[Olpc-open] Why is G1G1 program ending?

Edward Cherlin echerlin at gmail.com
Sun Dec 30 11:51:58 EST 2007

On Dec 29, 2007 3:28 PM, Edward Cherlin <echerlin at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Dec 29, 2007 11:16 AM, Jim Sayre <jfsayre at vcn.bc.ca> wrote:
> >
> >  Thanks for the quick response.  Despite my comments about the
> > non-educational advantages of readable displays and mesh networking, I
> > totally agree that documentation for the G1G1 program has to make it very
> > clear that it isn't a commercial marketing program.
> I thought that the Give One part made that abundantly clear.
> > In fact, the XO does
> > seem to be a very cool gadget, but it's up to the users to figure it out
> > (RTFM, for starters), and to help each other via user email lists, etc. like
> > the linux and other open source software communities do.
> It's meant to be discoverable. Anecdotal evidence tells us that it has
> succeeded in being discoverable by children, but not so much by adults
> with their less flexible minds and their preconceptions.
> "Unless ye become as little children, ye shall not enter the Kingdom
> of Heaven."--Jesus of Nazareth
> > The web site and
> > documentation that comes with the XO just have to explain up front that due
> > to the project's focus on its core mission, staff can't directly
> > trouble-shoot fixable problems. Encourage donors to join a buddy system in
> > their area.  People like to help others by sharing the skills they've
> > discovered.  The biggest limitation right now is probably the lack of a
> > critical mass of users who've had the XO long enough to able to help out.
> > That will be fixed by getting more donor units into circulation, not less.
> > If there were XO user groups in each major city, even many hardware issues
> > could be fixed wthout taking up a lot of staff time.
> That's why user groups are springing up all over, and why I started
> the New Users and Workarounds pages on the Wiki. Among other things.
> >  I agree that arranging replacements for truly defective or damaged units is
> > unavoidable, but with good qualify control and a reliable shipping method
> > that shouldn't be a big deal.  In fact, it occurs to me that a commercial
> > supplier like Dell might be persuaded to handle the shipping process at
> > cost.  The XO is hardly competition for its products, and it would be a good
> > will gesture that might well generate more business for them.  That way
> > you'd just have to ship the units from the manufacturer to a Dell warehouse
> > in each region.  You might even get them to donate some of the overhead cost
> > in return for a thank-you acknowledgement with the packaging.   They do a
> > good job getting their own products to people quickly, and they have staff
> > in place to take care of returns efficiently.  Farm it out.
> Earth Treasury will look into it for our program. Thanks.
> >  Clear documentation is going to be crucial whether G1G1 continues or not.
> > If intelligent and motivated donors can't figure the XO out, neither will
> > many teachers, and they'll end up not using it.  The questions asked by
> > donors will help to alert the project's help desk staff and volunteers to
> > items that need to be explained better (or designed better), and thereby
> > help the target educational users.
> See my OLPC Publications page and various other mailing lists.
> >  I looked at the G1G1 portion of the website again, and it sounds as though
> > it was never intended to be permanent.  The site says that it has been
> > "extended" to Dec. 31, not that it has been decided to terminate it then.
> > It sounds like a rather too successful pilot project that prepared for the
> > volume it generated.  But that's not a reason to give up on it - instead,
> > redesign it and take full advantage the donations, enthusiasm, etc., that it
> > will create.  OLPC isn't a commercial business, but that doesn't mean that
> > no business principles are relevant to it.   OLPC has found an unexpectedly
> > large niche with people who are able and willing to contribute in return for
> > getting a unit of their own, and it would just be good sense to take
> > advantage of it.
> It is a drain on OLPC's resources, as presently organized. Earth
> Treasury would love the business.
> >  Jim
> [snip]
> >  PPS:  It doesn't appear that the "give many" program is being ended or cut
> > back.  However, it doesn't allow anyone to actually see an XO laptop.  If a
> > group is trying to get together enough contributions to donate 100
> > computers, it shouldn't cost them $300 each, or at least, there should be an
> > explanation for the additional amount.  The numbers just seem to be round
> > figures pulled out of a hat - $300 each for 100 or more, $250 each for 1000
> > or more, etc.  Those don't sound like realistic estimates of the actual cost
> > of sending out computers in those numbers.
> There is an explanation on the site. Roughly,
> Give 50, Get 100 @ USD300
> Give 250, Get 1,000 @ USD250
> Give 500, Get 10,000 @ USD200
> Those would be ridiculously low margins for a commercial product,
> which wouldn't be marketed in this way regardless, so it's moot.
> >  Nicole Lee wrote:
> >
> > the G1G1 program is a huge strain on the people directly involved in the
> > project, though. there are a lot of benefits, such as the number of
> > enthusiastic people brought into the project, eager to get cracking and help
> > out. on the other hand, we're scrambling to keep donors happy, answer
> > customer support questions, deal with possible returns, etc. even passing a
> > lot of this to the volunteer community, there are still things that must be
> > handled within the organization, especially if this is a commercial or
> > semi-commercial enterprise. many view themselves not as donors, but as
> > customers, and expect a high level of service, documentation, support, and
> > so on for something that is very much a work-in-progress. this means that
> > somebody working on it has to stop whatever they're building to work on
> > documentation, communication, answering angry emails...
> >
> >  having the documentation and directions and support staff is a great thing,
> > and is really something that i've wanted for a while, but if we continue
> > G1G1 the number of issues will continue to increase, just from the sheer
> > volume of people with XOs, and at a certain point i believe it will begin to
> > really have a negative impact on the productivity of the community.
> I disagree. People do need to understand what they are getting into,
> and that it isn't a commercial laptop. We need better PR, no question.
> But community support is of the essence of Free Software.
> Documentation is currently needed on some points, but from OLPC's
> point of view every item that requires documentation is a design
> failure to be corrected, not a support issue.
> The value proposition here is that the XO is discoverable (at least by
> children), cheaper than the textbooks it replaces, and an enabler of
> much more than test scores. Like a lifelong passion for learning. Like
> being permanently inoculated against helplessness. Like connecting
> communities to their governments for the first time. (Legend has it
> that a survey of Indian attitudes to the departure of the British
> colonial government had to be abandoned after it was discovered that
> so many villagers had not heard of the British running their country.)
> Like enabling students to connect with each other around the world and
> think about going into business together.
> > running
> > a G1G1 type program full time would be great publicity, support, make people
> > who want to be able to get laptops happy, but it would also greatly increase
> > the number of people who don't understand that OLPC is not in the business
> > of selling cool gadgets to [comparably] wealthy adults, and these people
> > demand service at a level that involves abandoning the educational goals of
> > the project in favor of a better business model.
> Nah. We can turn the problem around. "Silly geeks. XOs are for kids."
> And then show children's faces lighting up when they get their
> laptops, and when they discover programming or physics or whatever.
> > 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.
> Nope. But I wouldn't care if it did. I *like* competition. It's the
> only way to keep corporations honest. We should try it sometime.
> *<{%<{]}}}   <--Bemused geezer in clown hat, mustache, and full beard.
> >  is turning over developers to customer service and marketing really what's
> > best for this project?
> >
> >  can the project succeed without consumer support?
> >
> >  -nikki
> >
> >
> >
> > On Dec 29, 2007 2:42 AM, Jim Sayre < jfsayre at vcn.bc.ca> wrote:
> >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > I think the key is for project management to remember that the OLPC
> > > project is a revolutionary idea to shift from paper-based learning to
> > > digital learning, with the XO is just one very early tool that will
> > > begin that process.  It's ability to replace a conventional laptop is
> > > besides the point, since it has a completely different core purpose.
> Not just one very early tool. It is the most disruptive technology on Earth.
> > > Having said that, though, the project is missing a huge potential
> > > benefit by cancelling G1G1, rather than remarketing it as a way for
> > > people in developed countries to contribute to the project's core
> > > purposes.  While using the internet is just one (and not the most
> > > important) educational activity students will use the XO for, it can add
> > > a great deal of value to the tool, and at the same time help to solve
> > > (rather than create) problems.
> Indeed.
> > > An earlier thread suggested pairing students in G1G1 families with
> > > students in the recipient countries.
> See the Earth Treasury page on the Laptop Wiki for another notion:
> linking whole schools where every child has a computer, or at least
> regular and frequent computer access.
> > > There's no reason why such pairing
> > > requires both students to have XO computers, but it would be a nice
> > > touch, and would help the donor student understand what the recipient
> > > could and could not do.
> They will be able to run Laptop software from a live CD (on Windows
> and x86 Mac computers) or a native (Red Hat or Debian) package
> installation.
> > >But a major benefit of such pairing would be to
> > > develop a large community of knowledgeable volunteers to serve as
> > > helpers for the recipient students.  I've seen a couple of comments
> > > along those lines, and I agree with them.  I'm on the Board of a
> > > non-profit community network with over 10,000 users and only one
> > > employed tech person; we manage almost everything through volunteers.
> Would they like to buy some XOs cheap?
> > > The OLPC project is a far more attractive and manageable way to
> > > contribute some time than to coach users with a variety of old and maybe
> > > defective equipment through a variety of connection problems.
> Amen, brother. See the Lifecycle Costs page on the Wiki. We are
> supposed to get a detailed comparison report in February.
> > > Similarly, our volunteers manage most of our membership and donation
> > > activities.  A great deal of the volunteering is done online, and I
> > > can't see any reason why the OLPC project, with the level of commitment
> > > it already has (and more on way with each new G1G1 unit that gets into
> > > circulation) can't do the same.  Volunteers could keep track of the
> > > payments, maintain a database or donors who would be offered chances to
> > > volunteer, ensure that delivery problems are explained and resolved,
> > > pair interested students, find suitable volunteer jobs for donors
> > > willing to contribute, and so on.  The amazing levels of coordination
> > > achieved by the open source software community proves that none of those
> > > things are impossible.
> You've put your hand up, then? Earth Treasury would be delighted to
> offer you the unpaid (for now) position of Volunteer Coordinator, aka
> Greatest Lesser Herder of Cats. (Titles in the Great Herder of Cats
> range being reserved for managing the crusty egomaniacs who do most
> development or think they run governments. Nicholas Negroponte is
> currently Greatest Herder of Cats for OLPC, with Walter Bender, Jim
> Gettys, and a few others as Greater Herders of Cats.)
> > > In addition to the one to one relationships that would be created, each
> > > donor family is a potential evangelist for the project.  The elementary
> > > school which my daughter attended beginning about 10 years ago had only
> > > a stand-alone computer lab with maybe 20 Macs.  Classes would rotate
> > > into the room once a week for an hour or so of computer learning, which
> > > was by design and necessity an entirely separate subject from the rest
> > > of the schooling.   During all those years, I had to pay up to $100 per
> > > year in "supply fees" because our school board, despite all its tax
> > > support, couldn't make ends meet otherwise.  The parent association came
> > > up with the funds for the computer lab, and even much of the playground
> > > equipment.  If someone had shown the parents that for $150 each (in the
> > > first year) the school could provide every child with their own
> > > computer, making digital learning an integral part of the whole
> > > educational process, I think they'd have overwhelmingly supported it.
> > > Of course, in those days laptops were more like $2000, so it wouldn't
> > > have been practical, but now it is.  And the benefits of creating such
> > > educational clusters of OLPC users throughout the developed world are
> > > enormous - to foster volunteers, donations, political support, and (by
> > > the way) better educated kids.
> Supposedly 20 or more states have talked to GHoC Negroponte about XO
> programs. Your grassroots approach will, I think, be more effective in
> winning legislative support.
> > > G1G1 is a win win idea if there ever was one.  I don't see why
> > > manufacturing should be an issue.  If the capacity is there to fill a
> > > country's order, it can be used to built a reasonable number of units
> > > for donor families.
> We know that Quanta has a plan for ramping up production, although no
> details have been made public. In particular, we don't know what level
> of orders over what period of time is required for them to make the
> decision. If OLPC continues to get a half million orders a month or
> more, I don't see any problem reaching that level in the long term.
> But look at the Nintendo Wii, which is still production-limited after
> a whole year. Anyway, if Earth Treasury buys wholesale and can get
> delivery 60 or 90 days ARO reliably, we will be fine. There are FTC
> regulations to observe concerning order confirmations and shipping
> delays, but they are not onerous.
> > > The donation portion of the cost would presumably
> > > be held until there's enough to fund (or supplement) an order for 3rd
> > > world use.  In the meantime, the pairing would be with recipient kids
> > > who already have the XO; I agree that trying to identify the individual
> > > child whose computer was donated by the family would make it very hard
> > > to manage, and while some charities find that sort of thing good for
> > > advertising, I don't think it's necessary.  This isn't a project to
> > > adopt a child, it's to foster a better means of education.
> Rather than have people adopt one child, I want to encourage wide
> communication. The one donor, one child communication model was for
> the age of snail-mail.
> > > Jim
> > >
> > > PS:  While educational uses should be by far the main focus, aspects of
> > > the XO have great potential benefits for other purposes.  Have you ever
> > > tried to use a conventional laptop in your car on a sunny day.  If the
> > > screen technology really allows for use in bright sunlight, it would be
> > > a better tool for many travelling users (and even those who just want to
> > > do email on their patio in the summer).
> > >
> > > Probably the most innovative feature is the built-in mesh networking.
> > > Companies have to hire consultants to set up  internal networks, and
> > > maintaining them is a constant expense.  Our community network is
> > > beginning to experiment with mesh as a means of allowing residents in a
> > > housing complex (low-income public housing in particular) to share just
> > > a few broadband internet connections, and in the process enable all of
> > > the kids to have the benefits of home computing.  But just buying an
> > > add-on mesh device and configuring it will cost a substantial chunk of
> > > the XO's price tag, and it has mesh built-in and pre-configured as part
> > > of the OS.  Now that's a option that not even top end computers
> > > currently offer.  The military has some projects to use mesh on the
> > > battlefield, but no one else is doing it on a large scale for useful
> > > purposes.  The XO could be a technology leader in this area, and if
> > > classes in developed countries begin to adopt it, and realize its
> > > benefits, so will the parents.  Think of the good publicity that would
> > > generate for the project.
> Yup.
> --
> Edward Cherlin
> Earth Treasury: End Poverty at a Profit
> http://www.EarthTreasury.org/
> "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."--Alan Kay

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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