The $100 Laptop Lapdance *Updated*

That’s my way of suggesting we may be getting excited over nothing. I’ve just read a pretty good critique of the now infamous $100+ laptop. It raises points I either mentioned in my post yesterday or started to mention (but then decided against), and then raises more points. Wish I would have seen that post earlier as I could have just quoted it and saved myself the time.

Now here’s the kicker: while looking for a permalink so I could once again update that earlier post of mine, I accidentally hit the link to the next post on the subject. And it’s a doozy. From that more recent blog entry:

A day or so after my post on “Problems with the $100 laptop” an interesting event happened. I’m posting from the World Summit on Information Technology, where OLPC is introducing the laptop. They have a balsa model with a keyboard and an LCD with a thick cable attached to a box under the counter, and Mary Lou Jeppsen, the LCD designer and the chief engineer right now, makes no bones about it not being ready yet. They seem to have added a crank about 6 inches long, made of flat balsa wood pieces.

Now I realize that it’s almost certainly not a “balsa wood” model. Design firms don’t often bother with balsa anymore. Not really. There are other, better options. However, I do know what the uninitiated take for balsa… and like balsa, it’s also not anything close to “prototype” material. So that pretty model is very much only that – a pretty model. Which also means that the way this project is being managed is, to me, a little odd.

Truth is, this story is looking more and more like the kind of thing I expect to hear from some political organization – half-truths and spin. Something is wrong here.

{* Well, this was a quick update. I’ve just read another follow-up post from author Lee Felsenstein, and it’s a beauty. Finally, someone who has put into technical terms how many industrial designers see product development. Bookmark this one.}