The aim of the Fiasco Awards is rewarding the best projects in the ICT field that have ended up as a FIASCO. We want to promote a critical spirit, a positive attitude towards the obstacles in the road to success, and why not? let's admit it: to have fun. More »
Don't be afraid (D'on ve el fred? - ¿Dónde vive Alfredo?)
Finalist Fiascos
One Laptop per Child, the 100$ computer


The One Laptop per Child is a program of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) designed to combat the digital gap, particularly in countries where the price of the computer is an obstacle in itself. The initiative wanted all children of the world to have a laptop to allow them to access computing, the management of documents and images, and the Internet. Potential targets included also rich countries without enough resources to computerize classrooms in the schools. The computer was manufactured by Cotinuum Design, in Boston, and in order to save power its screen turned from black and white to color depending on the use it was intended for. It also had a 500 Mhz processor, 1 Gb of memory, four USB ports and Wifi.

The fiasco

Since it was launched three years ago, the One Laptop per Child project has aroused mixed feelings and opinions. The idea and some of its background philosophy looked interesting, but the development model, based on top-down management and excessive bureaucracy, pointed to the usual failure of many similar development projects allowing the developed world to proclaim its concerns about education and technology without taking sufficiently into account the end user. The initiative's wide media coverage announced sales of millions of units, but in three years only 300,000 have been sold. In addition, the price has increased to $ 180.

What have we learnt out of it?

One Laptop per Child quickly became a fetish, a refined example of a politically correct idea, but as it usually happens with massive visionary projects promising to change the world, in the end reality has proved to be much more complex and difficult. It is often the case that the projects which usually prove more effective are the ones designed and developed using a bottom-up approach, where cooperation workers become searchers.

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