OLPC History isn't the only mysterious change to the One Laptop Per Child website, laptop.org. If you read the OLPC Mission you'll notice that the goals of One Laptop Per Child itself are starting to shift.
First let us review the last paragraph of the original OLPC mission published on the laptop.org website:
OLPC is not at heart a technology program and the XO is not a product in any conventional sense of the word. We are non-profit: constructionism is our goal; XO is our means of getting there. It is a very cool, even revolutionary machine, and we are very proud of it. But we would also be delighted if someone built something better, and at a lower price.Then, take a gander at the new mission for One Laptop per Child, the bland, pro-general education tag line that exists today:
OLPC is not, at heart, a technology program, nor is the XO a product in any conventional sense of the word. OLPC is a non-profit organization providing a means to an end--an end that sees children in even the most remote regions of the globe being given the opportunity to tap into their own potential, to be exposed to a whole world of ideas, and to contribute to a more productive and saner world community.Reading those two sections, did you note two changes that while seemingly minor, indicate a seismic shift in the mindset of the OLPC leadership?
Gone is the phrase "constructionism is our goal; XO is our means of getting there," which until recently was a key aspect of the OLPC program and the basis for Nicholas Negroponte's insistence this is an education project, not a laptop project.
Gone too is the platform agnostic, "But we would also be delighted if someone built something better, and at a lower price" which deflected earlier criticism that OLPC was out to corner the sub $100 laptop market.
I bet that false invitation for competition was rescinded when the Classmate PC started running Linux, presenting a significant Open Source competitor to the Children's Machine XO.
Taken together, this change to the OLPC mission, its core goals, may actually be for the good of the program. The previous overriding and sometimes rabid emphasis on Constructionism and the infallibility of children to self-educate has made the OLPC leadership seem completely ignorant of the real experience of education in the developing world. In addition, the smugness of the false call for hardware competition belied an arrogance that invited criticism of the XO technology.
The new mission, because of its very blandness, will allow each country, each participant, each student the opportunity to see in that mission their own hopes, dreams, life learning goals.
For once, bland may be better.