Accelerating OLPC to Success

Points of views and questions about the OLPC project. What should it be? How could it be better? Where is it needed most? Ask your questions here and let your opinion be known.

Accelerating OLPC to Success

Postby scottvineberg » Mon Mar 10, 2008 5:41 pm

I have long been tracking progress for OLPC and I am a great admirer and supporter of the project. Just read the article in BusinessWeek, "Negroponte Seeks a CEO" ... 429837.htm
Mr. Negroponte suggests that "In the end, we should not be in the hardware or software business. We should be in the learning business." I agree. What is more, the need for the evolution promised by OLPC is not just 'out there' in developing nations, but it is RIGHT HERE in our own country.

With two children in public high school in LA, I am stunned at the lack of technology in the education system and the overall regressive form of education altogether. Here we are in the home of Hollywood and many of the leading computer game developers... and school is dull and impersonal, no wonder the drop-out rate is 50%. We need OLPC in America (and Canada, and Europe, etc.) to catalyze the technological enhancement of eduction.

What might make the OLPC mission establish a foundation for adoption and growth:

1. Implement here first! In the US, Canada & the UK, where OLPC is relatively more affordable and development can be in the native language of the greatest concentration of volunteer developers. This would build awareness and support for the OLPC mission. I suggest following the path to success for all other tech: first adoption by wealthier folks, then replicated at negligible cost elsewhere. This will also train a pool of potential volunteers who can then assist in overseas implementation.

2. OLPC is already in the education business. Don't butt heads with Intel. Even with far greater resources than OLPC, who ever has won such a battle? Make peace. Enable an open platform. DON'T give up on the OLPC laptop or software... trust that it can take the heat and evolve under competition. The lower cost and integrated education system should be enough of a selling point for educators in the west.

3. Recruit Hollywood & Game Developers. Education could be far more engaging. Kids play endlessly, IM, and watch TV until they are exhausted. So why fight it? Education has to be the biggest 'content marketing opportunity' ever: 1 billion kids in elementary school WILL BE THE FUTURE MARKET for every game, movie, etc.!!! Games and animated films are among the most profitable content because they can be marketed globally with relative ease & efficiency. So just imagine: high quality media that teaches the curriculum: Ken Burns' 'American History', Carl Sagan's high school physics, Mario's "Math rescues the princess", Hedgehog's "reading racer", Sims "Career Paths"... you get the picture. $8.95/month is sufficient to pay for a subscription to "" - I believe that a $10/month student software budget would be 'sellable' to parents, schools and school boards. With such a profit opportunity (global educational content & interactive learning games) made explicit, with OLPC as the 'trojan horse' to finally bring computers into schools, OLPC could recruit the backing of POWERFUL and WELL FINANCED allies.

4. Get more people involved NOW. [It seems to be working for Obama]. Enable direct LIVE online chat & email links for OLPC students with a bank of ONLINE volunteer mentors & tutors (with screened/trained volunteers & audited chat/email transcripts). I started and led a high school mentoring organization for 15 years (Promtheus Project in Montreal, Canada). Many people would have liked to volunteer, but couldn't do it for practical reasons. The biggest single problem: 'potential mentors' do not live near 'protegees most in need.' Travel time can double or triple the time commitment. So start building a stable of volunteers who can help right from their computers & blackberries any time. These can be as effective for supporting OLPC schools abroad as here. This also builds a broader and deeper base of support for funding at home, political support in general and, of course, the kids.

What do you think?

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Re: Accelerating OLPC to Success

Postby psikeyhackr » Tue Mar 11, 2008 7:32 pm

What do you think?


Just increase the choice of colors.

All of the people trying to sell more expensive laptops might get POed though. :lol:

My laptop is a 500 MHz Panasonic CF-27 Toughbook. It is probably more rugged than the OLPC
but it cost a few thousand dollars when it was new. I got it off ebay for less than $300. What do grammar school kids need with more power than that? The ony problem for older kids is the little keyboard.

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Re: Accelerating OLPC to Success

Postby tangomike » Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:09 pm

I think the OLPC design is brilliant. I also think that people who are familiar with pc's will find it unusual, to say the least. I'm delighted that I participated in G1G1 but I confess that I installed xfce4 after four days, and now boot Ubuntu/xfce4 from an sd card or usb drive most of the time. Sugar is relegated to demos and for reference when I'm messing with xfce. This is absolutely NOT a criticism of Sugar. I think it admirably achieves its goal: 'it's about learning, not the laptop' as several OLPC Foundation people have said. I see a lot of ways I can use for the little green machine personally, but I'm way farther ahead with Ubuntu on it, for my wants.

Regrettably, that means I'm not going to contribute much to the stock XO. It won't surprise me then that North America is not a hotbed of development for it.
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Re: Accelerating OLPC to Success

Postby koolkat » Thu Mar 20, 2008 7:14 am


I think he is the timecube guy, who got a new fascination.
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Re: Accelerating OLPC to Success

Postby scottvineberg » Thu Mar 20, 2008 4:15 pm

Anything to say addressing what I actually proposed? Is there something the matter in being pragmatic and sincere towards what might actually work?

The comments could be more pertinent. I don't mind criticism at all. I am eager to see what other ideas could help OLPC actually move forward.

So how about a sincere dialogue - addressing specific recommendations and the OLPC strategy to date...
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Re: Accelerating OLPC to Success

Postby KarenXO » Sat Jun 28, 2008 11:49 am


There's a school in New York City implementing XOs. They have a blog here:

Not sure I agree with your proposal to implement them here in the US first, but certainly agree that any students anywhere who lack access to computers at home or in accessible places (schools, libraries, etc.) ought to be eligible for OLPC or a similar program.
Proud owner of a G1G1 XO Laptop
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