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Walter Bender Resigns From OLPC

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the shiny-but-not-an-ass dept.

Portables 126

westlake writes "Walter Bender, the former executive director of MIT's Media Lab, and, in many ways, the tireless workhorse and public face of OLPC, has resigned from OLPC after being reorganized and sidetracked into insignificance. The rumor mill would have it that 'constructionism as children [learn] learning' is being replaced by a much less romantic view of the XO's place in the classroom and XO's tech in the marketplace."

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oblig (5, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#23158434)

Did his final words as he left have anything to do with biting his shiny metal ass?

No, nor XP. (2, Informative)

gnutoo (1154137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23158512)

Walter Bender has finally spoken on his resignation from One Laptop Per Child. In an email to me, he says he doesn't know about any plans for Windows XP on the XO laptop, so my fears of a Microsoft take-over of OLPC may be unfounded.

Summary and original speculation were complete BS. [olpcnews.com]

To keep in the spirit of the thread, XP smells worse than your shiny metal ass.

Re:No, nor XP. (3, Insightful)

willyhill (965620) | more than 6 years ago | (#23159854)

This would merit the moderation if not for the fact that this account is one of your seven sockpuppets [slashdot.org] . You even created one so you could insult [slashdot.org] me.

Re:No, nor XP. (1)

turtledawn (149719) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161312)

Last I checked this still wasn't wikipedia (thank $god), so really, who cares?

Re:No, nor XP. (2, Insightful)

dedazo (737510) | more than 6 years ago | (#23162556)

so really, who cares?

If you were engaged in a discussion with a person and suddenly six others showed up to shill and agree with the original one, how would you like that? More importantly, he knows very well what that kind of activity looks like to moderators - seven people carrying on a "conversation" with each other in opposition to you is usually a recipe for being modded down (and get him karma in the process).

I don't know about you, but I have a single Slashdot account and I'd like to think I'm responsible for my own opinion being modded up or down. twitter went to karma hell because the Slashdot community got tired of his bullshit. He can't have that, so instead he blames it on a vast conspiracy by Microsoft [slashdot.org] and creates seven different accounts, as opposed to actually correcting the problems that got him in the hole to begin with.

Sounds about right. (1)

gnutoo (1154137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23165842)

If you were engaged in a discussion with a person and suddenly six others showed up to shill and agree with the original one, how would you like that?

Everytime I say something, I see a six or seven nutballs screaming Twitter. In this case the off topic thread is large and suspiciously well moderated. Oh well.

Re:Sounds about right. (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23166206)

"Suspiciously well-moderated"? Oooh, everybody's conspiring against the guy. Not wait, it's just a few nutballs. Or maybe it's one nutball posting under six or seven IDs...

Whatever it is, you need to find a story and stick to it.

BS yes, but whose? (2, Informative)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161102)

Nowhere in his exit statement does Bender contradict the rumors about him being forced out. Instead he gives the standard "leaving to pursue other interests". This is a conventional explanation people give to avoid antagonizing their former colleagues. This concept might be strange to shot-from-the-lip Slashdotters, but it is common among people who don't view life as extended flame war.

You give a quote that seems intended to contradict the story, but doesn't really — this isn't just about whether or not the XO should run Windows. Besides, you don't say who you're quoting. One of your sock puppets, perhaps?

olpcnews that's who's (1)

gnutoo (1154137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23165912)

I quoted the article. You would know that if you followed the link instead of flaming me. The author updated himself and quoted Bender quashing those stupid XP rumors.

Re:olpcnews that's who's (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23166160)

What article? The story links two, and neither has the quote you provide.

Twitter, you get flamed because you're a BS artist. Grow up a little, stop playing stupid games with quotations and fake IDs, and we'll consider treating you with a little respect.

Re:oblig (5, Funny)

thhamm (764787) | more than 6 years ago | (#23158684)

with biting his shiny metal ass?

nah, but: 'i'll make my own OLPC ... with blackjack ... and hookers.'

Re:oblig (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23158984)

all while taking the first pimp mobile out of this place.

Re:oblig (3, Funny)

cephah (1244770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23159240)

nah, but: 'i'll make my own OLPC ... with blackjack ... and hookers.'
In fact forget the OLPC, and the blackjack.

Re:oblig (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#23159072)

Did his final words as he left have anything to do with biting his shiny metal ass?


Yes. I believe he said something like, "What the HELL are you doing? Stop that right now you freak, or I'm leaving."

Re:oblig (4, Funny)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#23159324)

antiquing?

Re:oblig (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23159658)

Did he go "quick and painless," or "slow and horrible"?

Re:oblig (1, Redundant)

Kid Moxie (1201749) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160250)

Did his final words as he left have anything to do with biting his shiny metal ass?
Oh, no room for Bender, huh? Fine! I'll go build my own laptop, with blackjack... and hookers! In fact, forget the laptop and the blackjack!

Re:oblig (0, Offtopic)

stuntpope (19736) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160582)

You know, I clicked the story link solely to check just how far down in comments a line like that would be. And there it is at the top! Bravo.

Instead OLPC should deepen its approch (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23158598)

Teach children how to learn to learn learning.

Re:Instead OLPC should deepen its approch (4, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23158978)

But first you have to learn the teachers how to teach to teach teaching.

My brain hurts.

Re:Instead OLPC should deepen its approch (1)

menace3society (768451) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160838)

No, what you must do is put unqualified idealists in teaching positions and call it experimental. When it works, you get the credit, and when it fails, the teachers take the blame.

romantic? WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23158600)

From a business standpoint, less romanticism is a GOOD thing.

Re:romantic? WTF? (2, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#23158924)

From a romantic standpoint, less business is a GOOD thing.

Re:romantic? WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23159066)

Yes, right up until everyone starves to death because nobody is doing any business.

Re:romantic? WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23160708)

Yup, everyone starved to death prior to the advent of business.

Re:romantic? WTF? (1, Interesting)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160790)

Maybe not everyone, but many did. We're talking pre-farming, which would count as business. Even then I bet there were "businessmen" who could survive even while doing less actual hunting or gathering than would normally sustain an individual.

Re:romantic? WTF? (2, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23159392)

Not if your customer is the governor of NY.

Oh Please! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23158622)

The problem with OLPC is that it is not a $100 laptop, and for its current price, people can get a much more powerful and real laptop. The OLPC is a toy. Third world kids need real computers that run real software.

Sadly, no... (5, Insightful)

nweaver (113078) | more than 6 years ago | (#23158732)

The software stack may be questionable, but the hardware is brilliant.

Nothing else comes close for efficiency, cost, battery life (with working software), ruggedness, total lifetime, etc.

The thing is VERY tough (i've tossed mine several times), very low power (3 hours battery life with 100% broken power management. Good power management should get 6+ hours battery life for typical users), with a brilliant screen. Just put real software on it and its very nice.

Let alone the environmental tolerance: Normal notebook batteries die if you try charging them at 100F.

Re:Sadly, no... (1)

renoX (11677) | more than 6 years ago | (#23159330)

>The software stack may be questionable, but the hardware is brilliant.

Agreed but the problem is that the OLPC will be much more useful to children when the software and documents will be ready, for example having good e-manuals on their native language available on the local server.

And this will take many years to have..

Re:Sadly, no... (2, Interesting)

cryingpoet (472652) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160062)

The software stack may be questionable, but the hardware is brilliant.
The external hardware is durable and well placed, but the overall system is anything but brilliant. There is no reason to use an x86 processor for the project. This should be treated as an embedded design.

To further reduce costs and increase battery life a RISC based processor should be used. Suitable ARM based System-On-Chip (SOC) processors run up to 800 MHz, thus reducing power consumption and increasing performance. Nvidia, ATI, and other companies make graphics accelerators that are more than sufficient to meet the video conferencing needs. The systems has an 800 x 600 display and uses NAND Flash memory with no hard drive, it should be thought of as an embedded product.

The XO laptop uses Nickel-Cadmium battery rather than a Lithium-Ion. The intended use case is for students who will only have power part of the day if at all. An Nickel-Cadmium battery is not suitable for this many recharge cycles. The hardware is NOT brilliant.

Actually... (4, Informative)

nweaver (113078) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160172)

A: The x86 used is already very low power and very high integration, supporting sub-millisecond sleep states. With Amdahl's law being what it is, replacing the processor with a mystic 0 power CPU wouldn't add all that much to battery life. The TOTAL power consumption is 5W already, and the CPU's share of that power budget (when you consider CPU and not the associated control logic for memory, IO, etc) is low.

And in return, x86 compatibility is a good thing, because it opens up a huge world of binary software. For one, x86 is far better supported by just about everybody.

B: The OLPC actually uses a 15 W-Hr LiFeP (Lithium Ferro-Polymer) battery. Which is actually 4x the charge lifespan of LiIon, and has far greater environmental tolerance, and can even be composted for disposal.

Re:Actually... (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 6 years ago | (#23162438)

it's good to see somebody here actually has a clue about this device.

LoB

Re:Sadly, no... (2, Informative)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161772)

There is no reason to use an x86 processor for the project.

Okay. Is there any reason NOT to use an x86 CPU? There are some great low-power "embedded" CPU solutions out there, but is it accurate to say x86-based CPUs do not and cannot meet those criteria?

The systems has an 800 x 600 display

It's actually 1200x900. I'm not sure where you got your numbers from.

I wonder what else about the device you might be misinformed about?

Re:Sadly, no... (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 6 years ago | (#23164954)

The systems has an 800 x 600 display
It's actually 1200x900. I'm not sure where you got your numbers from.

And that's only about 1% different from the screen on the Mac Powerbook that I'm typing this on. So both should be able to display about the same amount of info, right?

On this PB, I have four 90x30 non-overlapping Terminal windows open, with three of them ssh'd to other machines that I'm working on. With the XO, as far as I can tell, I can only get one terminal window at a time, and it's fewer chars than 90x30 (though I don't offhand remember its actual size).

This seriously restricts its use for a lot of things that you'd think the kids would want to do. It's really hard to develop python (or any OO) code in a single window. In OO languages, the info you need to work on code is distributed widely inside different modules, and the only time-efficient way to work on such code is with multiple text (or editor) windows. Yeah, you can do it in one window, but it's slow and frustrating.

It seems clear that part of the intent of the OLPC project is a laptop that can teach kids about computers. This is the main reason for insisting on open-source everything. The kids should be able to study the code and develop their own code. But the Sugar UI seriously cripples this task by restricting what's visible to only one "window" at a time. This isn't necessitated by the small screen; the screen has a lot of pixels and most of those kids have good eyes.

I'd be happy with a UI on the XO that shows me my four terminal windows with chars 1/2 the height and width as on this Mac, because I'd be able to read them without problems (and I'm over 50 ;-). And I'd be able to use it to get serious work (and learning) done. Maybe I should look into running a real OS (like linux or free/openBSD) on it, and running Sugar as a process that talks to X-Windows. I wonder how I'd learn to do that?

Re:Sadly, no... (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 6 years ago | (#23165872)

. Maybe I should look into running a real OS (like linux or free/openBSD) on it, and running Sugar as a process that talks to X-Windows. I wonder how I'd learn to do that?
A lot of people run various "mainstream"distributions of Linux on XO -- I just posted preliminary Ubuntu Hardy installation files and instructions [olpcnews.com] .

On this PB, I have four 90x30 non-overlapping Terminal windows open, with three of them ssh'd to other machines that I'm working on. With the XO, as far as I can tell, I can only get one terminal window at a time, and it's fewer chars than 90x30 (though I don't offhand remember its actual size).
It won't give you four non-overlapping oversized terminal windows, but it will comfortably run few overlapping ones, plus Emacs, with multiple desktops.

Re:Sadly, no... (4, Interesting)

legutierr (1199887) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160114)

The software stack may be questionable, but the hardware is brilliant.
The software stack is actually very cool and innovative. Unfortunately, it is also way too ambitious for the distribution timeline that OLPC has. It tries to reinvent the filesystem and all the standard WIMP GUI conventions, even while implementing everything in *Python*. On top of that, almost every element of the software stack (browser, word processor, etc.) is either implemented from scratch, or re-implemented in Python on top of a low-level branch of FOSS code like gecko or AbiWord.

Sugar is a worthwhile project. Unfortunately, it is not yet stable (memory leaks, etc), the kinks of the completely re-imagined user experience have not been worked out, and not every "activity" that is needed to provide a complete user experience exists.

I hope that Sugar is not dead, because when that thing actually starts working...(famous last words?) More importantly, I hope that OLPC makes some very clear and unambiguous statements regarding the future and the status of Sugar, because it needs a strong developer community to survive, and I sure as hell am not going to write anything for it if it is completely abandoned. What a waste it would be, after so much good work.

Re:Sadly, no... (3, Interesting)

Rorschach1 (174480) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160156)

I was reasonably impressed with the hardware. Had to cram some folded paper into the battery compartment to stop the rattling, but other than that the construction seemed solid. The keyboard is mushy, though, and probably the most annoying I've used since the Timex Sinclair 1000.

I've had the touch pad start freaking out in odd ways, with the pointer randomly jumping when I lift my finger to reposition it.

The screen is very impressive, especially for the cost. The camera is surprisingly good. The software is, IMHO, a steaming pile of crap in its current state, wholly unsuitable for its target audience. It's slow to load, simple operations like exiting programs are inconsistent between applications, and there seems to be little to no built-in help.

Both of my kids (ages 9 and 12) gave up on using it. My daughter (the 9-year-old) much prefers her old Gateway P2-550 laptop running Windows 2000, despite the machine being an ancient cast-off that ceased being a useful business computer several years ago. Firefox on that machine is vastly superior to the XO-1's browser, and the overall experience is much less frustrating.

Despite my doubts about the OLPC project from the beginning, I've WANTED it to succeed, and I still hope to see it succeed. I want to believe that the open source community can build something that will make a real difference in the developing world, but it looks like there's still a long way to go.

Re:Sadly, no... (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 6 years ago | (#23162726)

please remember that your kids( ages 9 and 12 ) are not 3rd work kids and as you stated, they have already been indoctrinated into the way Microsoft feels a generic user interface should be. Also, your kids Gateway computer is not being used in a teaching environment with a curriculum designed around learning. All of these are far far off from what the design of the XO and Sugar are about.

And yes, Sugar is not quite there yet but come on, it has taken Microsoft over 10 years to get there little Windows CE/Windows Mobile operating system and UI to a point where it is just about usable. Ten years and they have over $10 billion in losses just in that one little software kit. Sugar is very very close to where it needs to be and already at a point where it is usable for some learning activities. Look up some of the deployment and pilot articles being written and you'll see there is already useful learning going on. Sugar hides alot of the goofiness general purpose desktop UI's have and don't even get me started about the filesystem. Just look at all the changing ways there are to not only create application data but also getting back to it. Sugar simplifies this by putting it into the Journal in time/date order. Just like you would want if the goal was to use the device for assignments which must be finished and turned in for grading and then mostly discarded.

You are making the incorrect assumption that the XO is supposed to be like a normal computer and it is not. It is too bad but way too many think the way you do and the whole project is getting a bad rep because of this misinformation. IMO.

LoB

Re:Sadly, no... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#23164984)

please remember that your kids( ages 9 and 12 ) are not 3rd work kids and as you stated, they have already been indoctrinated into the way Microsoft feels a generic user interface should be.
Actually my 6 year old son's preferred desktop is google. Thats how he finds everything he wants to run.

Re:Sadly, no... (1)

Skjellifetti (561341) | more than 6 years ago | (#23163516)

The touchpad can be reset by hitting the keys in the four corners of the keyboard. My 8 year old is still using and enjoying her OLPC. But maybe that's because she's never had a castoff laptop to compare it with. I've been debating whether to drop sugar and replace it with xfce for the reasons you cite.

Re:Sadly, no... (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161142)

Why is software stack questionable? Beyond the conventional "it's not a standard platform", that is?

Re:Sadly, no... (1)

glug101 (911527) | more than 6 years ago | (#23162924)

I couldn't agree more about the hardware. If anybody that reads this can point me to a laptop that meets the following criteria, I would likely buy it tomorrow.

1. Costs less than $200
2. Uses little enough electricity that it could be powered by a person. (Like the power yo-yo developed for the OLPC)
3. Can be used in the rain.
4. Folds into a tablet like handheld display.
5. Can survive being hauled to school by children in a 3rd world nation.

I don't think you can find laptop hardware with the capabilities of the OLPC in the private sector for 2x the price. Come to think of it, the give 1 get 1 was actually a good deal. I wish I would have had $400 to take advantage of it.

Re:Oh Please! (1)

Marcus Green (34723) | more than 6 years ago | (#23159000)

What type of "real" software are you thinking of?

Re:Oh Please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23159438)

MS Office, of course! Tee hee.

Re:Oh Please! (2, Informative)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160052)

BWAHAHAHAHA!

I am writing this response on one of those laptops, running prerelease Ubuntu Hardy that I have just configured for it.

This laptop is not going to do any 3D modeling or video editing any soon, but for everything that belongs in a classroom it's fine.

Re:Oh Please! (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 6 years ago | (#23162810)

interesting, now try this after adding the multiverse and/or universe repositories:

sudo apt-get install sugar sugar-activities

logout and then change the session type to Sugar and see what you get. ;-)

You can also use the standard application install tool(s) if you're not a commandline speed junky. FYI, Sugar has not "logout" option so you have to either reboot or restart gdm to get back to the login screen to boot the XFCE desktop or what ever one you've installed.

LoB

Re:Oh Please! (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 6 years ago | (#23166794)

I am aware of that.

It should be relatively easy to run Sugar in Xephyr, so both environments can coexist (good for development, bad for UI testing).

Re:Oh Please! (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 6 years ago | (#23162372)

really, for just under $200 you get a brand new and "much more powerful and real laptop"? That is pure bull and even the Eee PC at ~$300 is missing many of the required features the XO has. Dust, water, and physical abuse resistance is built into the XO but not even the ~$300 Eee PC or the Intel Classmate PC. The outdoor readable display and low power draining wireless mesh, also missing from these 'other' devices but standard on the XO.

Sorry but you're a quack and don't know what you are talking about. And the OLPC XO is designed to be a learning tool by means of being a platform for interactive and collaborative applications while at the same time being a device to read electronic documents( ebooks ) because in the harshest environments where these are intended to be used, paper books don't last long at all.

Do you somehow think that this devices is designed to be like an adults laptop and should therefore be used just as an adults laptop would be used? That and adults general purpose laptop computer and all it's complexity are what kids should be taught? WTF have you been over the last three years this has been talked about? It is a dedicated learning tool and not your standard laptop computer. It is by no means a toy.

LoB

GOOD... (-1, Troll)

nweaver (113078) | more than 6 years ago | (#23158650)

As someone who thinks the hardware is brilliant but the sugar software stack is an abomination, having the leading driver behind the abomination give up and leave because the XO is getting too close to BorgLand is a good thing for the project's viability.

An XO running XP which is modded to run at the screen resolution (unlike the ugly Classmate "scrolly-screen" hack) would be a nice platform.

Re:GOOD... (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#23158726)

Yah, yah.

1: Wait till it all falls apart.
2: Buy them up by the container load.
3: Spray the case a reasonable colour.
4: Reflash the OS to something businesses can use.
5: Profit!

There you go. Filled in all of the steps for you.
 

Re:GOOD... (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161562)

4: Reflash the OS to something businesses can use.

How would one "reflash" a child-sized keyboard to one suitable for use by adults' hands?

Re:GOOD... (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#23164834)

How would one "reflash" a child-sized keyboard to one suitable for use by adults' hands?
Go look up "PDA", "Palmtop" etc etc.

 

Re:GOOD... (1, Interesting)

samkass (174571) | more than 6 years ago | (#23158812)

There were rumors posted at one point that Apple had offered to donate a core OS, but were turned down for not being completely open-source. Perhaps if those rumors had any truth, they could be fulfilled now. I'd sure rather have MacOS than linux or XP, given the choice, if I was a third world kid who wanted to learn something.

Re:GOOD... (4, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#23159046)

There were rumors posted at one point that Apple had offered to donate a core OS, but were turned down for not being completely open-source. Perhaps if those rumors had any truth, they could be fulfilled now.

I hope not. Look I'm as big of an OS X fan as anyone, but it is not really suited to the OLPC project in a number of ways. Also, the all OSS stack makes sense with regard to their mission, to bootstrap an intellectual property creation industry in these nations. Being able to edit and modify all the code provides a starting place for this project to sustain itself via the user base.

I'd sure rather have MacOS than linux or XP, given the choice, if I was a third world kid who wanted to learn something.

The OLPC software is very well designed for its core tasks of educating children, which is quite different from general purpose computing. As a kid, I'd much rather have had an OLPC that allows me to learn with all the other kids in my school, than even a modern OS X system. Swapping it out for OS X makes little more sense than doing the same with WinXP.

Re:GOOD... (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161680)

The OLPC software is very well designed for its core tasks of educating children

I happen to think the Sugar UI and its activities contain a lot of terrific innovations, but being that I am not well-informed on the subject of educational pedagogy, I really can't say how well the software actually achieves its core tasks.

It may be exciting for students to hack together small Python scripts in Pippy or have a collaborative jam session in TamTam, but how does that mesh with a core learning curriculum based on The Three R's?

Re:GOOD... (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 6 years ago | (#23162936)

that maybe true for TimTam but one of the eToys does animation along with story telling. There's alot for kids to learn in just this one activity. There's the writing part in the story telling. There is the picture by picture part which might relay the concepts of cause and effect. Also, that small events tied together can create a very difficult or complex event. Whole classwork sections on story telling can be used to teach writing skills and and content creation while at the same time, they're having fun doing it.

I hope that somewhere there is documentation on what the activities provide in the way of learning and what others have done to implement classroom sections using these activities. I believe this is the kind of open source-like education and sharing that Mr Bender is striving for. Teachers helping teachers around the world create better and better coursework in an open environment. I'm still hoping it'll happen.

LoB

Re:GOOD... (1)

Hucko (998827) | more than 6 years ago | (#23164350)

I'm currently doing a Bachelor of Education, so I'll try explain what it could be -- I don't know OLPC's educational philosophy. Its all about constructivism; if it is 'pure' constructivism then the students decide what the problem is and solve it with the tools available, for more moderated constructivism the 'teacher' gives a goal, explains the use of the tools, then sets the students off to solve the problem "just like in real life." How this relates to the software, I'm afraid I haven't experienced it. I should probably try get it, I think.

constructionism (1)

Jecel Assumpcao Jr (5602) | more than 6 years ago | (#23165236)

OLPC's educational philosophy was officially based on Papert and Kay's constructionism, which is related to constructivism but not the same thing.

The idea is that students build actual things (even if software is rather abstract) which they can share with other students and the teacher as a reflection of the knowledge they have built inside their minds.

Re:GOOD... (3, Insightful)

dunng808 (448849) | more than 6 years ago | (#23165974)

being that I am not well-informed on the subject of educational pedagogy, I really can't say how well the software actually achieves its core tasks


All too often those who claim proficiency in pedagogy are merely hiding their lack of brilliance behind a stack of journal articles and study results. I draw inspiration from Shin'ichi Suzuki, founder of Talent Education, who with no formal training in education single-handedly created one of the most successfull methods of teaching music to children. Back in the 70s Suzuki was widely criticized by American violin pedagogues who denounced him as a crackpot. The Suzuki method was built on a common sense view of learning which begins with this observation: children naturally learn their mother tongue without the help of experts. Therefore, children know how to learn, and mothers are the best teachers.

Now apply that view to homeschooling and an interesting picture develops. Parents are fully qualified to teach young children. As children get older they benefit from subject matter experts, but it does not require a brick-and-morter school to provide them. K-12 teachers complain about the lack of parent involvement, especially as the children get older. With homeschoolers, the parent is always involved.

how does that mesh with a core learning curriculum based on The Three R's?


Hold on, there! Who says education has a core of three R's? Or a core of anything? This is just pedagogical pablum passed along year after year as if it were inscribed in stone by the almighty himself. Stringing together Python scripts could very well be much more relavent to today's children.

Re:GOOD... (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 6 years ago | (#23165482)

There were rumors posted at one point that Apple had offered to donate a core OS,

The offer was dumped because the OLPC guys already knew that BSD is dead. ;-)

Re:GOOD... (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23158862)

Yah, too bad for the whole point of freeing the world for the domination of a single US software company.

Re:GOOD... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23159124)

Gee, and I thought the whole point was to help children in poorer countries.

Good to know its all just another battle in your religious software war.

Re:GOOD... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23160058)

Fuck the staving children in africa!

Software is the FUTURE!

Now where did I put that chair? Hmm...

Re:GOOD... (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160888)

And how does making them dependent on a foreign company for any computer-related job (which, by the time they are grown up is likely to mean pretty much any job) helping them? Phase two of the project aims to have the countries that bought the first generation laptops manufacture their own version two, based on the designs and code from version one. If you install XP on them, then none of the children will develop the expertise to to write version two of the software stack.

Re:GOOD... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160026)

Wasn't the point to help kids?

Re:GOOD... (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160218)

Getting African hooked on Microsoft products is helping them? Or teaching them tools that they can later modify and build on themselves is helping them? I mean really, do Slasdotters really have to stretch their imaginations that much to see how using non open platforms helps them less? It is definitely better than nothing, but at this point it isn't nothing. It is going from open to closed. If it had started out closed then the discussion would be different. Seriously, this is purely depressing at this point. Thanks guys. Really.

Re:GOOD... (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23165244)

Yah, too bad for the whole point of freeing the world for the domination of a single US software company.

60% of Microsoft's revenues come from outside the U.S. and these revenues are growing at a fantastic pace.

Microsoft has an R&D presence pretty much everywhere in the world. It is working with an African university on the design and launch of a comsat for Africa. Microsoft has become a multinational.

Why am I getting a strange feeling... (3, Interesting)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 6 years ago | (#23158706)

That now that OLPC is no longer a threat that all of the other vendors of small low cost laptops will simply stop offering them... Just a thought... :)

Re:Why am I getting a strange feeling... (1)

Achoi77 (669484) | more than 6 years ago | (#23159282)

Why? Manufacturers will just remodel it and brand it was as some kind of supplementary device to sell alongside their regular line of laptops, kinda like (incoming obligatory car analogy) subcompact cars geared towards first-time buyers or people that just want something to carry around that's not nearly as costly as compared to their more expensive luxury car/suv brethren. Plus, it gives them a chance to refine the tech to aim for more battery efficiency, and may possibly see it all trickle over to their midline set of products. And if they can do it before their competitors do, then that will be advantageous to them in the longer run. Simply shutting down operations and ignoring a potential market is foolish.

Re:Why am I getting a strange feeling... (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160170)

Why would they do that if selling them is profitable? It's not like many of the customers buying sub-$300 tiny laptops are gonna happily buy something double the size and double the price.

Re:Why am I getting a strange feeling... (3, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160340)

That now that OLPC is no longer a threat that all of the other vendors of small low cost laptops will simply stop offering them... Just a thought... :)
Asus is doing very well with its flagship offering.
The people who don't get it right may stop offering small lappies, but at last there is a small, uncrippled (unlike I-Openers etc) flash drive computer in a very convenient form-factor.
OLPC may die out, but their business model isn't our problem. Asus proved that running a real desktop OS in that package is what consumers want as opposed to deliberately crippled equipment running crippled operating systems. Crippling gives "product differentiation", but it still leaves a gap. Asus just exploited that gap.

Re:Why am I getting a strange feeling... (1)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161766)

I think allot of this depends on the margins.. Meaning, on the low end, the vendor is forced to try to go for volume at the expense of individual product margins. Dell can tell you first hand the long-term effects of this...

The key is how much competition exists in this space. If Asus can make money after their support and managing costs are figured it, then they might keep it around. A problem that many businesses are having in the advanced industrial nations, however, is that the cost of business overhead really is becoming a problem.

I guess time will only tell... :)

Re:Why am I getting a strange feeling... (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#23163016)

"I think allot of this depends on the margins.. Meaning, on the low end, the vendor is forced to try to go for volume at the expense of individual product margins."

Asus could do massive volume of each design by keeping it available and gradually dropping the price. Upscaling features and prices is normal enough, but the tooling for the first versions is paid for. They could keep spitting them out and secure the market by flooding it.

OLPC isn't a consumer device. (1)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 6 years ago | (#23165282)

You don't cite any sources or define what you mean when you say "Asus is doing very well with its flagship offering.". However the chief error is more profound than that. Asus' business model isn't our problem either. Asus isn't running an educational project. Asus is just another corporation making just another laptop.

Many people conflate OLPC's work (which really is an educational project) with making a low-end ultra-inexpensive laptop because they view everything through first world consumer's eyes. These same people tend also to be shocked that OLPC isn't using the G1G1 program to generate lots of profit.

Surely you jest... (1)

lysse (516445) | more than 6 years ago | (#23163960)

Come on, with the size of demand that's been uncovered for them? Nah. Certainly I can't see Asus giving up any time soon, since they're shifting Eees faster than they can ship them... and since I'm both broke and cheap, I've promised myself an Elonex ONE if/when they arrive.

Avatar (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23158870)

Maybe he was lured over to the fire nation.

Re:Avatar (1, Interesting)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 6 years ago | (#23159162)

Maybe he was lured over to the fire nation.

My first thought was also that the story had something to do with the Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender [wikipedia.org] -- forget the network; think Miyazaki, not SpongeBob. Excellent series in the vast wasteland of American animated TV.

However, it should be noted that Aang, the primary character, is not a Water Bender, but an Air Bender.

(Somehow, the inevitable loss of Karma for this way-off-topic posting seems unusually appropriate.)

It looks (5, Interesting)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#23158904)

like Bender was kind of forced to resign since all of his responsibilities were absorbed into the other 4 restructured areas. Since January the OLPC has lost three top execs, one of whom was asked to stop collaborating with Bender. Something seems a little fishy with this operation now.

In an interview with BusinessWeek in early March, OLPC Chairman Negroponte said OLPC was "doing almost impossible things," and that the organization needed to be managed "more like Microsoft." He said OLPC was reorganizing into four departments and looking for a CEO to lead the nonprofit.

Re:It looks (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 6 years ago | (#23162562)

So you're saying there's something wrong with MS's management structure? Or are you just throwing out baseless speculation for kicks, with a little MS bashing for flavour?

Oh, right, this is Slashdot...

Re:It looks (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#23162946)

Not that, it just sounds like now MS has its hand in it somehow. And I'm wondering how long that non-profit label lasts. Like I said, something just doesn't seem right about it now.

Re:It looks (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 6 years ago | (#23163046)

Right, so it's baseless speculation with a little MS bashing thrown in for flavour.

Honestly, the guy makes one reference to MS-like management structure, and all of a sudden it's an MS conspiracy?

Sorry, no, it's far easier to just assume the most simple, obvious answer: OLPC is growing, and they've discovered they need to change the way they manage the project in order to succeed. I know, shocking. And what better model to use for managing a large project than that used by one of the *largest computer companies in the world*?

Re:It looks (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 6 years ago | (#23163056)

BTW, I should say "software companies", but since they don't just manufacture software, that isn't quite right either. Technology companies? *shrug*

Related to Ivan Krstic's resignation (3, Informative)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 6 years ago | (#23158914)

It was the demotion of Bender that prompted Ivan Krstic' to resign [radian.org] last month, so the damage to OLPC by their stupid demotion of Bender is not limited to just the loss of him. I wonder if anyone else will be leaving over this?

Re:Related to Ivan Krstic's resignation (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23159864)

krstic is not a loss to OLPC; I worked there for 2 years and Ivan was nothing but an egotistical brat who never showed up for meetings where he was supposed to present code he'd written, because he never actually wrote more than 500 lines of code and instead got interns to do everything he should have been doing from day 1.

Re:Related to Ivan Krstic's resignation (1)

idlemachine (732136) | more than 6 years ago | (#23166670)

Hmm, open, honest criticism from Krstic vs an anonymous, ad hominem attack; I wonder which one to believe...

Direct Link to Resignation letter (4, Informative)

styryx (952942) | more than 6 years ago | (#23158974)

Direct Link to Resignation letter [laptop.org]

I was going to submit this story after finding it on Digg or Reddit; the headline was focusing on Negreponte(sp?) allegedly wishing to partner with MS to put XP on XO in order to sell more units. After reading the letter and there being no mention of it I decided against submission.

Re:Direct Link to Resignation letter (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23159648)

Well, even if the rumor was true, I don't think he would publicly say anything, if only to protect what is left of OLPC. If he did say anything, people would just call him selfish and uncaring for the children he wanted to help.

Re:Direct Link to Resignation letter (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 6 years ago | (#23162988)

my thought was that there is an NDA which restricts him from saying such things. He may not have signed it but it sure sounds like Negroponte is willing to sign such a thing and NDA's can restrict organizations not just one or two in the org.

LoB

Re:Direct Link to Resignation letter (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23165084)

I read the letter before submitting the story, but, be to perfectly honest. I couldn't extract much substance from it.

more like Microsoft (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23159004)

From the linked article In an interview with BusinessWeek in early March, OLPC Chairman Negroponte said OLPC was "doing almost impossible things," and that the organization needed to be managed "more like Microsoft."

What does that mean? Does that mean OLPC is lacking paper clips or advanced audio technology that came hidden in a pink box? Or they lack negotiating skills that is needed to change a NO into a YES, aka ISO Norway style? May be they just need a can do guy like Bob...

Bender Was Quoted... (3, Funny)

FrankDrebin (238464) | more than 6 years ago | (#23159212)

... "bite my rubberized, lime-green ass."

Re:Bender Was Quoted... (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23159922)

He went on to say:

"I'm going to build my own OLPC! With blackjack and hookers! In fact, forget the OLPC. Aw, screw the whole thing."

Water Bender Resigns! (1)

mightypenguin (593397) | more than 6 years ago | (#23159592)

Oh well I thought there was some news about Avatar, but I guess I'll just have to keep waiting.

Re:Water Bender Resigns! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23161780)

That was my double-take too. Honestly, I'm a bit miffed that more people are referencing Futurama Bender. (What's so great about that obnoxious turd anyway? I still haven't forgiven him for the Seymour incident.)

Quoted on departure (1)

MK_CSGuy (953563) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160204)

On departure, Bender was spotted saying
"I'm going to start my own laptop project with blackjack! and hookers!"

Welcome to the Private Sector (1)

Cajunator (572036) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161250)

http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/144911/top_olpc_executive_resigns_after_restructuring.html [pcworld.com]

In February, Director of Security Ivan Krsti resigned from OLPC to protest the organization's restructuring and "radical" change in goals......."Following Walter's demotion from OLPC presidency, I was to report instead to a manager with no technical or engineering background who was put in charge of all OLPC technology," Krsti wrote.
Welcome to the real world... Guess you should have taken the "blue pill"

duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23163252)

Quick, grab the samples before they disappear! http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Sound_samples

Everytime I hear "corporate restructuring" the voice in my head says "That's c.e.o. b.s. for stepping on people in the name of money, despite the 1st rule of death being 'you can't take it with you'", at which point an audible and double-edged "duh" escapes my lips.

Benders next project (2, Informative)

SubComdTaco (1199449) | more than 6 years ago | (#23164218)

Negroponte said Bender was burned out after helping to shape OLPC for two years" But Bender already has new plans: to launch an independent effort [google.com] to further the development of the XOs' homegrown software, known as Sugar, and get it to run on Linux computers other than XOs. "Sugar is in a narrow place and it is ripe to be unleashed," he wrote in an e-mail exchange. The AP article alos goes on to quote Negroponte as saying: "that an overriding insistence on open-source had hampered the XOs, saying Sugar "grew amorphously" and "didn't have a software architect who did it in a crisp way." For instance, the laptops do not support Flash animation, widely used on the Web. "There are several examples like that, that we have to address without worrying about the fundamentalism in some of the open-source community," he said. "One can be an open-source advocate without being an open-source fundamentalist." Negroponte added, Windows might be the sole operating system, and Sugar would be educational software running on top of it. That might disappoint advocates of open-source software who helped bankroll OLPC and cheered the challenge it represented to Microsoft's dominance. Unlike proprietary software like Windows, open-source applications are developed by a community of programmers and the underlying code is freely shared.

OLPC News is a Microsoft shill (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 6 years ago | (#23164426)

It appears Slashdot's editors didn't not even click the links. OLPC News is a Microsoft FUD shill. Don't like them except to point out that they are lying baboons.
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