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Showing posts from July, 2006

IWith.org - A Spanish Tech Social Enterprise

IWith.org - A Spanish Tech Social Enterprise

I have just gotten back from a great family vacation (may post a picture or two) where we ended the trip up in Spain for five days. It reminded me of this cool social enterprise group I have been in touch with, founded by Jordi Duran (originally from Barcelona). Jordi's background is similar to mine (but he's much younger!): successful high tech entrepreneur turning to the social applications of information technology.

They have a large array of IT projects focused on the Spanish speaking NGO world. They are doing a big project in Guatemala around open source software for the Maya community (including translating Open Office into Kiche), as well as several technology initiatives including Application Service Provider (ASP) implementations for NGO IT needs. I am hoping to stay in touch and learn more about Iwith.org in the future.

Disability Benefits 101

A great example of what technology can do when it is designed with people at its center is the new website: Disability Benefits 101: Working with a Disability in California. I ran into the guy who runs it, Bryon MacDonald of World Institute on Disability, at a recent event of the Community Technology Foundation of California.

DB101.org is designed to help guide the person with a disability who is considering going back to work. It turns out that figuring out whether working helps or hurts you is much more complicated than figuring out your taxes! So, this website takes you through the process for a given job and shows you roughly what to expect.

I liked the demonstration Bryon showed: straightforward language around a very complex and inaccessible topic. I hope that it becomes a major part of getting more people with disabilities who want to work into the workforce!

Route 66 Hits the News (and the road!)

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Great article today in the San Jose Mercury News. Palo Alto company's innovative software uses photos to teach the developmentally disabled. We really appreciate our local partner, C.A.R., in testing Route 66 and giving us lots of great feedback.

We enjoy working with Benetech's funders, who share our passion for changing the world. Dave Severns and his family's foundation has been our lead funder for Route 66. Dave takes supporting Route 66 seriously, and just got back from a road trip where he drove Route 66. We appreciate this as the beginning of our comarketing push with the Route 66 highway!

Our other main funder is the Special Hope Foundation, which just surprised us with a follow-on grant for Route 66 this month! I think they knew we needed funding for the next phase of Route 66, now that we are spooling up our efforts. So, our engineers are forging ahead with new features for Route 66.

Katrina IT Musings

Katrina/IT musings

I've been corresponding with a college friend of mine from Caltech, CJ. She did a lot of work on the hurricane aftermath (she's an expert on hazardous waste, and a gazillion other things). I thought her comments would be worth posting. They remind me a lot of Rod Beckstrom's ideas that I posted earlier about IT support following a disaster.


Hi Jim,

I think you phrased an interesting question about the IT community's role in helping.

A smart emergency management person once said that anything is useful in emergency response if it reduces one of the following:
Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity or Ambiguity
which is phrased with the acronym VUCA. The IT community would be more with the "U' part of this from my perspective.

The two places I looked for mechanisms are the
(1) United Nations APELL program (Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies on a Local Level)
and
(2) the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's National Response Plan, whic…

My Latest President's Update

Four times a year (theoretically), I put out a more comprehensive update on Benetech's doings. It took me over six months to get this latest one out, partly because so much has been going on. And, it's pretty uniformly good stuff!

So, if you haven't seen it yet, please enjoy my latest President's Update.

Route 66 Goes Public

We just launched the Route 66 Literacy web site. It has information about the Route 66 concept and includes a pointer to a public demo site with free sample content.

I really appreciate the funding we have had for Route 66 from the Severns and Special Hope Foundations: it's made it possible for us to go this far. We also just received news of some additional funding and are continuing to develop the technology further. I think Karen Erickson's creation has terrific potential for expanding literacy!