I was recently asked why I keep publishing OLPC News. After 3 years, 1,260 posts and 13,640 comments on OLPC News, and 3,500 topics and 29,400 replies on OLPC News Forum, what continues to drive me?
Why do I spend untold hours of my life writing new articles, coordinating Guest Posts (write yours today!), and shepherding along the Community Forum. Please do not think its for the money - my wife would die of laughter.
I still make sure we have quality content and new forum topics 5 days a week, because I am still driven by my original 3 beliefs around One Laptop Per Child.
- I believe that technology can improve educational experiences for all children
- The XO laptop is clock-stopping hot technology for primary education in the developing world
- One Laptop Per Child has no clue about the practicalities of improving education with the XO laptop
Its been my personal goal, via OLPC News, to try and educate OLPC on #3. I tried sarcasm, I tried suggestions, I tried sympathy, I tried constructive criticism, I even tried creating grassroots movements, but I have to admit that after three years...
I failed to educate OLPC
Its true. Even with 678 blog posts of my own, I have not had the impact on OLPC that I hoped when I started this endeavor in August 2006. OLPC is not what it should have been, had I connected better with its leadership and helped it realize how arrogant and na├»ve its ideals were at the beginning.
I did not convince them of the real need for small-scale pilots early enough. I did not foresee the debacle that the first G1G1 became when the OLPC shipment process imploded. I wasn't able to keep OLPC from looking the fool in its Intel odyssey. And somehow, Nicholas Negroponte still continues to flirt with Microsoft.
So it seems that none of my suggestions, ideas, and outright jack-slapping has had much effect on OLPC, the organization. It's a train wreck in slow motion that has an air of decline, no matter the flashy XO-2 press releases.
We succeeded in educating the world
But let us look beyond OLPC as an organization, which rumor says is going through another round of "refocusing". Let us see the changes we've brought as a community:
Let's look first at the 4P Computing revolution that has cheap netbooks now commanding 20% of the global computer market. From the Classmate PC, to Asus Eee PC, to my favorite, HP Mini Note, the XO laptop is basking it the ultimate form of flattery: imitation.
And the reason why? G1G1 2007. By stunning the world with 100,000 XO laptop orders in six weeks, we jump started the 4PC category with our display of deep netbook demand. I would like to think OLPC News helped stoke the demand and OLPC News Forum sure helped us figure out the G1G1 delivery disaster.
More than just laptops, the whole conversation around technology and education has changed. Before OLPC, mentioning computers in classrooms would bring forth memories of Apple's Classroom of Tomorrow, which ended back in the late 90's (and still doesn't have a Wikipedia entry!). OLPC started to change that with a refreshingly new take on computers in schools.
But OLPC was just Nicholas Negroponte and Walter Bender. It was your excitement, your enthusiasm, and the global groundswell of good will towards a education + laptop + Linux + NGO initiative that created a one laptop per child movement. It's this idea that is now on the minds and in the budgets of countries around the world. I would like think that our 700+ Guest Posts from the likes of Mark Warschauer and Martin Woodhouse had something to do with that change.
While the future of OLPC as an organization can be debated, we can all agree that the future of education has technology as a core component. And now we can also be assured that one aspect of that edu-tech future will be a computing device in the hands of each child in every classroom, and this future will happen years sooner thanks to One Laptop Per Child.
I only dream that all my efforts with OLPC News has helped in some infinitesimally small way. Which is why I am still here, your faithful publisher of OLPC News, three years later and hopefully at least three years into the future.