Ivan Krstic, formerly the director of security architecture for the (now failing rather spectacularly) One Laptop Per Child project, has some strong words about the project's philosophies, its leader, and the free-software gurus who hijacked the project to push their own agendas. From his blog:
I quit when Nicholas told me — and not just me — that learning was never part of the mission. The mission was, in his mind, always getting as many laptops as possible out there; to say anything about learning would be presumptuous, and so he doesn't want OLPC to have a software team, a hardware team, or a deployment team going forward.
Yeah, I'm not sure what that leaves either.
There are three key problems in one-to-one computer programs: choosing a suitable device, getting it to children, and using it to create sustainable learning and teaching experiences. They're listed in order of exponentially increasing difficulty.
That OLPC was never serious about solving deployment, and that it seems to no longer be interested in even trying, is criminal. Left uncorrected, it will turn the project into a historical information technology fuckup unparalleled in scale.
As for the last key problem, transforming laptops into learning is a non-trivial leap of logic, and one that remains inadequately explained. No, we don't know that it'll work, especially not without teachers. And that's okay — the way to find out whether it works might well be by trying. Sometimes you have to run before you can walk, yeah? But most of us who joined OLPC believed that the educational ideology behind the project is what actually set it apart from similar endeavors in the past. Learning which is open, collaborative, shared, and exploratory — we thought that's what could make OLPC work. Because people have tried plain laptop learning projects in the past, and as the New York Times noted on its front page not so long ago, they crashed and burned.
Nicholas' new OLPC is dropping those pesky education goals from the mission and turning itself into a 50-person nonprofit laptop manufacturer, competing with Lenovo, Dell, Apple, Asus, HP and Intel on their home turf, and by using the one strategy we know doesn't work. But hey, I guess they'll sell more laptops that way.
Link: Sic Transit Gloria Laptopi,
via Fake Steve Jobs.