In the midst of these arguments, the underlying intent of the OLPC project is being lost. The project was not about providing ‘cheap technology’ to developing nations, but providing affordable, extensible technology for open learning in developing nations. The alternate power source options, mesh networking, multi-lingual intuitive UI, and open access to any and all code on the OLPC are the project’s real strengths. To my knowledge, none of these have been in the interests or business plans of Windows or Intel. My kids share an OLPC and I am struck by how well the UI encourages them to explore and experiment. Let’s hope this visionary project is not derailed by recent developments that truly divert the ‘cheap laptop’ debates away from the OLPC’s real strengths and goals.
Clay Shirky speaks to the ideas he has put forth in Here Comes Everybody: Organizing with Organizations at the Berkman Centre for Internet and Society on the growth and promise of social networking as a transformational cultural force.