[Olpc-open] Why is G1G1 program ending?

Edward Cherlin echerlin at gmail.com
Sat Dec 29 05:16:34 EST 2007

Thank you for your support.

On Dec 29, 2007 1:42 AM, Antoine van Gelder <hummingbird at hivemind.net> wrote:
> 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.

Well, it's a distraction.

> 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

Not if you do the corporate dance correctly, that is by focusing on
customer needs rather than financial and legislative shenanigans.

> 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.

Yes.  Although one can develop on an emulator, many prefer to do it hands on.

>   . 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*)

Yes, it is excellent PR.

>   . 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 ?

It doesn't bring in cash as currently organized, except for the very
specific function of buying laptops for countries that can't afford
them. OLPC has adequate cash from corporate donations.

>   . 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.

Both points true.

>   . 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.

Now, now.

The real boost for global governance will come from populations being
able to communicate and coordinate.

> 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.

Actually, these tech support issues are informing the documentation
process. See OLPC Publications on the Wiki.

>   . 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.

Competition? I'm all for it. We can win any education bake-off on the merits.

>   . 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.

I'm currently working with a very forward-thinking Sarth Efricen
business executive.

>   . 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.)

The MIT and other engineers, Quanta production people, and so on are
quite capable of resolving these issues.

> /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.

We can get started with USD50,000 and a good relationship with a
banker. With USD2.5 million, we could set up a *global* Web site and
fulfillment organization, and order the first 10,000 units at USD200
each. On current form, that would cover one week's sales. :D I'm
talking to possible angel investors and loan sources now. Pledges
(donation or loan) accepted in any amount.

How many XOs would you buy at $399, knowing that a child gets a second one?

Would you buy more or fewer if the price were lower, and children got
a fraction of an XO for each one you purchased?

What volume would NGOs that you know buy in? Consider both immediate
need and continuing programs.

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

Edward Cherlin
Earth Treasury: End Poverty at a Profit
"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."--Alan Kay

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