Sebastian Silva | 1 Dec 23:17 2008

Re: Sugar Labs introduction

I realize I should have jumped into this discussion earlier. Please
excuse me, I've just put myself thru an intense matrixesque
self-learning weeks around learning communities, communities of
practice, community learning, critical pedagogy, radical pedagogy,
network logics (economies, brains, forests, evolution, the internet),
network economics, ecology, emergent control, beekeeping, and
de-centralized governance... it's been fascinating.
My research question has been "¿how to jumpstart an ecosystem?"

The reason for my research is because I've been looking for a
sustainability model for our FuenteLibre.Org grassroots initiative.
I'll briefly relate our story: Born peruvian, raised in Chile,
came to Lima where I have familiy a year ago to volunteer for OLPC.
Got into suport-gang, eek,
support for G1G1? So Walter comes, brings me an XO laptop, I meet
Hernan Pachas from the ministry, and I offer to organize volunteers
for support and training, etc. At the time, they had their hands full
(and their heads), so they informed me they would not be working with
volunteers, "they would handle it" and that "I should not worry about

I understood immediately that for this project to succeed, it needed
community involvement and transparency. I rallied for volunteers and
got over 150 emails from educators, techies and all sorts of people
accross Perú interested in helping out. I tailored a Xubuntu+Sugar
LiveCD in spanish for download. Alas, as yama puts it, I was "nobody",
so we were left out of helping out in the deployment and were pointed
to "boring" (but important) stuff like translating the wiki. This was
very frustrating and I will not make this mistake again. This is not
to say we wont translate - its part of our mission too.

Now back to the point, Regional SugarLabs. I investigated the Ubuntu
LoCoTeam "model" if there is such a thing. I found none, sorry to say,
only a Howto describing very crude "how to run a team" and "what a
team can do". It does not go into the relation to the mission a local
group should have, the relationship it would have with SL central
("explicit connections outside" mantra). It also does not touch into
the organizational principles or the strategies or goals of a

The ubuntu LoCo team is explicitly compared to Linux user groups, that
is, interest groups, fan clubs. That is what it is, basically, a fan
club. Now I know sugar has fans, I'm one of them, but ubuntu has a
large user base and great momentum, neither of which sugar has. In the
spirit of the message being the medium, nobody is getting the message.

Regional SugarLabs should be highly autonomous, carry their own
identity and mission (which should significantly overlap or include
central sugarlabs's mission). They should agree on similar set of
values / principles and also joint set of goals. We just want to be
"community centers", nodes in a network, not "Regional Offices".
Basically this means recognition as local partners and ability to
collect donations for our efforts. The reason for this perhaps is
obvious: ¿How are we to expect peer recognition if our own structure
is vertical?

I'm thinking the problem is the underlying model of "aid" - developed
countries helping developing countries. How are we hoping to bridge
the divide with this mental model?
I suggest a diffent approach, an education project aproach for
de-centralized massive collaboration for learning communities.
FuenteLibre leverages Sugar fot this and hopes to explore the realm of
libre social networking (integrating Elgg with the schoolserver for
instance). This way the medium is the message. For supporting this
model I'll point you to some strategies in this book: "New Rules for the New Economy" by Kevin
Kelly, in summary:

1) Embrace the Swarm.
2) Increasing Returns.
3) Plentitude, Not Scarcity.
4) Follow the Free.
5) Feed the Web First.
6) Let Go at the Top.
7) From Places to Spaces
8) No Harmony, All Flux.
9) Relationship Tech.
10) Opportunities Before Efficiencies.

So paraphrasing NN, regional sugarlabs Are Educations Projects, not
Software development projects. This is important, because as such, we
will be more involved in deployment / integration / training.
FuenteLibre, is currently involved in a potential deployment of 2300
desktop computers with Sugar and Ubuntu, and will be offering a
community learning workshop model for the regional education direction
tech team that will be deploying and supporting these 200 computer

We would be more like a community managed education technology
consultant non profit, community partner of sugarlabs and working
closely in accordance to whatever we agree. One of FuenteLibre's goals
is also to explore replicable / scalable governance model for learning
communities, so we would encourage more local groups with diverse
models / missions, and support and incubate them, provided they agree
to the givene set of principles.

This brings us to the principles, which I'm currently working on very
heavily for FuenteLibre, for to quote Greg again, in large
de-centralized projects, the values are the organization. One point
here where FuenteLibre has a strong commitment is with free software
and once our discourse and our legal personality (in the works) are in
place, we will lauch a campaign for rejecting propietary software in
education (this is also an example of why we shuold keep our own

I'll preparing the principles for FuenteLiber and our new site at

Thanks for walking with me thru this, and thank you for your support
of our efforts!

I'll add my comments to the other stuff bellow.


2008/11/28 Rafael Enrique Ortiz Guerrero <dirakx <at>>:
> For example here in Colombia,  OLPC/Sugar pilots are beginning to get
> managed by Companies or Foundations, with needs for money but not with needs
> for doing things well or loving what they are doing ;).

> Barely they are beginning to understand the project, but they are
> truly advanced in relation to contracts.($$$).
> In addition to this, they are not even remotely interested in free software
> communities...and in some way the liberties are getting compromised.

In our economies, there is not much meritorcracy. Contracts are gained
by influence. We grassroots geeks have no influence. You re our only
point of refernce for influence and we expect your full support
because we locally represent our shared principles that are being
compromised by these incumbents.

> So as David says there are two schemes, and people in countries can begin to
> adjust to one or another.
I'm very interested in this "company partner" scheme. Will be
monitoring and figuring how to make it work here as well.

>> > On Sat, Nov 29, 2008 at 1:13 PM, Yamandu Ploskonka
>> > <yamaplos <at>> wrote:
>> >
>> >> One thing that we need to see is about giving legitimacy to volunteers
>> >> in
>> >> countries where only if you have an "official" piece of paper you are
>> >> to be
>> >> taken into account.  Right now I have an active, enthusiastic, capable
>> >> volunteer in Uruguay who is not taken into account by higher
>> >> authorities
>> >> because he basically is "nobody".
>> >>
He must be my twin brother then! Please put us in touch.

PS: I'd like to have my blog on planet too, tags OLPC and Sugar... Thanks!!

Sebastian Silva
Iniciativa FuenteLibre