Inside the OLPC Project

You may have heard of the ‘One Laptop Per Child‘ project founded by Nicholas Negroponte. The stated purpose of the project was, essentially, to develop a $100 laptop to be provided to children in poor countries. The first product of the OLPC organization, a tiny, rugged laptop featuring an innovative Linux-based operating system for children, comes in a bit over $100, but gets the idea across.

Unfortunately, the OLPC project appears to be going off the tracks. Many of its high-ranking officials and sponsoring organizations have resigned or pulled out for various reasons and Negroponte, who has publicly stated that the OLPC project will always be based on open software, has raised the ire of the open-source community by announcing his intention to put Microsoft Windows on the OLPC.

Well, no biggie if you ask me (even if I don’t really get the point of offering Windows on the OLPC). But a fascinating article by Ivan Krstic—a former OLPC employee—points to more serious problems in the organization. Their whole approach to providing low-cost laptops to children may be flawed, and Negroponte and his organization might be driven more by petty politics than by spreading education. Give it a read.

Scott Bradford is a writer and technologist who has been putting his opinions online since 1995. He believes in three inviolable human rights: life, liberty, and property. He is a Catholic Christian who worships the trinitarian God described in the Nicene Creed. Scott is a husband, nerd, pet lover, and AMC/Jeep enthusiast with a B.S. degree in public administration from George Mason University.