Showing posts from March, 2006

Posts from the Skoll World Forum

I have been blogging for Social Edge this week, and have grouped together several of my blogs from there for the Beneblog! Here are 50 from the Skoll World Forum, Oxford 2006 - a photoset on Flickr. One of the major themes of working with the Skoll Foundation is the focus on stories. That's what Jeff does with Participant Productions, and a big piece of the Foundation's efforts are around helping us tell stories. Many social entrepreneurs actively avoid telling stories about themselves: they tell stories about other people more easily. At last night's awards ceremonies, the highlight was seeing four short films on four of the Skoll Social entrepreneurs. I learned that my buddy Martin Burt was on the front line of a revolution in Paraguay when mayor of the capital city, by calling in garbage trucks and bulldozers to surround the congress building while the army was busy shooting people. Only the tenacity of the filmmakers got this story out of Martin, who otherwise would

Biggest Disability Tech Conference of the Year

Last week's CSUN conference was great. It's the biggest disability tech conference of the year in the U.S., and there was lots of exciting things happening. The biggest highlight was talking to Jim Barbour of Google. I've been working on Google's accessibility opportunities (and problems) for some time, and their CAPTCHA (the distorted letters you need to type in to get access) has been a huge problem for access for blind people. I had heard from other Google people (like Larry Page) that this problem was being actively discussed, but Jim confirmed that efforts were really proceeding to fix this. Susie Mckinnon of and I gave a talk called NIMAS 101, designed to demystify the upcoming new NIMAS standard (hey, it's just HTML plus some extra tags that help navigation, and works great in your browser). NIMAS is the new format that all K-12 textbooks in the U.S. will be delivered in starting at the end of 2006. After the talk, I found that Prof. Norm

In Oxford for the Skoll Forum

I'm already here in Oxford and getting ready for the Skoll World Forum. This week I'm hanging out with the Skoll crowd and they've picked out a really cool hotel that used to be the Oxford prison (the hotel's name is Malmaison, or "bad house"). My room is made from three former jailcells. The windows still have bars on them. Reminds me of my old office five years ago at Moffett Field (which used to be the drug dispensary and had bars to keep people out, not in!). The door is still the same metal encased door with a porthole for grub (haven't figured out if room service has a key). However, the hotel added a standard door handle to make it into a hotel room. When you go out the door, you're looking at a typical prison cell block with catwalks and all. My excitement about being here is based on the people I'm going to get to meet. First, there's time with my peers, other social entrepreneurs. This was a big highlight last year, and one o

Newsline and Grow Accessible Newspapers!

We have just announced the formal launch of our Newsline/ partnership with the National Federation of the Blind. We have 125 daily papers available for download on, thanks to NFB's work on securing agreements with newspaper publishers. This means that people with disabilities can get the daily newspaper at the same time as everybody else, and in the form they prefer: Braille, large print or synthetic speech. The release has already been published online: Blind advocacy group's 'Newsline' to grow. This is the big disability technology week: I'm at the CSUN conference in Los Angeles right now to give a couple of talks and have a bunch of meetings. This is the biggest conference of the year, and everybody who's developing adaptive technology will be here. Our big task at is making sure that we work with everyvbody who provides access technology for text. Good news is that people are motivated, since we're the large

Skoll Provides Major Support to Benetech!

I am so happy to report that we are receiving over $1.2 million in support from the Skoll Foundation. Jeff Skoll's foundation has been one of our significant supporters over the past few years, but this reflects a quadrupling of their annual general support levels for us, compared to the last two years. The Benetech team is very excited about what this means for us and the communities we serve. And, I'll be going to Oxford at the end of this month to the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship to accept the award on behalf of the Benetech team. Here's the press release from Skoll announcing all of this year's Skoll Award winners: Skoll Foundation Awards $16 Million to Nonprofits Around the World in Support of Social Entrepreneurship.

Wired News: Coders Bare Invasion Death Count

Wired News: Coders Bare Invasion Death Count We have gotten excellent press for our human rights program lately. The Wired News story did a great job of covering our work in East Timor/Timor Leste. And, our Martus human rights software was covered in a South African publication, with an article entitled: Free software working for human rights . That same article was picked up elsewhere in Africa, such as the Mail and Guardian Online. Our work in human rights depends on the press to get the word out to many people, since there isn't a strong business case for doing advertising of our work! We really appreciate journalists who are interested in covering the efforts of our human rights group and the people we support.