Math Hasn’t Changed… So Why Does California Pay $400M A Year To Update Textbooks?

That’s the question Scott McNealy, chairman of Sun Microsystems, is asking.

McNealy, who handed Sun’s chief executive reins to Jonathan Schwartz earlier this year, is now applying his know-how to steer the Global Education and Learning Community (GELC). That’s a non-profit entity, spun off from Sun in January, which aims to make open-source software available to the world’s kids for free–just as Sun sought to distribute its Solaris operating system (OS) and other wares to businesses, for profit.

Related links:
Global Education & Learning Community

AT&T and Tech Philanthropy

Earlier today, AT&T announced that it would partner with MetroFi to provide free municipal wifi internet access.

AT&T also announced that it will kick off a tech philanthropy campaign.

AT&T has launched a three-year, $100 million program, called AT&T Access All, that aims to provide technology packages–including a new computer, printer and Internet access–to 50,000 low-income families nationwide.

It sounds like the muni wifi piece is part of the Access All program. This is pretty awesome.

Mom and Pop Hotels In Emerging Markets Tap Into Online Marketing

World Hotel Link

Private Sector Development Blog has a good post about World Hotel Link, a concept where small hoteliers in emerging markets use the internet to provide accomodations to first world travelers.

The idea was that independent travellers in rich countries can connect to people owning bed and breakfasts and small hotels in emerging markets and make bookings directly. The kinds of places you’d never find on Expedia or Travelocity. Many of the accommodation providers had no access to the Internet. So the booking would come in by email and then the “last mile” would be covered by someone on a bicycle.

This is a beautiful idea because leisure travelers are always looking for unique experiences and this website allows them to discover accomodations that are off the main drag. Small hotels benefit because they get to tap the power of the internet to market themselves to a big pool of potential customers from the first world.

In addition, the Worldhotel Link is promoting sustainable tourism:

Finally, we aspire to connecting responsible travellers with accommodation providers committed to building a sustainable future for their business and their destination. We have created a means for acommodation providers to learn about how to differentiate their properties by adopting sustainable tourism initiatives (see here) and provided a number of sustainable tourism case studies.

The risks this hotel booking site face are not that different from traditional online travel agencies. For example, misrepresentation by hotels could lead to bad customer experience and lack of trust in the website. However, the good news is that the Worldhotel Link can learn from the experiences of traditional online travel agencies and institute functionality like ratings and feedback which will make them feel much better about their travel plans.

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.

Intel Has Its Owns Plans To Close the Digital Divide

Intel plans to close the Digital Divide with its own version of the $100 Dollar Laptop. The only difference is that their plan is to release a sub $400 dollar laptop and train teachers as well as extended wireless internet access worldwide.

It sounds like a more comprehensive approach than Negroponte’s and Intel certainly has the capital and technology to really do something here. Note that they are one of the most well respected brands in computing, have a huge semiconductor and memory business, and also have a scaleable wireless internet technology in the works, called WiMax.

The article goes on to discuss the initiative:

The program is to be announced on Tuesday at the World Congress on Information Technology, a conference in Austin, Tex., where Intel’s chief executive, Paul S. Otellini, will elaborate on it in a speech on Wednesday.

The initiative, called World Ahead, comes as Intel, the No. 1 chip maker, is embarking on what it says will be a $1 billion revamping program in the face of declining market share and a lagging share price.

So what does this all mean? Competition is always good, and it sounds like Intel and Negroponte are already criticizing each other’s works:

[Negroponte] said that the Intel program was a step forward, but that focusing efforts on training teachers had serious drawbacks.

And Otellini (Intel’s CEO) on Negroponte:

“We don’t think you cross the digital divide with old technology,” he said. “It doesn’t need exotic technology and it runs real applications.”

Related posts:
Negroponte Steps Down From MIT Media Lab to Pursue $100 Laptop Initiative
Social Entrepreneurs Focused On Closing the Digital Divide
Microsoft Pitching In To Close the Digital Divide: Cell Phone Based Internet Connection
UN body backs $100 laptop for world’s kids
Social Entrepreneur Focus: Negroponte and his $100 laptop

Getting Rid of Your Old PC In A Responsible Way (cont’d)

Just saw this totally relevant announcement: Apple Offers Free Computer Take-Back Program

Apple today announced an expansion of its successful recycling program, offering free computer take-back and recycling with the purchase of a new Macintosh® system beginning in June.

Here is a link to my prior post: Getting Rid of Your Old PC In A Responsible Way

Getting Rid of Your Old PC In A Responsible Way

Got my laptop back so I will be back to regularly posting (after a 2 week hiatus).

So this post will conclude my series on  computer related posts.  (See my prior posts: The Truth (and Dangers) of Computer Recycling, and TechSoup Stock- Connecting Nonprofits With Technology Product Donations from Leading Providers)

This final post (in this series) points to a pretty useful article on Cnet’s News.com that provides instructions on how to trash your pc in an eco-friendly way.

It’s done in a FAQ (frequently asked questions) format and provides some pretty good answers to some great questions.
Most of you might not be ready to trash a computer right now, but when you are, surf back over here and find out how to do it in a responsible manner!

The Truth (And Dangers) of Computer Recycling

Good news: I got my laptop back.  Bad news: It was still broken so I had to ship it back.

Anyhow, on the topic of computers– I wanted to post about this Salon.com article that gives us some insight into computer recycling.  What should be a great and environmentally friendly practice is oftentimes not environmentally healthy, and a dangerous health hazard to many third world workers involved in the practice.

More than 50 percent of our recycled computers are shipped overseas, where their toxic components are polluting poor communities. Meanwhile, U.S. laws are a mess, and industry and Congress are resisting efforts to stem “the effluent of the affluent.”

I’ve blogged about some success stories in recycling (see Recycling Old Cell Phones); however, there seems to be many occasions where these programs do more harm than good.