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Thursday, February 01, 2007

OLPC - waste of time and money

I found a review of the user interface of the OLPC, and I couldn't agree more.

Two points made by the author, Harry Brignull, stand out. One is that the interface largely throws away the well-known WIMP interface used by, well, everything: "The whole ‘breaking away from the desktop’ smacks heavily of academics who have finally found an outlet for their wacky ideas".

Another point is that "What kind of foundation are we giving these kids when they eventually get faced with a ‘normal’ desktop?". Indeed. These children will be using Microsoft or Mac desktops if they ever get jobs involving computers. How will their experience with this weird interface help that?

Brignull is not alone in his criticism.

But really the OLPC is just one big waste of money. Gates was absolutely right not to support this machine. Anywhere where there's enough money to provide power and internet there's enough money for computers, and one per child is hardly a big deal. More to the point though, there's pleny of places where the last thing people need is a computer - places where people live in abject poverty. They don't need high-tech, they need practical tech.

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