I posted a number of pieces Monday about OLPC and its XO laptop (now for sale on Amazon in a reboot of the Give One Get One program), one of which declared that OLPC was dead. A year ago, that would have been worthy of a pretty serious flame war, especially considering that Jason Perlow's and my pieces related to OLPC and the Amazon Kindle sat on the ZDNet homepage for most of a day. Now, as fellow blogger, Larry Dignan, notes, "What a difference a year makes."
More than anything, I saw quite a bit of antipathy towards what used to be the darling of geek-dom (along with a general acknowledgment of just how much OLPC has actually contributed to this market). One reader did note, however,
"OLPC is dead because Microsoft killed it" Great innovation, free OS (Linux), great mission (to help the kids)...
Ballmer came along and stuck his fat, slobbering maw into the mix and ruined it all.
Way to think of the kids Microsoft.
Now don't get me wrong; I'm just short of being a *nix fanboy. However, I don't actually believe that Microsoft (or any of the big boys like Intel) actually killed the OLPC. OLPC self-destructed on egos, unclear missions and objectives, lack of manufacturing expertise, and now, badly outdated hardware.
I also think that OLPC can be revived. Nobody has signed the DNR yet. If OLPC keeps innovating on design and building a really useful, pedagogically sound software stack and opens up XO 2.0 as a reference design for competing manufacturers, we could see a lot of new life breathed into the effort. A lot of brilliant minds have worked (and are still working) for OLPC. Come on, Nick: tap these minds and come up with a real educational model enhanced with great hardware and software! Leave the manufacturing and distribution to Dell (or HP, or Lenovo, or whomever).