I Pledge to Educate Kevin Manley on OLPC


I am consistently surprised when the main stream media gets all confused about the One Laptop Per Child program, even respected news organs like the Chicago Tribune.

I can overlook the continuous use of the "$100 laptop" moniker even though it's now $138 million and climbing, what with all the CM1 2B1 XO Children's Machine name changes. But then I read articles like Kevin Manley's "$100 laptop controversy not really a controversy" on USA Today, and I shake my head in annoyance.

Mike Liveright

First off, Kevin has no clue that Mike Liveright created a pledge to buy one laptop for $300 on PledgeBank.com after reading a Wall Street Journal article on the One Laptop Per Child project.

Mike's unique idea, pledging to buy the laptop at a $200 premium so two laptops could be bought for children in the developing world, was his way to convince Nicholas Negroponte to leverage the US retail market to expand global OLPC laptop distribution. Mike Liveright also stated clearly that his effort was totally unofficial, not endorsed by One Laptop Per Child in any way.

What did Kevin think? He read a post on Slashdot about the pledge ending short of its goal and somehow came to the conclusion that:

It suggests that an effort by something called PledgeBank fell short of expectations, so seemingly the $100 laptop -- a key to the efforts of Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child organization -- is somehow a failure.
While Tom Steinberg corrected Kevin's PledgeBank confusion in comments, Kevin asked Nicholas Negroponte about Mike Liveright's original pledge. Negroponte response was interesting:
"This site had nothing to do with OLPC, was set up without our knowledge and was not a good idea. Well meaning people can create backfires."
Actually, Mr. Negroponte, Mike's pledge drive, even though it expired with only ~3,700 pledges, was a great idea.

Mike made his point that Negroponte should consider "wealthy" country sales to subsidize laptop deliveries elsewhere. How? He publicized and quantified the obvious desire of the developed world to enjoy the same benefits that OLPC promises to the developing world.

Note the pro-purchase desires chronicled on the OLPC Wiki: Not For Individual Sale page. Or better yet, read the enlightened pledge commentary on the OLPC Wiki: Retail Sales page.

Best of all, note that Nicholas Negroponte had to announce the obvious: we all want to buy a OLPC laptop and OLPC eBay sales are inevitable, especially sales that would be just like Mike's original pledge - a one for two computer purchase.

Related Entries


I see from the photo that Kevin prefers the "no-look touch type" blog writing stance.

Perhaps if he looked at the screen once in a while, he'd be able to do a bit of fact checking before hitting the 'publish' button ;)

Again you let your own opinions get in the way of the facts. Negroponte has always said that OLPC is an education project for third world nations.

Secondly, Negroponte has made it very clear that you can't simply dump the units in a third world nation, but that you need to have a government buy-in and some local infrastructure.

So selling the units to consumers in the US is not a priority. And the project isn't soliciting any donations either.

You've repeatedly indicated on this blog that you disagree with several of Negroponte's ideas. Everybody has that right. But you make a basic mistake when you project your ideas of how Negroponte _should_ be managing the project on the way that he is managing it in reality.

Pete, you're relying on old news, at this year's AMD Global visions, Negroponte confirmed ebay sales for western users. Moreover, his strategy - a higher price in the west to subsidise purchases in the developing world - almost directly reflect criticism on the OLPC wiki and the pledgebank initiative.:

Read it here:



[Nicholas Negroponte] expects to sell laptops on eBay for $450, allow for a $350 tax deduction and using the surplus to buy machine for needy children.


But please don't let the facts stand in the way of your criticism.

Do not forget the 4 million poor Black children in Haiti, only 750 miles from our shore! Most 3rd world countries do not have a competent Education System to purchase or manage OLPC. They do not have the $100150. Attention must be given the distribution system in 3rd world countries!