The Lost Tribe of OLPC


Once upon a time, long ago, there was someone from a faraway country in South America doing an advanced program at MIT in Boston, where he met with the soft-shell stage of the One Laptop Per Child project. This
person eventually went back to his country, started meeting and inviting locals to learn about OLPC. He kept in touch and received a couple visits of now long, long gone and forgotten OLPC employees. Eventually he called his team the "Grupo OLPC (country name)".

They also want XO laptops

One good day, a year or so ago, the "Grupo" cashed in the goodwill they had built, and invited for a big, formal meeting with all the stakeholders. National government powers-that-be were present. The stand-in OLPC representative actually came from Brightstar, the company that has been hired by OLPC to distribute the computers worldwide.

Turns out the government people were not that impressed (maybe when they got the hint that they were the ones expected to pay...), and the Brightstar person laid the party line in non-negotiable terms: OLPC makes peer-to-peer treaties with governments directly, and with governments *only*. Thank you, you may now go back to, whatever. Your help is appreciated to the extend you are effective in getting the government to give us money. Or so it feels.

Since then the Grupo organizers keep inviting people, because they still believe in the cause, and feel left out in the cold by OLPC. I have been unable so far to convince them to join the international OLPC community. You see, they existed before you and I were even a gleam in Nicholas' eye. Also, rebuffed by their first love, they are trying to hold on to any other alternative, any, including Asus, Intel, HP, or, gasp!, Microsoft itself. In a very poor neighborhood of their main city, using a USA NGO funds, they've managed to set up a computer lab using NComputing X-300 multiplier boxes (the ones where one computer gives you 4 terminals, see picture). Green fields of wheat in every screen. Yup, XP. They've been assimilated, they actually are counting with the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation funding them henceforth.

Now, *why* does something like this ever have to happen?

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1 Comment

OLPC's closed selling & distribution strategy is ridiculous. They should sell the laptops in low volumes on the open market for a higher price and tell everyone that they can give a much better price for volume orders and government-to-olpc contracts.

This stupidity is killing the whole effort.

If they had started selling the XO for $250 in Wal-Mart and similar places (with a working keyboard of course) they could have already sold at least 2-3 million units by now. The interest would be such that we would have 3-4 mature Linux operating systems for it with suspend and other features (Ubuntu, Slackware...etc all customized for the XO).

Seeing the current state of OLPC, only a "consumer" XO could help the project. Even an XO with Windows on a Wal-Mart shelf would help.