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!
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I am just back from the Africa Economic Summit in Mozambique. I was very impressed with President Chissano, the former Marxist revolutionary who is stepping down next year after leading his country for 18 years. His embrace of business development, reform, and advancing the interests of his people made quite an impression on me. He also has a terrific sense of humor. I usually doze off when politicians start their pre-programmed speeches: Chissano was riveting and real.
I am still on the Skoll high
Just back from my week in Oxford with my head buzzing and Michael Franti's social change anthem "Good to be Alive Today" ringing in my ears. It's hard to explain why this is the one conference a year I always make the time for. It's a powerful mix of inspiration, singing, ideas and most importantly, peer brainstorming. I have more than a year's worth of ideas for social good. Let me share just a few!
Systems Entrepreneurship is on the Rise
Jeff Walker has been making the case for what he calls "systems entrepreneurship" at Harvard's Kennedy School, Skoll and in a new SSIR article. He uses examples such as the campaign to eliminate malaria to demonstrate we need a new class of backbone organizations (borrowing from the collective impact concept identified by FSG) who are around organizing larger scale systems change with an ecosystem of players, as opposed to setting out as one organization to make the change single…
I first met Paul over thirty years ago. My first (successful) Silicon Valley company had Sevin-Rosen as lead investors, and Roger Borovoy was our board chair, the former Intel General Counsel. Roger thought that outside board service would be a good experience for an up and coming Intel executive, and that our startup would really benefit from Paul's input. The company went on to great success, and today is still represented in the product lines of Nuance (NUAN).
Paul was there on the fateful day when I presented a reading machine prototype to the Calera Recognition Systems board. The board's veto of the project (because it wasn't a big enough financial…
“Your secure software is open source: doesn’t that make it less secure?”
This is a recurring question that we get at Benetech about Martus—our free, strongly encrypted tool for secure collection and management of sensitive information, built and provided by the Benetech Human Rights Program. It’s an important question for us and for all of our peers developing secure software in today’s post-Snowden environment of fear and worry about surveillance. We strongly believe not only that open source is compatible with digital security, but that it’s also essential for it.
Let me explain with the following analogy:
Think of encryption as a locked combination safe for your data. You may be the only one who has the combination, or you may entrust it to select few close associates. The goal of a safe is to keep unauthorized people from gaining access to its content. They might be burglars attempting to steal valuable business information; employees trying to learn confidential salary informati…