OLPC Job Opportunities Point to the Future


Thanks to a message to the grassroots mailing-list by Yama I discovered hat OLPC is looking for people for the following job opportunities which are also an indication of where OLPC might be heading in the forseeable future:

OLPC Wants You!
  • Director, OLPCorps: Africa
  • Director of Educational Operations
  • Director of Grassroots/Netroots
  • Director, OLPC U.S.A.

I think it's quite interesting to see that at least the first two positions clearly seem to be a product of OLPC's refocus from back in mid-January when Nicholas Negroponte said that "Sub-Saharan Africa will become a major learning hub".

The OLPCorps announcement has led to some interesting discussions within the global community. My personal take on it is that I think the program was off to a pretty bad start (for a variety of reasons) but I do believe that it can be salvaged and still yield some interesting results.

However one thing I am worried about is someone with no previous understanding and involvement with OLPC and the larger community taking charge as the program's director. I strongly believe that the best person for this position would be someone with a proven trackrecord of continued contributions in the field of OLPC-related community outreach. Especially since by the time such an OLPCorps Director arrives on the scene the program's start (in early June) will be very close.

With regards to the Director of Educational Operations I noticed that the job description mentions OLPC having "a centre for learning and education headquartered in Kigali" which again fits in nicely with the focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. As the OLPCorps training weeks are supposed to take place in Kigali as well it looks as though the city will become something like the educational outpost of OLPC Boston.

The third position, Director of Grassroots/Netroots, is in my opinion something that should have been created 3 years ago and the job description really writes itself:

OLPC seeks a grassroots/netroots director who will dramatically expand the network of citizens around the world who share our vision and to channel that enthusiasm into activism on the global level necessary to achieve 1:1 computing for primary school children.

I'll definitely keep a very close eye on who this position goes to!

The OLPC U.S.A Director job calls for someone "who will dramatically expand constructionist educational opportunities for children and teachers around the country who share our vision that children learn best by creating, exploring, connecting and collaborating, and that the time for one laptop per child in the United States has finally come."

Especially since the text continues to refer to OLPC U.S.A as a "stand-alone entity to be spun out of OLPC at the appropriate time" it looks as though the United States can expect an increased amount of attention from OLPC. At the moment the 15,000 XO deployment in Birmingham, AL is the largest OLPC / Sugar project in North America, but who knows, that might change.

So overall these job opportunities are certainly early indications of efforts that OLPC will be focusing on in 2009 and beyond. Let's see what happens!

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Why go around looking for a Director of Grassroots/Netroots when you have Adam Holt right there at 1cc? He's done a phenomenal job with Support Gang and clearly has the leadership skills to take it to the next level.

I too am wondering why OLPC needs to hire outside of the organization or its grassroots community. I know several people who would be good for these positions - a few that were laid off in January even - that could have direct impact now, not in a few months when they get up to speed

What are you guys even talking about?? Did ANYONE at OLPC even hint that it wasn't wise to hire a Director of Grassroots/Netroots??? It is good that apparently OLPC isn't discussing any of its decisions with this horrible website. Every discussion on this whole negative spin website apparently now has been reduced to negative speculation.

>> "Did ANYONE at OLPC even hint that it wasn't wise to hire a Director of Grassroots/Netroots???"

I'm not sure what you're talking about here... All I pointed out was that OLPC should have started looking for someone to fill that position several years ago when lots of communities were insterested in contributing to OLPC (and could have made a great impact in doing so). Now it strikes me as "too little, too late".

Any notion of how efficacy is going to be determined? In Africa or anywhere else?

Maybe it's just me but it seems awfully odd that there's virtually no interest in addressing the issue of how to determine efficacy. Doesn't anyone care to have proof in hand of the efficacy of the OLPC?

I hate to sound cynical, but it sounds to me from this collection of job postings that OLPC is further abandoning the actual production of anything in favor of "Marketing".

They already abandoned production of software in favor of pushing commercial, proprietary software (to such an extent that it sounded, from the recent ARM stories, that they were essentially begging Microsoft for permission to switch to ARM. Despite the fact that the switch to the hardware makes good sense for cost and power usage reasons, the recent stories make it clear that they won't do it unless Microsoft, specifically, provides commercial proprietary software for them to use on it first).

And now rather than hiring hardware or software engineers they're looking for PR and Marketing.

OLPC's goals of providing vocational training in Microsoft products to the underprivileged is not inherently bad, but it's a lot less ambitious than their originally stated goals and it's hard to get excited about it any more...

Let's try a different spin.

1) Outsourcing angle: OLPC wants to focus on laptop logistics, while outsourcing OS and software development. They outsourced board design, XO design, and even the OS (Red Hat). So, this isn't any different. Let Sugarlabs do Sugar. Let RedHat do Fedora XO spins. Let the public at large do activities (applications).

2) Energy angle: Let's look at energy requirements. Try charging an XO with a hand crank driven charger. A wall charger at 17 watts takes 1 hour and 10 minutes. Hand cranking will take twice as long at least, maybe more. However, if the XO could run at

3) Pudding angle: The proof of the pudding is in the eating. How many XO-1's run on Windows XP in the wild? None that I know of. How many XO-1's run on Linux and Sugar? Several thousand.

Let them focus on what they do. Help out if you can. If you are concerned about putting your intellectual property to waste, use an appropriate license. If none of these tickle your fancy, maybe focus your energies elsewhere.