signals stop, think
has done much to separate people, dividing knowledge workers
from the computer clueless, opening the doors to limitless
knowledge for those with access and leaving those without
access further and further behind.
Two initiatives that use technology strive to close that
gap, one focused on bringing technology to children who
might not otherwise have access to a computer; the other
leveraging high tech style and fashion to raise money for
those who have been left behind.
There have been pink iPods and almost mauve iPods, but until
U2s Bono sat down with Apples Steve Jobs to
discuss his fund-raising project, there had never been an
unequivocally red iPod.
Now there is, and its part of an effort dubbed (Product)
Red headed by Bono and Bobby Shriver, Chairman of Debt,
Aids, Trade, Africa (Data), an activist organisation that
focuses on those issues to create a boutique sub-brand of
products that will funnel funds into projects that will
bring a positive focus on Africa.
Among those issues are killing diseases and the fund supports
the Global Fund to Fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria.
But the effort also aims to build the capabilities of the
people of the subcontinent by developing trade initiatives
that fall under the umbrella of Product Red.
Apples vivid red iPod is actually one of the least
committed products in the project, the computer company
setting aside just ten per cent of the proceeds of the product.
Motorolas special edition red Razr products commit
50 per cent of proceeds to Project Red, while the Gap sells
a special edition T-shirt made in Lesotho from local cotton
and Converse offers a Chuck Taylor sneaker made from African
mud cloth which buyers can customise on purchase.
The UK Independent has given three editions over to celebrity
editors and 50 per cent of revenues from them to the project.
Other supporters include Amex, who offer a red credit card
and Giorgio Armani.
Project Red is part of a new initiative to change the way
that help is delivered to challenged economies.
Another is the One laptop per child (OLPC) project, spearheaded
by Nicholas Negroponte, former chairman of MITs Media
The computer, designed to be hardy electronic tool for children
with a cost of US$100.
The laptop, powered by an AMD Geode GX500 chip, sports a
special dual-mode LCD screen that can work in black and
white and colour modes, three USB ports, WiFi connectivity
and runs Fedora Linux on 128MB of RAM, there is no hard
drive; software and documents are stored on 512MB of flash
The laptop, dubbed the XO-1, isnt designed for brute
power, emphasising ruggedness, portability and utility.
The laptops charging system is being built to adjust
to a wide range of potential power sources (early demonstrations
of the device showed a hand crank) and multiple devices
can form a networked mesh.
Countries that have signed up for the project include Argentina,
Brazil, Libya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Thailand and Uruguay. Nigeria
was the first country to buy one million of the devices.