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Offline IgorEliezer br

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Tablets for the poor
« on: December 17, 2013, 07:01:46 AM »
Completely off-topic:

I'm still wondering what's the necessity of a tablet for a low class family.
I wonder too. So where's the problem: in being poor so one should not have access to technology via welfare, in the tablets in the schools/for poor students or because all governments haven't shut down 1 year before every election?

Brazil has a 5-century tradition in building invisible walls between those ones subject of rights and those ones not. The first wall was slavery (the last western country to ban slavery), then land ownership, then alphabetization, then technical education, then housing... In the late 80s we became one of the worst income unequal countries with serious social issues, 25 years ago having a roof over your head and 3 meals a day made you feel like a king, 3/4 of our republic era were sunk in all kind of instabilities.

Surely, in a world where the mass production is doomed to lose its dominance the next wall will be technology, between those who have affinity with computers and those who don't. I can tell it by myself as a person that had the 1st computer circa 2001, Internet at home later on and the 1st and the only one in the family to get elemental school grade.

If the government through conditional cash transfers can give means for the low class citizens (I'm talking about people that make less than $2 USD/day*capita) to afford food, housing and furniture, why not a computer? Thus answering the "what's the necessity of a tablet for a low class family": the worst that could happen is they will be able to access the Internet, participate in the social networks, learn programming and digital arts and read news other than those from TV, besides obviously writing poorly on Facebook and Orkut and listening to bad music, but none of these things are prerogative or privilege of a class.

Honestly, my criticism is towards those who think tablets is some kind of panacea in the schools: www.nytimes.com/2013/09/15/magazine/no-child-left-untableted.html

Last, not so off-topic: Language is also used to make distinction between people and people.

Topic split from: http://forum.simutrans.com/index.php?topic=9474.msg128892#msg128892
« Last Edit: December 22, 2013, 02:30:29 AM by IgorEliezer »

Offline sdog

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Re: Tablets for the poor
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2013, 08:15:41 AM »
Interesting experiment.

Such might greatly increase literacy, be an incentive for small businesses and spawn a lot of good ideas. Similar to the cell-phone revolution in rural africa. It might also just fizzle. Choke point might be infrastructure. Also, when done large scale it is quite expensive. When done on a small scale, it doesn't work, as it needs the network effect.

Government run, such things are often a barn-door for corruption. Even when things run smoothly, it might take so long the hardware is completely outdated.

Is this in planing stage or already being in effect?

Offline Junna

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Re: Tablets for the poor
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2013, 11:52:22 AM »
Government run, such things are often a barn-door for corruption. Even when things run smoothly, it might take so long the hardware is completely outdated.

What makes you think that, in and of itself, who does it means (government or some NGO) it is corrupt? Corruption is likely to sneak in either way, as this is endemic in all forms of business.

In projects like this, however, the hardware being dated will not be too important, as its obviously an attempt to enfranchise more people; as long as they can be used, all is well. These things have a tendency to not be entirely successful because they target one specific point of the problem and do nothing to counter the others, but I wouldn't say they are entirely misdirected.

Offline sdog

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Re: Tablets for the poor
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2013, 05:42:49 PM »
As I wrote before, the advantages could be astonishingly. If done well, or if not done well but the people can compensate it, this could indeed help a large number of people to get out of poverty.

I trust NGO much less than most governments. Such projects are still in very great danger to become the milk cow of some groups in the local economy. It doesn't even have to be a bribe, but also a way to subsidise. While the worth of the programme to its receivers is reduced to next to nothing. The best way to prevent this is great public interest, and a critical stance towards the information provided.

From what I know of Brazil, my confidence in the governments ability to resist particular interests of small  influential groups in society is not  remarkable. Brazil's press seems to be a bit polarised. Such things make me sceptical whether such a programme might succeed.

In Africa this happened mostly due to market forces, self organisation and as side effect of Chinese  development aid. Such conditions cannot easily bee replicated. A   government funded protean providing hardware and infrastructure is the second best approach.

Now those where only very general thoughts. Would you please point me to  information that explains concretely what is done?

Q: OT split?

Offline isidoro

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Re: Tablets for the poor
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2013, 12:28:31 AM »
Completely off-topic:
[...]
Honestly, my criticism is towards those who think tablets is some kind of panacea in the schools:
[...]

That's just another fashion: first, it was slides, then Power Points, then electronic blackboard, now tablets...  Thousands of dollars spent in those gadgets...  But in the best classes I have received, the teacher used just a piece of chalk...

Is it the teacher or the gadget?

Offline ӔO

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Re: Tablets for the poor
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2013, 12:53:13 AM »
If only textbook publishing companies would stop milking the cow and switch over to digital ink already.
Tablets and E-readers are ideal for this purpose.

No need to cut down trees for paper
No need to use toxic chemicals to whiten and print on the paper
No need to use up extra logistics to ship around HEAVY textbooks
No need for students to break their backs lugging around 10kg worth of textbooks
No need to cut down more trees for revisions and new editions.

I remember some of my highschool textbooks coming with CD versions, but they were slow and the laptops and computers weren't any lighter than the textbooks themselves.

And yes, tablets and E-readers require their own set of natural resources and refining that also damages the environment, but the I think the logistics alone (one 500g vs. many many 1~2kg) would save a lot fuel usage.

Offline sdog

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Re: Tablets for the poor
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2013, 04:25:09 AM »
It was not be so much of a problem, if textbooks in north america were not a profitable business for universities and publishers. In other parts of the world textbooks are a standard over decades. Here it seems to me publishers change their books only to forced new books to be bought. Discontinuing established books or needlessly changing new editions in such a way that compatibility is broken. Universities happily join this game, as their book stores provide a new way of milking undergrads.

Look at Russia, they still use the same, in parts horrible, sometimes great physics textbook set. Doing so for half a century already. Results are excellent.

It is easy for universities to provide sufficient numbers of such books in their libraries, where students go to the books, instead of breaking their backs carrying them around needlessly. (It's beyond me anyway, why one would need a book in a lecture.)

Paper text books provide much better learning conditions today. At the moment mostly due to paper size. As soon as this is resolved due to lack of multimedia, silly infographics, and diversions.

There also is a problem with displaying math these days. Recent Kobo readers are most advanced with regard to displaying epub3's new features, but still fail at displaying most math.

You can get good, free test cases from IOP:
http://iopscience.iop.org/books

Offline Junna

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Re: Tablets for the poor
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2013, 03:15:14 PM »
If only textbook publishing companies would stop milking the cow and switch over to digital ink already.
Tablets and E-readers are ideal for this purpose.

No need to cut down trees for paper
No need to use toxic chemicals to whiten and print on the paper
No need to use up extra logistics to ship around HEAVY textbooks
No need for students to break their backs lugging around 10kg worth of textbooks
No need to cut down more trees for revisions and new editions.

I remember some of my highschool textbooks coming with CD versions, but they were slow and the laptops and computers weren't any lighter than the textbooks themselves.

And yes, tablets and E-readers require their own set of natural resources and refining that also damages the environment, but the I think the logistics alone (one 500g vs. many many 1~2kg) would save a lot fuel usage.

Why would it need to be saved, the logistics? Apart from the initial distribution, which is relatively insignificance, all transport, such that happens, is done by the users of said textbooks and those trips would happen without it.

Electronic readers are a pain in the eyes to read and difficult to focus on, and not always as versatile (you cannot take notes on them in the same manner, etc).


Offline ӔO

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Re: Tablets for the poor
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2013, 01:04:10 AM »
Why would it need to be saved, the logistics? Apart from the initial distribution, which is relatively insignificance, all transport, such that happens, is done by the users of said textbooks and those trips would happen without it.

Electronic readers are a pain in the eyes to read and difficult to focus on, and not always as versatile (you cannot take notes on them in the same manner, etc).



After initial distribution, if the student is required to carry around his or her textbook every school day and this student requires the use of transportation, the unnecessary extra weight being carried can quickly rise up.

As an example, say a school has 4000 students. The student's textbooks are 5kg on average per school day. These students have school 200 days per year. Each student requires two trips with the textbook per day.

So, for a full year, this surmounts to...
4000 * 5kg * 400 trips = 8,000,000kg
a full 8,000ton extra that needs to be transported per year.

Now, if all of these textbooks could be rolled into one 0.5kg reader or tablet, then that is 90% less mass to transport per year, which saves a lot of fuel.

---

Personally, I find that the paperwhite amazon kindle to be easy on the eyes, at least when I tried it out in-store. It could be larger for textbooks, yes. A4 paper size would be a good size for textbook replacements.

Tablets, as long as they are the premium models with a high resolution screen, good brightness and good viewing angles and sized close to A4 size paper, like ipad retina, are also fairly easy on the eyes.

And why would you write inside the textbook? :-/
That is what pen and paper is for.

Online prissi

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Re: Tablets for the poor
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2013, 10:30:39 AM »
The average lifetime of any recent electronic gadget is not much beyond five years. Especially the the Li-batteries half a half-life of five year. But all the other stuff is unlikely to survive that long, before it gets wet or crashes the screen.

Replacing a reader has an ecological footprint of about 100 books (conservatively, probably rather 10000, since paper books can be almost 100% be recycled).

And then the tablets has to be charged and need network connection (50 W/h per day, per 10^9 pupil on the world is 50 Gigawatt/h or 18 Terawatt/h per year. Assuming that 80% of the energy over the lifetime is consumed via production (typical reference number cited frequently) the annual power consumption using readers for every schoolchild on earth is 92 Terawatt/h, or about 0.5% of the total electricity generation.

It will take a long time to mature to make tablets more ecologically than books, sorry to destroy your dreams. Also books can be handed down. My schoolbooks wer third or fourth generation. With DRM this is virtually impossible. Many first generation ebook adopers are now without a device to read their DRM protected stuff. And that will continue.

So the society teach used and trash philosophy just be promoting the readers in school. Well, we are all supposed to be working wheels to consume and keep the ecomony growing on the expense of the future generations. (But this thread has seriously strayed offtopic by now).

Offline IgorEliezer br

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Re: Tablets for the poor
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2013, 03:44:14 PM »
From what I know of Brazil, my confidence in the governments ability to resist particular interests of small  influential groups in society is not  remarkable. Brazil's press seems to be a bit polarized. Such things make me sceptical whether such a programme might succeed.
If the federal government was to buy/finance/give/whatever tablets for poor students, honestly I wasn't aware of it. I have abstained from some news sites and personal talks because of all non-stop drama and bigotry on people and the media, even on Internet. It's been pretty hard to have any decent political debate without falling in obscurantism or moralism.

We have a conditional crash transfer program that provides financial aid to families with per-capita monthly income below $2 USD/day. It "pays" something like $100 per family plus $15 per child up to the 5th as long as they all are attending school. It's a little but enough for the families to avoid child labor. The program has been working for 10 or 12 years and consumes about 0.5% of GDP.

As to resistance and press polarization, yes we have both. Not that we don't have institutions, Constitution, elections, free-press, free-speech, in fact we have them all. In my opinion, the main problem is that culturally speaking we still live a bit of middle age inherited from the colonial era: we have an enormous wealth concentration, the State is not seen as public entity but as a feud and the individual is not seen as a being subject of rights but the rights are acknowledged by others according to the social position and what one can offer or influence. Our democracy is quite young, about 25 years old, and the politics is not unanimously seen as a civil way to settle conflicts in the society yet.

Replacing a reader has an ecological footprint of about 100 books (conservatively, probably rather 10000, since paper books can be almost 100% be recycled).
I won't point that these gadgets are more ecological than a book either. The whole production, logistics and the product itself involve a lot of non-eco-friendly processes. The good point is that an tablet or an i-<insert a catchy name here> can access any reading if available digitally. The DRM is a big issue but I fear it will no longer be when the Internet neutrality starts to be challenged. If things can be worse, why not?

So the society teach used and trash philosophy just be promoting the readers in school. Well, we are all supposed to be working wheels to consume and keep the ecomony growing on the expense of the future generations.
As to keeping the economy rolling: Am I the only one who is wary of all these stuff that are given for free and provided so easily by the technology? I praise all those who have made a big effort to make things and contents cheaper and easier if not for free, but my concern is how to keep these things so easy and cheap forever?

10 years ago I was very excited about Internet and technology but now what I see is that billions are made by selling gadgets and advertisement spaces while the most of digital content available in these media are given for free or at very low prices, and most of people that produce the digital content are not getting paid. How to keep jobs, projects or a small company in an environment where things are very cheap or given for free?

I think the Internet is a trap.... where are my medicines btw? ;)
« Last Edit: December 19, 2013, 05:24:06 PM by IgorEliezer »

Offline Ters

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Re: Tablets for the poor
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2013, 04:14:25 PM »
Just because you don't have to pay for something doesn't mean that you don't have to pay something (unless, perhaps, if it's piracy). Information is the new currency, which can be traded for a slightly more real currency by a circuitous way involving the things that still cost money. The Internet may not be the trap, but the bait, depending on who set up the trap.

Offline IgorEliezer br

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Re: Tablets for the poor
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2013, 05:23:54 PM »
The Internet may not be the trap, but the bait, depending on who set up the trap.
Ahaha, I was over-exaggerating a bit. I think that Internet should work like streets of a city which should be kept open so anyone can transport goods and access customers, jobs, services etc, and the citizens pay for it but they don't have restrictions to what and where access.

I don't believe that information is a currency, it's rather a commodity or it has been treated as a commodity which sometimes is badly paid, well paid or not paid at all. When it comes down to communities or collaborative projects, developers can meet and exchange information with each other then the idea of information as currency fits. But in the bulk market, information is charged or monetized. E.g. Facebook: we the users produce content so Facebook can place ads on them and sell stats to the companies and publishers, but the users won't get a penny but hey! at least we have the pleasure of producing content for them for free. It's a fair trade since we don't have to pay for the service that could be very well charged. It's sustainable as long as you have something else to support you so you can spend your spare time on Facebook or other social medium or to work on a pet-project like Simutrans or any non-for-profit activity. Now here the "trap" part plays a role: the traditional jobs are likely to disappear as the times goes by and people are being pushed even more towards to the new market called Internet. But hey, everything is free, wheeee.... including the jobs, dawwww. ^^'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5puB_7Q2n74 (video in English)

Of course, I'm OVERsimplifying things, but it seems this will be the new paradigm from now on.

Offline Ters

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Re: Tablets for the poor
« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2013, 05:33:41 PM »
Commodities can also be currencies. I called information a currency, because some businesses seem to get paid by users providing information about themselves. Information that may be used to optimize the effect of marketing of things that still cost money.

Offline ӔO

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Re: Tablets for the poor
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2013, 04:35:55 AM »
The average lifetime of any recent electronic gadget is not much beyond five years. Especially the the Li-batteries half a half-life of five year. But all the other stuff is unlikely to survive that long, before it gets wet or crashes the screen.

Replacing a reader has an ecological footprint of about 100 books (conservatively, probably rather 10000, since paper books can be almost 100% be recycled).

And then the tablets has to be charged and need network connection (50 W/h per day, per 10^9 pupil on the world is 50 Gigawatt/h or 18 Terawatt/h per year. Assuming that 80% of the energy over the lifetime is consumed via production (typical reference number cited frequently) the annual power consumption using readers for every schoolchild on earth is 92 Terawatt/h, or about 0.5% of the total electricity generation.

It will take a long time to mature to make tablets more ecologically than books, sorry to destroy your dreams. Also books can be handed down. My schoolbooks wer third or fourth generation. With DRM this is virtually impossible. Many first generation ebook adopers are now without a device to read their DRM protected stuff. And that will continue.


I am aware that electronic goods are not the most ecological to produce nor maintain, with the lithium being one of the worst offenders. There is a new Sodium based battery in development, which is less costly, both financially and ecologically, so there is some hope for improvement here. The total power consumption presented by millions of devices itself is a problem, yes.

However, it is also true that paper for printing cannot be recycled into paper for printing. All new books must be made from paper trees, as the recycling process destroys their desirable fibre strands. Recycled paper and cardboard is usually used in more industrial applications, like tunnel waterproofing and protective packaging which replaces Styrofoam peanuts.

I can only hope that someone will come up with an idea or product that saves us from all of that, but much like alternative energy, this field is in its infancy.


I would still posit that transportation of people is more damaging ecologically than using electronic devices. Not so much students, but more so with businesses. In Europe it is not so bad, as the distances are not as far, but in North America, the urban sprawl is insanity.

Offline Ters

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Re: Tablets for the poor
« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2013, 05:49:08 AM »
However, it is also true that paper for printing cannot be recycled into paper for printing. All new books must be made from paper trees, as the recycling process destroys their desirable fibre strands. Recycled paper and cardboard is usually used in more industrial applications, like tunnel waterproofing and protective packaging which replaces Styrofoam peanuts.

I can only hope that someone will come up with an idea or product that saves us from all of that, but much like alternative energy, this field is in its infancy.

I hope not. It's getting difficult enough making money selling timber as it is, not to mention all those who lost their jobs recently. And to make it more cost efficient, there's talk of introducing even bigger trucks on narrow, poorly maintained (and at this time of year slippery) roads full of school children.

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Re: Tablets for the poor
« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2013, 09:43:11 PM »
Any newpaper I know as well as most journals I recently bought were printed on 50% recycled paper. Technical University in Berlin ruled out the use of not 100% recycled paper in 1996, and lots and lots of prograss has been made since then. At least 75% recycled paper is possible (and the material price tag of a book which is rather about 1$ compared to 100$ of a tablet suggest that the impact on ecology will be similar.)

Offline Junna

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Re: Tablets for the poor
« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2013, 10:45:16 PM »
After initial distribution, if the student is required to carry around his or her textbook every school day and this student requires the use of transportation, the unnecessary extra weight being carried can quickly rise up.

As an example, say a school has 4000 students. The student's textbooks are 5kg on average per school day. These students have school 200 days per year. Each student requires two trips with the textbook per day.

So, for a full year, this surmounts to...
4000 * 5kg * 400 trips = 8,000,000kg
a full 8,000ton extra that needs to be transported per year.

Now, if all of these textbooks could be rolled into one 0.5kg reader or tablet, then that is 90% less mass to transport per year, which saves a lot of fuel.

Those trips happen with or without the school books (or, should the students be studying at home, the school books also do not need to travel from there). Their weight is so insignificant compared to the weight of the students being transported and the natural variances in this (around here most students go by bike to school anyway, so...) that the added weight of the books does not in any meaningful way affect the actual consumption. Your exercise in calculation is therefore redundant. These transports are organised on a seat-basis and not weight, anyway.

Offline paulo francis PF20

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Re: Tablets for the poor
« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2013, 11:28:44 PM »
Should be obliged to leave the textbooks stored in lockers at school, so the students would not load up the book at home.
How they would study at home without books? That's where the technology appears, the government, or some educational órgãm should develop a program or application on tablet to collaborate with studies. (The Tablets should not have asseso the internet, since that program or application would be the subject of learning from every year in memory, so avoid the use of the internet to copy, instead of learning).

Offline Ters

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Re: Tablets for the poor
« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2013, 12:13:38 AM »
Related to this, there was a news article a few days ago in Norway that showed how increased use of technology led to decreased learning. Pupils were more busy updating their Facebook pages and stuff like that. Even if schools tried to block Internet access, there is still going to be some students/pupils who is smarter than the underpaid network/system administrator.

Back when I was 14/15, which is ages ago now in computer terms, I effectively was my school's system administrator and web master. I once had to track down and eliminate a computer virus that had spread throughout school. Some teachers weren't too happy having pupils in the teachers' rooms, even though it most likely was the teachers who had brought in the virus. (By the way, I wonder how long after I left, a certain computer kept asking for your name and throwing insults at you every time you started Word. My first "published product" as a programmer.) At my next school, there actually was someone hired to administer the computers, which were even networked and running Windows NT 4.0. Not that we didn't outwit them a few times. (Sometimes not even on purpose, like when we unwittingly did a denial-of-service attack on the network, and the printer in the library in particular, using Microsoft Hearts.)