of the Linux
operating system appropriate for the specification of your zero dollar
laptop for free. It’s entirely legal.

Many  versions of  Linux are  user-friendly.  There are  lots of  help
resources online,  and there are likely  to be local  people who’ll be
happy to give you advice.

You may be unaware of lightweight window-managers that use memory more
efficiently. You may never  have used powerful, compatible free office
and productivity software.  It may surprise you to  discover that free
software can be better than software you can buy.

You may  be reluctant  to invest time,  of which  you may only  have a
little, rather than invest money - of which you may have plenty.

Think about the longer-term consequences: buy software and you’ll have
to pay again and again.  Invest time learning about free software, and
you’ll never have to pay for software again.

For the  sake of the  planet, and  for the sake  of a fair,  just, and
cohesive  society, isn’t  it about  time you  learned? Then  maybe you
could teach someone else.

You may ask,  “Why isn’t someone doing something to  roll out the zero
dollar  laptop?”  In  developed-world  economies  and  cultures  we’re
familiar  with   centralised  solutions.  We’re   less  familiar  with
localised, decentralised, do-it-yourself solutions. In this case, that
“someone” is you.

Decentralised solutions like the zero dollar laptop may not seem to be
as  efficient  as  centralised  solutions. However,  efficiency  isn’t
everything.  Solutions  of  this   character  are  more  robust,  more
responsive to  local circumstances,  greener, more flexible,  and they
encourage local skill development and independence.

You may have to spend  unpaid time learning about and implementing the
distribution of  a few zero dollar  laptops in your  area. Think about
the contacts you’ll make and  the skills you’ll learn. Think about the
skills you’ll  help to develop, the  lives you may  transform, the fun
you’ll have.

The emergence  of the zero dollar  laptop as a  key computing platform
for empowering individuals, stimulating creativity, overcoming poverty
and  enriching our  shared culture  is entirely  feasible  without any
additional research, design, or manufacture.

We already have all the tools we  need - all we need to manufacture is
the will to act locally; all we need to replace is the software on our
hard drives; all we need to develop is the content of our minds.

— James Wallbank, Sheffield, September 2007

Zero Dollar Laptop Manifesto Notes

In       1999      I       wrote      the       Lowtech      Manifesto
[http://lowtech.org/projects/n5m3/].  That  small  document  has  been
widely  circulated,   quoted  and   translated,  and  seems   to  have
influenced, and  encouraged) a large  number of people  concerned with
developments at the cutting edge of digital culture. It’s become clear
to me that sometimes, all that’s needed is for someone to state what’s
needed and  call for  action. Think of  this methodology as  a “WhyTo”
rather than a “HowTo”.

At the time I proposed a  creative approach to technology re-use. As a
result of my decision to re-use  technology, I haven’t needed to buy a
computer in the last decade.  I’ve been involved in the development of
a whole series of innovative digital artworks and the establishment of
“Access Space”, an open access space for the local community to learn,
create  and communicate  using recycled  computers running  free, open
source software.

At the  time of the  Lowtech Manifesto, Professor  Nicholas Negroponte
pointed out (and  was quoted in “Wired” magazine)  the pressing social
need for an accessibly priced computer. He reflected that the industry
simply  wasn’t interested in  engaging in  the low  profit, “commodity
computing” market, and  set about campaigning for the  production of a
$100 laptop.

At the time, laptops  cost around $1000 or more - but  as we know, the
price has been falling. Now new, generic, no-brand computers (and Dell
workstations) are available for less than $500.

To avoid the  early emergence of commodity computing,  in the last few
years  manufacturers  have been  encouraging  consumers  to switch  to
laptops. Laptops  are great for  the industry, because they  often use
fiddly, proprietary  spare parts (only supplied  by the manufacturer),
they’re difficult or impossible to upgrade, and their lifespan is much
lower than  that of a desktop  (if only because people  drop them more

However, the industry hasn’t been able  to resist the trend for long -
in the UK  you can sign up  for some broadband packages and  get a new
laptop for  nothing - in  very much  the same way  that you can  buy a
mobile  phone contract  and get  an expensive  handset  apparently for

Although  the industry  doesn’t like  to  acknowledge it,  the age  of
commodity computing is now here.

Meanwhile,  the  Linux  free  operating  system  and  associated  free
software  packages,   have  developed   hugely.  Linux  is   now  very
straightforward to use and provides a powerful suite of software which
many experts agree is superior to the software you can buy.

Linux is very compatible with other systems, and research conducted on
behalf of the  UK government suggests it make  much more efficient use
of a given hardware  specification. Effectively, it doubles the useful
lifespan of a computer. It’s the key to unlocking the potential of the
zero dollar laptop.

So  at  last,  the  industry  has  agreed  to  assist  with  Professor
Negroponte’s plans, and the $100 laptop has started to be produced.

The  $100 laptop  has  transformed  into the  “One  Laptop Per  Child”
project. The  price point  has not  been attainable -  at the  time of
writing (September 2007) the price is about $176. There’s also a “Give
One Get  One” deal - for  $399 you buy two,  and you get  one to keep,
while another is shipped to a poor country.

Very sensibly,  Professor Negroponte has  pointed out that  the vision
isn’t about  laptops - it’s about  education. Don’t get  me wrong! I’m
very positive about  some aspects of the vision of  the One Laptop Per
Child Foundation. Distributing  information technology may have hugely
positive educational and empowering effects.

However, I’ve  got some major issues  with the “One  Laptop per Child”
$100 laptop project.

* It’s ten years too late.

* It’s $176 overpriced.

* The project is limited to laptops for children in poor countries.

* Even if you  “Give One Get One”, nobody who’s the  wrong side of the
   digital divide in developed countries gets help.

* Whatever they say,  the industry has become involved  on terms still
   hugely orientated around consumerism, not empowerment.

* It’s still a top-down  process, by which rich, powerful institutions
   determine “the  solution” and distribute  it to poor,  less powerful
   institutions,  who  distribute  it   to  recipients  whose  role  is
   essentially passive.

This  manifesto talks  about a  laptop,  but it  isn’t concerned  with
technology for  its own sake. The  issue is whether  technology has an
educational, empowering effect.

Technology has the power to amplify  opportunity - but it also has the
capacity to amplify social division:  to make the rich richer, and the
poor poorer.

For technology  to be a force  for good, it should  genuinely make its
users more independent, autonomous, fulfilled and happy.


The  Zero Dollar  Laptop Manifesto  was written  by James  Wallbank in
September 2007.  The manfesto and  its associated notes  are published
under  a Creative Commons  Attribution-Share Alike  2.0 UK:  England &
Wales License. [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/uk/]

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