Iqbal Quadir, founder of GrameenPhone, and Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the One Laptop Per Child Foundation, recently “squared off” in the pages of Good magazine to debate the respective merits of two very different technologies.
Quadir, as you might expect, comes out in favor of cell phones, as a technology that is spreading fast on its own because of its immediate perceived and real economic value–which will allow adults to provide better education for their children.
Negroponte, as you might expect, favors laptops, for their value in offering children a “window” on the world and a medium that encourages learning and creativity–which will make them more productive adults.
It’s hard to argue with either side, but it’s pretty clear which side is winning the debate in the marketplace. It’s not exactly Ali-Frazier, but it’s a good debate with both sides accomodating their opponent’s perspective.
Maybe the next such debate will be Smartphones v. Netbooks.