Datawind’s Aakash in the US

News | Communities In Schools of Wake County.


I’ve been tracking Datawind since they announced their first foray into very inexpensive tablets. Then, a couple of years ago, it was for the Indian market. But the tablet they released was panned as inadequate and, in away, worse than useless, as it made it harder to develop hardware that would actually meet the desires (forget about needs?) of its designated audience.

But I’m optimistic, and also believe that if it is not to be Aakash, it will in the end be something like it. The point is to provide a usable interface with usable applications that can be obtained cheaply and even more cheaply maintained and kept up to date.

To me, this almost stipulates an open source (and open data) context. And it demands a tablet, as they are inexpensive to make and use very little electricity. Portable keyboards are also inexpensive, if one wants one.

I’ve corresponded with Suneet Singh Tuli, the CEO, about open source and open content, as I saw that Datawind had no meaningful open source footprint. Yes, it’s willing to take advantage of others’ efforts, but Datawind seems reluctant to expose itself to the risk, however small and contained, that open source development demands.

(There is not even a Kickstarter or equivalent presence; and isn’t this a bright idea for Kickstarter? You know, a very inexpensive table that runs something open–there are many options, now, not just Android or Chrome–and uses an editor like UX Write [which I’m consulting for] to give students of nearly every level reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic tools that will last–and which also can be shaped by the student herself.)

So, I’m intrigued by how this pans out; and even more intrigued that Aneesh Paul Chopra is evidently involved in a project that would also use Aakash tablets.

But this is the lesson. If the device is not appealing to use it, like any insipid moral lesson, will be ignored in favour of the spicy; and if it is not open source (or its like), then it’s not likely to survive the slam of the markets as they move into action.