Anyone Home at 1CC - OLPC's Headquarters?


So rumor has it that One Laptop Per Child is devolving its teams, and even its very presence from its 1 Cambridge Circle headquarters, "1CC" in OLPC-speak. That different groups will be sent off to different places to do their work:

An abandoned OLPC dream
  • OLPC Learning to Rwanda
  • XO sales to Miami
  • OLPC Advocacy to Washington, DC

If true, I think this represents OLPC admitting defeat. That its business model of selling the OLPC idea to Presidents, and expecting Ministers to then buy XO laptops in million-unit purchases without dedicated teacher resources or in-country tech support is a failure.

Now that's not saying OLPC as whole is a failure, just their business model, as Presidents loving laptops doesn't equal Ministers buying XO's. So let's dive into each move to see what it might mean:

OLPC Learning to Rwanda
OLPC really has three large deployments, Uruguay, Peru, and Rwanda, and the first two have made a point to do deployments their own way. Only Rwanda has considered OLPC's help, though I am still wondering who, exactly, is paying OLPC. Or more to the point, which donor funds are paying OLPC.

XO sales to Miami
At first I thought this meant that Brighstar is taking over all XO sales, even after the G1G1 2007 debacle. But rumor has it that Brightstar is out, and some other entity, or just a few people, will take over XO sales, focused on South America.

OLPC Advocacy to Washington, DC
Now this one is the most interesting to me, partly because in the past OLPC has asked Mike Lee to take time out of his day job to promote XO sales to different governments and US officials. A little odd to say the least. And Mike confirms that he'll not be OLPC Advocacy, so who will they send down here, and what advocacy will they do?

If you have any ideas on these developments, please share. And will the last person leaving OLPC's current headquarters please turn out the lights on the way out.

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Oh,... For crying out loud Wayan, if I want fear horror and controversy, I'll watch TV...
I can understand that it generates traffic and traffic is good for the bottom line, but is becoming too much.

Would you like to elaborate on your opening statement "If true, I think this represents OLPC admitting defeat" and how is this relates to the grapevine info you provide?
You do not even know what these teams are going to do, one of them may even contradict your "dedicated teacher resources or in-country tech support" premiss (Rwanda), but you conclude "just the same"...
Why? Is there anything more to it?...

Thinking about it, Mavrothal, maybe you are right. Abandoning 1CC is not a sales defeat, its a technology defeat.

1CC was where all the tech magic happened. Its where the XO itself was developed. Where Sugar was coded. Where the mesh network was tested. Even where XO's were test baked.

But if you're not going to do software anymore (to Sugar Labs) , operating systems (to Fedora), or even XO-2 hardware (to everyone/no one) what do you need Cambridge office space for? Negroponte?

Still, regardless of why, this does not represent success.

Oh com'on... One day is accused for hydrocephaly because everything depends on 1CC and the next for failure because (presumably) reorganizes it's structure.
Even if this reorganizations is consistent with the "refocusing" statement that followed G1G1v2, 6 months ago.
No matter what, OLPC is wrong...

"hydrocephaly"? I think my head hurts just trying to figure out how to pronounce that, much less what it means.

But how can you think leaving 1CC means anything good for OLPC?

hydrocephaly |ˌhīdrōˈsefəlē|
a condition in which fluid accumulates in the brain, typically in young children, enlarging the head and sometimes causing brain damage.

eg "big head" that cause/shows "brain damage" something that the "young" OLPC has been repetitively accused of, I believe... :-)

"Or more to the point, which donor funds are paying OLPC."

If you are suggesting they are getting the funds from bilateral donors (i.e. government aid agencies like USAID), then they may not know themselves that the funds are going to OLPC. in 2005 the members of the OECD-DAC agreed to harmonise their work and to encourage local ownership (i.e. put decision making in the hands of the local gov't), which means that funding is pooled together and donors often aren't 100% sure where the $$ went. USAID, fwiw, has not signed on to this, but most of the others have.

If the $$ were directly channeled through OLPC Foundation, they would need to acknowledge their donors frequently on their website... it's the rules, so I doubt the $$ is going directly to them.


Wow! Nobody knows how to spin disinformation like OLPC News! I love the use of two year old photos of 1CC (taken long after most people went home for the night).

Yes, OLPC Latin America is opening offices in Miami. Yes, members of the learning team are now working out of Kigali, Rwanda. But the lights are still on at 1CC.

I can assure you that I still go in to work at 1CC on most days, and usually encounter a number of co-workers. The 1.5 development is ongoing, and centered at 1CC.

Wad, is Hardware back from Taiwan? BTW, since you have more details, would you care to tell us more about who's doing the DC thing? Thanks!

A small number of 1.5 prototypes are running well at 1CC and at a handful of developers around the world. We hope to have the first B-version laptops available in larger quantity in around 1.5 months.

I know nothing about the DC part of Wayan's post.


The office closing was presented to me as about to happen, imminent even. Glad to hear it hasn't. But I do hear (and often) that 1CC is pretty empty these days.


Maybe your sources and stories need some fact-checking? Some minimal common sense applied (ah, lots of news of all the team in Kigali, um, someone says the office is empty... 1+1? think before you post?)

Otherwise this is just a pointless smear game.

For the record, I do get a lot of nonsense in my inbox too, but I sure apply some common sense before making a public statement about them.

Many stories on OLPCNews have little or now relation to reality or facts. Maybe it's time to ensure stories have backing references (wikipedia style), and some peer review before publishing?

It might make OLPCNews a much better companion in this long-winded road.

Martin, I understand your point, but have you tried to get a straight answer from 1CC? Maybe you have no problems, working there, but for the rest of us it's nigh impossible.
For example I have a lot of emails sent to Nia asking for the final list for the OLPCorps teams, no answer except some "mañana".


If OLPC were less opaque or had better communications or responded to info requests or even had an organized wiki (take your pick), there wouldn't even be a need for OLPC News.

But as it is, often OLPC staffers learn about their own organization through OLPC News. In addition, some of my rumors are actually OLPC insiders trying to influence ideas before they become actions.

This rumor came to me with enough credibility to publish it. Many do not, as I too get nonsense in my inbox.

Wayan, Yama,

most organisations have a strong focus on their core "client", end user, "constituency", whatever. OLPC mainly focuses on large educational organisations, and there is a significant effort there (and mistakes, as anytime humans are involved).

OLPC also focuses on technical people we collaborate with, and we communicate with them via mailing lists. Again, sometimes it's better, sometimes there are mistakes.

Your questions might not be top priority, sorry. And get a load of this: Mine often are not either.

I have worked at many organisations that were incredibly focussed on something other than answering my questions. Eventually, I got over my own sense of importance :-)

"They're a tiny team, and they are insanely busy" is the most likely answer. My best guess is that OLPC would need 3x the manpower just to answer all its email.

Now, how about some editorial review on this fine website? After all, publishing accurate news _is_ the main stated goal of here. That is where the focus is.

I note that "volunteers" or "G1G1" do not figure into OLPC's core constituent groups. This is the oversight that brings forth much aggravation. At once point (and for a while) G1G1 was OLPC's largest deployment, and its most profile for even longer. Till we were all put off by OLPC's dismissal of us.

Martin, alas, you are too right. "most organisations have a strong focus on their core 'client', end user, 'constituency', whatever. OLPC mainly focuses on large educational organisations"

I wish their core constituency actually were kids, and their parents, and teachers.

I am sure very few would have supported them if their posters were what you say are their core constituencies. Pictures of Uruguayan, Peruvian or Rwandian government pooh-bahs don't get donations, a picture of a little girl jumping in the mud does. Would you say they lied, when in their ads and stuff they implied kids were what they cared about?

My belief is that at One Laptop Per Child News we stand for the people who believe, the people who care, and while we might disagree in some points, we do share certain basic principles of communication and collaboration, that 1CC does not

"'They're a tiny team, and they are insanely busy' is the most likely answer." and also they don't seem to know better about real priorities, and/or to care.
We had thousands of supporters. All we needed is to make them feel welcome, cared for, as a matter of policy, and the snowball effect would have been amazing. The policy that came from the executives was to keep volunteers at a distance, not listen to them, not care even as they were showing they paid for themselves and then some. That would have made it a HUGE team, not a tiny one as you accurately describe.

BTW, it would be good we all tried to find common ground. I agree with you that there is a tendency to generalize regarding 1CC. Some great very able people, several of them I feel honored to call friends, work there, and do share the pain of the volunteers, and many volunteers just wish for a chance to participate and collaborate. We need to work on respecting each other, on listening to each other. As to this website, you know we are open to opinions, we listen, we respond. As to 1CC, except at a personal level, it is the dickens to get a straight answer, even when following "channels". So, where is the problem located?

To add to what Wad is saying: the Miami office is going to have some engineering legs. I will personally see to that :-)

on the one hand, this information was presented as scarily as possible. Despite the fact that all of the reasoning stated is simply speculation, that does not change the fact that it is a rather frightening thought...

HOWEVER! let us remember one thing (at least for now) the XO 1.5 is coming out. Do you really think the XO group is doing so badly that

This article is not at all accurate nor informative, but i have to concede Wayan the fact that sometimes us volunteers feel abandoned by 1cc.

The technical team of OLPC is wonderful (i feel them as true friends) , but
it seems to me that the people making desitions is not listening or at least is listening to other M$ radios.

It's my impression that OLPC is not engaging actively and constructively with the press and bloggers. The scarcity of official information (deployment numbers for example, or the situation vis-à-vis Microsoft) means lots of disinformation and misperceptions abound. I'm sure Wayan would agree that more facts from the source would equal fewer rumors for the mill. An excellent opportunity to improve the situation is coming up with the XO-1.5 refresh and I hope to find someone to work with at OLPC to maximize the impact of that launch.

Sugar Labs Marketing Coordinator

Active and constructive engagement with the press, bloggers, or even volunteers would go a long way to making everyone (inside and outside OLPC) feel much better and have a clearer view of what's (and what's not) happening.

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