January 9th, 2009 § 1 Comment
One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) was (is) a noble project originally based at MIT that aimed to create a cheap, durable laptop that could be used by children and educators in developing countries. Despite these admirable goals the project has been dogged by issues almost since day one and the founder Nicholas Negroponte has seemingly done little but rub people up the wrong way in recent times. Compromises to the original vision (moving from an open source operating system to Windows for instance), falling out with hardware suppliers like Intel and an inability to produce the laptop at the price originally strived for (it was often referred to as the $100 laptop in early days of the project) have contributed to the project losing some of its supporters. The rise of cheap, commercially produced netbooks (which seem to have been somewhat inspired by OLPC) have also very much changed the environment worldwide.
OLPC now have responded to these issues and the current worldwide financial problems by reducing its staff by 50% and slashing wages for the remaining workforce. This seems like a blow from which OLPC in its current form will be unable to recover from. The organisation was struggling to achieve its targets with a full staff so how it expects to manage with half as many people who are likely to be unmotivated after a painful paycut is anyones guess.