Negroponte's Response to UN Dispatch: Dream is Alive


The dream is not over. When OLPC started there were no low cost laptops. We created the category less than four years ago and it now represents almost one third of the world production of laptops. I am not aware of too many technologies that have gone from "impossible" to such wide adoption.

olpc windows xo
Nicholas Negroponte of OLPC

The million laptops, our little green ones, that are in the hands of children, are currently in 19 languages and 31 countries. Another million are on their way. Not bad. But even better, these countries include Afghanistan, Haiti, Ethiopia, as well as places like the West Bank (and next month Gaza). Even better, eh?

I suggest you look more carefully at Uruguay, Peru and Rwanda. In the case of Uruguay, every child has one. That is pretty amazing. Peru is headed there. Rwanda too. In fact, we have moved our learning group (as of early June) to Kigali permanently, to be in the field and get the kind of feedback you claim we ignore.

Anyway. I do not normally answer press and blogs, because we would spend all our time with words, not actions in the field But you are on a UN site and the UN is our partner. Check out Kofi Annan's words -- they have been fulfilled. Has it been harder than I expected? Yes. But do you know why? It is not due to what I had anticipated, things like corruption and logistics. It has been due to commercial interests and press, stories like yours.

As a small non-profit, humanitarian organization, it is hard to battle giants who view children as a market, not a mission, and have other agendas. In spite of all that, the change is huge. I no longer hear people arguing against "one laptop per child" as a concept. The issue is purely a matter of funding and there are many ways to do that. Wait and see.

Nicholas Negroponte

This is Nicholas Negropote's response to One Laptop Per Child - The Dream is Over as published by UN Dispatch here, but unlike them, OLPC News has comments open for your public input

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My comment as sent to UN Dispatch, where comments are not as welcome as here...


OK, so the XO is not $100. By that same logic, you know that the price of a new car should be $50 by now if computer manufactures were the ones doing it, instead of the car makers. Personally I am looking for XO-equivalents arriving as a Happy Meal toy sometime in the future, especially if we do not succumb to feature-creep, but that's a different bone I have with OLPC that doesn't need further work here.

Dr. Negroponte is a brilliant man, and the team that started OLPC likewise. The fact that I, and many others, disagree with him and other OLPC executives on this and that is more of a problem only if we cannot work together for a similar goal, a goal that we actually share and that I suspect you do to.

Your article has had a great result, which is to wake a few of us up a bit more today. I thank you for that. Otherwise, I respectfully submit you avoid sweeping generalizations. I know what I am talking about, I got in trouble for that, just last week. You have an opinion, nice, but then let us try not to hit each other with the door, please? Could you care to see about more facts on how people who are using these things? I agree with you that things could and should be better, that some decisions by the OLPC executives were far from the best, yet, let me tell you, things ARE changing among those who got the XO - and I spend a lot of time figuring out and blogging what is going wrong, but also for sheer honesty I have to say what is going right. Slowly, with snags, twists and blemishes, sure, but change is happening, with a lot of success stories, maybe not as many as we would wish, but no one really can deny they are out there.

Actually, and also for full disclosure, let me share with you that I am part of a team of volunteers that has spent all of this week to put together a few of those stories, and also pointers on how that success can also happen for them who keep this "dream" moving forward. Easy? nope Real? you betcha!

Would you care to comment on our work as we release it later today? You seem to have quite an audience!

Yamandu Ploskonka
Executive Director
OLE Bolivia
(frequent contributor to

Comment Update: UN Dispatch has turned on commenting. You can now see the comments left by others on the original Negroponte post @ UN Dispatch.

maybe, but when I left a comment, it told me that is was up "for moderation", though Nicholas' one is in two copies showing this "moderation" thing is not too clever. Anyway, post-facto moderation is better for community building, as we have it here, lesson learned!

Also; as someone who's commented on previous stories at UND; their moderation system is for everyone, and was not newly imposed on the olpc post; what went wrong is most likely a system error for approving moderated posts.

Yama wrote:

"OK, so the XO is not $100. By that same logic, you know that the price of a new car should be $50 by now if computer manufactures were the ones doing it, instead of the car makers"

WTF? Why don't you think before writing this nonsense? alana is NOT demanding or even suggesting that the price should be $100. She is just pointing out the FACT that Negroponte's MAIN SELLING POINT (remember?) was never delivered, along with MOST of the features that were supposed to make the XO special: the human-powered generator, the battery life measured in days not hours, the constructivist education, the mesh networking, etc., etc.

Where are the DOCUMENTED success stories? (to save time, anecdotes don't count - hell, I take free cigarrettes to a remote part of Peru, I'll come back with pictures of toothless Incas smiling for the camera).

> Where are the DOCUMENTED success stories?

Glad you asked for it!

You may jump to this global press archive ( ) and possibly find some food for toughts...

Courtesy of OLPC France ;-)

Samy wrote:

"You may jump to this global press archive ( ) and possibly find some food for toughts..."

Standard answer by OLPC groupies: some meaningless link to some garbage OLPC page with promises, a lot of text and no substance.

This time, it is in French!


> Standard answer

> by OLPC groupies:
... that's an interesing assumption. You made my day!

> some meaningless link to
... in your eyes, for sure!

> some garbage OLPC page

> with promises,
... Sorry, which promises?

> a lot of text and
Good point! It's a quite correct description of a wiki and of press article

> no substance.
This is a good description of your comments

> This time, it is in French!
... not exactly, but srolling and reading is another story

To sum it up, you made just plain wrong assumptions.

BTW, feel free to share your *constructive* comments witt us!

I would like some DOCUMENTED success stories too but how long do you think it takes for ANY education program to provide any meaningful result? 6 months or 6 years?
In 6-12 months you get "smiles", "opinions" and "feelings" and if the result will be sticking in the future, you may get some hints but no more. Hints are plentiful, results non existing. You can not have what you -and I- would consider results after few months or a year.
However, people that ignore the hints are equally wrong with the ones that consider the hints results. Groupies of different bands.

Mr. Negroponte, as you stated, your organization created the Netbook market. Your organization forced all major computer manufacturers to rethink their product plans and follow suit. I think your work is one of the greatest technological successes of this decade.