[Olpc-open] Why is G1G1 program ending?

Antoine van Gelder hummingbird at hivemind.net
Sat Dec 29 04:42:29 EST 2007

Nicole Lee wrote:
> OLPC is not here to be a corporation, and 
> placing too much emphasis on G1G1 and similar programs is a risky move, 
> because it puts OLPC down the path towards competitive business.

If I may summarize from what I understand:

Goal of corporation: "Make money now and in the future"
Measurement of corporation: $$$.Number.of

Goal of OLPC: "Educating children now and in the future"
Measurement of OLPC: ChildrenEducated.Number.of

The OLPC goal is a little bit more complex than the corporate goal! :-D

Up to a point G1G1 helps foster the goal of OLPC by:

   . Increasing the available pool of developers for the
     platform which not only increases the utility (and
     hence the value of the XO to the buyer) of the machine
     but also grows the pool of evangelists for the XO.

   . Increasing the viability of the project in the eyes of the
     citizenry and by extension the folk who take responsibility
     for serving that citizenry. (Apologies to any Americans
     on-list but I consider myself to be a citizen, not a
     consumer! *grin.duck.run*)

   . Bringing in some cash -> To be clear, afaik the idea has not
     and for various reasons probably shouldn't be, to fund the
     educational mission out of this money but rather through
     the sales of laptops to groups who have a responsibility to
     seeing that the citizenries children are educated. Is this
     correct ?

   . Availability of XO-1 through 'official' channels removes
     much of the incentive of grey-marketeers to go parasitic
     on the XO's ass.

   . Provides a channel for single-unit purchases in countries
     where there is ZERO government/business/aid support for
     OLPC's mission.

   . Does wonders for the mental health of our global democratic
     community by giving the citizenry a channel for their
     hard-earned money which goes to some purpose other than buying
     some anonymous plutocrat another yacht.

Beyond a certain point G1G1 works against the goal of OLPC by:

   . Distracting OLPC staff who should be thinking about
     educational issues (what must this software be able to do
     to increase the pupil pass rate) into dealing with tech
     support issues (why doesn't the XO-1 talk to BigRandomCorp's
     wifi base station) that don't benefit the educational mission.

   . Threatening (or being perceived as threatening) the market of
     manufacturers of low cost computers. Possibly getting OLPC
     entangled in distracting arguments about who has the cheapest,
     lowest-cost computer rather than who has the laptop which can
     _measurably_ increase the pass rate of children at school and
     which can _certifiably_ deliver education to children without
     any schools at all.

   . There may potentially be production capacity issues, although
     to be fair, most folk given a choice between solving production
     capacity problems by increasing production capacity or by
     rate-limiting sales are not as short-sighted as South African
     business executives.

   . Distracting OLPC staff who should be thinking about marketing
     issues (how do we explain to government ministers that they're
     going to be heroes when the teachers are no longer responsible
     for spending 100% of their time holding pupil attentions and
     will now be able to spend the bulk of that time answering the
     questions of pupils who have specific problems) into thinking
     about supply-chain issues (how do we get a XO-1 from Taiwan to
     Newcastle faster than Steve Jobs can get a Macbook from a
     regional warehouse to lower-Poughkeepsie.)

/me tosses his vote for Ed Cherlin as President for G1G1 International 
in the hat and idly wonders how long it takes to arrange a credit note 
for half a billion dollars these days.

  - a


"Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a
  design whose structure is a copy of the organization's communication

  - Melvin Conway

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