The Longest Now

Competitive brilliance
Friday January 04th 2008, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Intel left the OLPC Board yesterday. [I love quotes citing ‘irreconcilable’ and ‘philosophical’ differences, as though there were a pastor involved.] It had been an interesting six months since they joined; with much discussion about ways we could work together in the future. Some of this has been distracting, but some has been enlightening as well.

I found counterparts in their organization sincerely interested in improving education, but without radical ideas about how to do that differently than basic introduction of computers… and without a sense that they were in a position to make such changes.

The engines of competition are often separated from the creators in a position to make a project educational, inspirational, or not. Educational projects should [all] be able to isolate areas of collaboration — at a minimum, the end goal of a better-educated populace; but also much more practical than this. I hope that PR doesn’t get in the way of finding and pursuing these shared goals. We have certainly found that even people dedicated to education sometimes need to be reminded of the power the have to dramatically change the lives of communities they work with. The same could be said of people who develop computers, texts, and community programs; each of whom may feel that they are constrained, working within a fixed framework that they cannot influence.

On the subject of the new year, I wish for shared attention to the needs of children, and focus of competitive effort into brilliance : deeper discussions about how to improve the rural schoolroom, interfaces for children, a universal public library. Asus seems to be moving in the right direction; perhaps Intel will choose to do the same.

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