In the past several months there have been more and more fractures in the carefully maintained facades of the RIAA and EU’s democratic openness. They have also been the formative months of Nicholas Negroponte’s dream of putting inexpensive notebooks in the hands of the most disenfranchiased youth in the world, a dream that will be realized in a few short weeks. I want to quickly elaborate on the first two ‘bombs’, and then quickly comment on Negroponte’s dream.
Reznor Serves His Walking Papers
Trent Reznor is a brilliant salesperson. Over the course of his last album he used some incredible guerrilla marketing to generate (more or less) free advertising for his album . . . only to have the RIAA threaten to sue his fans! Reznor has been incredibly critical of the record labels for some time, but now he’s free of them! On the Nine Inch Nails’ website he has written;
Hello everyone. I’ve waited a LONG time to be able to make the
following announcement: as of right now Nine Inch Nails is a totally
free agent, free of any recording contract with any label. I have
been under recording contracts for 18 years and have watched the
business radically mutate from one thing to something inherently very
different and it gives me great pleasure to be able to finally have a
direct relationship with the audience as I see fit and appropriate.
Look for some announcements in the near future regarding 2008.
Exciting times, indeed.
In recent years we’ve seen some of the most powerful men in the world decide to turn their gaze towards the third-world. What has been surprising is that their intent has not been to solely dominate and exploit the most economically disadvantaged peoples in the world, but to try and relieve some of the ills that they face.
Techno-magnates – Bill and Nicholas – and their projects
The two most prominent individuals that have turned their attention to the third world have been Bill Gates, who is spending billions through the Melissa and Bill Gate’s Foundation to try and raise standards of living by improving literacy and fighting disease. The foundation is best known for its in work fighting disease – it has targeted Acute Diarrhoeal Illness, Acute Lower Respiratory Infections, HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis (to name a few) as their primary targets.
Nicholas Negroponte, the magnate and visionary behind the One Laptop Per Child Program, want to bring the digital revolution to poor children and let them enjoy the ensuing benefits of the digital revolution. The theory is that, by distributing textbooks electronically, by giving children a way of learning to program, by giving them rugged pieces of technology that can be powered by a bicycle or foot loom, children can receive top-rate education despite living in Less Economically Developed Countries (LECDs).
Some time ago a friend and I got talking about the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program, and I haven’t gotten it off my mind since. The OLPC program aims to deliver sturdy, low-power, low-cost laptops to children under the age of 12 in developing countries. The visionary of the program, Nicholas Negroponte, wants to introduce these laptops into second-world, rather than third-world, countries. The difference? Second-world countries face poverty and a host of ills, but possess the resources to purchase these notebooks, to feed their people (at some level), and build roads. The OLPC program is not currently aimed at absolutely poverty-stricken nations – those nations have other, more pressing, concerns, and their resources can be allocated to more effectively than by providing affordable laptop computers for children.
The computers are incredibly simple, providing basic computing. What’s important is that they are almost entirely open-source; kids can take them apart and learn about every element of the computers through trial and error. They’re rugged enough (both physically and code-wise) that kids can put them through hell and they’ll keep on going. While the laptops can be charged by plugging the computers into electrical outlets, they can also be powered by converting physical action to electricity – ride a bike attached to the thing and you’ll be able to charge it. The initial roll-out doesn’t have this, but it’s in the overall specs of the project.