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5 veterans who are taking the startup world by storm

Folks, my team and I have been highlighting a lot of important startups and vets recently, and we thought it'd be a good idea to merge the two. We reached out to the community on Facebook and Twitter, and compiled a list of 5 veteran-founded startups who really have their boots on the ground.

Vets are effective entrepreneurs, and many of the skills veterans have overlap with those needed to found a startup. As this article says, "Tech startups to veterans: We love you, we want some more of ya."

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5 Veterans Who Are Taking the Startup World by Storm (in no particular order):

  1. Kristina Carmen, Founder of TurboPup.
    (TurboPup isn't on Twitter, but you can find them on Facebook.)
    TurboPup was founded to create a sustainable and socially conscious business, and give back to causes in support of our four legged best friends and our country's heroes: Veterans.
  2. Jacob Wood & William McNulty, Co-founders of Team Rubicon.

    Team Rubicon is a group of military veterans and medical professionals irrevocably committed to changing veteran reintegration and disaster response.
  3. Blake Hall and Matt Thompson, Co-founders of ID.me.

    ID.me is a secure digital ID card that allows individuals to prove their identity online. Using ID.me, online shoppers can attach attributes of their identity, such as military service or student status, to a Single Sign On so they can quickly verify to any third party that they are who they say they are. The site offers exclusive benefits and discounts for military folks and vets all in one place. ID.me was founded by 2 Army Rangers who made a long-term commitment to the military and veteran community. 
  4. Chris Hulls and Alex Haro, Co-founders of Life360.

    Life360 is a free smartphone app that helps keep families and close friends connected stay in sync throughout their busy day. With Life360, you can see where your family and friends are on a private map, stay in touch with group and one-on-one messaging, and get help in an emergency.
  5. Dawn Halfaker, Founder of Halfaker and Associates, and President of Wounded Warrior Project.
    Halfaker and Associates 
    provides professional services and technology solutions to the federal government. According to HuffPo, this "allows Halfaker to fight on two fronts: She helps equip on-the-ground troops to fight missions and helps U.S. veterans fight unemployment."

If you're able, please support and follow these vets and their startups. And, I'd love to hear what veterans should make version 2.0 of this list. Please leave comments below.

Hey, this isn't altruism, it just feels right.

5 of my favorite things

Folks, I'm often asked about my interests and priorities. I decided to share 5 of my favorite things in my personal life. Many of you may not be surprised to hear some of these…

  1. Birds – the Mrs. and I created a Birdography Spectacular dedicated to all of the birds and their friends who visit my home office. DSCN1082-X2
  2. Babies – both bird babies and human babies.

    #20 and craig

    me with #20…

  3. Dogs – I carry dog treats whenever I'm out, just in case I run into a furry friend (or four) who needs a pick-me-up. doggies and craig
  4. TV – the Game of Thrones guy, George R. R. Martin's a really good writer who can get to the point really well, and an opponent of attacks on voting rights, on top of it. That's the real deal. Other TV shows I enjoy include, Mr Selfridge, the Simpson, Justified, the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, Silicon Valley, Girls, and the Americans… TV
  5. Books – I read a lot of books, maybe 8 per month. I currently use the Kindle app, but it's growing problematic. (I've read around 700 books, mostly science fiction. Note: 1. I'm a nerd, and 2. it's how we roll.) Books I'm reading, among right now or recently include:
  • An Autumn War, Daniel Abraham
  • The Iron Kings, Maurice Druon
  • It's Complicated, danah boyd
  • A Lily of the Field, John Lawton
  • Shattered Pillars, Elizabeth Bear
  • Parasite, Mira Grant
  • Why Kings Confess, CS Harris
  • A Man without Breath, Philip Kerr

 

…..

…..

…..

Oh, and of course the wife. Make that six things.

Does Journalism Need New Ethics?

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Folks, here's an excerpt of a blog post I wrote for Poynter. Please click here to read the whole story.

When I saw a story recently in the New Republic asserting that Silicon Valley has become one of “the most ageist places in America,” I was taken aback.

As far as I can tell, there is discrimination against older people in the business world, but it’s no different from what I’ve seen through a 38-year career. It doesn’t surprise me, since I’ve faced what might be ageism (I’m 61), but maybe I have been discriminated because I’m balding, short, and pudgy.

Still, I have concerns that readers might take this particular story about ageism as proven fact — even though the reporting seems to be mostly anecdotal.

The story characterizes a group of maybe a million people based on a small sample size and, to me, a handful of the anecdotes seemed not so good, not so trustworthy. As a very literal guy (nerd) I assume that the headline and the body of the article are telling me that the vast majority of folks in Silicon Valley are guilty of a form of bigotry.

In the middle of my reflection, I read an interview with Aron Pilhofer from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. Pilhofer runs a newsroom team at The New York Times that combines journalism, social media, technology and analytics. Some of his comments about data journalism, culture and going digital, seemed to echo my criticism of the New Republic’s piece on ageism.

“Journalism is one of the few professions that not only tolerates general innumeracy but celebrates it,” said Pilhofer in the interview.

“It’s a cultural problem. There is still far too much tolerance for anecdotal evidence as the foundation for news stories.”

Pilhofer’s comments confirmed what I was already thinking, that anecdotes are great clues as to what might be going on, but sometimes they are cherry-picked to confirm what a writer already believes. That’s to say that they can reinforce truthiness and preconceived notions.

I view hard data as complementary to anecdotal evidence. We need to balance both. If somebody asserts something factual, I want them to back it up with more than anecdotes, so that readers can trust it.

I turned to friends I’ve made in the journalism world for their opinions. Since I’m just a news consumer, not a professional journalist, I wanted their expert opinions. I asked them each to respond to this question:

When is anecdotal reporting enough to support broad conclusions without concrete data? This recent article on ageism in Silicon Valley seemed to paint an entire group of people based a handful of examples. Is that fair?

You can read folks' responses over on Poynter. And, I'd like to hear what you think, too. Please share your opinions in the comments below. And be sure and check out the Harvard Business Review article How Old Are Silicon Valley’s Top Founders? Here’s the Data.

The Third Metric and Nerd Values

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The Third Metric is better explained in Arianna Huffington's Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. This is my take on it.

Nerdiness involves a lack of normal social affect, where conventional ambitions, like money and power aren't such a big deal. The call to power doesn't make much sense to me.

Here're a few words from a nerdy perspective, which I live by to the best of my ability.

One needs the finances to live comfortably, and to help friends and family do that, but seriously, know when enough is enough.

In early 1999, I made a decision along those lines, and decided to avoid the usual Silicon Valley thing. That is, the bankers and VCs I knew told me to take their investments and cash out. However, I figured that my business model is "doing well by doing good" and that's worked out.

My guess was that I got on track to fulfill my very limited financial goals, and anyway, I figure, who needs huge money?

As a nerd, it's way more satisfying to make a difference.

I dunno if that reflects any kind of wisdom or path seeking, I ain't that smart, seriously.

Personally, all I understand is working from the bottom up, where I quietly nudge people to do the best they can, and then affirm their efforts publicly. There's no way to measure the results, it's all anecdotal.

It's just that a nerd's gotta do what a nerd's gotta do.

The Future of EK Radio

Folks, I'm still working with the Organic Health Response on IT support, and we just got an update in from the radio team on Mfangano Island, Kenya. They interviewed community members and asked them about the future of the radio station. The Ekialo Kiona Radio, EK FM, is proud to be Suba. "Turi alala," its slogan, means "together" in the local Suba language.

Here's what they had to say: 

The Organic Health Response (OHR) had a vision to establish a youth-driven, wind-powered, Suba language radio station on Mfangano Island, Kenya. On World AIDS Day Dec. 1st, 2012, OHR successfully launched the radio station EK-FM. Today they broadcast live from a hand-welded communications tower on Mfangano to over 200,000 residents in rural Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.

EK-FM is grounded in the philosophy of open community discourse as a cornerstone of holistic and sustainable responses to cultural erosion, environmental degradation, infectious disease, and economic isolation among remote indigenous populations.  

EK-FM mobilizes youth activism, empowers marginalized groups, promotes HIV prevention and treatment services, encourages sustainable agriculture, and most importantly, preserves the endangered indigenous Suba language (Olusuba).EK-FM has had a very impactful first year of broadcast, putting OHR and the Ekialo Kiona Center (with IT support from Craig Newmark) at the center of the Suba cultural map in Kenya.

Last week, youth presenters from the station interviewed community members on Mfangano Island and asked them about the future of EK-FM. This is what they had to say:

      •  “I see EK Radio as the only communication tool for the people of Abasuba and that it will be the only way to help salvage the almost extinct Suba language,” paused Ex-Assistant Chief, Mzee Charles Kasera, a Suba elder who helps run the Ekidiori Radio Program focused on Suba culture.
      • “Aaaaaa …. This is our voice! No one can take it out from us. In fact is has given us, our men, children, and community at large to share together. So, EK is there to stay. It is for eternity,” said Suba, a Piki (Motor cycle) rider on Mfangano Island.
      • “This is the clearest radio station along the Lake Victoria region. It is even clearer than those with sophisticated equipments. I don’t want it to go away since it is my favorite station. Let it stay forever,” said Pema, a boat manager who resides at Kakiimba village in Mfangano Island.
      • “I see a radio station that accommodates thousands of people from different regions in the Island, who have come to seek and experience its services. With all the programs, I see a community that is well informed and equipped with first hand information,” says Nancy Sungu, a young radio presenter with the EK Community Youth Radio.
The newly built, ferro-cement studio on the island. The team moved into the new space in February 2014.

The newly built, ferro-cement studio on the island. The team moved into the new space in February 2014.