Where Africa and Technology Collide!

Negroponte on the New (lowercase): olpc

Nicholas Negroponte comes up on stage at TED and tells us that, due to the OLPC, there’s a whole new product line: Netbooks. However, they copied all the wrong things. Next thing you know there are a couple being thrown around the stage, and he’s asking us how well a netbook would stand up to that, or being submerged in water, or being sent to Africa…

My question is about how well an OLPC works when you just open it up…? 🙂

“Commercial markets will do anything they can to stop you, even when you’re non-profit, even if you’re a humanitarian organization.”

Now we want to build something that everybody copies. Go from the OLPC to the olpc (lowercase). That’s what’s going to happen over the next 3 years. Open source hardware: where you publish all the specs and all the designs so that anyone can copy it.

In a side conversation with Ethan Zuckerman here, this is what they should have done 3 years ago, and it would have saved them a lot of heartache.

Cameron Sinclair adds via Twitter, “OLPC to be open sourced. email nn@MIT.edu with ideas about olpc. I suggest adding SketchUp and making it o.l.p.innovator”


  1. Well I think that the “decentralized” innovation that we’ve seen with Netbooks has beaten OLPC. OLCP was only one design team. Of course, with an open source design approach, OLPC could do better eventually, but only if they manage to get enough competent designers on board, which are currently quite likely all happily employed by netbook manufacturers.

    Open design is surely the future, but that doesn’t mean there are no obstacles to be overcome…

    It would be interesting though if the OLPC guys would engage with engineering schools and make a design competition for engineering students there. That could bring in many fresh ideas. If this is “sold” right, I think many students would want to contribute to such an effort.

  2. somehow this makes me laugh then cry a little… Talk about missing the point

  3. Funny that Negroponte is taking this line now. At OLPC News, we declared the post-OLPC era, where its the olpc Negroponte is talking about, back in May of last year. And Negroponte’s words don’t match his actions – OLPC just canceled small deployment support.

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