international development

We Can Design the Future of Wearables for Social Good

“The best way to predict the future is to design it.” – Buckminster Fuller

Image: keoni101/Flickr

There is a future for wearable technology beyond the Apple Watch, and it can be for social good. On March 31, 2015, nearly 40 participants came together for Technology Salon New York City where we discussed the future of wearables in international development.

Here are my two summaries of the thought-provoking discussion: 

We Can Design the Future of Wearables for Social Good, Huffington Post

Development, data, and ethical design for our wearable futures, Wait…What? [co-author with Linda Raftree]

As we wrote, “The rapid evolution of technology urges us to think about how technology affects our relationships with our body, family, community, and society. What do we want those relationships to look like in the future? We have an opportunity, as consumers, makers and planners of wearables for the international context to view ourselves as stakeholders in building the future opportunities of this space. Wearables today are where the Internet was during its first five mainstream years. Now is the perfect time to put our stake in the ground and create the future we wish to exist in.”

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Journal Publication on Empathy in International Security

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The latest issue of The Journal of Culture, Language and International Security includes an article by me on Cultivating Empathy and Internal Awareness for International Security Actors. As Robert Jervis said, “The ability to see the world and oneself as others do is never easy and failures of empathy explain a number of foreign policy disasters.”

Check out the issue here (PDF) and learn more about the Journal and Institute for the Study of Culture and Language here.

Inspired by letting go

We’re so often “inspired” by the latest social enterprise start-up, flashy idea, and rising stars, but I’m inspired by my friend and StartingBloc Fellow Jessica. Yesterday, I received a touching letter from Jessica letting me know that she is closing her non-profit of four years, Cheti. I’ve known about Jessica’s recent struggles with running Cheti and her incredibly difficult decision to close and let go of something she is so deeply passionate about.

Even more courageous than starting a venture like Cheti, it’s a brave and egoless decision to move on when it’s no longer having the intended impact or sustainability. And it’s thoughtful and important to share the difficult decision, successes, and failures, as Jessica has done with Cheti, and as others have for the Celebrating Failure series in SocialStory.

Being an entrepreneur is difficult. Failure is painful. Letting go is brave. 

Jessica allowed me to share her beautiful note about saying goodbye to Cheti below:

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Reframing “Bottom of the Pyramid”

A report, by Pablo Sanchez of Roots for Sustainability and Fernando Casado Cañeque of Center of Development Alliances, calls for reframing “bottom of the pyramid” (BoP) to consider access to resources and basic amenities, and not just income. They argue that research and work that measures BoP by only economic factors such as income misses an opportunity for more holistic data and analysis by also considering access to goods and amenities and social factors.

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How the Internet can Impact Education in sub-Saharan Africa

English: Internet Penetration (% Population). ...

Internet Penetration (% Population). Red indicates no statistics available. (As of Jan 2012) Photo credit: Wikipedia

Dalberg, the global strategic advisory firm focused on raising living standards in developing countries and addressing global challenges, has released the report Impact of the Internet in Africa.

The comprehensive, beautifully designed report and accompanying website highlights the Internet’s role in socioeconomic development in sub-Saharan Africa in the agriculture, health, education, government, finance, small business, and energy sectors.

Given my work in education technology, I found the education section of particular interest, as many of the issues affecting Internet use in education in sub-Saharan Africa are also relevant in India and other developing countries. In addition, access to quality education is a major problem in this region, with UNICEF reporting that more than 100 million school-age children in developing countries do not have access to education, with nearly half of them living in sub-Saharan Africa. The Internet has a huge role to play in bridging the education gap.

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On Systemic Change

“I could talk about reducing the price of malaria nets,” she says, “but I think we need to get away from ‘$10 will save a life’ and other slogans that fit on a T-shirt. Instead, we need to build lasting solutions that fundamentally change the system, so that everyone can thrive without having to be dependent forever on charity.”

Jacqueline Novogratz quote in SSIR