|| ||Nicholas Negroponte <nn-AT-media.mit.edu>|
|| ||devel-AT-laptop.org, sugar-AT-laptop.org, community-news-AT-laptop.org|
|| ||on Sugar|
|| ||Wed, 23 Apr 2008 12:06:32 -0400|
People keep asking me:
Yes, OLPC s commitment to Sugar has changed. It is now larger, not smaller.
Contrary to inferences drawn by Walter's departure, the press and venerable
sources such as OLPC News, we are scaling Sugar up, not down. Let me explain.
Sugar is a very good idea, less than perfectly executed. I attribute our
weakness to unrealistic development goals and practices. Our mission has never
changed. It has been to bring connected laptops for learning to children in the
poorest and most remote locations of the world. Our mission has never been to
advocate the perfect learning model or pure Open Source. I believe the best
educational tool is constructionism and the best software development method is
Open Source. In some cases those are best achieved like the Trojan Horse,
versus direct confrontation or isolating ourselves with perfection. Remember
the expression: perfection is the enemy of good. We need to reach the most
children possible and leverage them as the agents of change. It makes no sense
for us to search for the perfect learning model.
For this reason, Sugar needs a wider basis, to run on more Linux platforms and
to run under Windows. We have been engaged in discussions with Microsoft for
several months, to explore a dual boot version of the XO. Some of you have seen
what Microsoft developed on their own for the XO. It works well and now needs
Sugar on top of it (so to speak).
As a non-profit, humanitarian organization, OLPC has a unique position, from
which it can change the world for children and learning. Laptop makers rushing
into the low-end marketplace is a perfect example of success of one kind.
Another will be what kids do outside school and with other kids around the
world. A third is what we do.
We are not a business, but need to be more business-like: meet schedules,
manage expectations and fulfill promises. To do that, we need to hire more
developers, work more together and spend less time arguing. Because of public
attention, anything we say will be quoted out of context. We can only speak
with our actions and those are only one: a reliable and ubiquitous Sugar. That
includes being more collaborative engineers ourselves and engaging the
community better. Our limitations are not financial, but identifying the
required human resources and resolve to do so.
What is in front of us is an opportunity for big change. Sugar is at the core
of it. To pretend otherwise would be a joke. That said, Sugar needs to be
disentangled. I keep using the omelet analogy, claiming it needs to be a fried
egg, with distinct yoke and white, rather than having the UI, collaborative
tools, power management and radios merge into one amorphous blob. Otherwise, it
is impossible to debug and will be limited to the small, albeit growing, world
of the XO hardware platform.
As we reach out to engage a wider community, some purism has to morph into
pragmatism. To suggest that this forsakes Open Source or redirects our mission
is absurd. Kids will be the agents of change and our job is to reach the most
of them. That is not just selling laptops, but making Sugar as robust and
widely available as possible.
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