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Thursday, December 23, 2004

give a little – vpp wishlist

it is the holiday season, for most people, at least, and with that spirit of giving and sharing going around (and the spirit of capitalism in the shopping centers), i thought i’d direct your attention to the venture philanthropy partners wishlists.

vpp is run by good people (i can’t say i know mario morino all that well, but we’ve run into each other a couple times), and these are all ways to make a difference, on a personal-scale.

so, if you’ve got some money to go shopping, or if you already have something on this list and don’t need it anymore… consider putting it to work….

posted by roj at 1:23 pm  

Wednesday, December 1, 2004


posted by roj at 3:25 am  

Saturday, August 14, 2004

service to society

i saw this tonight, and i think there’s something worth echoing in my own little chamber…

Probably, however, the principal objection of the honourable professions to advertisement is neither the fact that is misleads the ignorant nor that it is an unfair method of competition, but the indication it affords of a character who is more concerned with exploiting the profession for his own personal advantage than with the service to be rendered to society.

which begs the question… are there no “honourable professions” left, or has the concept of service to society collapsed like so many other quaint concepts?

posted by roj at 5:22 am  

Thursday, July 15, 2004

copenhagen gets brainstormed

back in june i picked up a list of challenges and dropped it in here, but this is a dark, cold corner of the internet.

today, joi ran into that adventure at brainstorm. behold, the power of light.

the copenhagen consensus isn’t without controversy, but the issues they list are issues that affect us all. sure, there may be some differences in priorities, and that’s ok. the problem is that most of these are “off the radar” while we make big issues out of martha stewart’s sentencing possibilities and emmy nominations and constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriage. i know i’m not doing enough with any of these, but maybe it’s something that i know that.

posted by roj at 4:32 pm  

Thursday, June 10, 2004

free culture by congressional district?

long, long ago (it seems), a great thing was born on the net, instigated by a good person (akma) and evolved quickly into a complete audio book. this is an inspiring thing unto itself, and it got me thinking…

…i was sitting around, soaking in the quagmire that is modern american politics, i had a crazy idea. this isn’t anything new or particularly surprising – i have crazy ideas all the time – but this is a derivative crazy idea, so maybe it’s less crazy than some of my solo flights of fancy.

there are only 435 representatives and 100 senators in the united states congress… i wonder what might happen if people from each of the congressional districts created a remix of some or all of free culture for their individual congresspersons. as much as i like the idea of the 14 chapters (plus 4 or 5 other sections) each recorded by different people in each of 435 different districts and forwarded in plain old boring cd format to the offices of the appropriate representatives and senators, that’s a bit limited.

read it, copy it into your individual handwriting, interpret it as a painting, take a photo with the book, videotape a dramatic reading of the conclusion – the net is full of creative people, and we have the tools. make a remix that is related somehow to the district that the congresspersons represent. mix your local news or local companies or just your local voice into a little bit of free culture and make it relevant.

that means many thousands of people would have to play along, and that could be a powerful message… is it unrealistic to find 20 (or so) people in each congressional district that care enough about the future of culture to send a message to congress?

we have the license, we have the precedent – can we find enough people to make free culture into a valid, targetted, political message for each and every congressperson? can the builders of the grassroots political web coordinate an effort like this?

posted by roj at 4:51 am  

Monday, June 7, 2004

spirit of america as expanding social capital

a few days ago, i picked up the spirit of america here on the meta-roj blog without hesitating.

today, following that up a bit, i wandered into thisfrom britt blaser – a response to the “downside” of the effort. so, with that fully-evovled analysis at my fingertips, i’ve added the spirit of america button over there on the right column to go with my other blatant self-promotion and good-cause things.

and, as a nod to tim oren and the subject that brought he and i together in the first place, i just want to say that this is a good example of expanding social capital. i don’t know tim that well, but i’m comfortable using his first name here, and i was comfortable throwing my little bit of weight behind something he told me was a good thing.

this is how we can change the world.

posted by roj at 11:53 am  

Friday, June 4, 2004

pushing for a spirit of america

tonight, i present an interesting follow-up to a recent, if general, bit of material here at meta-roj.

i finally wandered over to tim oren’s corner of the net. some of you may remember that i introduced tim to the meta-roj blog on social capital and venture capital, and we got into a bit of an extended blogologue on the business of music. tim’s a smart guy, and not just because he and i agree on a lot of things (even if i occasionally forget we agree 🙂 )…

a couple days ago, tim put out a call. today i heard it. today you get to hear it too.

tim’s definitely more the pitch-man than i, and definitely has the deeper rolodex (well, palm), so i’m going to let him make the case. what you need to know from me is that this is important, and that tim is a good guy. go. do something.


thanks, tim. let me know what else i can do.

posted by roj at 1:01 am  

Thursday, June 3, 2004

the gross list of challenges

i’m skipping the controversy, and even the “expert opinions” that come with the baggage of the copenhagen consensus. that’ll be hashed out elsewhere in much better form than i can offer here in my dark little corner of the net.

what’s interesting to me is the gross list of challenges…

1 digital divide
2 financial instability
3 lack of intellectual property rights
4 money laundering
5 subsidies and trade barriers
6 transport and infrastructure

7 air pollution
8 chemical pollution and hazardous waste
9 climate change
10 deforestation
11 depletion of the ozone layer
12 depletion of water resources
13 lack of energy
14 land degradation
15 loss of biodiversity
16 vulnerability to natural disasters

17 arms proliferation
18 conflicts
19 corruption
20 lack of education
21 terrorism

health and population
22 drugs
23 hiv/aids
24 human settlements
25 lack of people in working age
26 malaria
27 living conditions of children
28 living conditions of women
29 non-communicable diseases
30 undernutrition / hunger
31 unsafe water and lack of sanitation
32 vaccine preventable diseases

that’s 32 challenges that face humanty… which ones would you prioritize? did they miss any?

posted by roj at 7:17 pm  

Thursday, June 3, 2004

getting back to the business of changing the world

i’ve been out of the loop (and the echo chamber) for most of the year, and now we’re already in june. lots of odd things have come up, and while many things in my life have changed, some things feel incredibly stagnant – i dropped a lot of balls over the past six months. several of them aren’t really worth picking up – some of them are. i hope i have the wisdom in my old age to know which are which. today, i’m going to pick up a story about changing the world (i’ve never been accused of thinking too small…).

some time ago, joi talked about organizing a blogger expedition, of sorts, to africa.

i can only assume that the trip is still on, that joi and ethan have hordes of underlings tasked with bringing this idea to fruition… i’m sure it’s probably even approaching the end of the “idea” stage… after all, that was way back in february.

i pick this up again because this post was sitting in my “to blog” collection of drafts, also from february (19th), and it came with a name and a link. the name was ck prahalad, and the link was to a story in fast company back in 2001.

four months ago i thought ck prahalad was worth writing about. joi’s probably in an airplane somewhere on the way to europe, so i guess i should go ahead and get this thing written – if for no other reason than to give the guy something to read while he’s looking for things to do.

prahalad came to my attention in february in an ancient (internet time) archive…

Can C.K. Prahalad Pass the Test? [fast company, august 2001]

…about five years ago, Prahalad read a book about the history of the potato and how its eventual spread transformed the world. Somehow, it made him think differently about the Internet. Just as international trade had fostered the potato’s growth, the Internet would foster the global diffusion of individual power — and that would transform the world.

The connection is perhaps obvious only to Prahalad. But that’s his way. “If you want new ideas, you have to push yourself into the periphery,” he says.

perhaps for reasons obvious only to me, this prahalad thing and joi’s africa thing clicked for me. the fast company article is mostly about prahalad starting a company, shortly after the great internet burst – praja. praja has since been sucked into tibco, and i don’t know if anything of substance remains – and by substance, i mean the vision and philosophy and management that got it started in the first place – i’m sure the code and the paperwork remains in some form or another.

i suppose that prahalad is best known for his paper co-authored with stuart hart, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid [pdf]. this is a paper that works for me – and not just because i’ve spent most of my adult life trying to squeeze a living out of the worst possible economic situations i could find. it’s one of those business-sense-versus-common-sense concepts that i am constantly amazed need to be discussed.

low-income markets present a prodigious opportunity for the world’s wealthiest companies – to seek their fortunes and bring prosperity to the aspiring poor.

i’ve always been fascinated with business models that “lose money on every deal, but make up for it in volume.” i’m still amazed at things like mcdonald’s – i know the numbers work. i know there’s a mcdonald’s in nearly every conceivable space on the planet, but it’s still fascinating to me that a “speedee service system” spitting out 15-cent burgers and 10-cent fries can do enough volume to grow into the beast that it is today. but, this is america, and we do amazing things.

as an american, i realize i live a life of comfort and luxury, perhaps not the most comfortable and luxurious, but compared to how the other billions live, i’m not doing too bad (and $2-a-gallon gasoline, no matter how many times i hear about it on newscasts, isn’t going to shatter my world).

prahalad has since moved on and now seems to be working with the world resources institute on the digital dividend.

in typical roj-fashion, i probably don’t have a whole lot of new material to add to this, but i can lend some [odd] perspective. out here in my box, this makes sense.

ck prahalad, creating digital dividends conference

“Don’t look at the poor and say there is no hope. Selling to the poor may be more profitable than selling to you and me. This is where the future is. Opportunities are everywhere. This (digital divide) is not about lack of opportunity; it is about lack of imagination.”

perhaps we should imagine a digital dividend project wrapped around the bloggers-to-africa trip? i think there’s an opportunity.

posted by roj at 7:29 am  

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

happy 10th birthday

south african democracy

posted by roj at 9:19 am  
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