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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Cell Phone Literacy Ideas in China
I just had a great meeting with Jenny Zhao where we talked about the cell phone industry in China. Jenny manages the China operations for a global cell phone technology company. One of our dreams for the Route 66 technology is that it could be used to teach reading to people all over the world, in English as well as other languages. Having the chance to talk to an expert like Jenny helped me understand the development environment, which cell phone capabilities are widespread in China as well as practical differences in the issues that would be facing us in a country like China. This is an example of why I like my job so much: top people are especially excited to share their knowledge when the topic is doing something socially beneficial.
Of course, it could be years before we do something like this in China, but the seed's been planted!
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…
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 had a very unfortunate reminder of the fragile state of each human being this week. Just after returning from India and Bangladesh, I received word that one of my key contacts and hosts had suddenly passed away.
Professor Vinod Sena was a retired professor of English literature at the University of Delhi. Visually impaired his entire life, he was a tireless advocate for the blind and visually impaired as well as a shining role model. He has been described as the pioneer of Talking Books in India, and had been campaigning for a copyright law change to make it easier to provide access to accessible books. While I was in India, I picked up the newspaper and saw that he had just received a Helen Keller award for his work.
I know that the advocates for the blind and visually impaired will continue his work, initially with a heavy heart, but with the confidence that they are following in the footsteps of a great man.