It covers the chicken/egg problem of which is better for the developing world: laptops or cell phones? I’ve witnessed the dramatic proliferation of cell phones across Africa and, along with the mobility of Toyota “matatu” van taxis, the accompanying economic activity.
…voice communications do not require literacy, and are thus more egalitarian and more inclusive.
— Iqbal Quadir, founder of Grameenphone
But Negroponte argues that while cell phones connect, laptops are a window to literacy:
Asynchronous and high latency communications is very inexpensive… When we ship 100 laptops into a village, each can have 100 different books. That means 10,000 in the village, without any connectivity other than to each other.
— Nicholas Negroponte, founder of MIT
An interesting anecdote from Negroponte:
Ten years ago, most students are MIT and Harvard wanted to start companies and make money. Today, those students want to be social entrepreneurs. They are more interested in changing the world and doing good.