Now Negroponte is calling me

And he’s screaming and furious and all upset and says I’m making a mockery of him and he won’t stand being mocked, not by anyone. Says he’s down in Rio on a “fact finding mission,” but he took a break from doing focus groups to call me and tell me I totally don’t understand how this magical laptop of his is gonna work. “And by the way, calling it a ‘craptop’ is slander, and we will take action,” he says.

I’m like, Dude, take a chill pill, put some ice in your Speedo or whatever, I don’t give a damn about your stupid little toy computer, except one question I have is, Who’s gonna fix these things when they break? He says they’re not gonna need to be fixed because they’re not gonna break, because they’re gonna be designed correctly in the first place. He says this in this real “gotcha” kind of douchebag voice, like he’s really breaking my stones on this, like he and his little team have done what even the Great Steve Jobs couldn’t do, blah blah.

So I’m like, Really, they aren’t ever gonna break? Ever? He goes Nope, they’re not gonna break. I said, You know, you guys should build a car, too. I think they’d be a great market for a car that never breaks. He goes, We’re already working on it. In Cambridge. We’ve got a skunkworks car made out of Legos and D-cell batteries. Totally works and never breaks.

He goes, As for the laptop, I realize you’re jealous because ours is so much nicer than the MacBook Pro. But you’ll just have to get over it. We’re the disruptor here and we’re disrupting your business model with the power of open source. You’ll just have to deal with that, Mr. Dinosaur. And the more FUD you spread about us, the worse you look. You see? You’re hoist on your own petard.

He goes on to say that even if there is maintenance or other kind of work to be done, 95% of the maintenance can be done by the kids. (Afterward he sent me this article where this claim is cited — as if because he’s said it in an article somehow it must be true.)

I’m like, Really? Because what we find is that even with our machines, which are pretty easy to use, people need some help. Even more so with Windows and even more again with Linux. I mean, Nicholas, do you actually know how to do things in Linux? Like, could you write a device driver for some random Olivetti printer that’s maybe 10 or 20 years old? He says, Well, no, I couldn’t, but the children can. That’s the wonder of it. The kids know more than we do. We’re empowering them to teach themselves. I’m like, Really. You mean a professor at MIT in computer science can’t write these drivers but a 9-year-old in some little village who’s never seen a computer before can do it?

Yes, he says, that’s exactly what I mean. Why I’m right here right now working with a group of 4-year-olds who are using these laptops as we speak. I’ll send you a photo. Two of them are taking turns charging the machine with the hand-held salad spinner power adapter, while the third one works. The little girl in the photo I’ll send you (shown above) had never seen a computer before this week. Now she’s writing a new game for the Playstation 3 in C++. That’s the kind of miracle we’re talking about down here.

I was like, Nicholas, that’s not one of your laptops she’s using. He goes, Oh, yeah, well, she did spend some time working on one of our prototype machines but, um, well, we had a few glitches, you know, we’re still working out some of the interface stuff and the software we have on our prototype machine was written for the previous generation of the hardware so some of the screen commands aren’t working exactly correctly, so we loaded our OLPC software environment onto a Dell machine just so they could get up and running and get a feel for the software. Still pretty amazing right?

Yup. Real amazing, dude. Good luck with that.