Technology has the promise of being the great equalizer, or a great divider. I don't think enough is being done to make sure that the benefits that the "technological have's" enjoy are available to all. I think this is going to be a big problem in the US particularly. In developing countries it's even more basic. One Laptop Per Child has the mission of bringing technology to kids in an affordable package to help bridge this gap. They have been working on developing a $100 laptop for a while now that could be given to kids in developing countries (they didn't quiet get to $100 on this one). I'd suggest they send a few million around the US too! They've just released their first computer, the XO-1. I think it's pretty cool looking!
The goal of this machine is to make something that is cheap, rugged and very usable for kids in developing countries. It has WiFi and a basic web browser to hop on the Internet. In fact, it forms it's own mesh network whenever more than one is present, allowing kids to collaborate in ad hoc settings. It's power use is very modest, and a solar panel can be attached to the back of it to allow for permanent off-grid use. I'm also ecstatic that they include a number of different development environments. Hit a few buttons and your writing your own programs for it. Great! David Pogue did a really good video review about the XO-1. It's worth watching.
OLPC is running a limited time special where you get one, and give one. The only way to buy one is to buy two, and one goes to a kid. I've ordered mine up and am looking forward to playing with it. A friend also ordered one so it will be fun to play with the networking features. I even noticed a CTO acquaintance of mine has purchased one. My friend Chris suggested that this may be the new status symbol. Like owning a Prius. Go hang out at the coffee shop with your XO-1. Can't wait. Offer ends soon, go order one!
After I get mine I'll post some reaction to it.