Walter Bender Back with OLPC Association, But Not Necessarily Negroponte


In an Xconomy interview, Walter Bender has announced he's rejoining the main OLPC movement. He's working with Chuck Kane and the OLPC Association in building the usage of the Sugar Learning Platform in deployments.

olpc walter bender
Walter Bender looking at deployments

While Walter Bender may have rejoined an OLPC organization, he's still not sounding buddy-buddy with Nicholas Negroponte. Just listen to him talk about the need for OLPC deployment involvement:

"Building a learning environment is hard work," Bender explains. "It's a lot of fun, but to take root, it's got to be a prolonged community effort. If you simply present it as, 'We're going to give computers to kids,' the story is not adequate. The key to success is to really take a holistic approach to the servers, the infrastructure, the logistics, the software, the preparation and training, the pedagogy, and the community that is using all this stuff."

Note that "give computers to kids" line? That's a direct jab at Negroponte's insistence that you can just drop an XO in a child's lap and leave. Combined with his interview with Chuck Kane, not Negroponte, and his new allegiance to the Association, not the Foundation, Bender is showing a continued independence from his old mentor.

This is a good thing. Bender's rejoining hopeful it indicates that there will be a continued focus on education at OLPC, despite David Cavallo's departure. Just listen to him talk about why he joined the OLPC Association:

"What's different," he says, "is that there's a much more concerted effort to get the message out that this is not just a laptop project, it's a learning project."

Welcome back Water! We missed ya.


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Stick with the positive Wayan... stick with the positive!
OLPC/Sugar must leave behind divisions and personal issues.
Most important, kids can not afford it.

I do think I was positive. Walter rejoining OLPC is a good sign. So is his focus on deployment support. That's very needed across the board.

Yet we should not ignore the way he returned. It's telling as an indicator of the overall direction of the Association and Foundation.

Wow, now there's something I hadn't expected!

In any case this is indeed great news!! :-)

Now it will be interesting to see what Walter's role within OLPC is going to be and how this will effect Sugar Labs.

I do not think is going to affect SL in any way!
SL already has Dextrose and, although administratively distinct from SL, Activity Central.
I think is more of formalizing and better coordinating and communicating than "changing"

I wonder what the implications are? Was Walter part of only Sugar Labs which broke off of OLPC? Will he still have ties to Sugar Labs?

You make it sound like Sugar Labs and OLPC were some sort of competitors.

Sugar Labs and OLPC-A exist to focus on two distinct -- but complementary -- aspects of the same problem. Many of us, including myself, work in both camps.

Bernie, while it's great to see you describe the status quo the way you do there's no doubt that this is a fairly recent development. 18 months ago there were precious few people who were able and/or willing to "work in both camps".

Camps?... Camps?... What camps?...
I do not see any camps!

Just check the SL member list!
The only reason Negroponte is not there is because he did not write any Sugar code yet, so he does not qualify ;D
Maybe he should be offered a honorary membership ;D

hard to imagine a more accurate comment. olpc owes so much to sl's leadership, many of whom from the earliest days till now are olpc employees and contractors. cant imagine them not working with themselves! i also dont believe that there is a single olpc employee who does not support sl either by contributing code or simply advocating it as a central, critical component of this "learning project".

to talk about camps or in implementation and practice to try to distinguish the association and foundation (other than geographically and over core distinct tasks - supply chain, donations, etc) is pure drama.

the organizations share one mission, a common history, overlapping staff, hardware, software, logistics, documentation, and planning. pointing to differences in rhetoric misses the substance and discredits the efforts of all the organizations, volunteers, countries, kids and teachers that keep olpc moving.