Twofish's Blog

July 28, 2006

Must keep mouth shut about one laptop per child project

Filed under: china, massachusetts institute of technology — twofish @ 4:01 pm

I’m going to be in Cambridge next week for the Hacking Days for wikimania, and the hardest thing is going to be to keep my mouth shut about the one laptop per child project where the project is going to talk place. Looking at the outside, it looks like a classic example of “well meaning, well intentioned project that is going to get nothing done in the end.”

I’m going to have to keep my mouth shut since I’ve found it is not useful to offer constructive criticism when it is not going to be taken seriously. What happens when you do that is that the other side just gets defensive, and the two get into an argument which just wastes everyone’s time. If I’ve going to spend effort talking, it is going to be in an environment where the person on the other end is actually going to listen and think about what I’ve said. Otherwise, what’s the point? The objections that I’m going to make is going to be the same as the objections other people have made, and those don’t seem to be taken any any degree of seriousness.

I’ve been in situations like this in corporations, and the strategy I’ve had is to close my eyes, bite my tongue, and hope that I am wrong about my objections and that the project is a success (which has happened from time to time).

Here’s one objection. What happens if you give every five year old in the world, an quarter ounce of gold, for them to carry around to school. I suspect that very bad things will happen. But that’s what you are doing.

Anyway, I’m writing this on the off chance that someone in a position of power will actually care what I think. If this isn’t the case (which is usually the case), I can say that at least I tried, and not feel guilty.


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