What happens when technology can do great things for humanity, but doesn't make a lot of money? Jim Fruchterman explores the social entrepreneurship side of technology applications: how to get great tech tools to the people who often need them the most, but are least able to afford them!
Dr. Patrick Ball, who has just joined Benetech, will be teaching a course at UC Berkeley starting in late January entitledMeasurement of Human Rights Violations. We are excited about this linkage to a premier university in our area, and hope it leads to some exciting work!
What is really exciting is that I will be speaking on two panels at the Forum on the social applications of high technology, alongside major high tech industry leaders from 3COM, Google, Siemens, CNET and Akamai as well as Paul Meyer of Voxiva. Last year I was delighted with the level of interest shown in the larger societal issues by attendees (that was in addition to the incredible tension over the then-looming Iraq conflict). I'm looking forward to blogging more on this event in January.
I spent the weekend at the quarterly board meeting of the Social Enterprise Alliance. Our group puts on the big event in the social enterprise space: nonprofits that used earned income strategies as part of supporting their mission.
Normally, such board meetings can be boring, even with the incredibly interesting group we have on our board! But, we tried something that really deepened my understanding of this group of social entrepreneurs. It was fascinating.
Each of the board and staff members took the time to tell their life story in the context of how we came to become involved in social entrepreneurship. Although our life experiences were vastly different, there were clearly some patterns that held true of most of us. Many came from a religious background: Buddhism, Christianity and Judaism all figured in, even if people had moved away from these roots. Most had come to the social sector as idealists, and were disappointed to find the limitations they encountered. And each…
Having returned from my recent trip to Singapore and Sri Lanka, I am glad that I had the opportunity to talk to the different groups and get a real picture of the issues they are most concerned about.
In Singapore, the discussions were on how to bring information technology to blind people in the region. Personal computers aren't within the reach of most blind people in the region. There is a real issue with cross-border sharing of information, since copyright law exceptions that benefit blind people are implemented on a country-by-country basis. From a Benetech standpoint, our challenge is figuring a sustainable way to deliver a Bookshare.org type service to these communities.
Sri Lanka is twenty months into a cease-fire following twenty-five years of civil conflict. The human rights groups, legal aid groups and academic groups I had the honor of meeting are dealing with two types of human rights information issues. The first is the aftermath of the civil conflict, which tou…