Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Socioeconomics of Prostitution in Canada: Prostitution as an Unregulated Labor Force Encourages Capitalist Gain

When one considers the act of prostitution the term capitalism is in all probability not the first word that comes to mind. However, Prostitution has an inherent link to capitalism. This paper’s purpose is to discuss prostitution’s relevance to the economy as it encourages capitalist profit through the exploitation of these illegal laborers. This paper will first outline the definitions of capitalism and prostitution, prostitution as a social construct, discuss the legality of prostitution in Canada, how the prostitutes constitute as an unregulated labor force and finally how unregulated labor encourage capitalist profit.

Capitalism is an economist theory heavily influenced by the work of Adam Smith and his ‘invisible hand’ theory discussed in his writing the Wealth of Nations. It emphasizes profit through private ownership, and a free market. An ideal capitalist society would have little to no regulation on companies; this includes taxes, and labor restrictions. Adam Smith was a firm believer that this type of society would benefit the whole through the trickle down effect; the wealthy gain more wealth and subsequently it trickles down through the classes helping the whole of society. Today however, we know this optimist view of capitalism to be false; the wealthier become more wealthy while the poor remain destitute.

Prostitution is defined as the selling of one’s sexual services for money, or as Kingsley Davis defines it, “the use of sexual stimulation in a system of dominance to attain non-sexual ends”. Despite the simplicity of this definition there are areas of uncertainty. Davis characterizes this uncertainty with his belief that “the employment of sex for non-sexual ends within a competitive-authoritarian system- characterizes not simply prostitution itself but all of our institutions in which sex is involved, notably courtship and wedlock. Prostitution therefore resembles, from one point of view, behavior found in out most respectable institutions.” Simply, types of prostitution are ever present in our most valued institution in society. This makes it difficult to create legislation with a clear definition of prostitution if it is morally acceptable in valued institution such as marriage.

In Canada criminal legislation regarding prostitution is bewildering. Sections 210-213 of the Criminal Code of Canada deal with aspects of prostitution: Bawdyhouses, prostitution of a person under the age of eighteen years, procuring, and other offences in relation to prostitution. The criminal code clearly sets a definition for bawdyhouses, forced prostitution and minors committing the act of prostitution, and that they are undoubtedly a criminal offence. Legislation regarding prostitutes that are willfully soliciting sexual acts for money does not make prostitution itself illegal but rather the solicitation itself. This means the only manner in which a prostitute can be prosecuted for solicitation is if one of the two parties mentions the exchange of money in correlation with sex.

As prostitution is not technically illegal, and is simultaneously not considered a legitimate career option as the profession is degraded by society, prostitutes are trapped in a type of limbo. This obscure position leaves prostitutes in a difficult situation where they are able to work as prostitutes, but their choice to do so can cause them undo hardship, exploitation and violation of their fundamental rights and freedoms; in short, prostitutes can be seen as an unregulated labor force in Canada. This lack of concrete legislation or lack of regulation (depending on one’s personal views towards the matter), infringes on the rights and freedoms of prostitutes set forth and guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These infringements occur with regards to sections 1, 6.2 and 7.

Section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that it “guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”. It cannot be justifiable in a free and democratic society to have prostitution in solicitation be in existance in many of our highly recognized institutions and be illegal for the career of prostitution. Although the charter further states that there are reasonable limits, when the definition of prostitution is so blurred reasonable ;limits cannot justifiably apply, as it would be applied differently to two situations with the base of both being inherently the same.

In Section 6.2 b of the charter says that “every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.” Although Canada likes to pride itself in being a country with plentiful jobs there are those who do not have the experience or ability to perform jobs at a income equivalent to that of a prostitute. Their livelihood is being hindered due to the fact their skill set may be in the career of prostitution. If we are hindering their livelihood, then we are denying prostitutes their fundamental rights as outlines is 6.2 b.

Moreover, Section 7 states that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.” One must ask what is fundamental justice. Since the legislation regarding prostitution is so bewildered, one could argue that that legislation is not fundamental to society. Therefore we can focus on the deprivation of the fundaments rights of liberty and security of the person with prostitutes. First liberty as they do not have the legal right to peruse their career of choice. More importantly security of the person is being hindered as our law does not make prostitution illegal but rather the solicitation and therefore as an unregulated labor force are subject to undue preventable harm. Denying one their personal freedoms is a type of exploitation.

Davis states “Capitalism like communism, has tried in the case of prostitution to negate the basic capitalistic principle”(16). Nevertheless, the legislation created to prevent prostitution has done the opposite and rather encouraged capitalist ideals. “There is no reason to believe that a change in the economic system will eliminate either side of demand” (17). Canada’s capitalism is not responsible for prostitution but rather the lack of legislation and concrete definition of prostitution. Capitalism is rather encouraged as a result of prostitutes being an unregulated labor force; they are able to continue soliciting sex for money, just in a more cautious manner.

With the lack of regulations for prostitution as a profession, prostitution is on a free market. As previously discussed a free market can generate more revenue but generally rests within the upper echelon of society. In this sense, prices are encouraged to be competitive. As the product itself can be viewed as substitute, it is easily competitive on the market; each product varies but roughly has the same purpose. This means that each prostitute must estimate her pricing in order to be competitive with other prostitutes, while keeping demand for his or her product in mind. This can drive the prices down in order to for the prostitute to stay competitive in his or her field.

With a free market we must look at the prostitute who willfully solicit sex for money, and further classify them into two categories: prostitutes who are sole proprietors and those with pimps.

Prostitutes that are sole proprietor, with the nature of competitive pricing on substitute products, are in risk of losing money if there is not an increase in supply and demand for the product (prostitution). In short the prostitute would have to be able to provide sexual services to an increasing amount of clientele.

Prostitutes that are managed by a pimp are often the more exploited of the prostitutes. Not only is the money from their soliciting supposed to ensure their livelihood, but also for the livelihood of their pimp. The pimp, as an unregulated boss is able to subject the prostitute to unfit working condition, abuse, and slave wage labor. As prostitution is able to continue, as there is a lack of legal legislation, but is technically not legal, the prostitute is unable to challenge the actions of the pimp and their unfit working condition through the Canadian legal system. This again is an example of the legal limbo prostitutes are faced through their exploitation.

The pimp and prostitute relationship is another example of how capitalism is able to flourish. The pimp is an example of the bourgeoisie while the prostitute is the proletariat. The bourgeoisie are the ones who profit immensely from the labor of the proletariat while the proletariat is exploited for their labor. As mentioned previously capitalism does not encourage the trickle down effect but rather further oppressed the poor and widens the gap between them and the wealthy. Unregulated labor benefits capitalists (especially the pimps), allowing them to exploit labor for their own profit. However, Davis is adamant that is not capitalism that is encouraging this in prostitution but rather our legislation (or lack there of).

As prostitutes are an unregulated labor force, they are exploited which leads to the encouragement of capitalism in Canada. It is interesting to regard this profession as part of the labor force as it raises questions abut the legality of prostitution but more importantly why prostitution itself is regarded as an immoral activity. While reading Davis’s journal article, “The Sociology of Prostitution” I gained a lot of perspective on how our institutions retain elements of prostitution in them. This made me think of the hiring of retail workers at local Abercrombie and Fitch stores. It is common knowledge that employees are hired based on their appearances. In a sense they are soliciting their body for money, they are using their ‘good looks’ into to retain revenue. Furthermore, institutions that offer adult entertainment like pornography and stripping, in many ways share the base fundamental principles that the definition of prostitution rests (although both activities are viewed as sleazy and barely acceptable in society). So I ask why is prostitution so unacceptable in society? I believe that it is because the purpose of sex is lost in the pleasure. The purpose of marriage, the purpose of sex is to create a new generation and to pass on one’s lineage. Sex with a prostitute, has no purpose but that of pleasure. In society there remains a stigma towards having sex without procreating, especially in certain religions. I believe that till this stigma leaves society sex for pleasure, whether it be premarital sex, prostitution, or masturbation, sex for pleasure will be viewed in a negative light.


Beamish, Rob. 2006. Reading in Sociology’s Task and Promise. Canada: Mcgraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.

Beamish, Rob. 2006. Sociology and the Classical Tradition: An Introduction. Canada: Mcgraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd.

Brock, R. Deborah. 1998. “Making work, making trouble : prostitution as a social problem.” University of Toronto Press.

Davis, Kingsley. 1937. “The Sociology of Prostitution.” American Sociological Review. Volume 2(issue 5): Pages 744-755

Larsen, E Nick. 1999. “Urban politics and prostitution control: a qualitative analysis of a controversial urban problem [Bill C-49 & Toronto].” Canadian Journal of Urban Research. Volume 8(Issue 1): page 28.

Little, B. Craig and Stuart H. Traub. c1999. Theories of Deviance 5th. Itasca, Illinois: F.E. Peacock Publishers

Saturday, October 30, 2010

One Hundred Meters under the C.E.R.N.

“Geneva, 30 November 2009. CERN’s Large Hadron Collider has today become the world’s highest energy particle accelerator, having accelerated its twin beams of protons to an energy of 1.18 TeV in the early hours of the morning. This exceeds the previous world record of 0.98 TeV, which had been held by the US Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory’s Tevatron collider since 2001. It marks another important milestone on the road to first physics at the LHC in 2010.”

One-hundred meters below the Franco-Swiss Boarder lies the Large Hadron Collider (LHC): the world’s largest high-energy particle accelerator. Built by La Centre Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN) in hopes of proving, or consequently disproving, the existence of the Higgs Boson particle. This particle, predicted to exist by the Standard Model (of particle physics), is to explain the origin of mass; the recreation of conditions following the big bang. The possibilities that stem from this experiment are endless for modern science, but are they the end? This essay will discuss the possible failure or possible success of the LHC and, in both cases argue that although they both have the potential to create great change, modern science will live long and prosper.

In the first hypothesis, the project fails to give answers and as a result the scientific community feels disheartened in their fools errand. Trillions of dollars have been wasted and our reductionist attempts to solve the mystery of life, are far from solvable. The world has seen this before in Waxahachie, Texas with the commissioning of the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC). After 10 years and 8 billion dollars, the project had it’s funding cut, as the SSC was no longer connected enough to national policy. While the SSC is known to have driven wedges in the scientific community for various political and personal reasons, it certainly did not bring the collapse of modern science as even after this project’s failure, the LHC was still envisioned and constructed. As such, it can be concluded that the SCC’s failure had little impact on future science, and the same should happen if the LHC results in a failure.

Even if the LHC is a much larger and cumbersome project than that of the SSC. As the direct result of the labour of numerous european nations, the LHC has the world’s scientific community awaiting answers. Yet still, if the LHC fails, despite disappointment, science will forge on with further projects on the horizon, all trying to realize our grand narrative. While, the LHC could be seen as a failure, failures allow us to exclude possibilities and are still a step in the direction to scientific progress.

In the second hypothesis, the LHC reveals a secret to us about our creation, our beginning. To recreate the Higgs Bison could have a mass impact on modern science, and be the catalyst to many pending discoveries, and even changes to our approach towards modern science as we know it. However, since the word science encompasses progression through discovery, who is it to say that “modern science” has ended when it has merely changed.

Furthermore, as we get closer to the answers we see the questions to start asking. In an expanding universe of dark matter, black holes and galaxies unknown, it is certain that there is a lot more to learn through scientific exploration. To understand the Higgs Bison is only to gain part of the puzzle, slowly reducing the problem size. However, as we discover more about our world, we have also started to ask questions and the problem does not seems to be reducing in size but growing exponentially larger.

This self-perpetuating cycle of learning more to have more questions is what propels scientific exploration to continue, and will keep science continuing no matter what the result of the Higgs Bison experiment with the LHC. It is when we think about ourselves in the context of the universe, or a multiverse that we understand how infinitely far there is to go in science.

In conclusion, the Hadron Collider is not presenting us with the end of science, but offers potential for a new beginning. No matter what the result, something will be learned by the scientific community and they can change or adapt their science adequately. Science is about experimenting and hypothesizing with an excellent scientific method, the LHC, no matter what the outcome will have positive effects. We are reminded with how far we have to go in science when we see the earth in context of the universe or multiverses. Yet we still too tackle those questions through projects like Laser Interferometer Space Antenna. A satellite to look for gravitational waves and, just like the LHC, hopefully explain more of our complex physical world.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mexico's Tourist Industry & SAPs

With approximately 20 million tourists annually that pump 8 billion dollars (USD) into the economy, the tourist industry is a major aspect of Mexican life, especially as it employs approximately 8 million Mexicans (Clancy 2001). Despite the economic benefits, the country still remains classified as 'under-developed'. While there may be economic factors that explain why this country remains underdeveloped, it is unfortunate that little to no information is available for how this industry affects Mexican culture. As development does not solely include economics, but also other variables like culture it is important not to ignore these variable when trying to institute positive change. First this will discuss Mexico's historical development of it's tourist industry and it's shift from government driven development to market driven development, and conclude that although poverty, under-development and inequality involve economic factors (like liberalization and industry development), positive change cannot aptly be instituted without knowledge of the individuals, their communities and how they are affected by the tourism industry

In the 1960s Mexico was known to few around the world as a vacation destination. Those to visit Mexico were primarily from the United States (US) who generally visited cities located along the border, like Mexico City and Tijuana (Clancy 2001). From 1930-1960, Mexico experienced a period of political stability, combined with steady economic growth; it was known as the “Mexican Miracle” (Clancy 2001). The face of the economy started to shift from rural agriculture to urban industrialization. However, the country was still importing more than it exported. As a result the Banco De Mexico studied this issue and released a report that concluded the country needed to start 'exporting paradise'; in short they were to increase tourism opportunities through the creation of new resorts, refurbishing existing resorts and aggressively marketing the country as a vacation destination . Tourism made the shift from border-tourism to international tourism (Clancy 2001).

The state itself played a large role in the expansion of the tourist industry. They were essential in the execution of development. Strategically they placed resorts in coastal regions and marketed them towards foreign, middle-class, mass tourism. As the areas chosen were lightly populated, the acquisition of land was simple and displaced few citizens (Clancy 2001). Cancun was the first project; it was completed in 1971 and started seeing results by 1974. The tourism industry became a quasi-governing power in the region because of its stronghold over local economies, giving the hotels and resorts a lot of political weight, to the region and the country.

Establishing these new vacation destinations required a plethora of start-up capital, which was gained through foreign and domestic investment. Surprisingly, the majority of capital came from within the country. However, to ensure the success of the resort, foreign hotel TNCs were sought out to invest r purchase the property. This allowed the resorts to be associated with the quality, reliability and amiable experience associated with popular, well-known names. However, “the fact that those who own and control the Mexican industry are made up of a fraction of international and domestic capital suggests that the benefit associated with tourism exports accrue mainly to the few” (Clancy 2001), being the “owners and operators of motels, hotels, guest houses and other lodging facilities” (Clancy 2001), as they are the “primary beneficiaries from tourism” (Clancy 2001). With the ease of selling the resorts to foreign TNCs, the majority owners of the majority of hotels are the foreign chains; Mexico ranks first among developing countries in foreign-affiliated hotels. This means high volumes of money do to stay in the country, but also that foreign TNCs are not familiar with the culture and day-to-day life and needs of the people which could make their impact harmful on the unfamiliar community.

As Mexico had strict regulations and tariffs on foreign investment and importing in “April 1971, new regulations allowed the title to land in the prohibited zones to be held in trust for foreign investors by an authorized Mexican bank. The maximum length of the trust was established at 30 years, after which it could either be renewed for an additional 30 years or the property sold to a Mexican citizen”. However, the government did not truly liberalize the economy until Mexico had to suspend its debt payments after the oil crisis in 1982 . This period of structural change, through Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) was established and monitored by the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a condition to the debt suspension (Kelly 1999).

SAPs were intended to help stabilize the economy and stimulate growth to ensure the repayment of debt, through shifting from state-directed development to market-directed development. However, during this period of structural adjustment, poverty levels rose especially after the peso crisis in 1994 ( Merill and Miro 1996). “Although the government increased the minimum wage by 21 percent during 1995, the cost of living rose by more than 50 percent as a result of the currency collapse. In September 1995, the minimum wage was sufficient to cover only 35 percent of workers' basic necessities, compared to 94 percent in December 1987”( Merill and Miro 1996). This had no effect on the tourism industry as it flourished during these periods of crisis. However, this is just another example of how the profits generated remain in the hands of very few (Clancy 2001). Furthermore, the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, ensured that by 2000 all regulations regarding FDI had been removed, leaving the Mexican market open and vulnerable to TNCs; especially as Mexico's neighbour, the US, is the clear front-runner for hotel TNCs (Adams, Gupta, and Mengisteab 1999).

As the country has had little to no success in alleviating poverty and increasing quality of living since the 1980s, it is clear that factors exist that perpetuate class division and inequality (Adams, Gupta, and Mengisteab 1999). As such it is important to look at the industries within the country and the role they play in development. It is thus integral to look at this billion dollar industry of tourism and discover how it affects the culture and economy of the country.

Previous studies regarding FDI in tourism have been conducted but focus their research on the economic aspects and factors surrounding issues of inequality and development, and the impact on the local economy. However, it is important not to ignore the cultural aspects and changes that come with institutional change through the establishment of resorts and resort cities. Little to no research information is available regarding the cultural affects of these hotels, including similar studies done in other developing countries. While looking at economics may help create a direction for proposed policy making, it focuses too heavily on the big picture and necessitates the inclusion of the needs and hopes for the individual and their community; without understanding the social inequality we cannot presume to create change.

Adams, Gupta, and Mengisteab. 1999. Economic reform and Political Turmoil in Mexico. Globalization and the Dilemmas of the State in the South, UK. Macmillan Press Limited.
Clancy, Michael. 2001. Mexican Tourism: Export Growth and Structural Change. Texas: University of Texas Press.
Kelly, Thomas j. 1999. The Effects of Economic Adjustment on Poverty in Mexico. UK: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.
Merrill and Miró, editors. 1996. Mexico: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress.

Monday, October 25, 2010

MSM, Heteronormativity & HIV/AIDs

Since the discover of HIV/AIDS, the virus has been linked to male homosexual activity. The male homosexual community was severely affected by HIV/AIDS as the virus ran ramped through the community of men who have sex with men (MSM) in North America and Europe in the 1980s and early 90s. The misconception that HIV/AIDS is a solely homosexual virus (starting with GRID), allowed for unsafe sex to continue perpetuating the spread of the virus, while this misconception became a vehicle for homophobia and heteronormativity.

“This belief system has been successfully exploited by antigay individuals and organizations to oppose effective AIDS prevention strategies as well as civil rights for gay men and lesbians. Its persistence in a significant minority of the U.S. population creates the potential for more exploitation in the future” (Capitanio & Herek). As such it is important to ask, how could the existence of heteronormativity or homophobia affect international development? Looking to one the world’s largest NGOs, World Vision, they appeal to the values of the christian-right which is overwhelmingly heteronormative and anti-homosexuality. In the video watched (, one can see that the communities they are choosing to help fit in their moral code and sociopolitical expectations.

Gender is a social construction influenced by the myth of masculinity and femininity, that is essential to ones understanding of one’s sexuality. As such, it has become very important to the western understanding of gender and sexuality to encompass the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered Transexual Intersex Queer (LGBTTIQ) umbrella beyond heteronormative assumptions. Yet, one cannot seem to ignore the social aspects of gender and wonders if this western-sexuality could pose issues of hegemony and neo-colonialism when influencing international development. Just as the discussion statement, “Homophobia and Heterosexism are worse in the 3rd world than in the West”, this type of superior attitude can lead to inappropriate development intervention. By what standard do we measure homophobia and heterosexism, when these western terms by definition have cultural roots?

While the LGBTTIQ communities in the west are gaining recognition and equality in their countries, the battle with structural heteronormativity continues. It is clear, that despite possible negatives of introducing ideas of western-sexuality in the developing world, those who participate in non-heterosexual intercourse are marginalized and thus at risk. MSM are at high-risk of HIV infection if they participate in unprotected anal sex, as anal-penetration has a higher transmission rate than vaginal or oral. When MSM is shameful, hidden or illegal, education regarding prevention becomes difficult to administrate.
While MSM and heterosexual intercourse are the dominant ways of spreading the virus it is important that women who have sex with women (WSW) are also educated about possible for risks for them an their partner. While contracting HIV/AIDS through WSW is highly unlikely, the risks lie with contracting other viruses or STIs: it is not AIDS that kills you but what your body cannot fight off as the result of HIV/AIDS.

The question, is the behavior of gay men and bisexuals is blameworthy, seems to have a simple answer for most, and ones answer would signify if one was homophobic or not. However, expanding on the idea of the virus being ‘the gift’, there is always a gift-giver and a receiver ( a bug-catcher). For some a bug-catcher reinforces the blame yet it is important to not miss the psychological factors that lead someone to make these self-destructive decisions. (

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). 'Diagnoses of HIV infection and AIDS in the United States and Dependent Areas, 2008' Volume 20.

CNN. (2006). ‘CNN Interview: Bug Chasers’

Epprecht, ‘The unsaying of homosexuality in Zimbabwe’J of Sn African Studies 24/4 (1998)

Foster, E. (2009). ‘Homosexuals face execution in Uganda’. University of York. Retrieved September 21, 2010 from

G.M. Herek and JP Capitanio, ‘AIDS stigma and sexual prejudice,’ Am. Behavioural Scientist 42 (1999): 1126-1143 abs99_sp.pdf

Human Rights Watch. (2003). Ravaging the vulnerable: abuses against persons at high risk of HIV infection in Bangladesh. Retrieved September 21, 2010 from

The International Lesbian and Gay Association. (2009). State-sponsored homophobia: A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults. Retrieved September 21, 2010 from

World Vision. (2007). ‘AIDS: Doomsday Virus in India’ (2010) Personal Submission

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Paradigms are the answer to nothing.

Paradigms are beliefs, theories and thoughts that exist in various contexts, yet all paradigms reflect a normative assumption. These assumptions exist on a local, national and global scales and pertain to subsets like social science, science and morality. Paradigms are constantly subject to change: paradigm-shifts occur when the normative of said paradigm changes or evolves, as they are proven lacking, inadequate or simply wrong. However, who challenges and changes these paradigms is not an easy answer: still, these changes must be accepted by a greater community in order to modify the paradigm.

Take for example the development paradigm: The idea of development, known today and defined by the west, had not been put into words, and made an integral part of foreign policy before the infamous President Truman inaugural address in 1949. He proclaimed that we (being the citizens of the United States) must “must embark on a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas.” As such “the essence of ‘development’, as most people understand the term, is that it should combat poverty. Yet many of these projects adversely affect poor people and inflict poverty on others who were not poor before.”(Maggie Black) This thought secured the development paradigm rooted in western defined progress that allowed for hegemonic development, defining what is developed and what is not.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Eclipse IDE

Eclipse is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that provides computer programmers with a combination of direct manipulation and command-line in a single Graphical User Interface (GUI), in which one can program and debug software in the High Level Language (HLL) Java. If the HLL allows programmers to be more dynamic by avoiding cumbersome system-level programming, it would be fitting for the IDE to facilitate with the same sense of ease. Eclipse as an IDE has many beneficial features to give the programmer further control, but as such can be a complicated program to familiarize oneself with.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

HCI & international development

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is the study of the interaction between computer-technology; specifically how one's capability with computer-technology is effected by the user interface. The study of HCI is of the mind that the learning curve of computer-technology can be sped up through thoughtful design.

A great example of this is Apple: Steve Jobs ensures a consistent, simplistic and familiar Graphical User Interface (GUI). The iPhone for example has you slide your finger quickly across the screen to browse, much like flipping pages in a book: my 4 year old niece can can even search youtube with ease.

However, the algorithms academics argue HCI is a waste of time that dumbs down our technology and consequently the people that use them. This opinion to me is incredibly shortsighted and disregards the general consumer of computer-technology and more importantly (for crude and/or business-minded) the possible consumer.

How many times have you struggled to teach a GUI, most likely windows, and had trouble trying to teach it to someone over 50? Next time, try them out with an ipad and see if it makes a difference.

Much of the Western and english HCI, especially that which is more affordable, assumes a more-than-basic understanding of computers that can only be learnt through the osmosis of ubiquitous-like computing. When this method of technological practical-education is not readily accessible to a general public, it hinders their access to the technology as it makes the task of learning too cumbersome and odious. Then if one adds the expectation of our socially constructed idioms riddled throughout the O/S, it sets projects up to fail.

How does this change occur? Certainly not with One Laptop Per Child that has proved to be a failure in its implementation. The idea is not to dumb down the technology but create HCI for a different user. Like Microsoft 7, maybe it is important for NGOs like One Laptop Per Child to check up on their own projects, have them be the testers of new GUIs. Maybe checking up to see how ineffective the project in itself is?

Let my prediction stand: the One Tablet Per Child will fail, just the same.