Colloquium: Beyond Design: Appropriate Technology, Needs and Capabilities

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project is one of the more popular examples of appropriate technology (or design for development). Despite having developed the XO laptop, an extraordinary innovation in hardware and software, the project has been bombarded with criticisms and in some instances, branded as a failure. I will take a second look at OLPC and analyze it from a needs and capabilities perspective. I will explore the following hypotheses: 1) From a needs perspective, OLPC is not an appropriate technology, 2) From a capabilities perspective, OLPC is failing for not taking into consideration relevant conversion factors; and 3) Precisely because of conversion factors, technological determinism may not hold true, at least in the case of OLPC.