Showing posts from November, 2010

Testimony From Benetech’s Daniel Guzmán Helps Establish Legal Precedent and Convictions for Forced Disappearance in Guatemala

I announced in this blog last month that judges in Guatemala had found two former police officers guilty in the 1984 forced disappearance of Guatemalan student and union leader Edgar Fernando García. Expert testimony by Benetech statistical consultant Daniel Guzmán provided critical evidence in the conviction of the former Guatemalan National Police officers Abraham Lancerio Gómez and Héctor Roderico Ramírez. Gómez and Ramírez were each sentenced to the maximum term of 40 years in prison for their role in García’s disappearance. This historical ruling has established forced disappearance as a crime in Guatemala and provided government prosecutors with a key legal precedent needed to investigate higher ranking officers for their possible role in the case. You can read more about the verdict here . The entire staff here at Benetech is extremely proud of Daniel Guzmán and his colleagues at the Benetech Human Rights Program who have spent four years analyzing random samples of the estimate

Signals - Stoplights for student success

At the STS meeting in Kyoto, I had the pleasure of meeting France Córdova, the president of Purdue University. I took my first full pattern recognition course at Purdue long ago and far away (my brother Bill is a Boilermaker/Purdue alum, too). France mentioned some cool education technology that had been developed at Purdue, called Signals - Stoplights for student success . Signals blends two key ideas: The patterns of student failure can be spotted early: much earlier than existing systems relying on failing midterms! Purdue can spot patterns that indicate a much higher chance of failure, and intervene early. Simple communications design that everybody gets: green light, yellow light, red light. And, get these signals to both students and faculty. I was able to talk to one of the senior team at Purdue about this at the recent launch of Purdue's Silicon Valley presence. He was quite realistic about the limitations of the system. For example, a really bright student who can pu

The Tech Awards - Technology Benefiting Humanity

A Guest Beneblog by Teresa Throckmorton, Benetech's CFO Walking into the Santa Clara Convention Center last night looked very much like so many other black tie events – but that’s where the similarity ended. I just attended the 2010 Tech Awards Gala Event . Awards were presented in five areas: Environment, Economic Development, Education, Equality and Health. Inside there were 20 stations set up with this year’s laureates. Talking with each of these passionate and amazing individuals was fascinating. It was hard to stop talking to one – so I could move on to the next. The impacts these people and their organizations make are being felt world-wide. Using technology as a base for knowing change is possible, change is happening. What did I learn last night? I learned that in some parts of India everyone has a cell phone but few have indoor plumbing or access to clean water – change is happening. I learned it’s now possible to give immunizations and antibiotics with a needle-fr

Work on What Matters — Social Edge

I'm having a conversation over at Social Edge on What Matters . Feel free to join in the conversation and share your views on the topic. Here's my kick-off post for the thread: I was impressed when I heard Tim O'Reilly, one of the main thought leaders in information technology, 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 work on technology because I loved doing it. 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

Wikileaks War Data Reveal Underreporting of Iraqi Civilian Casualties

A Guest Beneblog by Anita Gohdes, Jeff Klingner, Megan Price and Patrick Ball The recent release of almost 400,000 secret US military files on the war in Iraq through Wikileaks has attracted wide media coverage . These documents, officially known as the significant acts database (SIGACTS), add new insights to the ongoing debate on how many casualties have occurred in Iraq since the beginning of the war. The unofficial Iraq Body Count (IBC) , which tracks civilian casualties in Iraq based on press reports and administrative records, has initiated a comparison of their own data to the deaths documented in the SIGACTS data. In a commendable effort, they are recoding the SIGACTS data to correct coding errors and in order to match it with their own database. They have estimated that the SIGACTS describes 15,000 civilian deaths previously undocumented by IBC (BBC’s report is here ). Most of these previously-unknown deaths occurred in small incidents, in which 1-3 people were killed