2010 PopTech Social Innovation Fellows

PopTech Social Innovation FellowsAlong with a cadre of stellar design professionals, educators, communication gurus, and experts in social enterprise, Peter Durand of Alphachimp served as faculty and scribe for this amazing weeklong program.

Each year, PopTech selects 10-20 high potential change agents from around the world who are working on highly disruptive innovations in areas.

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Pop!Tech Fellows: 2009 presentation videos

PopTech 2009 Social Innovation Fellows from PopTech on Vimeo.

Meet all the Fellows in this video—and then learn more about each organization’s work in their individual PopTech presentations below.

You can watch their videos from the 2009 Fellows page (click the link under each project description), from their Vimeo channel, or follow the links below:

Aviva Presser Aiden & Hugo Van Vuuren of Lebônê

Jason Aramburu of re:char

Eben Bayer of Ecovative Design

Paula Kahumbu of WildlifeDirect

Deb Levine of ISIS, Inc.

Derek Lomas of Playpower Foundation

Josh Nesbit of FrontlineSMS:Medic

James O’Brien of Brooklyn Community Arts & Media High School

Emily Pilloton of Project H Design

Hayat Sindi of Diagnostics For All

Taylor Stuckert & Mark Rembert of Energize Clinton County

Nigel Waller of Movirtu

Congratulations to our 2009 Social Innovation Fellows!

All video is released with Creative Commons Noncommercial-Attribution-ShareAlike license—and we hope you will embed and share these videos widely to help the Fellows continue their work.


Fiefdoms & Freakonomics

IMAGE SOURCE: Lopburi province, Thailand: The Monkey Buffet, TIME.com

Hosted by Carlos Gasca Yanez on the Social Edge, this on-line discussion addresses what is the oldest, most intractable problem facing any group of people trying to do anything: fragmentation and individual control of territory.

You see it in religion, politics, families, companies, offices, on the university campus, on teams. Shakespeare's whole career was based on describing the betrayal and dysfunctional loyalties of nations and kin.

From an excerpt of The Fiefdom Syndrome: The Turf Battles That Undermine Careers and Companies - And How to Overcome Them by Robert J. Herboldat:

The problem begins when individuals, groups, or divisions--out of fear--seek to make themselves vital to their organizations and unconsciously or sometimes deliberately try to protect their turf or reshape their environment to gain as much control as possible over what goes on.

It is a natural human tendency, probably dating back to the origin of our species. But if this human tendency isn't managed properly, the damage caused by these "fiefdoms" can begin to undermine an organization. Left untouched, fiefdoms can toll the death knell of what should have been a strong and vital organization...

In in European medieval times, under the system of feudalism, a fiefdom often consisted of inheritable lands or revenue-producing property granted by a liege lord, in return for a form of allegiance. However anything of value could be held in fief, such as an office, a right of exploitation (e.g., hunting, fishing) or any other type of revenue, rather than the land it comes from. source: Wikipedia

The SocialEdge conversation gets at the importance of understanding--and working with--the realities of fiefdoms and social change, particularly in overcoming this destructive behavior for social good.

clipped from www.socialedge.org
Fiefdom & Freakonomics
Over the past twenty years, I have made an effort to learn how communities go about solving their problems and creating solutions. During that time I have volunteered for or was an employee in five community wide plans and two community coalitions. Perhaps the biggest obstacles to their success were fiefdoms. In this context fiefdoms may be of affinity (beliefs & values) or consist of social networks. Or they may be economic.

Social entrepreneurs must learn to identify fiefdoms and how to work with them, as this can be critical to their success. In his book The Fiefdom Syndrome (The Turf Battles That Undermine Careers and Companies - And How to Overcome Them), Robert J. Herbold, former Microsoft Chief of Operations, describes how self-interest undermines careers and companies. He identifies the types of fiefdoms as:
  • Individual
  • Peer or network
  • Corporate divisions
  • Top-tier
  • Group fiefdom
  • and the protected fiefdom.

Storytelling and Social Change

New models for engaging individuals and communities through traditional and emerging media.
clipped from www.socialedge.org
Recent years have seen a number of effective projects using storytelling and marketing techniques to turn the needle on important social issues. In Sub-Saharan Africa, Population Media has been using radio soap operas to successfully encourage behavioral change on reproductive health issues. In India, Breakthrough has created popular music videos to raise the profile of gender-based human rights issues with a mass audience. Most recognizably, the film “An Inconvenient Truth” helped mainstream the issue of climate change.

While much of the social entrepreneurship sector focuses on service delivery and market-based approaches, there is also an important role for projects which exist solely to raise the profile of specific social problems. The use of compelling narratives and creative media allows larger audiences to understand and connect with issues; this in turn creates growing demand for market-based approaches to the same problems.

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Tech Solutions on a Shoestring

Want to get up and running on very little capital? OpenSource and web apps are the way to go. This is advice to social entrepreneurs (and entrepreneurs in general) from Jeff Skoll's foundation. Open Source solutions like Ubuntu for free and OpenOffice give an instant operating system and Office suite of productivity tools. Online solutions for websites, shared documents, collaboration and customer relationship management include: PBwiki, WetPaint, Google, Zoho, 37Signals
clipped from www.socialedge.org

Tech Solutions on a ShoestringAlmost all start-ups run into limitations in two critical areas - time & money. You can never have enough of either. Technology is supposed to help you save a bit of both, but it always seems to end up taking more time and more money than it ever saves you. Even when you find a solution that saves you money, it almost always takes more time than you have to give, and vice versa. What choices are available to help swing things back in the intended direction?

Open source tools are free, but expensive in terms of time lost to implement. There are free web services available that allow you to utilize their capabilities - sans your own branding. Gmail is great, but how long can you get away without having your own domain associated with your email? Same goes for free wikis and other collaboration tools.

iHaveNoTribe.com - I Am Kenyan

Via Ethan Zuckerman:

A new project by David Kobia and crew, encouraging Kenyans around the world to transcend their tribal identity and affirm their identity as Kenyans. An interesting response to the difficulties of keeping message boards sane during the crisis.
Kobia also coordinated Ushahidi.com, a site that integrates GoogleMaps and SMS for citizens to report incidences of Riots, Deaths, Property Damage, Government Forces, Civilians, Looting, Rape, Peace.

It also has a running timeline of events, making it a powerful tool to trace the violence. Unfortunately, with some much violence involving so many impoverished people, this can't begin to give transparency to the chaos.

Although I am a Southern, American, white, suburban kid, I was born in Kenya and have carried hope and romance for this beautiful, passionate piece of the earth in my heart.

Open Facebook Sandwich

According to The Art of Unix Programming by Eric Steven Raymond, the rules of open-source development are simple:
  1. Let the source be open. Have no secrets. Make the code and the process that produces it public.
  2. Release early, release often.
  3. Reward contribution with praise.
In this case, Facebook deserves some praise: They released their Javascript library so that developers can embed apps in third-party web sites and have greater access the Facebook member and relationship information.

The implications for communities, networks, social enterprise and individuals is huge--access to one of the largest social networking platform in the world. It will be intriguing to see how Google's Open Social grows as a contender.

When Facebook first opened up its API in Fall of 2007, Worldchanging contributor, Jon Lebkowsky, observed that Google's collaboration with social network platforms to create Open Social:

Google's insight was that you could create a standard API that many social sites could adopt, so that developers could build applications to work across platforms. This would presumably stimulate innovations and make them more broadly available – great for users and second tier social networking sites, less great for Facebook (though in my opinion, anything that boosts social networking is good for anyone in that business).
Henry Blodget of Silicon Alley Insider sees the recent decision as another brilliant Facebook move but predicts that Facebook wants to resist going completely "open" and allowing members to export their information and relationships at will.
Facebook might lose its control over its core asset (the billions of relationships among its millions of members, a.k.a., the social graph). This move seems another smart step toward a hybrid strategy: Allow app makers (and Facebook) to extend social-graph functionality to the web, gather more app users, and recruit more members--but retain full control over the social graph itself.