May 17, 2008

Nicholas Negroponte: An Ego Unbound?

I just finished reading Ivan Krstic's excellent Sic Transit Gloria Laptopi blog post. It appears that Negroponte would now like the OLPC XO to become yet another laptop we have to throw Windows off before we install some open source operating system supporting the GNU toolset.

I don't believe Nicholas Negroponte could manage to find his way out of a paper bag, let alone manage a hardware supplier trusted to build the infrastructure of developing countries. His Windows bait-and-switch makes him look like a shill for Microsoft. I wonder how much Microsoft stock he holds?

He just doesn't get that he has blown a huge chance to make a difference here. The thing that pisses me is the way he has played fast and loose with the work of literally hundreds of open source programmers who have attempted to support what they saw as a worthwhile educational project. But now Negroponte says that OLPC isn't an educational project after all. It's not about you. Nick, it's about the kids in the developing economies.

3 comments:

Adriano said...

All nice, except for the meaningless "Microsoft shill" accusation. Is this Slashdot? If you have info about the MS stock Negroponte owns, publish it.

Besides, what does it matter? Do you really think that he would start the project using open source software in a master plan to turn it to MS afterwards?

Steve said...

@adriano: It's not an accusation, it's essentially a groundless slur: I have never met Nicholas Negroponte, have only passing familiarity with his work and none with his investments. Appearances are not reality, and even if Negroponte owned lots of stock in Microsoft it needn't necessarily affect his judgment of what's good for OLPC. So you are right.

But it's a real shame that project has seen the large exodus of core personnel it has lately. I suspect this will decrease the company's chances of success, not enhance them.

The goals appear to be flexible, and somewhat vague. Is it *really* now about just getting hardware to people, and having them run Microsoft products? I had hoped it would be so much more, as did (and do) many others from the open source world.

History alone will tell us how much Negroponte and Machiavelli had in common.

Steve said...

@adriano, and @everyone else too ...

Forgot: hell, no this is not /.

Thanks for pointing out how it seemed like I was attacking the person not his actions. I try not to be a politician, since none of them have jobs I would willingly do.