Showing posts from May, 2010

Microsoft's Fight Against Child Porn

Last week I was invited to attend Microsoft’s Citizenship Accelerator Summit. This was an opportunity for Microsoft’s management, including Steve Ballmer (Microsoft’s CEO) and other senior executives, to share what socially beneficial activities Microsoft is up to. Some of this was either predictable (but laudable) such as supporting volunteerism or the United Way, or activities I was aware of and have admired in the past. This latter category included such great projects as Tech Soup Global, which distributes donated Microsoft products at a deep, deep discount (a service we’ve used at Benetech for years) as well as support for the efforts of NetHope in disaster relief. NetHope is the organization of the CTOs/CIOs of the major global humanitarian NGOs, and gets a fair amount of support from Microsoft, Cisco and other tech companies. The most interesting project I saw was in the admittedly dark and unpleasant topic of combating child porn on the Internet. As the Microsoft staff poi

The New Miradi

Benetech is committed to developing technology for underserved communities that can reap big benefits from improved access to information. So we’re especially proud to announce the launch of Miradi version 3, the enhanced version of our user-friendly environmental conservation software. Miradi gives conservation planners cutting edge tools to design, manage, monitor and learn from their projects. The new Miradi 3 release offers a powerful work planning interface that lets users forecast expenses, develop budgets, and export project data to donor reports. The software also helps conservation teams prioritize environmental threats, develop objectives and actions, and select monitoring indicators to assess the effectiveness of their strategies. Miradi is the first software program designed especially by and for conservation planners based on a common set of environmental metrics. Miradi is a joint venture between Benetech and the Conservation Measures Partnership (CMP), a consortium of gl

Work on Stuff that Matters

I was impressed when I heard Tim O'Reilly recommending to all tech folks last year that they Work on Stuff that Matters . Tim's point wasn't that all tech developers should go to work for nonprofits, it was that people should step back and think about what matters to them. Life is too short to throw your professional life away on stuff you don't care about. Like many techies, I came to the field because I loved doing tech. We get a charge out of figuring things out, and understanding how the world works in a deep ways. Almost all the geeks I know want to do something important, something meaningful, whether exploring something new in cosmology, designing a building that could better resist an earthquake, cure a disease or design a new and faster chip. I see this hunger for meaning in most of the people I'm privileged to meet: from the college freshman to the fresh grad to the mid-career professional and the senior executive. We all want to work on Stuff That Matter

Measuring Conservation Effectiveness

At a two-day event at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation on changing an entire movement. The people attending all believe that we have to focus much more on conservation outcomes: are there more tigers? are there more gorillas? Nick Salafsky used the death of George Washington as an example of what happens when you don't use evidence in making decisions. Apparently, when George got sick, one of the early treatments was to bleed him. When that didn't work, they bled him again. And again. And again. By the time they'd removed more than six pints of blood in one day, he died. It wasn't until later that we found that with rare exceptions, bleeding people doesn't work! Measuring outcomes is difficult, measuring activities is easy. But, if we only measure activities, we could find ourselves being "successful" while the species we're trying to protect goes extinct or the biome we're trying to protect loses viability and diversity. The focus is