Getting The World’s Poor Logged On Posted on March 21, 2006 by gerv My latest Times Online article, titled “Getting the world’s poor logged on“, is about the One Laptop Per Child initiative.
The article could have made the distinction (which is probably still not well understood among the general public) that open source software is free to be modified, copied and distributed (subject to its licence), but makes no claims as to its cost. Instead the article implied OLPC avoided Microsoft (Bill) because of, primarily, cost concerns, which could perpetuate the misconceptions between the definition of free as it relates to free licenced software, and free as it relates to an economic transaction involving cash. It was, after all, Apple Computer which offered osX for Free to OLPC (as in 0 dollars), and it was rejected by OLPC because this operating system was not Free (as in open source).
They might’ve also rejected OSX for its heavy system requirements…
Getting laptops to children in poor countries is something that is hard to disagree with. A noble effort indeed.
OTOH, providing free certificates to the same users is likely to raise the ire of many. Why is that?
Ah, Ian, always with an axe to grind :-)
Sorry… I thought Ian had a valid point. In my opinion, laptops are hardly at the top of the list what the third world needs right now, but if you are going on the premise that it will connect citizens of the third world to each other and citizens of the first world and provide new learning opportunities and possibly stimulate economic activities, then surely there should be some thought given to how they might support their own online ventures. $99US is a lot of money to come up with. It’s like me demanding $35,000US from you for a cert.
This is especially hard to take when I can spend that $99 at GeoTrust and get a server cert, or I can get a CACert cert for free, and both of them do the same thing. They offer to send an email to email@example.com as proof that I hold the domain. From a padlock in the browser authentication perspective, they are equally secure.
There may be concerns about the root key, but if that is the case, I would have thought Mozilla (as the world’s leading “free” browser) would have a vested interest in helping to get any concerns resolved. And given the model above, I’m sure that the root keys in both cases are much harder to get to than the DNS servers.
Just to keep this on topic, free server-side crypto *is* important if you think developing countries should be able to do more with their new computers than simply be users of first world software and services. If Ian is grinding an axe, then I have to wonder why Mozilla isn’t helping him with the task. The goals would seem to align. Are personality conflicts getting in the way?
P.S. I don’t know Ian or Gerv. I don’t have anything important to do with CACert, GeoTrust, or Mozilla other than being a user of all three. I did find this thread as a result of a post on the CACert news blog.
Good grief! An RFID like tag for every child that broadcasts their whereabouts to any person within the local area? Not very safe, I must say.
ya, i’d have to agree with amos– people starving and you hand them a laptop to gnaw on. get a grip, guys.
rich: have you read the answer to that FAQ on the OLPC site? Different countries need help of different sorts. Just because one particular initiative is aimed at providing one particular sort of help doesn’t mean that they are criticising or claiming there’s no need for other sorts of help for other countries.