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!
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!
On occasion, I get to post family pictures to my blog. This one is noteworthy, as my son Andy just graduated from high school. As the Palo Alto Weekly put it (and put the picture on the cover of the paper): "Andy Fruchterman jumped up on a friend's shoulders to celebrate among the throngs of graduating seniors and their loved ones at Paly."
Rod Beckstrom, prominent Silicon Valley tech executive, was in Pakistan during the great quake (although not in the quake zone when the big one hit). He passed along some interesting requirements that are well worth thinking about. I am sure that Rod's concept is doable: may be being done already deep inside Google! Here are the comments I received from Rod:
When I was in Pakistan one month after the quake, I met with multiple groups involved in information sharing among the various thousands (literally) of NGOs and governmental groups. Basically there were no effective electronic means of communication. The only meaningful communication took place P2P as people called each other or in the daily and weekly meetings held at the two army centers in the region. Each center had a large tent with different transparencies, such as "destroyed schools," "destroyed mosques," or "destroyed hospitals" or "road blockages." The key data on these transp…