Changing of practises at OLPC project may encourage illegal activity...

I have been reading many reports that suggested the OLPC project had abandoned its constructionist model with skepticism. It simply didn't make sense to me given that all the advocates I knew were interested entirely because of the educational model of the project, and the insistence that all the software that comes with it be FLOSS in support of that model.

An Associated Press article discussing Walter Bender leaving the project is one of many articles that have made me look at this question more closely.

It seems that Nicholas Negroponte has confused those of us that are focused on the public policy and educational goals of the project with "fundamentalism in some of the open-source community". In an article on OLPC news he says, "Our mission has never been to advocate the perfect learning model or pure Open Source".

"I believe the best educational tool is constructionism and the best software development method is Open Source. In some cases those are best achieved like the Trojan Horse, versus direct confrontation or isolating ourselves with perfection."

I understand what he is saying, but disagree with him. He has supported a move towards having the machines run Microsoft Windows, and to include more proprietary components embedded in Sugar (Such as Adobe's Flash player). I believe this will not only make the educational goals much harder, but will also lead to massive increases in software copyright infringement in the destination countries. Encouraging software copyright infringement will in turn encourage disrespect for authors rights in other areas, and may even lead to the encouragement of other unlawful activities.

The OLPC project isn't simply a project to get laptops into the hands of children, but a project that will have public policy implications in each recipient country given the number of machines involved. Providing people with a platform that encourages people to carry out activities which the government will then be mandated through trade deals to consider illegal is simply bad public policy.

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Ivan Krstic's comments

Ivan Krstic, former security guru at OLPC, weighs in the recent issues surrounding Negroponte and OLPC.

This Too Shall Pass

From what I have come to understand of the project as I followed it for the last year and a half, Ivan is spot on here.