Giving computers

According to its subtitle, this blog is about “all that is useless unless offered”: I’ve always been very impressed by a culture able to produce Milan’s caffè sospeso. The title is actually a reference to what could be a French equivalent. Rest assured: you didn’t miss it during your last trip here; giving half of what you buy hasn’t got anywhere beyond tax imperative so far.
Two economic reasoning could explain that rationally:

  • either the price threshold is below psychological interest; that is probably what explains the coffee reflex of accepting a hardly costly social norm; or
  • the externalities are strong enough: that would be the bundling of two talkie-walkie, or the “Grand’Mother” scheme my company tried (in vain so far) to set up video-conferencing devices several times in its history. A great idea if you ask me—even though it appears clearly that I have been proven wrong repeatedly.

I’m not sure $200 is below many people’s attention threshold, and I assume the idea being the program to sell the “$100 laptop for children” in developed countries, under the brand XO — as explained by the XO Giving program — is another form of rational generosity, based on distinction. The computer is highly recognizable, and it can trigger spectacular personal gratification, based on visible altruism.
I like the leveling impact: what can help my children education will help someone else’s too; it’s not a as much a hierarchically structuring transaction as a symbolic tie, much like what pen-relation used to promise. This distinction by ethic argument might be concurred by the announced scarcity:

A very limited number of laptop computers will be available for this promotion beginning November 12th.

as can be seen in the FAQs.

I could also be the reckoning of massive possible framing and network effects to come in the making of software: with a generation of lesser-advanced countries children engaging in programming by lack of any other valuable training, computing might shift to a different form of programming. Children who grew up in the more developed countries, learning from the unique design principles could end up having a spectacular competitive advantage in taping those inventive ressources.

The true selling argument for me? The e-ink screen:

the XO’s screen can be viewed as clearly as a newspaper in broad daylight.

unless I missed something, such a screen is not available as less then the double.

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About Bertil

I'm a PhD student in Digital Economics, and I love viennoiserie. Je suis un doctorant en économie (numérique) et j'aime la viennoiserie.
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