Archive for the 'resources' Category

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Maker Faire Africa 2010: Call for Makers

Maker Faire Africa is a celebration of ingenuity and entrepreneurship across the African continent. It is inspired by the successful spread of DIY festivals known as Maker Faires across the United States (check out the latest on the New York City World Maker Faire in September).

The Maker Faire Africa (MFA) co-founding team of organizers (Emeka Okafor/TED Africa, Erik Hersman/Ushahidi, Emer Beamer/Butteryfly Works, Henry Barnor/GhanaThink, and Mark Grimes/Ned/NedSpace/NedWater) seek African innovators, inventors, and makers to participate in the second Maker Faire Africa event to be held in Nairobi, Kenya August 27-28th on the University of Nairobi campus.

To encourage African innovators, inventors and makers from all African countries to try to make it to this unique and one-of-a-kind event, they have some limited funds for those makers outside Nairobi requiring travel and accommodation assistance.

In addition, MFA10 organizers are trying as much as they can to locate and invite women innovators and makers. They’ve found that during last year’s event in Accra, Ghana locating women makers was a challenge, especially those outside arts/crafts categories.

Maker Faire Africa is a free event for all invited makers, innovators and inventors. All the makers that “applied” last year participated in the event. To view some images of the event in Accra, please visit the MFA site.

View the complete call for makers.

The fortress and the free agent

Non-profit tech experts Beth Kanter and Alison Fine have a great article in the June 13 edition of the online Chronicle of Philanthropy. In it, they profile a 29-year old Canadian who has spent the last couple of year traveling the world, doing good deeds, documenting his experiences, and sharing them online – inspiring millions to follow along and contribute to his work. Pretty cool stuff. Reminds me a little of the work of Gabriel Stauring, inspiring founder of stopgenocidenow.org.

In the article, they make a provocative claim: “Free agents do it when and how they please, making them distinct from and more powerful than traditional volunteers.”  ”He is inspiring other people to talk about the issue of global poverty and take action “’in a way that is different from the big nonprofit organizations,’” he says.

But he’s having a hard time earning credibility with the big guys – the more conventional aid organizations. Alison and Beth explain:

““The problem isn’t social media, the problem is that you are the fortress. Social media is not my problem: I have over a quarter million followers on Twitter, 10,800 subscribers on YouTube, and 2.1 million views. Yet despite that, I have a hard time having you guys take me seriously. I get dismissed as ‘just a guy on YouTube.’”

Continue reading ‘The fortress and the free agent’

eHealth, telemedicine, capacity building, and learning

Love this video of the incredibly articulate Chris Moses ’10, who was awarded a Davis Projects for Peace Fellowship and participated in the Public Service Fellowship and Grants program. Here, he discusses Sana (formerly MocaMobile). Sana earned a development grant from the MIT IDEAS Competition, and went on to win the mHealth Alliance Award and Vodafone Wireless Innovation Prize. The $150,000 in awards will enable the group, of which Chris is an integral part, to improve their telemedicine-based health care delivery system for rural underserved populations.


Chris Moses on MIT TechTV

MIT Global Challenge “Printable” Available

mitgc_printableSpecial thanks to Resource Development and Alumni Association staff, especially Lauren Clark, for such fine work developing a 2-page overview of the MIT Global Challenge. We’ll be using the piece over the next several months to encourage alumni enthusiasm and support for the Global Challenge.

The printable includes an introduction to the Global Challenge, describes its origins with the success of the Public Service Center’s IDEAS Competition, and ways alumni can support the Global Challenge and the students who make it the incredible “invention as public service” competition it is today.

Download the printable here.

Tools to fund your project in the crowd

Crowdfunding is an excellent way to raise start-up cash the way most entrepreneurs do – from friends, fools and family. What is crowdfunding?  In a nutshell, raising sizable, useful sums of money in small amounts from many people. It’s an ancient tradition that has achieved some great results – its even gotten many Presidents elected.

What makes crowdfunding so relevant to today’s start-up environment is that the tools have never been so powerful. From simple donation buttons created through financial services sites like Paypal to robust “package” sites like Crowdrise that enable you to build a campaign, crowdfunding sites have exploded in the last decade. Many of them now have their own publicity machinery and are a great way for you to attract new eyes and hearts to your project. Here, we offer just a few to get you started.

Continue reading ‘Tools to fund your project in the crowd’

Can Information Improve Aid Effectiveness?

In 2009 Oxfam America published a brief on “smart development,” in which the authors advocate for increased transparency and predictability in US overseas assistance (ODA). In defining the challenge and the opportunity, Oxfam America identifies three reforms central to their strategy: provide increased access to information to recipient countries; build capacity and help countries lead their own development; and finally let countries lead by opening control.

In making the case for reform 1 (increasing access to information), Oxfam America gives three examples of the information entanglements that arise from massive aid programs that lack effective information sharing regimes:

For years, Afghans have heard about billions of dollars being promised by foreign  donors, yet they have no way to find out where that money is going. Even their  government does not know how one-third of all aid (some $5 billion) has been  spent since 2001.13 In Uganda, a mapping exercise in 2005 found twice as much  aid being spent than what the government was told.14 In Sierra Leone, the government knows little of the 265 different aid projects that donors are funding.15 And
in Malawi, there was a $119 million difference in what donors reported they were  providing to the government of Malawi and what donors reported to the OECD.16

“How” the authors ask, “can recipient governments use donor aid to plan in such circumstances?”

In reading the report, which is a sleek 40 pages, I realize there is a tremendous innovation opportunity here – which is to develop better tools, standards, and administrative reforms that will lead to the kind of information coherence across ODA actors necessary for effective development planning. In a sense, a GPRA for aid that harnesses the open data reforms of the last decade and the flexibility of information sharing tools available on the web.

A problem with enough technical challenges to be of interest to MIT management and programming talent?

MSU Spartans Channel Change

Great clip communicating energy that can be drawn from a worldwide alumni base. Props to Tom G. for spotting this in Tuesday’s NYTimes.

Dispatch Work: Participation and “Pointing” Urban Spaces

Graffitti in Babilônia favelaAs a mixed media artist, I’m always on the lookout for intriguing, clever, playful, whimsical ways of using ordinary materials to bring delight to the urban experience. A few recollections came to mind recently – principally as a result of a cool project I learned about during the annual MIT IDEAS Competition retreat I attended this week.

The project that got me thinking back to my days of RAOC (random acts of collage) is a “kite mapping” project that will engage youth in Brazil’s slums in surfacing the narratives of place where they live. The idea is one part arts engagement (cultivate narratives of place), a second part technical (use sophisticated technology to document narrative), another part advocacy (application of evidence to legitimize place). Of course, I’m crazy about using collage as a means for story-telling. Like Rauschenberg, I believe collage best replicates visually how we perceive the city.

I won’t go into more detail; you can learn more about “My City, My Future” (aka ArteRio) here. But here’s my point: an “owned” city space is a healthy city space.

Continue reading ‘Dispatch Work: Participation and “Pointing” Urban Spaces’

IDEAS: Leveraged Freedom Chair


The Leveraged Freedom Chair at Boston.com

The Leveraged Freedom Chair at Boston.com

Congratulations to Amos Winter, MIT PhD candidate and developer of the Leveraged Freedom Chair, for an enthusiastic article in the Boston Globe today. The article chronicles the journey that led Amos to the LFC, its impact on end-users in Tanzania, and the details of its mechanics in accessible, punchy language. Super exciting!

Have a read at the Boston Globe.

Lessons from America’s Giving Challenge

America's Giving Challenge

Download the America's Giving Challenge report from www.casefoundation.org

In 2007 the Case Foundation sponsored two distinct charity drives across two very different platforms, in part I suspect to change the top-down charity model to one of partnership and engagement and also to stress-test the emerging socialweb as a platform for carrying out its philanthropic interests.

In June they released a report on what they learned, titled America’s Giving Challenge: Assessment and Reflection Report. Written by socialmedia guru Beth Kanter – also one of the Challenge’s winners – and tech expert Allison Fine of Demos.org, its a pretty straightforward head-to-head comparison of the performance of both approaches.

On the one hand, Case launched America’s Giving Challenge with PARADE Magazine and through parade.com, an example of a mainstream publishing giant adapting to a new Internet reality. The second challenge, the Causes Giving Challenge, was run through Facebook, one of the most popular social networks on the web.

Both Challenges performed incredibly well, though in very different ways. As the report states, “America’s Giving Challenge raised $1,193,024 from 46,044 donors for 2,482 causes. The Causes Giving Challenge raised a total of $571,686 from 25,795 unique donors for 3,936 causes.” Continue reading ‘Lessons from America’s Giving Challenge’