Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Donation Vs Generation

"It is good to get OLPC Laptop deployed in country, it is even better if we get it for free" But wait! Is it really as good if we get it for free? I don't think so. I feel there must be some paying mechanism, either pre-paid or post-paid. The essence of OLPC implementation in country like ours should be as a system rather than as a product or tool.

Papa will you buy it for me?

The demand should be from the community themselves, but awareness is necessary to create that demand. We focused on same thing and got overwhelming response at CAN info tech '08. I bet we could have easily sell couple thousands of XOs there. Situation is definitely different at remote places. With fewer way to reach them, and aware them. I wonder what will be the consequence of distributing laptops to kids without proper community awareness and with zero liabilities to community.

schemes like G1G1 might not be as suitable for our economy but selling laptops in bulk to urban private school won't hurt either. Since government is keen on moving the OLPC concept forward they should atleast play the role of implementer and leader with large community base supporting them at back. OLPC could be integrated in current government plan to mobilize graduate student to villages in order to facilitate education. Thousand of students graduating in technical discipline per year, if can be mobilized on little fraction to volunteer in OLPC will surely become large technical support base on long run. These schemes could fundamentally save deployment and development cost off the project.

We are waiting!!

Coming to the point I started first, what I think will be best is have three mechanism for XO distribution from Government perspective. SELL, SUBSIDY or SERVICE. In Subsidy version of distribution mechanism government could get the payment of laptops in term basis or provide loan from micro finance. In service model government get eventually paid by asking guardians to do social service or help certain aspect of project for certain period. In this way government and community will benefit on long run and there will be less financial burden to both government as well as community. This mechanism could also help sustainability of project.

These are all my calculation which may or may not coincide with all, but local level fund generation will certainly be effective then 100% donated laptop, atleast from ownership and sustainability point of view.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Feedbacks from CAN InfoTech '08

"How much? Can i buy it?"

The question we got from almost all the visitors. And why not, this cute little low-priced rugged laptop is soo lovable everyone would wanna buy it for their kids. But wait (the wait might get a little longer), this laptop is for FREE - to be freely distributed by the Government to all the students. Nevertheless, although the banner behind us clearly said, "This is an educational project" and we pasted "Not for sale" stickers all over the laptop, people still continued to reach their hands to their wallet as they see the laptop.

The crowd was unbelievable

Although most of the visitors already knew about the OLPC Project, for most of them it was the first time they were witnessing a live XO. Sometime back there was quite a massive media coverage about this laptop being distributed to the children of Mustang, so we had a lot of question regarding that too. When deployed these laptops gonna go to Government schools first. So a lot of people were disappointed as most of them had their kids going to a private school.

There even was this guy, who told us that he came to CAN InfoTech just to see the laptop. No wonder he was impressed!

OLPC Nepal brochure

We also got a lot of people interested to work with us on the project. Some of them have also left their email and phone number to be sure we'll call them when needed (of course, we let them know that OLPC Nepal is a totally non-profit organization and we all are volunteers). So our next big step: grab them! A hackathon would be really nice.

Apart from couple of people, everybody seemed quite excited about the laptop. Few raised legitimate questions on the price of this laptop and the corruptions that might get attached.

Look at those inquisitive eyes..

The worst part is, our 20+ XOs are still at Custom Office. We tried hard to get them out and demonstrate them at InfoTech, but the Government procedures, u know, are enigmatic.. :)

Richard Stallman on the OLPC Laptop

Richard M Stallman (popularly known as rms), the founder of the GNU project and President of Free Software Foundation was in Southern India this January. On his regular advocacy tour, he gave talks in different locations where people thronged to get a glimpse of him and hear what he had to say about issues relating to free software.

We caught up with him for an hour long interview while he was in the city of Hyderabad. RMS heaped praises for the One Laptop Per Child Project. He is even contemplating making a switch to XO, the flagship machine of the project, from his "old thinkpad". Stallman went on to say that the OLPC laptop has given people a way to use the free BIOS. Lack of a widely available free BIOS has remained a major issue in the free software community. Stallman has always stressed for the need to use free softwares in educational institutes. The OLPC project has only made him happier.

He is, however dissatisfied with the wireless networking system used in the XO. Since it uses a proprietary technology, he plans to remove it and use a separate device when he needs to make wireless communication with others.

You can download this one-minute audio clip (ogg-vorbis) of our interview with him where he talks about the OLPC laptop.