What's in the Water at OLPC?

The One Laptop Per Child program has been in a steadily increasing tailspin over the past few months, from dumping multi-billion dollar sponsors to driving away key staff. Now it appears the whole project is about three steps away from the handbasket.

The latest developments in the OLPC saga have Walter Bender, former man-in-charge and now leader-in-exile forking his own group to manage development of the OLPC's open-source educational interface Sugar. Bender claims that OLPC has given up on pushing education, and is instead interested only in the number of laptops that can be shipped out — an area in which the OLPC has a rather poor record. Bender's project — christened Sugar Labs — will focus on providing educational software to children, and will make it available to a variety of platforms — though Windows, which will now run the majority of the OLPC's XO laptops, "isn't a priority."

Another recent departure from the OLPC, former security chief Ivan Krstíc, has also been sharing his thoughts on the program, albeit somewhat differently than Mr. Bender. According to reports, in his latest blog post on the project, Krstíc lashes out at nearly everyone involved, from the project itself, to it's vendors, and even the open-source community. At one point he seems to oppose Windows on the XO, saying the project shouldn't be about "economic incentives for a particular vendor," but then comes back to attack the XO's open-source contributors, declaring that children would "prefer the damn software works and doesn't need fixing." The post is rounded off by an inspiring and uplifting call to arms, proclaiming that everyone should "put our idiotic trifles aside, end our endless yapping, and get to it already."

Sadly, with the way things are going, the only "it" the project seems likely to get to is a spectacular implosion.

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