Monday, December 20, 2004

I had a rewarding time at the WRI Bottom of the Pyramid Conference last week. The basic concept was that business can help the 5 billion people at the bottom of the economic pyramid. My takeaway is something that many people has pointed out: that the cell phone has become an incredible engine of change for the poor. Earlier this year, I remember buying roasted cashews from a woman on the street in Maputo, Mozambique, who had her wares balanced on her head. Her ability to balance things continued to amaze when she answered her cell phone.

The presentation by Smart Communications of the Philippines was especially cool: they are turning the cell phone into a wallet for the poor. You can make cash withdrawals from your phone at McDonald's and thousands of other businesses. Almost all of their business is prepaid, and SMS is a huge part of the business because text messages are much cheaper than calls.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Check out the Bookshare.org Amazon.com Wish List. This contains a list of books we'd like to add to our digital library for people with print disabilities,
Bookshare.org. Books donated to Bookshare.org should be tax deductible, since Bookshare.org is operated by Benetech, a qualified tax exempt organization. Give the gift of reading this holiday season!

Friday, December 03, 2004

Technology and Human Rights Talk

My talk this week at Stanford was videoed and placed on the EE380 class website. I covered our Human Rights program, including the Martus Project and the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (which joined Benetech last year). This is based on a talk I gave in Sri Lanka last year at the University of Peradeniya, but with a heavier technology component given the engineering audience. Benetech is lucky to have a team of people who are making a big impact on the global human rights scene, by providing science, software and support for those advocating for human rights.