Using Technology to Fight Poverty: OLPC and Give 1 Get 1


In my last post, I spoke briefly about posting from time to time on the topic of technology that plays a role in fighting poverty. I figured that a good place to start with would be the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program, probably the most notable example of such. There’s not much I can say about this highly-publicized program that hasn’t already been said or written elsewhere, so I’ll just share a couple of resources I have come across recently.


For starters, Ivan Krstic, the Director of Security Architecture for OLPC gave a great talk on the technical ins and outs of the XO Laptop at Google back in April. You can check it out here. It’s an hour long, but worth a watch. (Thanks for Phil for pointing this out to me).


Of course, the biggest news in the XO Laptop department is the Give 1 Get 1 Program, which officially begins at 6 AM Eastern tomorrow. (BTW, the OLPC news site is a great resource for exactly that) The gist of the program is this: You pay $399 for two XO Laptops. You get one and the other is sent to a child in a developing country. T-Mobile has jumped into this promotion by throwing in a year of free T-Mobile Hot Spot access for the donor and EA is graciously donating the original Sim City to be included on all of the laptops.


Professionally, I am interested in Give 1 Get 1 because it seems to have potential to enhance the 1-to-1 model of child sponsorship that Compassion has held to for over 50 years. Imagine the impact of a sponsor purchasing one of these laptops, then designating that the other be delivered as a gift to his or her child. I don’t know if this is possible, probable or neither at this point, but I have contacted Ivan Krstic to ask and I am at least looking forward to hearing a bit more on OLPCs future plans for partnering with international non-profits that have similar goals to OLPC.


If you haven’t seen or read much about the program yet, I would encourage you to go check it out. The work that OLPC is doing is pretty amazing on several fronts: they are pushing the hardware and software envelope, all while providing affordable technology with the goal of improving education and peer learning. I, for one, am excited to continue to watch the program and its impact evolve.


  • Joe Lewis

    Wow – interesting and wonderful! Glad to see something like this, and they are kind of cool looking machines.

    On a somewhat related note, I’m on a mission to research the business case promote web standards and accessibility in large enterprise web infrastructure – something that might interface with some of the very same kids the above program addresses. Disabled and disadvantaged users are often left out of the loop when it comes to enterprise web efforts that only focus on the “corporate standard” or that discount the minority clients that show up on Linux or older browsers, users requiring assistive technologies such as braille or screen readers, or just plain old low bandwidth environments where a slow dialup connection might be all that is available.

  • R. Lloyd Nelson

    I first heard about the Give 1 Get 1 program on the nightly news, the same place I heard about last night. I checked your search engine, expecting to find references to this already on the website, but since I found nothing, I’ll go ahead share what I learned. In a nutshell, people, particularly school children, can go to this site and play a vocabulary game. Pick the right answer from four possibilities and ten grains of rice are donated to combat third world hunger. The site has only been up and running since October 7, but according to CBS News hundreds of metric tons of rice have already been paid for by corporate sponsors in return for advertising on the site. ( This sounds like something I might have read back in the ’80s in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, but it’s real and happening now. The total as of yesterday was over 2 billion grains of rice.
    And good luck to you, Joe Lewis! Great idea!