Ivan Krstić was one of the key people on the OLPC project. He recently resigned. Here’s part of his explanation.
Not long ago, OLPC undertook a drastic internal restructuring coupled with what, despite official claims to the contrary, is a radical change in its goals and vision from those that were shared with me when I was invited to join the project. Adding insult to injury, I was asked to stop working with Walter Bender, without a doubt one of the most stunningly thoughtful and competent people I’ve ever worked with. 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…
What made Ivan despondent is his perception that Nicholas Negroponte sees the project as a vehicle for producing a lot of cheap laptops rather than as a primarily educational mission. According to The Register, he believes that
“Nicholas’ new OLPC is dropping those pesky education goals from the mission and turning itself into a 50-person nonprofit laptop manufacturer, competing with Lenovo, Dell, Apple, Asus, HP and Intel on their home turf, and by using the one strategy we know doesn’t work.”
Later: Actually, it’s more complicated that that quote implies. Just found a terrific, thoughtful essay by Ivan on the whole OLPC project. Lots of comments too.