Posted by: shoji | September 7, 2007

Unintended consequences: Let there be light!

One of the wonders of technology is how it is ultimately used. At times, perhaps often times, the end use is vastly different from what the technology developer had in mind.

I read somewhere that the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) computer was being used by villagers as a nightlight: the computer, which is battery-operated and recharged by a hand crank, was left on and the screen used to illuminate the area for reading.

I bet that the design team did not include “nightlight”as an original function.

A much cheaper alternative than the $100/computer target set by OLPC is the BOGO Light by SunNight Solar. I think technology is a fantastic too that can dramatically help developing nations improve their living standard. Yet we can easily overlook the more fundamental needs of developing nations.

Lighting Africa: A Contest to Put Sub-Saharan Africa on the Map (TreeHugger)
In Sub-Saharan Africa, over 500 million people presently lack modern energy, with rural electricity access rates as low as 2%. Among the poor, lighting is often the most expensive item among their energy uses, typically accounting for 10-15% of total household income. Yet, while consuming a large share of scarce income, fuel-based lighting provides little in return.



  1. […] The $100 laptop now the $188 laptop More on OLPC; I blogged about it earlier here. […]

  2. […] need reliable energy inorder to raise their standards of living– electricity to power reading lights in the evening is just one […]

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