[Sugar-devel] different perspectives

David Farning dfarning at activitycentral.com
Thu Nov 7 19:56:37 EST 2013

On Mon, Nov 4, 2013 at 9:50 PM, Sameer Verma <sverma at sfsu.edu> wrote:
> Dear Community,
> As I was listening to the interviews of some of the OLPC SF Summit
> attendees, I was amazed at the richness of diversity in perspectives.
> In spite of being a part of this community since July 2007, and trying
> to keep up with all that is OLPC and Sugar, these interviews threw me
> off a bit.
> The videos are uploading as I write this. They'll be available at
> https://www.youtube.com/user/olpcsf/videos soon. Bill Stelzer, who
> usually interviews and runs the camera asks people a handful of
> questions. So, here's a little community exercise. Why not ask you all
> the same?
> 1) What brought you into the OLPC and/or Sugar project(s)?

After leaving the military, I was searching for something meaningful
to do with my life. Over the years, I have become frustrated the the
ability for individuals and groups to control others, often for their
own benefit, by restricting their access to education and

Precursors to the Arab Spring emerged as dissidents used technologies
such as cell phones, texting, and email to bypass normal communication
restrictions in their region. This brought me to the conclusion that
the intersection of rapidly falling hardware prices, rapidly
increasing availability of connectivity, and open source software had
the potential to be as culturally disruptive as the printing press was
in the 1400 and 1500.

Somewhere across the line I came across the OLPC project. While the
focus of the project was different then my personal goals, the
methods, and likely the effects, of OLPC plus Sugar seemed remarkably
similar to my personal goals.

> 2) What keeps you going in the OLPC and/or Sugar project(s)?

While frustrating, the project is nudging the world in the right direction.

> 3) What are the challenges you face in the OLPC and/or Sugar project(s)?

The major challenge ( albeit, on a rather abstract level ) is how the
ecosystem deals with the issues of Control, Credit, and Money.

> 4) What would you change/do differently so OLPC and/or Sugar
> project(s) could do better?

Identify and attempt to fix bottlenecks in the ecosystem which limit
the effectiveness of deployments:
1. Create a deployment sponsored distribution, Dextrose,  to close the
feedback loop between developers and deployment. The Dextrose
sustainability model ensures that loop is closed. Fixes and features
which go into dextrose are valuable enough that some deployment
somewhere is willing to pay for it.

1a. Establish the company-community arms race. While a bit dated there
is an excellent talk at
about company and community relationship. Bdale uses the interesting
analogy of the arms race to describe the relationship between
companies and communities in Open Source development. The Company is
constantly trying to add features and fixes which provide them
competitive advantage in the market place. The Community is constantly
innovating and unwinding the companies competitive advantage and
making it available to the community.

The highest rate of progress happens when the parties focus on getting
ahead of the other guys rather then when they focus on holding others
back. Progress tends to stop when one party gets so far ahead that it
is not worth it for others to compete.

2. Establish a effective community-company project, XSCE, to prove
that there is nothing inherent in the OLPC/Sugar space which prevents
effective community-relationships.  Over the last year, we have been
following two core principles to build a effective school server
community. Welcome people with overlapping but non-identical goals.
Build on one another's strength while minimizing the effects of our
own weakness.

3. Establish a 'facilitators network' to improve communication between
parents, teachers, deployers, and developers. ( Work in Progress)

4. Build on lessons learned in 1,2, and 3 to establish a mutually
beneficial relationship between AC and Sugar Labs.

Please note, these are intentionally very specific area in which I
plan on investing my time and money:)

> Reply-all in your answers.
> cheers,
> Sameer
> --
> Sameer Verma, Ph.D.
> Professor, Information Systems
> San Francisco State University
> http://verma.sfsu.edu/
> http://commons.sfsu.edu/
> http://olpcsf.org/
> http://olpcjamaica.org.jm/
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> Sugar-devel at lists.sugarlabs.org
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David Farning
Activity Central: http://www.activitycentral.com

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