OLPC Boston (and close associates, like Brightstar) appear to have all the power. All that power is in one single nerve pressure point which is very easy to control: the availability of XOsOn the surface initially making OLPCs only available to children in disadvantaged countries seems admirable and egalitarian. One of the side effects was that it made it difficult for someone like me, a supporter in the industrialised world with mainly educational knowledge (not a python hacker), to get involved. OLPCs are still quite rare in Australia.
- The Lost Tribe of OLPC, Continued ...
Until Christoph's post I hadn't seen this clearly as a means of controlling potential supporters. But in any organisation control is exerted through the way in which things of value are distributed. Be it information, hardware or something else.
I used to be a member of a communist party which had a very top down, unelected, hierarchical leadership and which encouraged its members to go into the workplace or to be activists, to look outwards to the needs of "the masses" but not to look inwards at the quality of the leadership. There are lots of ways in which "leaders" can pretend to be doing great work for the people while at the same time shoring up their position as important leaders. It boils down to a division of labour where an elite group does the important ideological, thinking work while the rank and file members are expected to be workers, activists etc. ie. it's just a reproduction of the boss-worker relationship which the "communist party" was meant to be overthrowing. Easy enough to see how this could be translated into the OLPC community - hard working software developers who aren't all that interested in the politics of it all, in the first place. It can be hard to sort out and devastating when you finally figure out you've been led down the garden path.
I mentioned earlier, Ursula LeGuin's, The Dispossessed , where she describes perfectly how groups founded on equality and continually proclaiming equality can generate incredibly sophisticated and devious methods of power seeking
btw I like the open and above board style in which Walter Bender appears to manage the Sugar project (without knowing a great deal about it but my first impressions are positive)