The corporate world is a little nervous about the One Laptop Per Child project and here is some recent evidence of that.

Although the plan was always for the little green box to run open source software, it seems the design was changed at the last minute to permit someone to put Windows on it instead.

The alteration was minor, adding just an SD card slot, but probably due to a lot of lobbying (maybe some bribes?) from the Big Monopoly in Redmond.

Friday, the project’s CTO Mary Lou Jespen conceded that the hardware changes were mandated in order to allow developers to run “software that’s not the most trim, svelte software in the world.” While Jepsen didn’t specifically mention Microsoft’s influence in the addition of the card slot, she did say that Redmond was busy hacking up a version of Windows to run on the XO.

It will be interesting to see what kind of hacked up version of Windows they get running on this machine.

And then there’s an editorial from something called the Globalisation Institute in which they declare the “very worst idea in international development circles is the One Laptop Per Child scheme being fronted by academic Nicholas Negroponte”.

Ouch! Watch out for those “academics”.

As near as I can figure, their primary complaint is that business isn’t running this show, noting that this will be a “monopoly type of computer for two billion children across the developing world”.

They, like many others in the corporate world (including the BM), have missed key points about OLPC, which their mission statement spell out in clear language that even the people at “Europe’s global think tank” should be able to understand.

OLPC is not, at heart, a technology program, nor is the XO a product in any conventional sense of the word. OLPC is a non-profit organization providing a means to an end–an end that sees children in even the most remote regions of the globe being given the opportunity to tap into their own potential, to be exposed to a whole world of ideas, and to contribute to a more productive and saner world community.

olpc, technology, education