Chicago law prof blasts OLPC

See here. A law prof from University of Chicago, which I’ve heard is a pretty good school and perhaps possibly even in the same class as MIT, says that OLPC makes no sense and that Saint Nicholas has his very large head firmly positioned inside his big charitable ass. Or something like that. Best part is toward the end where he tells you all the things you could do with $400 bucks besides buying 2 craptops. For example, for $20 you can buy enough maize to feed a family of four in Ethiopia for six months.

Money quotes:

“Nonprofits that make products no one wants don’t deserve any praise, even if they don’t take a profit.”

“Real charitable organizations can buy computers from companies like Intel and donate them to children in poor countries if they think that’s a good idea; there is no reason why they should buy worse computers from a nonprofit company. … In the same way, nonprofits buy food, tractors, seeds, and other goods from for-profit companies, and then donate them to poor people in poor countries. Why should laptops be any different from these other products?”

The latter point strikes at the central problem with OLPC — the goal was never so much to help kids as it was to show how clever a bunch of academics could be. It was about ego, and showing off. It was a bunch of amateurs claiming they could do a better job of designing and building a personal computer than all of the companies that have been in this business for thirty years. Why else set out to reinvent the personal computer? Well, they reinvented it all right.