With the ever-sooner launch of the One Laptop Per Child project (currently estimated for the middle of 2007), it’s inevitable that we start to think about how these computers will be used. Since the extremely light-duty laptops will have no hard disk, they’ll have very limited ability to store information. However, they will be outfitted with wireless LAN connections – and will have excellent possibilities for moving online.
According to a recent article at Techtree, the laptops will "automatically connect with others, forming a mesh network to support communications and Internet connection sharing".
What seems highly possible is a rapid explosion of third world access to the internet – and a requisite need to search for information.
As I said above, the laptops will not be outfitted with hard disks. Their chief usefulness will be in access to online resources – using the stored memory of other devices. This is a huge new part of the internet to be considered.
What will developing countries need from the internet? Educational sites, tutorials, information about other countries, information about technology. The needs of this new world and the limitations of these small laptops should be considered carefully when considering new internet resources. There’s an excellent article by George Sadowsky which discusses ther internet and developing countries.
The low-power, 7-by-4-inch LCD screens, will be the most innovative part of the notebook. The notebook display will run in both, color and black-and-white modes. In black-and-white mode, the 1,110 by 830 pixels, backlit screen will be readable under direct sunlight. In color mode, the screen will revert to 640 by 480 pixels.
This access device is not far beyond a mobile browser – with a resolution no greater than 830 pixels wide and that in black and white, issues of contrast and scalability for your site will be incredibly important. The expansion of developing countries into a more active internet-using population could have a huge impact on the use of internet search and the mobile web.
How will people in developing regions of the world approach information location? How will they use search tools and search engines? This may be an interesting and important area to look into!