the Intel dream:
What dreams are Intel selling? Here's the Classmate demo showing the parental monitoring/policy control feature. Intel is using that to market the thing. The parents can allegedly force kids to turn off the laptop and control what they can do with it, even in the classroom, even turning off the laptop while the child is in class. Why would a parent ever want to do that? In real life, they never would, I'm thinking. It's the illusion, just knowing that they can, not any reality, being sold.the OLPC dream:
The real one -- that your children can have a better life than you do. That they can leap over the boundaries that restrict you, by learning more than you know, even if the schools are underfunded and understaffed and technically backward, even if you have no money to spend on their education, and that after they learn they will show you, too. Is that not every parent's dream? That their child will succeed beyond what the parent ever did?Update (29/11): The Groklaw analysis is a response to a Wall Street Journal article subtitled 'How a Computer for the Poor Got Stomped by Tech Giants' which suggests that the OLPC project is failing at the marketing level:
An order from Uruguay for 100,000 machines appears to be the only solid deal to date with a country, although Mr. Negroponte says he's on the verge of sealing an order from Peru for 250,000. The first mass-production run, which began this month in China, is for 300,000 laptops, tens of thousands of which are slated to go to U.S. consumers. Mr. Negroponte's goal of 150 million users by the end of 2008 looks unattainable.In response, Groklaw suggests that OLPC should take a leaf out of Intel's book and market the OLPC with the aura of control, which will promote this illusion:
keep your children in a playpen you can control by pushing some buttonsI agree with the sentiment of the response from Stephan Wagner in the comments to Groklaw's blog:
To generate a pseudo-control will not work in our community, because everything is open, and so the fact it will not work will be.On the broader issue of whether the OLPC is failing, I did discuss this in an earlier blog:
Open Source depends on trust, which pays back in the long range. 'Selling' a feature while calling it foolish to insiders in the background would be a very bad experience to the hocused customers.
The best article I found was 10 Reasons Why Negroponte Should Change OLPC Distribution by Alexandre Van de Sande. He effectively challenges the whole concept of only selling millions of units to governments:With respect to forces in the world pushing for progressive social change, I'd like to see more analysis of the role played by a few progressive philanthropists in the world today, for example, Negroponte (OLPC), Mark Shuttleworth (Ubuntu Linux, Kusasa), Brewster Kahle (Internet archive). Philanthropy's New Prototype by James Surowiecki about Negroponte's philanthropy is worth a read.
- Many third world governments are corrupt and populist
- The real DO-ERS are local enthusiasts, NGO's, eccentric billionares and early adopters. Best to use them.
- Selling in thousands, rather than millions, achieves critical mass and better logistics.