I am reading some fascinating background information on the OLPC program at radian.org. The comments are very good as well. I am left with mixed emotions. It is well known that the OLPC Program has not been a raging success as we would have hoped.
The article talks about a scenario, not unlike that of software development on big projects, where egos get in the way, many people have multiple agendas, and finally, the key people in the project become so disenchanted with the situation that they feel drained and let down.
I think the challenges outlined in link parallel the state of software development in many places. Places I’ve seen, places I’ve worked at. The common outcome is usually that the primordial purpose of a program/project/initiative gets lost in the midst of bickering, ego driven agendas and communication failures. People loose sight of what the problem is and focus instead on supporting past decisions instead of evaluating current concerns.
I have been following this program since I saw Nicholas Negroponte’s video at Ted with a lot of interest. Thou I believe there’s many different ways to help those developing counties besides ‘giving children laptops, I completely respect the idea of enabling children (our future) to compete on a level playing field as they grow.
If this is the original idea of the OLPC Program, maybe they should have started in the US. There IS a big educational divide in our nation which does impact us. They could have set up smaller, less ambitious programs and learn from them as improving education for our children as well.
They have already changed he notion of little, low powered laptops. Every manufacturer is bringin small devices to market because of this. It would be a shame if that is all that comes out of this program.
I hope they find some way of bringing themselves together and proving half the world wrong.