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Slashdot | Intel Employee Caught Running OLPC News Site

January 12th, 2008
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Slashdot | Intel Employee Caught Running OLPC News Site

An anonymous reader noted yet another story about credibility and disclosure on-line. An OLPC news site highly critical of the project was run by an Intel employee who actually is working on a project that competes with the OLPC. Oh, and the site failed to disclose this pretty serious bit of bias. The article talks about the most extreme interpretation (“Intel secretly bankrolls blog that disses competitor”) but even the less extreme version (“insider badmouths competitors anonymously at night”) is pretty fishy. Just more reasons to never believe anything on-line, including me I guess.

This site, One Laptop Per Child News, is one that I read and use the forum of. To be honest, I’m not a fanatic for any side or technology. OLPC ‘did it’ and should always get cred for that. Someone may do it better. To be honest, I’ll always support open initiatives over closed ones.

Here’s some more info:

Silicon Valley Sleuth: OLPC blog draws fire for failure to disclose

So it doesn’t take too much of a conspiracy theorist to believe that Intel is secretly bankrolling the OLPC-News website.

Adding insult to injury, OLPC-News is buying advertising on Google to attract visitors to its website.

OLPC News denies all the accusations, but fact is that the site has a huge conflict of interest that it conveniently failed to disclose.

lj, OLPC , ,

Corporatism threatens One-Laptop-Per-Child Project

January 6th, 2008
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This is a neat path, sarting with northxsouth : free software news from latin america claiming “Corporatism threatens One-Laptop-Per-Child Project”:

Then, it was discovered that Intel was secretly pushing the Peruvian government to drop their order for OLPC computers and instead purchase an Intel competitor laptop. Intel is supposed to be a part of the OLPC project When Nicholas Negroponte complained about this, Intel’s response was simple: they withdrew their support from the OLPC project. You can read about it in this NYT article: Intel Quits Effort to Get Computers to Children.

This article points to the New York Times article, Intel Quits Effort to Get Computers to Children, which notes:

A frail partnership between Intel and the One Laptop Per Child educational computing group was undone last month in part by an Intel saleswoman: She tried to persuade a Peruvian official to drop the country’s commitment to buy a quarter-million of the organization’s laptops in favor of Intel PCs….

In Peru, where One Laptop has begun shipping the first 40,000 PCs of a 270,000 system order, Isabelle Lama, an Intel saleswoman, tried to persuade Peru’s vice minister of education, Oscar Becerra Tresierra, that the Intel Classmate PC was a better choice for his primary school students.

Unfortunately for Intel, the vice minister is a longtime acquaintance of Mr. Negroponte and Seymour Papert, a member of the One Laptop team and an M.I.T. professor who developed the Logo computer programming language. The education minister took notes on his contacts with the Intel saleswoman and sent them to One Laptop officials.

And most interestingly to a long article in Fortune, Negroponte on Intel’s $100 laptop pullout – Jan. 4, 2008
Fortune: What’s the biggest single reason your partnership with Intel fell apart?, which is an interview with Negroponte not only outlining the problem

Negroponte: The biggest single reason was that they were directly selling their Classmate laptop as opposed to having it be a reference design. They’re not selling it in this country because they’d be killed by their biggest customers like Dell (DELL, Fortune 500). But in the developing world they are selling directly. It just set them apart from every single one of our other sponsors [which include AMD, Google, News Corp., Taiwan's Quanta Computer (which builds the XO), and Florida-based distributor Brightstar]. When Intel joined us we thought we could move toward that being a reference design more and more, and less toward them selling the Classmate itself.

But oddly it went in the other direction. And then they started using their position on the board of OLPC as a sort of credibility statement. When they disparaged the XO to other countries they said that they should know about it because they were on the board. They even had somebody go to Peru, which was a done deal for OLPC, and rant and rave to the vice minister in charge. He dutifully took copious notes and was stunned.

And he shared them with you? Yeah. It was unbelievable. “The XO doesn’t work, and you have no idea the mistake you’ve made. You’ll get yourselves into big trouble,” and that kind of stuff. We kept the sale of course, but when one of your partners goes and does that, what do you do? It first happened in Mongolia. And at that point [Intel CEO] Paul Otellini called me and basically asked to not be thrown off the board, because they were going to change their ways. But they didn’t.

Why, do you think? He’s got 100,000 people and he can’t control all of them. That’s part of his problem. When I sign a nondisparagement clause that means all our people. He said we’ll get a machine ready for CES and make a joint statement together there. As recently as three days ago we still thought we were going to introduce it. We had asked them to do very very small things and they just decided not to.

Do you wish OLPC and Intel could be less acrimonious? Well, we weren’t acrimonious for 7 months. But they signed an agreement and didn’t do one single thing in the agreement.

Like what? Nondisparagement is the easiest. That clause they violated all over the place. They said they’d work on software, but they didn’t touch it. We said we’d work on the architecture together, and that wasn’t done. We said we’d work on a processor and to this day don’t have a spec on it. The nonfulfillment on theiir side was so continuous I don’t even know what to say.

So the real issue was they were competing with you? We’re like the World Food Program and they’re McDonald’s. They can’t compete. They are both food organizations but for completely different purposes. If the Classmate were in the hands of every single child in the world, that would be pretty good. Could it have better power charcteristics, a better display, etc.? Sure, that would be good. But I don’t care if kids get the XO so much as that they get laptops.

This is interesting information. I’ve always been worried about OLPC being a bit of a Western hegemonic force, or the danger in becoming one. The reason I want my own laptop is that I want to see and follow how the OLPC can be subverted by the learner and the learner’s culture to do what is meaningful and important for them beyond the purview of the West (or in the West, out of control of the dominant discourses). Can the OLPC be ‘good’ for the people who are getting it. The model, which Negroponte notes is apt: world food program vs mcdonalds. I was thinking of the world food program vs baby food producers (Nestlé boycott – Wikipedia). Of course I have no personal information about any of this, and I’m just sharing what I’ve read. Intel could have valid reasons that we don’t know about. I’m not condemning anyone. But it does seem like the OLPC has the moral high ground on this, and that Intel is helping them to define it and show it. If so, it becomes a direction and technology of even greater interest to me, and, I hope, of value to the world. Let’s see.

Learning Technology, lj, OLPC , corporatism, ,

OLPC Intel, digital divide

January 4th, 2008
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Two bits of interesting information. Intel leaving OLPC seems strange. I can’t imagine that OLPC would be crazy enough to demand a monopoly or foolish enough to not think that intel could support the project, so there must be something more involved. I’m not mindlessly pro-OLPC, since I’ve not gotten mine yet and there are social, cultural and pedagogical issues with any piece of technology from blackboard to textbooks to technology that must be considered. Which leads me into the next point. Digital divide? Even the term is problematic, to me, and to I think many others interested in education and social justice issues. Do I have to list the issues in calling it a divide? Na. You can look it up. There will be a test.

OLPC News: Intel Leaves OLPC Board Over Classmate Sales: “Sadly, this spat has ended hopes for a Diamondville XO Laptop, which could have born the best of both worlds: Intel focused on selling laptops, OLPC focused on changing education.”
Access? Open source? Rethinking the digital divide

Rethinking the digital divide – now that’s a mighty big agenda, especially in the context of attempts to increase access to learning technology for a range of disadvantaged individuals across the globe….
The ALT conference will focus on the following dimensions:

  1. Global or local – What are the dichotomies between global and local interests in, applications of and resources for learning technology?
  2. Institutional or individual – How can the tensions between personal and institutional networks, and between formal and informal content, be resolved?
  3. Pedagogy or technology – How do we prevent the enthusiasms of developers from skewing development away from the needs of learners and are pedagogic problems prompting new ways of using technology?
  4. Access or exclusion – How can learning technology enable access rather than cause exclusion?
  5. Open or proprietary – Can a balance be struck, or will the future be open source and open access?
  6. Private or public – What are the respective roles of the private and public sectors in the provision of content and services for learning?
  7. For the learner or by the learner – How can technology empower learners and help individuals take ownership of learning?

The closing date for submissions of full research papers is 29 February 2008. Full details of the ALT conference are available at: ALT-C 2008: Rethinking the digital divide ALT-C 2008, the 15th International Conference of the Association for Learning Technology

Learning Technology, lj, OLPC, Zero Cost Computing , digital divide, ,

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