From the Instructor

Namank Shah’s analysis of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project reminds us of the important lessons of failure. As Namank ably points out, in development projects, idealism is not enough: it must be accompanied by a careful and detailed assessment of need, that is in turn complemented by cultural understanding and awareness of community acceptance.

Namank’s essay carefully outlines the failures of the OLPC project. His assessment draws on the tenets of appropriate technology, one of which is community control of engagement with new technologies.

As Namank suggests, in a methodical and clear-sighted manner, the limitations of the OLPC project can teach us a great deal about our assumptions of the uses of technology in developing countries and about the rightful place of humility alongside knowledge in the pursuit of development goals.

— DEBORAH BREEN

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