OLPC to Stop Trying to “Change the World”

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The struggling One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Foundation, which cut staff by 50% in January is dropping their “Change the World” program.

Previously people could buy groups of from 100 to 1000 of the XO-1 laptops and donate them to places of their choice. But that option no longer exists on the OLPC site, although the “linked” page still does (as shown above).

The information first leaked to the Grassroots-I mailing list, where an email was posted. The email said:

> Unfortunately, as some of you might have heard “Change the World” aka “Give
> a School” aka “Give 100, Give 1000” will cease to exist. We are just waiting
> for the info to be taken off the main website (any second now).
>
> We are doing this in an effort to refocus back to large-scale deployments
> that create change in a major way.

It seems the OLPC program is in much trouble, from things like the Intel Classmate PC, as well as standard netbooks, and a global recession.

At TED 2009, Nicholas Negroponte said that the netbook had copied much of the OLPC, but not the right things:

“They didn’t copy the right things from us, but they exist.”

He also implied that the OLPC Foundation’s aim was to get people to clone the design, much as the IBM PC became ubiquitous because of PC clones.

But now, OLPC will release and open source hardware design and invite others to copy it.

I’m not so sure this is a great idea, or one that will work. I have always felt the non-standardness of the OLPC design worked against it, and that Intel’s Classmate was more likely to succeed.

Bu still worse is the global economy. It’s going to be harder to drag donations out of people when everyone is afraid of layoffs and, quite surprisingly, saving cash.

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