3 minute read

OLPCNews has been ripe with the continuing disintegration of OLPC, from Mary Lou Jepsen who got out just in time, then with Ivan's departure due to differences, and now as the search for a new CEO goes on so that Negroponte can "step aside", now Walter Bender, Mr. Constructivism himself, has resigned.

If this exodus due to internal politics, problems with technology purchasing (XP or Sugar? All F/LOSS or not?) sounds familiar, it is:

Naturally, it failed. Nothing is that independent, especially an organization … staffed by highly individualistic industry visionaries from around the world. Besides, altruism has a credibility problem in an industry that thrives on intense commercial competition.

By the end of the Center's first year, Papert had quit, so had American experts Nicholas Negroponte and Bob Lawler. It had become a battlefield, scarred by clashes of management style, personality, and political conviction. It never really recovered.

That quote is from 1983, discussing Negroponte's original Computers-for-education pilot with Apple II computers in Senegal. The more recent news on the OLPC organization is:

But in March, after OLPC’s initial run of its $188 laptops reached fewer children than originally envisioned, Bender became head of “deployment.”

Officially, OLPC said it was streamlining its organization because the laptop's technology essentially had been built. A different view came from the XO's former top security architect, Ivan Krstić, who wrote on his blog that Bender got demoted. Krstic said OLPC was undergoing a "drastic internal restructuring" and "a radical change in its goals and vision."

Then last week, Bender left the group entirely. That marked a third high-profile departure from OLPC. In addition to Krstić, Mary Lou Jepsen, who had been chief technology officer, left in December.

With Senegal, not much was left once the project fell apart. Let's hope that OLPC has a more lasting legacy with its innovations in 4PC technology and open, educational software -- and maybe an educational computing program will survive as well, but after the fractiousness revealed in the recent email thread, it seems more likely to be survived by various independent projects.

Categories: ,