I guess this post could interest someone else than french bloggers, so here is the english version. It’s been a while since we hear about this 100$ laptop from MIT, sponsored by main IT actores (AMD, Red Hat, Google). And it’s slowly coming its way.
It should finally cost 140$, and would been called 2B1: The Children’s Machine 1. More informations are available here. But ….

This project seems a little bit too much megalomaniac, and fragile according some points of view, according to french entrepreneur. Translating his french written analysis, there are two main issures :

  • A laptop is not evolutive and fragile. That stresses the problem of spare parts, and specific hardware needs (bigger resolution, etc…).
  • And on another hand, the 2B1 is entirely sold to educational actors, 1 million parts at least.

Any way, wait and see, but with such important supports, it will definitely work …

And seeking on his blog, I just found some pages on his Ninotop project , which is so similar to OLPC, with a much more human dimension added. Which is an advantage compared to OLPC. Apparently, Ninotop is aimed to moroccan market at first. But I’d really enjoy to try it.

Finally, the multiplication of that kind of initiatives (without HDD statiions), aimed to education, for example (I bet the Ninotop won’t be the only one) will be a benefit for the final user. And as I imagine the propaganda around those 100$ US laptops will be huge, breaking the american monopole will be benefit too.

Finally, to eventually use this type of equipment for local actions in Armenia, there is only one step, but lots of difficulties to face. I am far from this.

At first, the huge cost of fast internet access here in Armenia. Imagine in 2006 paying 200$ a month for a basic DSL access. The telecom monopole by Armentel, the historic operator is more than easing the development of this access. It’s been one month I’m trying to open a DSL connection in Gyumri, the 2nd biggest armenian country. You can imagin how impossible it is to cover mountainside villages with a proper internet connection.

The other issue is the control and heldhand by mafia customs on hardware parts traffic. The foundation where I’m working is facing such difficulties to get into Armenia new computers and laptops. I’m not speaking about used computers.

We’ll see is the omnipresent USAID will be influent on local government to buy some 2B1s. Or maybe independant actors will launch initiatives to create a cohesion in a country where people are massively connected with other countries thanks to its diaspora, and whose computer engineers are internationally recognized.

I’m decided, I’m going to install Xubuntu, or Damn Small Linux on some old pentium II I have at work, bring them in pripary schools, and small villages, spread the word of free eCulture, and discover how it is. Flo, see you this summer :)