The One Laptop Per Child Program Was Supposed to Revolutionize the Developing World—Then It Imploded

The engineers behind OLPC ignored the concerns of the very people it was meant to benefit

Photo by Tayler Smith. Prop Styling by Caroline Dorn

Many people working for OLPC really wanted to do good in the world, but they got caught up with the charisma of this project. They got blinded by it.

OneZero: What was the promise of OLPC, and how did it build on similar programs?

OLPC sold 600,000 laptops by the end of 2007, the year it officially launched — many in Uruguay, Peru, and Mexico — but things went downhill pretty fast. The project, which partnered with over a dozen countries at first, now has about 3 million units worldwide, many in Latin America. But it’s far from Negroponte’s ambition of selling ‘hundreds of millions.’ You say the project is a ‘pitfall of technological determinism.’ What is that?

OLPC also fit into a gendered narrative about learning. Can you talk about that aspect of it?

What’s the current status of OLPC?

What happened in Paraguay?

Writer (currently) in Budapest, bylines @TheAtlantic, @Undarkmag, @VICE, @voxdotcom & more; follow on Twitter @hope_reese; hopereese.com

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