Showing posts from December, 2011

A Tale of Two Angels

When I first started pursuing the idea that technology can be harnessed to the cause of social good, it was pretty far out. Now, more than twenty years later, what has become known as social entrepreneurship is a hot global movement that is transforming the ways in which we approach the world’s most pressing problems and in which society organizes itself to solve them. Social entrepreneurship has its own conferences, publications, academic programs and awards. We celebrate the notion that nothing is as powerful as a great idea when put in the hands of a bold entrepreneur, and the lionization of entrepreneurs is a trend. Let’s remember, though, that behind the entrepreneurs are equally daring angel investors: those who bet on these men and women when they have nothing to show but passion and excitement, and who empower them to realize their vision. After all, any great idea needs a vote of confidence, great advice and an infusion of cash to have a large-scale impact! Even today, it’s no

A Slice of the Joy of Being at Benetech

My job is so much fun! I get to spend most of my time talking to people about social good: what we're doing with technology, what our partners are doing and what the many cool people we get to meet are doing along the way. I realize that it's rare that I can share some of these meetings with our team and with the blogosphere, so here are few tidbits just from last week! The first group was the De Novo Group , co-founded by famed Internet entrepreneur Eric Brewer to take cool, socially beneficial software (often created at UC Berkeley) and bring it to the world. We connected at the recent Silicon Valley Human Rights Conference and decided we should get together. Scott McNeil came to Benetech and we talked about their MetaMouse project (getting multiple mice to work on the same PC, so that kids in low-PC resource places can work together). KoBoToolbox is a toolkit for making it easy to collect survey data on mobile devices (turns out, I later found out we're already pro

International Human Rights Day 2011

Today, December 10th, the international community is observing Human Rights Day to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since its adoption at the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, the Declaration has become a universal standard for the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide. On International Human Rights Day, we pay tribute to all human rights defenders, celebrate the recent victories of the human rights community, and recognize the challenges that still lie ahead in the global struggle to advance justice, accountability and an end to impunity. 2011 has been an amazing year for human rights defenders. We have witnessed thousands of people taking to the streets to demand fundamental human rights and social justice; ordinary citizens turning into activists by using social media to mobilize protest movements that brought repressive governments to an end; and dramatic changes transpiring – like Tunisia’s first ele

Benetech: President's Update

President’s Update Fall 2011 Don’t be surprised, but we’re picking up the pace of change at Benetech! The world’s problems are many, and we keep seeing opportunities for technologists to address those problems effectively. Our team has been thinking hard about scaling positive social impact of technology work. I want to unveil several of these new initiatives, as well as sneaking in some of the incredible things happening in our core programs in literacy and human rights. Highlights of this Letter: SocialCoding4Good CityOptions Read2Go and Route 66 Literacy Selected Program Updates Human rights: Legal victory in Guatemala, PBS NewsHour stories Literacy: Major milestones for Bookshare at home and abroad SocialCoding4Good Just funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, our SocialCoding4Good initiative will kick off later this year. Led by Benetech’s VP of Engineering Gerardo Capiel, we will create an online space, SocialCoding4Good, where people in the tech community intereste

Leveraging Impact through Technology (LIT)

The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is today, December 3rd. The Day aims to raise awareness of disability issues with a focus on the rights of persons with disabilities and the benefits derived from their integration in the social, economic, cultural and political life of their communities. People with disabilities make up an estimated 15% of the world’s population of 7 billion, and they remain largely marginalized and affected by discrimination and unemployment, among other significant difficulties. The theme of IDPD 2011 is “Together for a better world for all: Including persons with disabilities in development.” This year, for the first time, IDPD is commemorated with supporting sub-themes (see the full list here ), to draw attention to key issues that come into play in the intersection of disability and development processes. One of these sub-themes is “Accessibility: removing barriers and promoting disability-inclusive development.” O