Just because we can we should?
July 6, 2001 11:02 AM   Subscribe

Just because we can we should? Is this another case of rabid technology or will it really be useful? Can't the $225 per playstation-console be used to oh, say... clean up their water... or.. send a real life human being to their country to properly educate them?
posted by tsidel (18 comments total)
How much do you think it would it cost to send a "real-life" human being? A lot more than $225.

Can't the $225 per playstation-console be used to oh, say... clean up their water...

I suppose you could, but a bucket is much more efficient... :-)

There's an assumption these days that knowledge is somehow a luxury. Well, it's a lack of knowledge that's resulted in the enormous HIV infection rate in Africa. If you ask me, information is at least as important as clean water. After all, "give a man a fish, he eats for a day, etc etc".
posted by jpoulos at 11:14 AM on July 6, 2001

Well, it's a lack of knowledge that's resulted in the enormous HIV infection rate in Africa.

And the alarming consequences of the enourmous HIV infection rate, too. I don't think this is the final answer, but knowledge is power.
posted by jennyb at 11:20 AM on July 6, 2001

I find it interesting that the places "left out" of the prosperity resulting from the Industrial Age are now themselves taking steps to ensure they aren't completely left behind again in the Information Age. The $225 could, as tsidel pointed out, be used to provide clean water; the $225 spent on this kind of "information access appliance" could potentially teach people how to make their own clean water, as well as how to mitigate factors leading to disease, increase harvests or, who knows, become the first person in the village to have an X10 webcam...
posted by m.polo at 11:27 AM on July 6, 2001

I think Sony, at least, would take a dim view of this. They sell the consoles at a loss, expecting to make the money back on game cartridge sales.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 11:42 AM on July 6, 2001

Steven: Even at, say, $500 a piece I think it's a bargain. And aren't companies always looking for write-offs?
posted by jpoulos at 11:48 AM on July 6, 2001

CD sales Steven, it's not an Atari (-:
posted by alan at 11:54 AM on July 6, 2001

My mom calls them "tapes."
posted by jpoulos at 12:00 PM on July 6, 2001

give a man a fish...
posted by jcterminal at 12:01 PM on July 6, 2001

If the people you're educating can't speak English or some other PC-friendly language, then shouldn't a top priority be to teach them one? DVD-ROMs in the middle of nowhere are going to accomplish what, exactly? Water Filtration 101 on video, with surround sound? That's ridiculous, and what good does an internet connection do someone who can't read, write or type?

Firewire hard drives? Only 500 hours of audio in 80GBs? PCs break down constantly? What are you talking about? Shut your face, John Gage.
posted by techgnollogic at 12:03 PM on July 6, 2001

Tsidel you hateful human..

Couldn't you be in the third world helping someone grow rice instead of bitching on metafilter..

Couldn't you have spent that computer and internet access money to feed a starving child?

Shouldn't you be out there chained to something right now?

Tsidel, you are a terrible person..
posted by Leonard at 12:38 PM on July 6, 2001

A Playstation may cost only $225 to make, but the article talks about adding a huge hard drive, connecting it via satellite to the internet. And you need a TV, too. And how does all this hold up under the exposure they'll receive? How long will a TV and a Playstation last? And what about getting it to the appropriate places? And training? And what information sources are these people going to access? Just stuff on the hard drive? Who generates that content, in all the appropriate languages, following the appropriate customs? If they get on the Internet, most of the resources available will be useless (to non-English readers). Do these people have electricity? I'm sure you could come up with some solar system to power these things, but that would costs thousands for the solar to power a Playstation and a TV.

I cannot believe that this is the cheapest and best way to distribute health information to the third-world poor. Wouldn't they be better served with actual health-care people nearby? Or improved roads? Or better education? Or anything, really?

The speech by the Sun executive strikes me more as a venue to blast the Xbox and the PC and make Sun appear to be a caring company than anything else. Believe it or not, Bill Gates takes a much more reasonable approach to "helping" the third world.
posted by daveadams at 12:58 PM on July 6, 2001

i like the concept of chaining people to stuff.

yeah. why are people bitching about starving people on mefi when they can donate the money they use for internet access?

mock sony all you want, but they ARE doing more than you are.
posted by jcterminal at 1:19 PM on July 6, 2001

what about using donated playstations for a project like this? it seems to me that the biggest potential here might be recycling old playstations to become something useful for someone else....

and bill gates has a very pragmatic - and sometimes unpopular - approach to helping the third world:

'I've never been a "get it" kind of guy,' Gates said. 'But I get there are other things these people need other than technology.'

At one point, Shuster pressed Gates about the viability of the market of people who make less than $1 a day. Gates paused, and said... 'Do people have a clear idea of what it means to make $1 a day?... There is no electricity. No power systems. These people are trying to stay alive. There is no need for a PC.'
posted by rebeccablood at 1:22 PM on July 6, 2001

Actually, I've been foolowing the development of the playstation console from afar (read: with moderate interest) and I believe that Sony is positioning their Playstation console as an all-in-one entertainment/information device. Check out the Sony/RealNetworks deal (for playstation and MusicNet). Extend that with the large collection of music & movies that Sony has to offer in mind.

Goodbye Blockbuster & goodbye Tower records.

They may sell it at a loss now, but you can bet that's not what they plan to do later on (can you say subscriber services?).
posted by fooljay at 1:57 PM on July 6, 2001

The consoles sell at a loss when they first come out. However, with time, the parts and manufacturing process become cheaper, and Sony et al. start to make money off console sales. Or, they slash the price in order to stay competitive. In fact, this article seems to give away the fact that Sony is making $75 per console now, as it seems Sony told them they could provide the consoles at cost, $225.
posted by D at 5:24 PM on July 6, 2001

True, Rebecca, but these units wouldn't be in every home-- they'd be in some kind of community area which presumably has power, and probably already a television.

My issue with the whole thing is why not just use a VCR and VHS tapes? Does information about AIDS or Water treatment really need to be updated in real time?? It seems like a classic case of ignoring existing cheap technology to give benefits that aren't really needed right now.
posted by FPN at 5:59 PM on July 6, 2001

VCR's are not interactive
posted by fooljay at 6:41 PM on July 7, 2001

Except when they don't give your tape back.
posted by gleemax at 3:30 AM on July 13, 2001

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