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Walter Bender Resigns From OLPC 126

Posted by timothy
from the shiny-but-not-an-ass dept.
westlake writes "Walter Bender, the former executive director of MIT's Media Lab, and, in many ways, the tireless workhorse and public face of OLPC, has resigned from OLPC after being reorganized and sidetracked into insignificance. The rumor mill would have it that 'constructionism as children [learn] learning' is being replaced by a much less romantic view of the XO's place in the classroom and XO's tech in the marketplace."
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Walter Bender Resigns From OLPC

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  • oblig (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @10:52AM (#23158434) Homepage Journal
    Did his final words as he left have anything to do with biting his shiny metal ass?
    • No, nor XP. (Score:2, Informative)

      by gnutoo (1154137) *

      Walter Bender has finally spoken on his resignation from One Laptop Per Child. In an email to me, he says he doesn't know about any plans for Windows XP on the XO laptop, so my fears of a Microsoft take-over of OLPC may be unfounded.

      Summary and original speculation were complete BS. [olpcnews.com]

      To keep in the spirit of the thread, XP smells worse than your shiny metal ass.

      • Re:No, nor XP. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by willyhill (965620) <pr8wak@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @12:31PM (#23159854) Homepage Journal
        This would merit the moderation if not for the fact that this account is one of your seven sockpuppets [slashdot.org]. You even created one so you could insult [slashdot.org] me.
        • Last I checked this still wasn't wikipedia (thank $god), so really, who cares?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by dedazo (737510)

            so really, who cares?

            If you were engaged in a discussion with a person and suddenly six others showed up to shill and agree with the original one, how would you like that? More importantly, he knows very well what that kind of activity looks like to moderators - seven people carrying on a "conversation" with each other in opposition to you is usually a recipe for being modded down (and get him karma in the process).

            I don't know about you, but I have a single Slashdot account and I'd like to think I'm re

            • If you were engaged in a discussion with a person and suddenly six others showed up to shill and agree with the original one, how would you like that?

              Everytime I say something, I see a six or seven nutballs screaming Twitter. In this case the off topic thread is large and suspiciously well moderated. Oh well.

              • by fm6 (162816)
                "Suspiciously well-moderated"? Oooh, everybody's conspiring against the guy. Not wait, it's just a few nutballs. Or maybe it's one nutball posting under six or seven IDs...

                Whatever it is, you need to find a story and stick to it.
      • BS yes, but whose? (Score:3, Informative)

        by fm6 (162816)
        Nowhere in his exit statement does Bender contradict the rumors about him being forced out. Instead he gives the standard "leaving to pursue other interests". This is a conventional explanation people give to avoid antagonizing their former colleagues. This concept might be strange to shot-from-the-lip Slashdotters, but it is common among people who don't view life as extended flame war.

        You give a quote that seems intended to contradict the story, but doesn't really — this isn't just about whether or
        • I quoted the article. You would know that if you followed the link instead of flaming me. The author updated himself and quoted Bender quashing those stupid XP rumors.

          • by fm6 (162816)
            What article? The story links two, and neither has the quote you provide.

            Twitter, you get flamed because you're a BS artist. Grow up a little, stop playing stupid games with quotations and fake IDs, and we'll consider treating you with a little respect.
    • Re:oblig (Score:5, Funny)

      by thhamm (764787) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @11:09AM (#23158684)
      with biting his shiny metal ass?

      nah, but: 'i'll make my own OLPC ... with blackjack ... and hookers.'
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by cephah (1244770)

        nah, but: 'i'll make my own OLPC ... with blackjack ... and hookers.'
        In fact forget the OLPC, and the blackjack.
    • Did his final words as he left have anything to do with biting his shiny metal ass?


      Yes. I believe he said something like, "What the HELL are you doing? Stop that right now you freak, or I'm leaving."
    • Re:oblig (Score:5, Funny)

      by everphilski (877346) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @11:55AM (#23159324) Journal
      antiquing?
    • by Sporkinum (655143)
      Did he go "quick and painless," or "slow and horrible"?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Teach children how to learn to learn learning.
  • by tgatliff (311583) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @11:10AM (#23158706)
    That now that OLPC is no longer a threat that all of the other vendors of small low cost laptops will simply stop offering them... Just a thought... :)
    • by Achoi77 (669484)
      Why? Manufacturers will just remodel it and brand it was as some kind of supplementary device to sell alongside their regular line of laptops, kinda like (incoming obligatory car analogy) subcompact cars geared towards first-time buyers or people that just want something to carry around that's not nearly as costly as compared to their more expensive luxury car/suv brethren. Plus, it gives them a chance to refine the tech to aim for more battery efficiency, and may possibly see it all trickle over to their m
    • Why would they do that if selling them is profitable? It's not like many of the customers buying sub-$300 tiny laptops are gonna happily buy something double the size and double the price.
    • by couchslug (175151) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @01:03PM (#23160340)

      That now that OLPC is no longer a threat that all of the other vendors of small low cost laptops will simply stop offering them... Just a thought... :)
      Asus is doing very well with its flagship offering.
      The people who don't get it right may stop offering small lappies, but at last there is a small, uncrippled (unlike I-Openers etc) flash drive computer in a very convenient form-factor.
      OLPC may die out, but their business model isn't our problem. Asus proved that running a real desktop OS in that package is what consumers want as opposed to deliberately crippled equipment running crippled operating systems. Crippling gives "product differentiation", but it still leaves a gap. Asus just exploited that gap.
      • by tgatliff (311583)
        I think allot of this depends on the margins.. Meaning, on the low end, the vendor is forced to try to go for volume at the expense of individual product margins. Dell can tell you first hand the long-term effects of this...

        The key is how much competition exists in this space. If Asus can make money after their support and managing costs are figured it, then they might keep it around. A problem that many businesses are having in the advanced industrial nations, however, is that the cost of business over
        • by couchslug (175151)
          "I think allot of this depends on the margins.. Meaning, on the low end, the vendor is forced to try to go for volume at the expense of individual product margins."

          Asus could do massive volume of each design by keeping it available and gradually dropping the price. Upscaling features and prices is normal enough, but the tooling for the first versions is paid for. They could keep spitting them out and secure the market by flooding it.
      • You don't cite any sources or define what you mean when you say "Asus is doing very well with its flagship offering.". However the chief error is more profound than that. Asus' business model isn't our problem either. Asus isn't running an educational project. Asus is just another corporation making just another laptop.

        Many people conflate OLPC's work (which really is an educational project) with making a low-end ultra-inexpensive laptop because they view everything through first world consumer's eyes.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        OLPC may die out, but their business model isn't our problem. Asus proved that running a real desktop OS in that package is what consumers want as opposed to deliberately crippled equipment running crippled operating systems.

        If you think that the OLPC is "Crippled" or that its OS is crippled, then you obviously don't understand the system.

        The OLPC uses far less power than any "competitor" (the OLPC is not competing with them, by design) and NO other machine that I know of has the same type of networking subsystem which is a mesh-networking AP, not just a WiFi NIC. No other machine has a screen that does what the XO's screen does, either.

        Try again when you understand what the machine is for.

      • OLPC may die out, but their business model isn't our problem.

        That assumes that it is a for-profit operation. But it isn't, it is an attempt to give third world children better tools for learning.

        Asus proved that running a real desktop OS in that package is what consumers want as opposed to deliberately crippled equipment running crippled operating systems.

        OLPC isn't aimed at first world consumers and what they want, it is designed to be (among other things) extremely robust and power efficient.
    • Come on, with the size of demand that's been uncovered for them? Nah. Certainly I can't see Asus giving up any time soon, since they're shifting Eees faster than they can ship them... and since I'm both broke and cheap, I've promised myself an Elonex ONE if/when they arrive.
  • It looks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by esocid (946821) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @11:24AM (#23158904) Journal
    like Bender was kind of forced to resign since all of his responsibilities were absorbed into the other 4 restructured areas. Since January the OLPC has lost three top execs, one of whom was asked to stop collaborating with Bender. Something seems a little fishy with this operation now.

    In an interview with BusinessWeek in early March, OLPC Chairman Negroponte said OLPC was "doing almost impossible things," and that the organization needed to be managed "more like Microsoft." He said OLPC was reorganizing into four departments and looking for a CEO to lead the nonprofit.
    • by Abcd1234 (188840)
      So you're saying there's something wrong with MS's management structure? Or are you just throwing out baseless speculation for kicks, with a little MS bashing for flavour?

      Oh, right, this is Slashdot...
      • by esocid (946821)
        Not that, it just sounds like now MS has its hand in it somehow. And I'm wondering how long that non-profit label lasts. Like I said, something just doesn't seem right about it now.
        • by Abcd1234 (188840)
          Right, so it's baseless speculation with a little MS bashing thrown in for flavour.

          Honestly, the guy makes one reference to MS-like management structure, and all of a sudden it's an MS conspiracy?

          Sorry, no, it's far easier to just assume the most simple, obvious answer: OLPC is growing, and they've discovered they need to change the way they manage the project in order to succeed. I know, shocking. And what better model to use for managing a large project than that used by one of the *largest computer co
          • by Abcd1234 (188840)
            BTW, I should say "software companies", but since they don't just manufacture software, that isn't quite right either. Technology companies? *shrug*
  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @11:24AM (#23158914) Homepage

    It was the demotion of Bender that prompted Ivan Krstic' to resign [radian.org] last month, so the damage to OLPC by their stupid demotion of Bender is not limited to just the loss of him. I wonder if anyone else will be leaving over this?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      krstic is not a loss to OLPC; I worked there for 2 years and Ivan was nothing but an egotistical brat who never showed up for meetings where he was supposed to present code he'd written, because he never actually wrote more than 500 lines of code and instead got interns to do everything he should have been doing from day 1.
  • by styryx (952942) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @11:29AM (#23158974)
    Direct Link to Resignation letter [laptop.org]

    I was going to submit this story after finding it on Digg or Reddit; the headline was focusing on Negreponte(sp?) allegedly wishing to partner with MS to put XP on XO in order to sell more units. After reading the letter and there being no mention of it I decided against submission.
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      Well, even if the rumor was true, I don't think he would publicly say anything, if only to protect what is left of OLPC. If he did say anything, people would just call him selfish and uncaring for the children he wanted to help.
    • by Locutus (9039)
      my thought was that there is an NDA which restricts him from saying such things. He may not have signed it but it sure sounds like Negroponte is willing to sign such a thing and NDA's can restrict organizations not just one or two in the org.

      LoB
    • by westlake (615356)
      I read the letter before submitting the story, but, be to perfectly honest. I couldn't extract much substance from it.
  • by FrankDrebin (238464) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @11:48AM (#23159212) Homepage
    ... "bite my rubberized, lime-green ass."
    • He went on to say:

      "I'm going to build my own OLPC! With blackjack and hookers! In fact, forget the OLPC. Aw, screw the whole thing."
  • Negroponte said Bender was burned out after helping to shape OLPC for two years" But Bender already has new plans: to launch an independent effort [google.com] to further the development of the XOs' homegrown software, known as Sugar, and get it to run on Linux computers other than XOs. "Sugar is in a narrow place and it is ripe to be unleashed," he wrote in an e-mail exchange. The AP article alos goes on to quote Negroponte as saying: "that an overriding insistence on open-source had hampered the XOs, saying Sugar "gr
  • It appears Slashdot's editors didn't not even click the links. OLPC News is a Microsoft FUD shill. Don't like them except to point out that they are lying baboons.

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