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Using Software and Data to Change the World

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I had the honor to be the opening keynoter for the first-ever Good Tech Fest, which was held in Detroit on May 22, 2018.  It was a blast to be with an entire conference full of social good software and data people from around the world.

Using Software and Data to Change the World We are in an amazing time. Society is a buzz about new technology: artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, autonomous cars, the surveillance state, and more.

And then we take a time machine and journey into the past – no wait! It’s just the present day social good sector. It just seems like Y2K!

 Probably like many of you, I feel like a time traveler when I’m asked constantly about what machine learning and blockchain can do for the communities we want to help, and the social enterprises that serve them. Of course we know that the questioner has no data to speak of and today’s answer is probably “nothing.” With a pronounced shrug.

But wait, there’s a silver lining here. We have to realize tha…

Bringing Millions of Books to Billions of People: Making the Book Truly Accessible

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I believe in the power of books to change the world.That is not a particularly radical belief among librarians, but I hope to make you believe even more in the power of books. Literacy and access to knowledge underpins just about every social good, from education, to economic development, to health, to women’s empowerment, democracy and respect for human rights. Today, we are poised at a moment in time where we can transcend the limitations of past book technologies and bring the power of books to all humans.

To bring the power of books to everybody on this planet, we must make books truly accessible.
Love of the print book. It made me who I am. I’m a big fan of the printed book and always have been. However, as a technology, printed books come with serious challenges for some communities (like blind people) that technology can unlock.

Consider the issues with printed books. First, they are place-based. In order to read a printed book, you must have physical access to it.  What if you…

Tribute to My Mentor

In honor of Gerry Davis, April 2018 My mentor passed away earlier this month. I have had the benefit of numerous mentors over my long career, but Gerry Davis was The Mentor. We worked together for over 35 years, from the very beginnings of my Silicon Valley career. Gerry’s incredible advice guided me along my entire path, and so many crucial turning points went well because of Gerry’s invaluable insight and guidance.
Gerry was one of the earliest computer software attorneys, and even wrote one of the firstbooks on the subject. I could always count on Gerry to come up with a breakthrough idea that made something I dreamed about doing become a reality. He considered himself a “problem-solving lawyer” and warned me against getting involved with “problem-creating lawyers!” I am incredibly indebted to Gerry for so many reasons but want to highlight three in particular.

First, Gerry turned me from a geek into a businessperson and entrepreneur. When I cofounded my first (successful) Silicon…

Jamila Hassoune, the Librarian of Marrakesh, announces a new Book Caravan

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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 …