Treating the symptons

Brilliant technologist Nicholas Negroponte unveiled the designs for a sub-$100 laptop aimed at bridging the 'digital divide' between developed and developing countries. However, I don't share Negroponte's passion for this idea. People in developing countries have more dire worries than access to the information these laptops could provide. They lack food, health care, and clean water.

I agree with this Economist article that cell phones are a far more apt ICT for aiding poor countries:

Fewer people in poor countries than in rich ones own computers and have access to the internet simply because they are too poor, are illiterate, or have other more pressing concerns, such as food, health care and security. So even if it were possible to wave a magic wand and cause a computer to appear in every household on earth, it would not achieve very much: a computer is not useful if you have no food or electricity and cannot read.

See "Canyon or Mirage?" for more general thoughts on the digital divide.

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