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Would the Developing World Use E-Readers More Than Laptops? 155

Posted by Soulskill
from the keep-it-simple-stupid dept.
Barence writes "Stuart Turton writes about how the local children reacted to his Kindle on a recent visit to the Nagpur region of India. 'About 20 kids stood in a big group, just watching me: big eyes, curious expressions, ridiculously cute and all intent on the Kindle,' he writes. 'Just turning the page caused them to drag their friends over, and there's no reality where changing the font size of your book should make you cooler than a Jimmy Hendrix guitar solo. That was just the warm-up act though; it was the text-to-speech feature that pretty much made me the best friend of the entire village. A charity could do a lot worse than to load a few up with dictionaries, school books and novels and send them to some remote schools in developing nations,' he observes."
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Would the Developing World Use E-Readers More Than Laptops?

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  • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Monday February 21, 2011 @01:33PM (#35270072) Homepage

    Better than text-to-speech: http://librivox.org/ [librivox.org]

    It's a project where volunteers make audio books of public domain works. So you get a real reading rather than a robotic best effort.

    I hope free software projects combine this with the public domain texts to make cool materials for people (kids and adults) learning languages.

    • by FooAtWFU (699187)
      Maybe it's better, but can you package it up and send it to the developing world so the kids can read along, for cheap?
      • by kmdrtako (1971832) on Monday February 21, 2011 @01:40PM (#35270180)

        And twenty years from now everyone in Africa will speak with a Stephen Hawking accent---

      • > can you package it up and send it to the developing world so the kids can read along, for cheap?

        Obviously, yes. It's data, audio data with no copyright restrictions. If you can get a computer (such as an Amazon Swindle) to a village, you can get data there too.

        Sending data is either just as easy (put the data on the computer), or much easier (via the nearest Internet-enabled building/village rather than having to travel from another country).

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by Lumpy (12016)

          Better yet put it in a super cheap $5.95 mp3 player and you could air drop 60 of them for every kindle you delivered. I think the audio book idea is a major win while the kindle idea is a epic fail.

          • Better yet put it in a super cheap $5.95 mp3 player and you could air drop 60 of them for every kindle you delivered. I think the audio book idea is a major win while the kindle idea is a epic fail.

            Isn't learning to read more of a win than being able to listen to a story?

            Plus, how long before those MP3 players are just wiped and repurposed to play the latest popular music?

    • by jgtg32a (1173373)
      Hmm I'll look into that.

      Is there a system for rating readers? I once got a copy of an audiobook for "There will be Dragons" and it was bad the guy lost his place quite a bit.
  • Text to speech (Score:4, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Monday February 21, 2011 @01:34PM (#35270088)
    Can anybody with one of these say whether you find the text-to-speech to be good enough to use? It's hard to come by audio editions of many books, and reading while driving isn't a great combo.
    • Re:Text to speech (Score:4, Informative)

      by hawguy (1600213) on Monday February 21, 2011 @01:49PM (#35270294)

      It does a good job of reading the text in an intelligible manner - it does a pretty good job of correctly pronouncing English words (names and other unusual words are sometimes mispronounced).

      However, i wouldn't count on it as a replacement for books on tape. Human readers use pauses, tone of voice, reading speed, etc to help convey what was written. The Text to Speech reader is monotone and always reads at the same pace (which is configurable for fast/medium/slow).

      Here's an example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsnCwQTqbzM [youtube.com]

      • This is one of my hobbies, and it's all about ditching the default MS voice and downloading one of the speech profiles. They're not monotone at all - I'd call it 5 pitch, which is fine for anything that's not a mystery requiring screams.

        I DO count it as a replacement for books on tape, because the whole point of TTS is it is *universal* - no need to get stuck in popularity problems of text selection for commercial enterprises.

    • by jgtg32a (1173373)
      It does a fairly decent job but when I use it on my Kindle I'm reading along with it (does wonders for my reading comprehension), so I can filter out most of the weirdness. One of the books I read used a few new lines then centered *** followed by a few more new lines for "scene changes" and it would say AsteriskAsteriskAsterisk.

      If you can put up with the weirdness it works just fine.
    • by MSBob (307239)
      I don't have a kindle nor do I know what they use but the blog-to-podcast engine Audiodizer uses a very good TTS engine that I find is good enough even for long articles (not sure I would hear it read an entire book though) and it seems to improve on a regular basis. Here's a sample of how it sounds: http://www.audiodizer.com/Clients/PhysOrg/physorg/news217488993.mp3 [audiodizer.com]
    • Good enough to use? Absolutely.

      I even put up with a slight further loss of quality so I could have my stories read by a machine that sounds like a cross between Knightrider's KARR and Tron's MCP.

  • Both (Score:1, Troll)

    by aaaaaaargh! (1150173)

    They would buy both if they were paid fairly for their work and therefore had the money to afford expensive, first-world gimmicks. Meanwhile, school books and malaria medicine would also do.

    • *donates $50 to video game hacker*
      *has the mind of a child and a body like a bean bag chair*

    • by MoonBuggy (611105)

      It's a "teach a man to fish" situation - you say yourself that school books are important, and if it's cheaper/easier to provide hardware to read those books digitally than it is to provide physical books then the tech is not just a gimmick.

      Laptops also aid communication and content creation and allow, for example, farmers to keep up to date on the market value of their crops, but ereaders are cheaper and more robust. Dead tree books are cheaper still and significantly more robust, but their cost (in terms

      • by jgagnon (1663075)

        Well said. I think two things would also have to be in place for something like the Kindle to be useful (i.e. - not a gimmick). A cell tower close enough for an Internet connection (or a WiFi hot spot) and a way to charge the things. Good thing with the Kindle is that it will go weeks between charges, even with heavy use (unless you use the active content, then you get about a week) so you won't need to have access to electricity all the time. You can't do that with a laptop or tablet.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Lumpy (12016)

        The thing is, teaching them agriculture and Western information is a losing battle. Honestly, you are fighting a culture and belief system harder than a lack of education system.

        simple books can be printed far cheaper and those don't need power. sending a person over to teach 20-30 people is far cheaper than sending 20-30 kindles that will probably die within 2 weeks from the rugged outdoors environment their homes have in them. Africa's problems are not a lack of education. It's corrupt governments t

        • by gknoy (899301)

          If only education and internet access were able to influence people to distance themselves from those corrupt governments.

      • by 1u3hr (530656)

        It's a "teach a man to fish" situation - you say yourself that school books are important, and if it's cheaper/easier to provide hardware to read those books digitally than it is to provide physical books then the tech is not just a gimmick.

        Cost of Kindle: about US$100. Cost of printing a book: about US$1.

        You could give every primary school kid 20 books, and their school a decent library of several hundred, for the cost of supplying them all with Kindles. Devices which would be gimmicks, get broken, require electricity, whose batteries die and don't get replaced. Also, the Kindle is burdened with DRM. I was amazed to find that you can't even copy a paragraph of text from the fucking things. It's all locked down, designed to protect the publ

    • A quick Google search revealed that (statistically) every 30 seconds a child in Africa dies because of Malaria. Other causes of death are pneumonia, diarrhea, measles, and malnutrition. Most of these deaths are preventable.

      I just can't believe I've been modded troll for pointing this out.

  • Support missing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maliamnon (1848524) on Monday February 21, 2011 @01:36PM (#35270124)
    It's a good idea, and I'm sure they'd get used... until they break.. If you send high tech electronics to the middle of Africa to help schools, what will happen when they break? There is no local Apple Store, Best Buy, or Kindle repair hut to help get them back up and running...
    • It's an interesting chicken-and-egg problem. How do you develop the support infrastructure in parallel to the distribution program? I don't think you can. I think you have to jump and assume that the first generation or two of devices will be disposable. Eventually, you may reach a tipping point where support and repair services are provided where they are needed.

      If I were to buy an e-reader like a Kindle, what would I do if it breaks? There's no Kindle repair hut near me either. I would have to send it som

      • by jgagnon (1663075)

        The smart choice would be to provide extras for the breakage and such and work out some deal for repairs ahead of time. Not to mention, you could easily pair kids up to read off a single reader if needed, the reading angle on those screens is amazing.

      • by c6gunner (950153)

        Give 'em a soldering gun and some multimeters, and I think they might surprise you. Given a large enough supply of kindles, you'd be able to scavenge more than enough parts to keep a decent percentage running for a long time. For us it's cheaper to toss the broken one and buy something new; for someone in the middle of Africa, the economics involved are completely different.

    • by grcumb (781340)

      It's a good idea, and I'm sure they'd get used... until they break.. If you send high tech electronics to the middle of Africa to help schools, what will happen when they break? There is no local Apple Store, Best Buy, or Kindle repair hut to help get them back up and running...

      Hello from the developing world. Two quick points:

      1. Most of the developing world is NOT in Africa, so please stop using it as shorthand.
      2. The cost of lock-in is higher in developing countries, because they often lack basic market forces. If an NGO were to drop 100 Kindles into a village, they would effectively suck all the oxygen from other development/literacy initiatives, including future ones. Proceed carefully if your idea implies expenditures (no matter how small) from the beneficiaries..
    • How much support do you need?
      Computers are disposable. They are very robust, but mostly unrepairable if they do break. If you do take it back to a store they'll usually just replace it anyway. I can safely say that I've never take a piece of electronics anywhere to be repaired or serviced, in the same way that you would say a car.

      Just as long as you replace as many devices as do fail you should be fine.

  • by Lord Ender (156273) on Monday February 21, 2011 @01:37PM (#35270134) Homepage

    If you turn off the wireless, a Kindle can go for over a month without a charge. If you want to get information to people who lack reliable power, eink displays really do make a huge difference.

  • He wouldn't leave the Kindle with the kids.

  • by ChilyWily (162187) on Monday February 21, 2011 @01:45PM (#35270226) Homepage
    I find it interesting that the Kindle is seen as this great magical device for the developing world, when it in fact: 1. Limits the ability to share a book 2. Has a way to delete the entire book without recourse. Why would anyone want such a device in the developed world? Why would they not resist such a device in a developing world? Me thinks this is just kindle product placement.
    • by MoonBuggy (611105)

      I doubt they'd be grabbing books from the Amazon store over their local 3G connection. Freely licensed content pre-loaded in a DRM free format would be the way to go, whether on Kindle or on another similar reader, and I doubt that the connectivity would be turned on anyway - it'd be an unnecessary drain on the battery.

      • by grcumb (781340)

        I doubt they'd be grabbing books from the Amazon store over their local 3G connection. Freely licensed content pre-loaded in a DRM free format would be the way to go, whether on Kindle or on another similar reader, and I doubt that the connectivity would be turned on anyway - it'd be an unnecessary drain on the battery.

        Better yet, find a way to put reading material on a phone. Everyone's got one already.

        Seriously, there are more drawbacks to using such devices (smaller screen, higher power consumption, etc.), but at least the infrastructure exists to support them, and it's more useful in the short term that people be able to talk together. Besides, they will typically choose different sources of information than you or I might choose from them.

        3G and Wi-Fi aren't that far away for those who don't have it already. But payi

    • by mcguirez (524534)

      And you better be able to recharge it. Power is not universally available.

      If not, you can't even burn it for fuel...

      • by jgtg32a (1173373)
        That's actually one of the advantages of e-readers their battery life is measured in usage not time. LG also just released a reader with a solar panel built into it, so power isn't really that much of a concern.
    • I think the submitter had that point in mind. The author of the TFA happened to have a Kindle, so that's what he showed off. I imagine that any charity organization that would send e-readers would be sending an open format.

      • by grcumb (781340)

        I think the submitter had that point in mind. The author of the TFA happened to have a Kindle, so that's what he showed off. I imagine that any charity organization that would send e-readers would be sending an open format.

        You might think so, but you'd be wrong, as often as not.

        International Development is a pretty corrupt game, often dominated long-time civil servants positioning themselves to become high-paid consultants in the field. It's hardly unknown for donors to recommend 'solutions' that don't reflect the recipients' priorities nearly as well as their own.

        Considering the uphill struggle we've faced over the last five years to get very basic things like the OLPC into the common dialogue (too much resistance from vest

    • by Chalex (71702) on Monday February 21, 2011 @01:57PM (#35270396) Homepage

      You are confusing the hardware device with the Amazon service. Amazon has gone to great pains to make it super-easy to buy things from their bookstore directly on the device, and manage those purchases on your device through the Amazon website.

      But the device itself is a regular e-reader, you can put files on it via USB and manage them via the filesystem or an app like Calibre. And Amazon does not manage books on the device except the ones that you buy through the Amazon service.

      Most people who complain about the Kindle have never even used one.

      So to address these complaints directly: 1. "sharing" a book is a feature of Amazon's DRMed service. It doesn't apply to regular e-books. 2. They promised they'd never delete a book from a person's account again again. And again, that only applies to DRMed books purchased through Amazon.

      I tend to get my books from Project Gutenberg or manybooks.net and then manage them via USB with Calibre. You could load most of Project Gutenberg on a Kindle and send it to a place without network (but with electricity) and it would be much better than sending them trunkfuls of books.

      • by ChilyWily (162187)
        I'm not sure I follow your responses to my objections. When I can get a book, a real book, without having to worry about DRM or other such nonsense, why would I get into "is this a DRM or non-DRM" argument? Regular eBooks or not, this is an inherent limitation that is arbitrarily chosen and should not become the accepted norm for people in the developing or developed or any world. Let us not bind them or us or anyone in chains behind this "only for DRM" argument. I counter the original author that while he
        • by nomadic (141991)
          Then don't buy one. I like my kindle, and I find the DRM unobtrusive and acceptable. Considering that the publishers would likely not have provided kindle versions without some DRM, I would rather have my kindle and the books therein than not have them simply in the name of ideological purity.
        • by Peeteriz (821290)

          A small library (say, a thousand books) in developing world is quickly detoriating - it needs a sizable building, it needs to be protected from humidity in the rain season, it needs to be protected from rodents - it's expensive and problematic. A few kindles are a more efficient way to store these books, and it's also more feasible from a charity logistics viewpoint - shipping a small box vs. arranging a small building and maintenance for it.

      • The unique feature that sets the kindle apart from the rest is the ability to wirelessly grab a book from anywhere in the world. As you point out you can connect it to a computer and transfer ebooks you got off the internet. But that requires the devices and connections to support that infrastructure. If you don't already have a laptop and an internet connection all you have is Amazon's store, and then you're pretty limited.

        BTW why are so many public domain books impossible to find on Amazon for free? Has n

    • by EnsilZah (575600)

      Yeah, it's as if children in rural India have no concept of the evils of DRM, sheesh.

      Instead of gawking at the magic page-replacing text reading device they should have been like "GTFO, that thing doesn't even read EPUB"

    • Why use a device (Kindle, iPad) that is optimized for consumption, when the most benefit comes from creating content. A computer is a far better educational tool, and eventually a better economic driver. While we picture the developing world as a bunch of mud huts, there is a significant population that live in urban settings, with internet access and electricity. They can use real computers to create web sites, download sophisticated open source software to run businesses, and take online courses in mul
  • E-readers are fragile, expensive, & hard to share compared to books. In a "developing" country I would wonder how you would service the e-reader.
    You cannot use an e-reader easily with two people. So, if one person wants to read something, everyone reads the same page. Books can be shared among several people. If you have two books, you can have two people reading at the same time.
    Let's see what a kindle costs: right now it's $139.00 in the US. ( What will it cost when you get to the "developing" c

    • um, bullshit. You cannot claim that a single e-reader is difficult to share with two people, then turn around and claim that two books can be shared with two people. Epic fail. You share one kindle the same way you share one book: either give it to them or you both read the same page at the same time.

      How many books can be placed on a Kindle? That is, how many free works can be pre-loaded onto the device? Now every Kindle recipient has a huge library. Contrast that with getting multiple dead-tree copie

      • One e-reader: everyone reads the same page.
        One book: everyone reads the same page.
        Two books: Two people can read. Each one reading a single book. (More, if they read the same page.)
        This, of course, can be extended to:
        Three books: Three people can read. Each one reading a single book. (More, if they read the same page.)

        Yes, books are heavy, and take up more space. They also don't use electricity and are inexpensive. If you want to have something electronic, just get a netbook. How many devices doe

        • by VanessaE (970834)

          One e-reader: everyone reads the same page.
          One book: everyone reads the same page.
          Two books: Two people can read. Each one reading a single book. (More, if they read the same page.)

          You're missing the point...

          If one is considering paper books, then for every person who wants to read a unique book at any given moment, (or be on a different page than anyone else), you must have one copy per person, whether they are all copies of the same work or all different works.

          If one is considering ebook readers, then for every person who can be expected to want to read, you need one device per person, loaded with a large library of media. If the people don't have to bunch up around one person turn

    • Also, in general, an e-reader isn't as flexible as a netbook in what you can achieve. E-readers make lousy netbooks. Netbooks make decent e-readers.

      Netbooks make shitty e-readers. It's very awkward to use them sideways, which is the only way a page is visible with decent resolution without scrolling. Netbooks have their place, they're great for versatility when one needs to travel light, but that's it. For an e-reader, the tablet form factor is the only one that makes sense.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Monday February 21, 2011 @02:05PM (#35270488) Journal

    Kindles are for consumers, laptops for creators.

    You can't write on a Kindle, you can't code on a Kindle. It is okay as a book replacement but it does NOT allow the same freedom as a laptop.

    I do not oppose the use of tech in teaching but let us remember that some of the brightest mind that ever lived did their work long before the PC or any of its parts where ever invented. You can do amazing things with some paper and ink.

    Westerners also forget that places like India got one difference. You need to beat the kids to get out of school instead of in. They WANT to learn. They don't need gadgets or special programs to motivate them. Al they need is teachers. Less gadgets, more teachers. And really, if a paper mathbook is ten years out of date, so what? That only matters if you wish to overhaul the entire education system every 2 years so teachers spend more time on administration then teaching. 1+1=2, it has done so for a long time and will continue to do so and teachers have educated children with slates better then most kids get educated with PC's.

    If you really wish to help as a westerner, fund open books, so school books costs only the printing costs (trivial) and not the copyright costs. In some places in the world you can have an education for the price of a Kindle. Send a child to school, not have him become a Amazon consumer.

    • by CaptBubba (696284)

      For the cost of a dozen books you can buy and load a kindle or other e-reader with enough books to keep someone busy reading for years. You could include 2000 free out of copyright books from Project Gutenberg for example. Then you have a device with an entire library on it, which is capable of teaching people to read (via text to speech), and can last weeks on a charge.

      The real possibilities arise if you have a specially designed e-reader (think one laptop style). It could be made virtually indestructibl

    • Kindles are for consumers, laptops for creators.

      Bingo. This is why a lot of geeks on /. are wondering why devices like the kindle and iPad are getting extremely popular with the masses since such devices don't have 50 ports abilities to upgrade etc.. It's because most people consume and only do light creating (emails). I'm buying my dad an iPad for his birthday. He's retired and travels a lot. All he does is read the wall street journal online, check his email, play solitaire. He doesn't need a computer for that. And he is also traveling a lot whi

    • There's nothing about e-readers that precludes the simultaneous use of paper and ink.

  • A kindle or equivalent book reader would also be a lot easier to keep charged with a small solar panel than most other tiny computers or tablets. Charge both a small light and the kindle with solar during the day, read/study a bit after sunset until the light batteries start to fade. I've read about lots of remote villages becoming much more productive due to having a few hours of light before sunrise and after sunset because of relatively cheap solar charged lights, and a kindle (or a ruggedized stripped

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)
      Those remote villages would still be better off using regular books and using the power needed to charge a Kindle (however little it may be) to charge something else, like maybe water filtration systems. Plus, the cost needed to purchase the e-reader, get the content, and get it out to the remote villages can be used much more effectively by buying more essential quality of life necessities.
      • by Isaac-1 (233099)

        You could probably charge a thousand kindles for the amount of electricity it takes for a powered filtration system to process drinking water for one family. A first generation Kindle quick charger draws 2 amps at 5 volts (10 watts), and will charge a kindle in a couple of hours providing enough power for it to run on for weeks.. A 10 watt solar panel is about the size of a large sheet of paper and costs around $30.

        • I think most families would prefer clean drinking water before kindle power charging.

          If you gave them the hundred dollars or whatever a kindle is worth I think a kindle might be well down the list from my very limited experience of rural communities in India. Clean water systems, vaccination against the worst childhood diseases, guaranteeing their children one decent meal a day for the next year, those kind of things. Maybe shoes, school uniforms, pencil and paper for their kids next, etc....

          "A 10 watt sola

  • niether (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday February 21, 2011 @02:15PM (#35270600)
    Having been to the heart of Ethiopia, I can tell you what they really need are jobs. Yea, food, education, clean water... that's all good, but none of it will remain there without money and they only way to keep money there is to build factories to employee the people. "Nothing but nets" nearly put every net manufacturer in Africa out of business. Food aid in Hattie drove most of the local food growers, distribution networks and street vendors out of business.

    Instead of giving them free laptops, how about we invest in real books... put the publishing company IN the community where the books are needed and hire the populace to produce them. Then sell those books to charities at a discount rate to be given to school children. You employ hundreds of adults, educate thousands of kids and leave an industry in place that could last for decades.
    • for foodstuffs at any rate:

      http://www.heifer.org/ [heifer.org]

      Putting in a printing plant is an interesting idea, but needs a _lot_ of infrastructure (where do you get paper and ink from? printing plates? glue?).

      The problem is, any sort of competitive printing press would quickly saturate and over-whelm the local market --- where do they sell to after the local school has a full set of textbooks (less than a month's production effort).

      William

    • No, e-ink lowers the cost of entry over books in terms of knowledge, which is the key to almost everything. You create industries by looking at the requirements of other African nations and setting up trade agreements (a la EU or China) to help countries bootstrap one another with needs at their level, until they are ready to compete on the global level. Apply tarriffs and trade incentives as needed. Almost an economic walled garden, but I don't think western countries have any right to complain if that's t

    • by Solandri (704621)

      Having been to the heart of Ethiopia, I can tell you what they really need are jobs. Yea, food, education, clean water... that's all good, but none of it will remain there without money and they only way to keep money there is to build factories to employee the people.

      I would go a step further. The vast majority of the world's population growth is in developing countries [tamu.edu]. In contrast, the population growth of industrialized nations is nearly zero. If you look at the historical population growth of indu

  • by Qubit (100461) on Monday February 21, 2011 @02:27PM (#35270704) Homepage Journal

    worldreader.org [worldreader.org] has this mission:

    Our mission is to put a library of books into the hands of children and families in the developing world with e-reader technology.

    (disclosure: A friend of mine from College is on the team)

  • Buying toys...er, appliances...and batteries with their disposable income in the heart of the 3rd world. I mean, welfare is secondary to becoming an emerging consumer market. Right?
  • Here is the Great White Man, here to exploit the resources of the region while returning nothing to the community. In this particular case the resource is tigers, at least he's shooting them for pictures not pelts so that's a step forward of sorts. Ordinarily, he would never have stooped to socialize with "these people" but he was waiting for a ride (to get the hell out of there). He basks in the attention of these stupid natives - they're amazed by the text to speech functionality, what morons! He revel

    • by MoonBuggy (611105)

      You're the only person who brought race into the picture. He stopped to read, had a chat with some people who were interested in his reader, and concluded that since they liked it so much and could probably benefit from the technology, providing them might be a good idea. What the hell does that have to do with the colour of his skin? How would it be any different if someone of any other race who had grown up in a first world country was making the same comments?

  • Something like the Kindle actually sounds like a good idea for several reasons: Once an ebook is loaded, it's loaded, so you don't need to worry about syncing or network connectivity. You don't need a network or an Internet connection to use one. You don't need a power source other than some batteries or a hand-crank charger. etc.

    In developed nations, we take for granted such simple things that we often want to impose complexities in areas where they really aren't needed. Getting the populous to learn to re

  • by itamblyn (867415) on Monday February 21, 2011 @03:11PM (#35271234) Homepage
    This is really what OLPC was supposed to be. A $100 (or $200, whatever) ereader and laptop. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line people got more interested in trying to deploy untested educational software rather than make the ebook part work properly. It still doesn't.
    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Should be the perfect ebook for kids, with a great screen for reading even in sunlight, having fbreader available as activity, plenty of books donated to be used freely there but, well... when i see kids here in Uruguay with those in the street i see them watching youtube videos or playing video games instead of reading on them. Maybe low duration battery play a factor, but for me the biggest one is culture. Once you get of those you get so many way of "popular" uses then you dismiss the boring reading.
  • When I first read the title of this article, I though it was asking if [software] developers would prefer to use e-readers instead of laptops. I thought... duh! I barely have enough screen real estate with two screens on my desktop, much less a laptop... and you want me to work on a 5 - 9 inch e-reader screen? Then I read a couple of comments and realized what it was really about.

    E-readers instead of laptops in developing countries? Makes sense, since in general the laptop will have a lot of unused capa

  • While readers are good for teaching people to read, laptops have the massive advantage that people can learn to create stuff. Doesn't matter whether it is code, blogs, videos, art, spreadsheets, science, whatever. Far better for users to have the opportunity to be 'creators' and not just 'consumers'. Even though the vast majority of sheeple in the West consume only (which is ok, not everyone can or wants to create) it is the creators who drive innovation and progress (even if it is only a little website for
  • I would be handing out Ectaco JetBook Lites and Solar AA battery chargers (with batteries) as fast as I could get them!

    I wish American kids were that excited about reading.

  • You could get probably 1500 classic used books if you bought them in bulk.
    These wouldn't die when the power goes out.
    They could be dropped, stepped on, even get wet and probably still be usable.
    Then 1500 people could read them instead of...one.

    I don't "get" the compulsion some people seem to feel that tech is the solution to everything. I'd guess chalkboards and writing slates would be a better investment to teach them basic reading skills.

  • Instead of the fancy electronic gadgetry how about:

    Food supply issues
    Potable water
    Sewage methods
    Medical needs

    When you get that taken care of then:
    Electricity
    STD needs
    Year round housing
    Basic education

    Blinky light toys and internet access
    are generally pretty far down the priority list IMHO.

    When everyone is housed, fed, disease is under control, and
    aren't worrying about how you are going to live for the next 24 hours
    Then you can start worrying about internet access.

    Volunteer for the Peace Corp, Doctors without

  • I reckon whether these devices have Internet access is more important than the actual specifics of the device.

    Surely for most of these sorts of communities, either a laptop or an e-reader is going to be fantastically advanced technology. I don't really like the idea of giving them e-books or laptops unless they have access to the Internet because it just makes it to easy for authorities or other evil minded people to give them only access to a closed pool or walled garden of knowledge.

    I tend to imagine a si

Moneyliness is next to Godliness. -- Andries van Dam

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