Profile: Nicholas Negroponte

In this week’s readings there is a focus on case studies relating to the One Laptop Per Child initiative, which promotes givingImage inexpensive and child friendly laptops to developing schools in order to promote introduction to ICT and increased educational opportunities. The project was founded by Nicholas Negroponte who is involved in many other pioneering technological achievements.

A graduate of MIT, he studied computer aided design and has always been a strong proponent of the importance of user friendly technology in daily life. He sees technology, especially computers, as being increasingly beneficial for humankind with still yet un tapped potential.

His major focus today is on children’s education around the world, believing that it is the key to growth. He is also believes that children can learn through doing, and should be in charge of their education. (Read more here) “Everybody agrees that whatever the solutions are to the big problems, they … can never be without some element of education.” – Nicholas Negroponte

Negroponte co-founded and directed the MIT Media Laboratory which strives to bring together creative and technological researchers and developers to study cutting edge technology and inventions that will impact everyday life.

He was also the first investor and a writer for Wired Magazine, as well as an investor in over thirty tech startups.

He has been described by some as having “techno-utopian” ideas that are not actually feasible, for example there are many critiques in the assigned reading Can One Laptop Per Child Save the World’s Poor?”

Watch Negroponte TED Talk on OLPC


About katy11

Studying abroad in Ghana for the semester, one wonders how this will pan out? View all posts by katy11

3 responses to “Profile: Nicholas Negroponte

  • megstanger

    I have heard of Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop per Child initiative as being very controversial as well. I am guessing it relates to our discussion at the beginning of the semester. Basically, whether or not handing out technology is appropriate in certain areas. In this case, I am skeptical of whether this project helps the children in Africa. For example, if the children who are going to receive the laptops are starving and do not attend school because they have to work, the laptops are useless. In any case, I am sure that this initiative has helped many children familiarize themselves in the technology world and has provided many opportunities for those who continued their education in technology.

  • pkrause439

    This personal bio is very interesting, OLPC seems like a program developed by someone with such an intellectual and tech background. But, is that the issue with the actual program. Was Negroponte’s OLPC too much of a tech project that did not really take into account cultural context?

  • dtindall8

    I watched about half of the TED talk and three things stood out to me:
    1. In class, we questioned why OLPC was targeted at kids ages 6 to 12. In the TED talk, Negroponte mentions that young children learn by interacting with the world, and that around age 6 is when they begin to be taught. Perhaps this is what sparked the idea of starting the OLPC program with 6 year olds: to channel this spirit of “learning by doing” before it is somehow replaced by more classroom style learning.

    2. Negroponte relates an anecdote about a town in Cambodia where families own laptops and kids use Skype and cites it as an example of the benefits that laptops can provide. However, in this same town, there is no electricity. This makes me wonder how the people in this town kept their laptops running. Did they have solar powered chargers? And if so, why didn’t Negroponte use this town to inform the design of the OX system.

    3. In class, we were wondering why Negroponte insisted on requiring such big orders from governments. In the video, he says that originally manufacturers were uninterested in producing the product because it was so different from their other products and so much lower quality. Although the large order requirements undoubtedly have a lot to do with Negroponte’s confidence in the project, it seems that they were also used as a way to convince companies to manufacture the computers.

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