Showing posts from May, 2011

Caltech and Sustainability

When I can find the time, I jump at the opportunity to visit universities. It stimulates the same pleasure center that brainstorming does for me! The universities I visit tend to be full of students and faculty committed to doing important and innovative work.

My recent visit to Caltech was no exception. Of course, I have a soft spot for Caltech, having gotten my two degrees there. It was a class at Caltech that prompted me to first think of making reading machines for blind people, my personal jumping off point that led me to found Benetech (hmm, name similarity probably not a coincidence!). I no longer do any of the scientific work I was trained to do. But, Caltech taught me how to size up a problem and model how a system works: skills that have been indispensable in both my entrepreneurial and social entrepreneurial pursuits!

The most exciting thread of the day concerned sustainability. I was turned on to climate and energy issues six years ago by reading Caltech professor David Good…

Martus: The Next Generation

Benetech brainstorms are always a treat: it's a chance for all of us to step back and imagine how much more and better we could be doing for our users. Today, Captain Patrick (Ball, not Stewart), our VP Human Rights, led a brainstorm on the next major upgrade of our Martus secure human rights database software with our human rights program team as well as key technical leaders.

The graphic above was delivered to us purporting to be our agenda. It kicked off our meeting with even greater enthusiasm. Human rights is serious work, but it always helps to be inspired!

And Jeff Klingner (who cooked this up) asked that I credit CBS Studios for the still from Star Trek: The Next Generation and for the captioning technology!

Day at University of Washington

Benetech Truth #1: Social Change Through Technology

[Note: this is part one of seven posts on the Benetech Truths.]

The world has big problems. We need fresh, original solutions that are better than the status quo. Technology has revolutionized business, but bringing those breakthrough developments to government, education and the nonprofit sectors can take 5, 10, even 15 years. It doesn’t have to be that way.

We’re convinced that there are many innovative social applications of technology could make a 5X or a 10X or even a 15X improvement over status quo solutions.

At Benetech, our team is committed to using technology to drive positive social change. We want to see technology serve much more of humanity than just the richest ten percent. We use technology to create products and projects that serve humanity where the market will fail to go because they offer modest financial returns.

To create these breakthrough solutions, our team uses its skills to build upon the incredible talents and productivity of the larger tech community. We jus…

Benetech: President's Update

Benetech President's Update

Winter 2011

I’m pleased to provide you you a detailed update on Benetech for the first time in two years. Last summer I talked about our great summer interns and fellows and early this year, I sent a copy of our 20th Anniversary Report that talked about our entire history. Reviewing where we were at the beginning of 2009, it’s amazing to see the growth in impact that Benetech and our team have had in the world. It’s worth celebrating but even more important, worth recognizing the incredible opportunities that we now have to make a difference on an even broader scale. I’m spending more and more of my time trying to figure out what’s next for Benetech—how we can do much more.

Bookshare Hits 100,000 Members

Since the beginning of 2009, we’ve tripled the number of people with disabilities Bookshare is serving with our accessible library of ebooks. For years, our extraordinary cohort of dedicated volunteer scanners has provided Bookshare with most of its new con…

Day at University of Washington