Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Benetech: the Equilibrium Change Machine

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

I just read the new book from Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation, and strategy guru Roger Martin, Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works.

A Worthy Read: National Education Technology Plan

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

I just finished reading the National Education Technology Plan , and I can recommend it to anyone interested in the future of technology in American education. These kinds of plans can be impenetrable, but I found this one quite readable and understandable. It is full of examples of interesting ed tech from for-profits and nonprofits, as well as local, state and federal government agencies.

Trending Sources

Why I’m Scared of the SOPA bill

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Benetech, is a leading nonprofit organization based in Silicon Valley. We write software for people with disabilities as well as human rights and environmental groups. We’re against piracy, and have made commitments to authors and publishers to encourage compliance with copyright law. So, we shouldn’t have anything to fear from a bill entitled “Stop Online Piracy Act,” right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

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It's Good to be Alive Today!

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

I am still on the Skoll high Just back from my week in Oxford with my head buzzing and Michael Franti's social change anthem "Good to be Alive Today" ringing in my ears. It's hard to explain why this is the one conference a year I always make the time for. It's a powerful mix of inspiration, singing, ideas and most importantly, peer brainstorming. I have more than a year's worth of ideas for social good. Let me share just a few!

Commercial Availability: The Poison Pill for Marrakesh Treaty Implementation

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

If you can buy a book, you can’t borrow it. That’s the lobbying position of some companies in the intellectual property field when implementing the new Marrakesh Copyright Treaty. Marrakesh is intended to end the book famine for people who can’t read regular books because of their disability. Libraries for people who are blind or dyslexic are the primary source of accessible books in audio, large print or braille.

New Ideas at TED2014

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

I just returned from a spectacular week at this year’s TED conference in Vancouver, Canada. TED gives me the chance to brainstorm with loads of people who gather to discuss ways to change the world through technology and design. Beyond debating the stimulating topics of major talks—such as Edward Snowden’s appearance by telepresence robot and t he response to it by Rick Ledgett , the Deputy Director of the NSA—I spent much of my time speaking about my favorite topic: technology for social good.

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Crowdsourced data is not a substitute for real statistics

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Guest Beneblog by Patrick Ball, Jeff Klingner, and Kristian Lum After the earthquake in Haiti, Ushahidi organized a centralized text messaging system to allow people to inform others about people trapped under damaged buildings and other humanitarian crises. This system was extremely effective at communicating specific needs in a timely way that required very little additional infrastructure. We think that this is important and valuable.

Benetech: President's Update

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

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.

Open Source Means Strong Security

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

“Your secure software is open source: doesn’t that make it less secure?” This is a recurring question that we get at Benetech about Martus —our free, strongly encrypted tool for secure collection and management of sensitive information, built and provided by the Benetech Human Rights Program.

Contemplating Boulder and Social Impact

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Social enterprise. Technology. Contemplation. I just spent several stimulating days in Boulder, Colorado, thanks to an invitation from my longtime friend and social sector leader, Chuck Lief.

Why You Don’t Want this Job!

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Almost anyone from the human rights field will tell you that the work can be as rewarding as it is challenging. When you look at the barriers faced by those defending and advocating for human rights—from the danger of hostile governments and perpetrators, to victims who are naturally suspicious of any support, to the lack of funding necessary to carry on your work—you can see how overwhelming it can be.

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A Tale of Two Angels

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

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.

Bookshare Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary at Google

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Bookshare, Benetech’s pioneering digital library for people with print disabilities, celebrated its 10th birthday last night with a terrific party that was attended by many of our long-time friends and supporters.

Big Data Means More Than Big Profits

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

This post originally appeared as part of an online debate about How Big Data Can Have a Social Impact, which the Harvard Business Review Blog Network hosted jointly with the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. Right now I''m in Oxford, England, for the annual Skoll World Forum! Big Data is all the rage in Silicon Valley.

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Making the Book Truly Accessible for All Students

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Schools are back in session, and with them millions of American children who struggle daily to learn using traditional printed books. Having learning disabilities or various learning differences, they need alternative reading environments that rely on their strengths rather than on their weaknesses. This includes accessible educational materials, such as e-books that can be used with computers, or mobile devices that display enlarged text or read the book aloud while also highlighting text.

Unlocking Technology-for-Good Innovation

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

At Benetech, we advance technology applications that empower and protect underprivileged populations, and that also have the potential to become financially self-sustaining enterprises. This keeps us focused on projects that offer the greatest social impact for the resources invested.

DIAGRAM Center

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

I just attended two days of meetings in Washington DC on the first year of the DIAGRAM Center , held at the Office of Special Education Programs in the Department of Education. The goal of the DIAGRAM R&D Center is to greatly improve access to graphical information for students with print disabilities (for example, helping blind students get access to important graphics inside textbooks).

Supporting Artists With Disabilities

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

For the past ten years, Benetech’s Bookshare library has provided accessible books for people with print disabilities. Bookshare helps people who cannot read standard text participate in the world of ideas.

One very long weekend in New York City for Megan Price

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Guest Beneblog by Megan Price New York City has many attractions – people often visit Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, among many other sights. I go to New York City to spend the weekend staring at my computer screen.

From Money to Meaning

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Big complex social problems. Your skills and experiences. Benetech. Combining those three potent ingredients is how we change the world. If you’ve been burning to use your considerable talents to make a difference, rather than make a lot of money, it’s time you considered joining our growing team. We are looking for more than a dozen motivated individuals to make the leap to positive social impact.

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Accessibility Excitement in Geneva

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

One of the reasons I started the Beneblog more than ten years ago (!) was to keep the Benetech team in the loop.

Silicon Valley’s Developing Conscience: It’s Called Apple

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Silicon Valley has a problem. In our quest to build better products and better meet the needs of the world for information, we built the most amazing system for effortless government surveillance as a byproduct. It is now incumbent on Silicon Valley to remedy this situation. Forcing tech companies to weaken their products through compelling the creation of backdoors would be a massive step backwards.

Recruiting Geeks for Human Rights!

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Scientist / Data Analysis Engineer / General Techie Want to help save the world with your code? Like going to hackathons and wish you could get paid to work on a good cause full time? Want to help assemble evidence used to convict dictors of war crimes? We're Benetech's Human Rights Data Analysis Group, and we're hiring right now !

Verdict in Guatemala Disappearance Case!

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Just got late-breaking news: the judges just rendered a guilty verdict in the trial I was about to discuss in the following blog post! Will share more details from our team later, but this is a great day for fighting impunity around forced disappearances. Benetech Statistical Expert Testifies in Guatemala Disappearance Case The Benetech Human Rights Program uses cutting edge computing methods and statistical analysis to provide objective evidence of human rights violations.

International Human Rights Day 2011

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

T, 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.

Breakthrough on Global Access at WIPO in Geneva!

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

There has been a major breakthrough recently on international copyright negotiations in Geneva around improved access for people who have print disabilities. Through negotiations, four competing proposals have been merged into a single document supported in June by the Latin Americans (led by Brazil), the U.S., the European Union and others. Here are some questions and answers I've prepared on this topic, based on my recent trip to Geneva to attend the first week of discussions on the issue.

Engineers Without Borders Canada

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

I greatly enjoy talking to students, and I am now in Ottawa, Canada, just having spoken to an incredible group of students, Engineers Without Borders Canada. Now, I had heard of EWB before, but I hadn't grasped how large, sophisticated and ambitious an organization this is! I'm at the annual Canadian EWB conference (each of the EWB country groups is independent of the other), and there are hundreds and hundreds of students here.

Issues with Crowdsourced Data Part 2

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

A recent guest guest Beneblog explains why we believe a correlation found between SMS text messages and building damage by researchers was not useful. Some of the questions we received made us realize we need to be clearer about why this is important. Why did we bother analyzing this claim? Why does it matter? Thanks to Patrick Ball, Jeff Klinger and Kristian Lum for contributing this material (and making it much clearer).

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Why We're Blacking Out Sites: PIPA and SOPA

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

In November, I wrote a blog post entitled: Why I’m Scared of the SOPA bill. Part of my objective was to show the unintended consequences of Internet censorship bills like SOPA and PIPA (SOPA's Senate buddy bill), responding to alerts from organizations I trust like the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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Gaming for Sustainability: How Balaji Prabhakar’s Lottery Beats Traffic Congestion

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Imagine someone offered you $1 to leave the house an hour earlier in the morning so as to shift your commute to an off-peak train. Will you do it? If you’re like most people, you will say no. Now imagine you’d be offered a 1-in-100 chance of winning $100. You might find this offer much more enticing.

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society - Untitled Article

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Benetech's Dr. Patrick Ball has just been awarded the ACM's 2003 Lawler Award for humanitarian contributions using computer technology. The ACM is the leading organization for computer science professionals. It's exciting to have one of our own honored by the technology community, and for the open source software that Patrick has so passionately advocated for

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SocialCoding4Good: Mobilizing Technology and Volunteerism for Transformative Impact

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Benetech, like many nonprofit organizations building open source software for social good, often relies upon the contributions of experienced software developers to help its solutions grow and scale. We frequently have more volunteers than we have projects; while at other times, we have a list of tasks we could get done -- if only we had the people. Often there's a mismatch between the skills of a volunteer and the skills required by our projects.

UpEnergy: cool for-profit social enterprise

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

The rise of for-profit social enterprises has been quite exciting. Although I'm firmly on the nonprofit side with Benetech (because we focus on big issues where the market is failing), it's definitely easier to get funded sustainably if you have an exciting and invest-able business plan. Evan Haigler is a social entrepreneur I've known for years. He's made a big difference in the area of clean cook stoves and carbon credits, spinning his nonprofit group ImpactCarbon out of UC Berkeley years ago.

Guatemalan National Police Archive Goes Online

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Guest Beneblog by Ann Harrison In 2006, the Benetech Human Rights Program was asked to participate in one of the most important human rights data projects in the world. The Guatemalan government human rights ombudsman invited the Benetech Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) to analyze the contents of the estimated 80 million documents in the Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive or the Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional (AHPN).

Benetech Truths

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Benetech has spent a good part of this last year thinking about what's next for our mission and our team. A crucial part of that effort has been to identify what we think is uniquely true about Benetech. This portion was an internally focused effort based on conversations with our team. We came up with the following truths as part of that process. You might call them Benetech's values, but we didn't look at traditional organizational value statements while drafting these truths.

Benetech: President's Update

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Benetech President's Update Winter 2011 I’m pleased to provide you you a detailed update on Benetech for the first time in two years. Last summer I talked about our great summer interns and fellows and early this year, I sent a copy of our 20th Anniversary Report that talked about our entire history.

Promise and Peril: Martus for Human Rights in Burma

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

I recently had the pleasure of visiting one of our longtime Martus partners in Thailand, The Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma ( ND-Burma ).

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Benetech’s Framework for Developing New Social Enterprises

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

I was delighted when Ron Schultz invited me to collaborate with him on his latest book Creating Good Work – The World’s Leading Social Entrepreneurs Show How to Build a Healthy Economy.

Zerofootprint: A Cool Approach to Sustainability

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

We’ve been exploring the area of sustainability a great deal lately. We have some new ideas for software Benetech could be developing. But, one of our core values is to see what’s already out there and to not duplicate great work already being done. That means we frequently run into cool projects (and mentally check the box: taken care of!).

Bookshare Users Downloading Long-Awaited Apple e-Book App

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Benetech got a call recently from an excited Bookshare member who had been waiting to download our new Read2Go accessible e-book application for Apple devices. Graduate student Maria Georgakarakou, who is blind, gave us a rave review for the Read2Go app which allows those with print disabilities to listen to books in the DAISY audio format.

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