Shiny things!

I’ve been hearing for a while now about the One Laptop Per Child program, wherein you purchase a laptop for a child in a developing country for a very low price. They now have the Give One Get One program, where you can get one for yourself and one for the aforementioned child.

Sounds good on the surface, but I have a few questions.

If these countries are so underdeveloped, how is it that they have internet access? Or electricity, for that matter? I mean, there are parts of Minnesota where internet access is a bit sketchy, much less parts of sub-Saharan Africa. I’ve been at two conferences recently where the number of people accessing the internet has crashed their servers. These folks in these underdeveloped countries are going to have a better time of it? (If so, let’s get their internet providers over here, pronto.)

If they don’t have internet access…..then why a laptop? There’s the cool factor, of course. But how about good teachers and a boatload of notebooks and pencils?

I’m seeing the same trends in the public schools in this country, where one bond question after another is being voted upon by communities who are being told that their children aren’t learning because their buildings are shabby. Uhmmm…..it’s really nice to have new, spiffy stuff but it really has little to do with learning. As the product of less-than-pristine old Catholic schools, my education was just fine, thanks. Better than fine, in fact.

This is not too far from the current hoo-ha in the library world over all things 2.0. Granted, a lot of the technological toys associated with 2.0 are cool and may give your library an edge with your patrons. But the reality is that good old-fashioned library customer service and a terrific collection go a lot farther to endear your patrons than IM reference.

Let’s all take a deep breath and focus on why we’re here and what we’re doing….and try not to get so sidetracked by the shiny things.

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1 Comment

Filed under Customer Service, Libraries and Librarianship, Techie stuff

One response to “Shiny things!

  1. Gail Powers-Schaub

    You may visit the OLPC wiki and post these questions, and find out more http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Table_of_Contents. A lot more is happending in terms of access than you might think in developing countries.

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