Monday, January 29, 2007

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 28 ? Here in the Swiss mountains at the World Economic Forum, the annual conclave of world leaders, concerns over a growing digital divide this year have taken a back seat to the challenge of climate change.

Being out of the limelight, however, has not dimmed passions over what the best way is to deploy computers in the developing world. The controversy boiled over on Saturday at a breakfast meeting here where Craig R. Barrett, the chairman of Intel, squared off with Nicholas P. Negroponte, the former director of the M.I.T. Media Laboratory, whose nonprofit organization One Laptop Per Child is trying to develop a low-cost computer for the 1.2 billion children in the developing world. His prototype XO computer is designed to sell for $100 by the end of 2008.

…Mr. Negroponte, who has quarreled publicly with both Microsoft and Intel executives in his quest to give simple portable machines to hundreds of millions of children, has long been known for his iconoclastic positions on economic development and education.

Recently at the Digital, Life, Design conference in Munich, he introduced himself as the ?good bin Laden? ? a reference to the notion that his low-cost laptop is terrorizing some companies in the computer industry because of the possibility that it will transform markets for personal computers in the developing world.

At the Davos session, Mr. Barrett sketched out a four-point program for getting involvement from emerging economies including affordable hardware, low-cost data communications, local curriculum and educators.

In contrast, Mr. Negroponte offered a vision based on working through children. He attacked projects that instruct teachers and students how to use programs like Microsoft Office.

Continue reading “At Davos, the Squabble Resumes on How to Wire the Third World

Source: New York Times (link opens in a new window)