Did you see the interview today with CNN’s Howard Kurtz and Nicholas Negroponte, founder of One Laptop per child? Negroponte says that the days of the physical book are numbered. As e-book readers and tablet computers become more common, physical books could disappear sooner than expected.
“It will be in five years,” said Negroponte. “The physical medium cannot be distributed to enough people. When you go to Africa, half a million people want books … you can’t send the physical thing.”
Negroponte emphasized the efficiency of being able to put hundreds of books on the laptops his organization sends to villages. “We put 100 books on a laptop, but we also send 100 laptops. That village now has 10,000 books,” he said.
It is for this reason that I have been campaign (without any success) to get the Peace Corps to send PCVs overseas with a Laptop to leave behind, just as we left behind Book Lockers in the early years of the agency. Book Lockers that started school libraries in villages around the world.
Today Negroponte thinks that when it comes to ‘e-books’ the developing countries may actually be doing it faster than developed countries.
“That’s what cell phones did,” Negroponte said. “Cell phones were more popular in Cambodia and Uganda because they didn’t have phones. We had phones in this country, and we were very late to the table. They’re going to adopt e-books much faster than we do.”
Negroponte founded One Laptop per Child in 2005 with the goal of providing one internet-connected laptop to every school-age child in the world. Through the help of industry insiders, the organization created the XO, a lightweight and durable laptop.
For $199, it’s possible for individuals to buy a laptop for a child in the developing world through the website www.laptop.org/en/.
All Aaron Williams has to do is pick up the phone and called Negroponte and say, “Hey, Nicholas, I’ve got 7,000 plus PCVs working in the developing world, let’s make a deal. You and I, why we can change the world!”
Give it a try, Aaron. You could be the second coming of Sarge Shriver. You could remake the agency and leave a legacy.
p.s. RPCVs, let me know what you think. Leave a comment on how we might get the Director of the Peace Corps, on the 50th anniversary, to doing something new and different and wonderful for mankind.