Posted on April 25th, 2014 by Craig Newmark
Folks, the Organic Health Response (OHR) is located on Mfangano Island, Kenya, in the heart of Lake Victoria. They seek to activate information technology, social solidarity, and environmental sustainability to turn the tide against HIV/AIDS across Lake Victoria.
Over the years we've supported OHR’s ICT initiatives, namely a highspeed Internet link from their ICT resource headquarters, the Ekialo Kiona (EK) Center, on Mfangano Island to the nearest mainland city of Kisumu. This record breaking link is East Africa’s longest wifi connection (You can read more here: WiFi to Help Out HIV/AIDS on Mfangano Island).
The Ekialo Kiona Center implements a suite of programs including the innovative Cyber-Voluntary Counseling and Testing Pilot, a computer lab with 17 low-powered Inveneo PCs, an organic demonstration farm and native tree nursery, the world’s first microclinic program for people living HIV/AIDS, and EK-FM, a youth-driven community radio station.
The Organic Health Response helps connect kids to their local ICT resources by hosting school field trips to the EK computer lab. According to OHR,
"Last week, a group of 15 kids trickled in to the EK Center for their first tour, led by EK’s ICT Coordinator, Brian Mattah. Sounds of excitement bounced off the ferro-cement walls, as little fingers punched away at the keyboards. For many, this was their first experience in front of a computer screen. In conjunction with a fieldtrip, Mfangano youth are paired with student pen-pals at Rutherford Elementary School in Stillwater, MN. Over the years these kids will learn to communicate with each other via email. At the same time, students in the USA learn about life on Mfangano Island and help raise money to support each field trip."
The EK Center's the only high-speed Internet hub on the entire island. For local youth, there are no training facilities in their island communities to support a healthy connection to the outside world.
OHR supports local-global youth development by providing ICT experiences at a young age (computer training, journalism, radio production, and editing skills), in hopes of building and empowering skilled and empowered leaders for the future. EK-FM youth presenters have been sending us posts over the last few months (More here…). Stay tuned for even more from these talented folks.
Posted on April 22nd, 2014 by Craig Newmark
Folks, I just want news I can trust. As I've been saying, the press should be the immune system of democracy, and needs to fulfill that role again. With the Internet, everyone can be their own journalist now. It's become increasingly difficult to find news that comes from a trustworthy press.
Factchecking efforts only have value, it's felt, if:
- Misinformation is corrected, in a way that doesn't reinforce the lie.
- Any involved news outlets are encouraged to avoid promoting misinformation.
- Regular people, the broad citizenry, have the means to easily help media correct misinformation and encourage news outlets to restore factchecking.
My team and I compiled a list of 4 factchecking sites that are the real deal (in no particular order, and please note that none are perfect, and sometimes their calls are called into question):
- FlackCheck.org, brought to you by the folks at factcheck.org - FlackCheck.org provides resources designed to help viewers recognize flaws in arguments in general and political ads in particular.
- Politifact, a project of the Tampa Bay Times to help you find the truth in American politics.
- Sunlight Foundation - Sunlight uses the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency.
- Poynter. - Poynter is a school that exists to ensure that our communities have access to excellent journalism—the kind of journalism that enables us to participate fully and effectively in our democracy.
What sites do you follow because they're the most ethical and trustworthy? More to come…
Posted on April 18th, 2014 by Craig Newmark
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."
5 Veterans Who Are Taking the Startup World by Storm (in no particular order):
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Posted on April 15th, 2014 by Craig Newmark
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…
- Birds – the Mrs. and I created a Birdography Spectacular dedicated to all of the birds and their friends who visit my home office.
- Babies – both bird babies and human babies.
me with #20…
- 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.
- 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…
- 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.
Posted on April 4th, 2014 by Craig Newmark
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.