Saturday, November 19, 2005

MIT Professor Started a Project to Give Computers to Children in Developing Nations. How might we capitalize on or contribute to that?

These paragraphs are quoted from ABC News Person of the Week: Nicholas Negroponte has created a $100 laptop, the cheapest in the world. Within a year, tens of millions them will be given free of charge to children in developing countries throughout the world, giving them access to the Internet.

"We see education as key to any world problem, from peace to poverty to hunger to the environment," Negroponte said. "Primary education is the most important thing to us because if you mess up primary education, you really then spend a lot of time trying to undo the mess afterwards."

The laptops will be financed through private donors and local governments. More than 130 countries want them.

"It's absolutely critical the kids own their own laptops, that it's given to them by the state and they own it," said Negroponte. "The reason it's important is the same reason that you have never wash a rented car because it doesn't belong to you. If it's your own car, you take more care."

Negroponte has done other, smaller laptop projects before, and he has witnessed the utter fascination for a child.

"In Cambodia when the kids brought the laptop home, the parents loved it because it was the brightest light source in the house," he said. "The first English word of every child in that project was 'Google.'"

The computers are wireless and run with very little power. In areas where there is no power source, it can be cranked up.

How did Negroponte and his team get it down to just $100? There's no fancy software, no marketing or promotion to pay for, and most of all — there's no profit.

"Each version of our laptop will be simpler and less expensive and we have promised governments that our price will float down," he said.

chmoogle: free chemistry search engine

Chmoogle, a free search engine for open access chemistry information, was just launched. Thanks to Open Access News, SciTech Library Question, and CHMINF-L. Anyone care to comment? How useful is Chmoogle?