Posted on July 16th, 2012 by craigconnects
I go to a lot of tech conferences, and in conjunction with that, get added to notables lists, due to clerical errors.
Sometimes, it's disappointing that the people on stage or in such lists aren't really fair to some groups of people.
In particular, speaker and notables lists sometimes fail to include women whose voices are a real big deal when it comes to tech helping make life better for everyone.
A friend and trusted advisor, Andrew Rasiej (who helps run a very fair and effective Personal democracy Forum), took issue with his naming to Newsweek's recent Digital 100 Power Index. It only listed eight women, not so fair, so he asked Deanna Zandt to take his place. (I've also worked with her, and she's the real deal.)
Deanna and Andrew also created a simple Twitter game called #One4One to get the word out about others who really need their voices heard. Here's my contribution:
okay, for #One4One I'd suggest @MonaEltahawy, Beth @Kanter, Allyson Kapin (@WomenWhoTech), @reshmasaujani, smart, real social change agents
(which I followed by admitting that I was sure I forgot some folks, but, really, I forget stuff.)
Posted on July 13th, 2012 by craigconnects
Military spouses frequently face challenges in maintaining a career. Constant moves, deployments, and the military lifestyle have resulted in high unemployment among military spouses and a significant wage gap. This can affect the readiness, retention, and well being of the military community.
We know that military spouses volunteer at a very high rate. Volunteering isn't just a great way to support the community, it's also a great way to learn and hone important job skills.
What if you could take your volunteer experience and the skills you gained and turn them into career skills on a resume? Well, now you can. Blue Star Families has created a resume builder to help you get started, sponsored by the Military Spouse Business Alliance.
Posted on July 9th, 2012 by craigconnects
Okay, I was chatting with Reshma Saujani from Girls Who Code, providing modest social media help, and blurted out that "code is power." Here's the deal.
The easiest way to power is to be born into a family with privilege and elite status. You get more influence by building networks, and far too often, by preventing powerless people from getting ahead. You have to be cautionary: bad actors will try to hijack good efforts, like nonprofits who tell a good story and disappear with the money.
The vast majority of people anywhere don't usually have much of a voice or any influence. Usually, regular people, the grassroots, only manage to acquire power when they use technology to work together. The technology enables people to magnify their team power, acting as a force multiplier. They can get people to the streets, and raise money.
Most importantly, folks can create the perception that their cause is an idea that's the right thing at the right time. Victor Hugo observed that there's nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.
Girls Who Code is a nonprofit that teaches under-served girls how to computer program, funded by Google, eBay, GE, and many others. These folks know code as a form of expression, the 21st century way of expressing yourself and your identity. The girls are creating apps to communicate with each other and their communities.
George R. R. Martin observes that a girl is powerful if other girls perceive her as powerful. (As a nerd, I figure I can paraphrase Game of Thrones.)
That is, historically speaking, power and influence is driven by money and coalition building, kind of small scale networking.
Sometimes, grassroots leaders need to invent or repurpose tech to get anywhere. Ben Franklin invented the post office (store and forward network) and used the printing press. Martin Luther used the press, the existing church store, and forward network. St. Paul built the church network.
Then there's Ada Lovelace who took notes that contained what's considered the first computer program — that is, an algorithm encoded for processing by a machine. Anita Borg's responsible for including women in the tech revolution, and founded the Systers online community in 1987, much before online communities were part of the mainstream. Marissa Mayer was the first female engineer hired at Google and one of their first 20 employees in 1999. (Hey, Marissa, I still use Pine!)
All these folks used tech to build grassroots networks to great effect. They're what we now call "bloggers."
Now we've got the Internet, held together with code, infrastructure where people can build tools which unite regular people for collective influence. The Net tends to level the playing field, and that tendency only increases over time.
That is, the Internet is dramatically lowering the cost of influence and power.
Women Who Tech is doing good stuff with women in the tech world. Diversifying the tech sector's the main inspiration behind the Women Who Tech TeleSummit. The philosophy is: "If we are going to truly create technology and products for the masses, the tech world must be inclusive of all perspectives." It goes right back to influence and empowerment. @WomenWhoTech created an infographic that shows how women really influence technology.
My own contribution was based on code I wrote between 1995 and 1999, starting with a desire to give back to the community. It's worked out okay, and has helped maybe a hundred million people, or more, mostly Americans.
Any influence I get from that, well, I just don't need or really want; I've got what I need, like a really good shower and my own parking place. Instead, I use my meager influence on behalf of the stuff I believe in. You'll see me either pushing the good work of people who get stuff done, or indulging my sense of humor. (Note to self: I'm not as funny as I think I am.)
To be sure, I don't feel this is altruistic or noble, it's just that a nerd's gotta do what a nerd's gotta do.
My thing, craigslist, was accidental. It ran much better after people helped me understand that as a manager, I suck, and I got someone smarter to run things. I devoted myself to customer service, but I'll only be doing that as long as I live.
If you want to see someone building code that might drive very large scale influence, consider Stefani Germanotta, and something called Backplane. She already unites tens of millions of people from the grassroots, people who've never had a voice or any power, the "little monsters." Backplane might be the force multiplier that might really work for the disenfranchised.
It's quite possible that Ms. Germanotta might become one of the most powerful humans on that planet; don't underestimate her. I like the idea, while I'm no little monster, as a nerd I'm the 1950's equivalent of one.
You can use platforms like Facebook to exert influence by building a network and getting people to Share your cause via your social network. We're really talking about your "social graph," that is, your friends or Subscribers, and then, their friends and Subscribers.
If you can code, though, you can build something like an app to magnify your influence, doing the force multiplier thing. The deal is, code really is power.
I don't code anymore, so I'm considering that I should commission the following force multiplier.
If you want to preserve your right to vote, you need to exercise it. It's "use it or lose it". Take that literally.
I need an app where:
- You commit to voting.
- You're told what you need to do to prepare to vote.
- Your commitment is recorded, privately and securely.
- The commitment is propagated through your social network, with a reminder that everyone should vote.
- You're reminded to vote, by mail or in person, at the right time…
- …when you do so, that's recorded.
- The act of voting is also shared via your social net, reminding friends to vote.
So, #2 functionality is already available.
#4/5/7 require the code to be mildly annoying, just like me. (Note from
Hey, @GirlsWhoCode, looking for a good test case?
Posted on July 6th, 2012 by craigconnects
Hey there folks,
The massive wildfires that have been blazing across Colorado and the people (and animals) there need help dealing with the damage. According to fire information services the fire exceeded 56,000 acres. And sadly, it was reported that nearly 350 homes in Colorado Springs have been destroyed by the wildfire.
Photo Credit: Ken Riel/American Red Cross
I'm committing a matching donation up to $5K to support the good folks at local American Red Cross. They're doing the real hard work on the ground to help those in immediate need. Small gesture on my part, but it's something…
Please consider donating whatever you can to help too: http://american.redcross.org/craigconnects-pub.
Posted on July 2nd, 2012 by Kristin Peterson
The worst drought and famine in more than 60 years have threatened the livelihood of 9.5 million people in the Horn of Africa since early 2011. Refugees from Somalia continue to arrive in Kenya by the tens of thousands, making the Dadaab complex now the world’s largest refugee camp ever with almost 500,000 counted and perhaps as many as 100,000 more unregistered.
In the fall of 2011, NetHope and USAID asked Inveneo to help identify opportunities to bring better Internet and interagency communications to the many humanitarian agencies working in the region. Inveneo recommended our unique approach to deliver broadband access. By partnering with a local service provider to provide reliable and affordable broadband access, and by deploying a long-distance WiFi network, the humanitarian agencies working in and around the camps would benefit significantly. Additionally, Inveneo and NetHope determined that together with Cisco's TacOps we could install and configure a local high-speed network that would enable the Dadaab organizations to collaborate and to share information more effectively.
Skinny, guy wire masts are always more interesting to climb than the big telcom towers. They tend to sway a bit. Inveneo CTO Andris Bjornson climbs the UNHCR mast in Dadaab.
To accomplish these goals, Inveneo initiated a strategic business and engineering partnership with Orange, a local Kenyan telecom provider, to extend new data services into the Dadaab compound using Inveneo’s long-distance WiFi solution. NetHope aggregated demand for the new service among the Dadaab aid community members, and we secured agreement from Orange for pricing as well as ensured that there would be adequate initial and ongoing Internet backhaul capacity.
Inveneo, NetHope, and TacOps co-designed the high-speed network, “DadaabNet,” to connect the NGOs locally and to enable bandwidth-intensive, intra-agency collaboration technologies such as file sharing, videoconferencing, and Voice over IP telephony.
In March 2012, Inveneo trained in-country technical teams from Orange, from the Dadaab-based NGO technical staff, and from our local Inveneo Certified Partner Setright. This cohort will continue to connect additional agencies and to support the network on an ongoing basis. We offered our customized practical curricula covering network design in the classroom, and installations in the field. This included safety-at-height training for work on telecommunications towers that can be more than 150 feet tall.
Trainees from Orange Kenya, Inveneo ICIP Setright, and Dadaab-based IT staffs assemble a Ubiquiti Rocket Dish.
By April, the bandwidth contracted was fully installed, and now Orange is on track to add triple the original amount of bandwidth to keep pace with demand and to meet new service order expectations.
This connectivity is already enabling the humanitarian agencies to function better, to communicate among themselves, and to support overall operations. As the new network architecture is tried and proven to be more reliable and cost effective, it will be extended to the general population via sustainable outreach community centers that support learning, resettlement, and economic empowerment.
The Dadaab Connect project is funded by Inveneo's Broadband for Good Program, Cisco, Microsoft, NetHope, Craig Newmark, the Orr Family Foundation, UNHCR, and USAID’s Global Broadband Innovations Program.
We would like to thank Craig Newmark for his support of this and many other vital networking projects around the world!