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

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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  • Text to speech (Score:4, Insightful)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @02:34PM (#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.
  • Support missing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maliamnon ( 1848524 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @02:36PM (#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...
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @03:05PM (#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.

  • Re:Both (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @03:10PM (#35270556) Homepage

    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 trying like hell to make sure everyone stays poor and a old believe and tradition system that fights against change.

  • niether (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @03:15PM (#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.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!