I've been meaning to post about this for weeks, and now today's the last day:
Here's the deal: "you can donate the revolutionary XO laptop to a child in a developing nation, and also receive one for the child in your life in recognition of your contribution."
In other words, you send them $400; they send one of their newly developed $200 laptops to a kid somewhere in the world, and another one to you, which you can use for whatever you want.
Also, you get a free year of T-Mobile HotSpot access, letting you have free Internet at places like Starbucks and various airports, which in itself is worth at least $350.
I'm still a little dubious about One Laptop per Child. In a world where lots of kids could use, say, One Meal per Child or One Drink of Clean Water per Child, or even One Literacy Lesson per Child, I'm not entirely convinced that giving out laptops to everyone is the right approach.
On the other hand, I sometimes find OLPC's vision compelling. For example:
Extensively field-tested and validated among some of the poorest and most remote populations on earth, constructionism emphasizes what Papert calls “learning learning” as the fundamental educational experience. A computer uniquely fosters learning learning by allowing children to “think about thinking”, in ways that are otherwise impossible. Using the XO as both their window on the world, as well as a highly programmable tool for exploring it, children in emerging nations will be opened to both illimitable knowledge and to their own creative and problem-solving potential.
I finally decided that I felt good enough about what they're doing to donate. (And I confess that the free year's worth of wireless Net access is pretty cool too--not something I would normally pay for, but a great side benefit.)
My laptop arrived a couple of weeks ago, but I haven't yet had a chance to play much with it. I'm not real impressed with it yet--it seems slow and kind of clunky in various ways--and I can't quite picture the computer-savvy high-tech American kids I know being happy with it, so I imagine I'll be holding onto this one rather than passing it along. On the other hand, I've heard about very computer-savvy American kids loving it, so I may be way offbase here. And certainly for kids who aren't used to the latest and greatest tech, it may be very cool.