What happens when technology can do great things for humanity, but doesn't make a lot of money? Technology and social entrepreneur Jim Fruchterman explores the social good 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 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.
I've been privileged to meet so many awesome social entrepreneurs around the world, doing fabulous work without much recognition (and often, even less funding).
Jamila Hassoune is one of those social entrepreneurs, and we share a love for books and the power of access to books. We've been in touch for almost fifteen years, and I met her in person in 2014 when I was attending the diplomatic conference that resulted in the Treaty of Marrakesh. She's known as the Librarian of Marrakesh, in recognition of her dedication to books and her role as Morocco's first woman bookseller.
She leads Book Caravans into Morocco's rural regions to share knowledge, books and history with students and women.
She just sent me the announcement of her new Book Caravan:
The 13th book caravan
Under the theme: The valorization of our heritage is a responsibility of our present and our future.
Jamila Hassoune is pleased to announce the 13th Edition of the book caravan from April 16 …
I am incredibly excited to let you know that earlier this month we announced that Betsy Beaumon, Benetech’s current president, will be taking over as CEO of Benetech. Betsy is a recognized social entrepreneur who has dedicated much of her career to changing the world with software.
Our board and I are looking forward to Betsy leading Benetech to even greater impact. Under Betsy’s guidance, Benetech is developing new software for social good enterprises to connect communities with inclusive technology:
Service Net: Reshaping the social safety net in human services to better connect people to the services they need. Born Accessible: Working with publishers to ensure that any new ebook is accessible to people who read differently - with the goal of one day making Bookshare obsolete. Connected Civil Society: Applying machine learning and computer vision to document human rights violations and promote accountability in Syria in collaboration with the UN. Data for Inclusion: Enabling people…