Banish The Digital Divide!

That’s what YellowSheepRiver wants to do.
They are all about selling low cost linux-based computers, according to this Wired story:

YellowSheepRiver Municator is selling a new Linux-based desktop for about $150. Like Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop per Child project, makers of the Municator say they want to banish the digital divide.

The article compares the YellowSheepRiver effort to that of Negroponte’s organization:

The MIT-affiliated effort has had the technology in place for a $100 laptop since January 2005 but has yet to begin production because the program needs 5 million to 10 million advance orders before factories will begin to churn them out. The Municator, however, is ready to go.

Comparing the Wired story to the YellowSheep website, I found the latter emphasize international business competition more than any humanitarian concerns. The first paragraph from their website reads:

Our ultimate goal is to let the Chinese computer-users use our own-made CPUs in which we do not have to rely on the imported CPUs.

Not sure what these guys are really up to so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Dell Raises The Bar For Computer Recycling Programs

NyTimes reports that Dell is modifying its recycling program so that anyone with an old Dell machine can have it recycled for free through Dell. I’ve covered computer recycling before on this blog, and one of the issues then was the boatloads of old parts ending up in dumps in third world countries. To combat this, the top US-based computer companies are pledging to disassemble old machines in the US.

Apart from the industry leaders, many computer and electronics companies are just starting to adopt recycling programs that meet standards set by environmental groups like the Toxics Coalition.

Today, most equipment intended for recycling in the United States is sent to developing nations, where few laws govern working conditions and environmental hazards. Dell, Apple and Hewlett-Packard, among others, have pledged to disassemble old computers only in the United States and to not ship hazardous material overseas.

It’s good to see the big boys setting the example here.

Larry Ellison Bucks The Trend, Decides NOT To Give $115 Donation

This news wouldn’t get much coverage at another time, but because of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s recent announcements, Larry Ellison’s decision to renege on a $115 million gift to Harvard is getting healthy coverage.

For a minute there, I thought that the charity trend would catch on with business leaders the way that driving Priuses and adopting children caught on with celebrities!

CentroMigante Wins Development Category at MIT Business Plan Competition

Catching up on my reading and saw a good post on CentroMigante winning the Development category at MIT’s Business Plan Competition.

CentroMigrante combines developmental architecture with a self-help business model to offer a sustainable solution that provides clean, safe and affordable urban housing for impoverished, transient job seekers in developing countries.

World Bank’s Private Sector Development blog covers it here.

Warren Buffett Gives Away Most of His Fortune To Charity

The news about Warren Buffett giving away most of his fortune to charity his the wires over the weekend. Here is an article from Yahoo News:

Warren Buffett, the world’s second-richest person, is donating about $37 billion — more than 80 percent of his fortune — to foundations run by his friend
Bill Gates and by the Buffett family.

Everyone is connecting this story to Bill Gates’ announcement last week that he will be stepping out of his role at Microsoft to run his Gates Foundation. However, Buffett assured that there was no real connection between the two announcements.

The Shake Shack Is Getting WiFi Internet Access

Wifi At The Shake Shack
Here’s a snapshot of NYC Wireless volunteers putting up WiFi equipment on the roof of the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park in NYC. I helped out with this install and we anticipate the hotspot to be up and fully functional by the end of next week.

The Madison Square Park Conservancy is the organization behind this and they are looking for sponsors. If you know anyone who is interested, let me know and I’ll pass the message along!

“Nearly all homeless people have e-mail addresses”

This Wired article discusses how computers and the internet are changing the lives of homeless people.

While people living in shelters and alleys have found it difficult to cross social divides, the digital divide seems to disappear on the streets. Nearly all homeless people have e-mail addresses, according to Michael Stoops, director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “More have e-mail than have post office boxes,” Stoops said. “The internet has been a big boon to the homeless.”

Helping the homeless get e-mail addresses has been a priority for years at shelters across the country. And in an age when most every public library in the nation offers internet access, the net has proven a perfect communication tool for those without a firm real-world address.

U.S. Charitable Giving Rises 6%

From Businessweek:

American contribution to philanthropies increased by 6.1% in 2005, according to the 2006 Giving USA report, released June 19. Nearly half of the additional funds were earmarked for relief for a host of natural disasters, most notably Gulf Coast hurricanes, as well as tsunami devastation in Southeast Asia and an earthquake in Pakistan.

One of the more interesting points is where the article highlights the relationship between media attention and charitable giving:

The Oct. 8, 2005, earthquake in Pakistan received far less media attention and funding, with $150 million donated from individuals, corporations, and foundations.

With the rise of blogging and citizenship media, it sounds like there is an opportunity here to do something about disasters that don’t get enough media attention.

The Social ROI of Podcasting Technology

I like to spotlight organizations that use technology to improve society, and I can’t think of a more prototypical organization than The Conversations Network. I found this organization through WorldChanging.

The Conversations Network is a non-profit online publisher of recorded lectures, conversations and interviews that include a wealth of worldchanging topics…

Now partnered with the Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, The Conversations Network just launched a new podcasting channel dedicated to topics like corporate citizenship, philanthropy, social entrepreneurship, international development and disaster relief.

Using Nanotechnology to Desalinate Water

Nanotechnology Desalinization
Some interesting news came out of Lawrence Livermore Labs recently that applies nnanotechnology to a desalinization process, making sea water safe to drink.

A few articles already exist on this, so I’ll just link to them here.

Lawrence Livermore Press Release: Nanotube membranes offer
possibility of cheaper desalination

Nanotechweb: Carbon nanotube membrane filters fast

WorldChanging: Nanotechnology for Clean Water