Posts Tagged ‘Secretary of State’
I attended part of the Social Good Summit this afternoon. Unfortunately, life got in the way as it sometimes does, and I was only able to watch about two hours of it today, but the segments I watched were extremely informative, inspirational in part, and thought-provoking overall. If you haven’t signed in to watch, I recommend it. I hope to be able to watch most of the entire program tomorrow from 1AM to 6PM.
Following are my comments and impressions on the segments I watched today:
Project Diaspora: Africa’s Technology Renaissance
Today I watched the segment on a discussion of Project Diaspora: Africa’s Technology Renaissance.
Featured guests for this segment were “Teddy” Ruge, Co-Founder, Project Diaspora and Kris Balderston, Special Representative for Global Partnerships, Office of the Secretary of State, Global Partnership Initiative. (Until today I didn’t realize how involved the Office of the Secretary of State is with the Social Good Summit project. Nor did I realize this is the fourth year for the Summit.) Zoe Fox represented Mashable, one of the sponsors for this event. (Mashable is a fabulous site with all the latest news about social media technology. It is the place to go for discussions and ideas on how to use technology for the good. It is definitely a site to bookmark.)
Diaspora, co-founded by Teddy Ruge, is an online platform and blog for mobilizing, engaging and motivating members of Africa Diaspora to engage in matters important to the continent’s development. I encourage you to click the Diaspora link and see for yourself. This platform offers features that many other social media platforms don’t. In January of 2012, Mr. Ruge was awarded a Champion of Change award by the White House for his community development work in East Africa. He is also the founder of Villages in Action, a grassroots community conference platform that brings the microphone to the villagers, so their voices can also be heard. (When I listened to Mr. Ruge, I thought: Why don’t we have community organization like this in the USA. Oh wait a minute we do, sort of. We had Occupy Wall Street for a while, and despite the press they got, these people helped the homeless and the poor. They gave them tents and clothing and food and most important–respect, information, and acknowledgement. And how were they rewarded? Well, they didn’t get a Champion of Change award from the White House. Instead they got handcuffs and pepper spray.)
During their discussion regarding the development of technology and broadband in Africa, Kris Balderston pointed out the pivotal influence that Irish Americans had on ending the conflict in Ireland. He also mentioned that migrants to the USA annually send $95 billion in remittances overseas. (A remittance is a transfer of money by a foreign worker to his or her home country.) Mr. Balderson pointed out that $95 billion is four times more than the USA spends on foreign aid.
My reaction is mixed regarding remittances. On the one hand, I am glad that people remember their families and friends and I don’t begrudge that. It is totally human and natural. On the other hand, there are bleak consequences for American workers. Our jobs are being shipped overseas. We have migrants working in our country who collectively send $95 billion dollars a year overseas. So who is really profiting from all this? Certainly not the majority of workers who are not even paid a living wage–those who can find a job (whether migrant, first generation American or tenth generation). The ones who profit from this are the wealthy global investors, ironically many of whom are presenters at this summit.
As I understood what Mr. Balderston was saying, the White House wants to encourage relationships between migrants in the USA and people from their birth country–to be mentors via the social media. And I suppose this is good, especially for the investor class, to strengthen and build the GDP other nations, but somehow I just don’t get it from the viewpoint of the majority of Americans who need to work for a living.
So far, as an average American from Main Street, I feel a little like an outsider looking in on this Summit–not quite as far as from one of the G-20 Summits, but far nonetheless–observing it as I literally am from a distance of 1,539 miles.
I have my feelings and at the same time I am learning much. Some of what I am learning is new to me and interesting and useful and some of what I see and hear is so dangerously close to a topic that I have written about before–Corporate Responsibility Campaigns — that I have to count to ten to prevent myself from hitting the Escape button. Sometimes I feel a little like Winston (a character from Orwell’s novel 1984) who found that he could dim the telescreen but he could’t shut it off altogether. Winston’s solution was to keep his back turned to the telescreen.
(I may not be fair here since I missed many presentations prior to these that I report on here in this post. Perhaps one of those presentations focused on using the Internet in a local community for building local community here in the USA as we so desperately need. I guess the question here is: Is Wall Street the only “person” who is a member of the global community in the USA, except of course for migrants and perhaps first generation Americans? Perhaps I”m being too sensitive.)
The Future is Broadband
This presentation featured Hans Vestberg, President and CEO, Ericsson (more than 40% of all mobile technology goes through their network–of course they are the leading advocate of the future is Broadband and Technology for Good. Furthermore, to be against social good would be a kiss of death, a fact that someone should whisper in Mitt’s ear); Dr. Hamadoun Toure, Secretary General, International Telecommunication Union; and Lance Ulanoff, Mashable.
Although I considered most of this presentation to be a Corporate Responsibility Campaign in full swing, and in spite of the obvious self-serving aspects of their comments, I did gain a deeper understanding of how access to the Internet is a key tool to the transformation of people’s lives. Broadband access to the Internet is no longer considered a luxury according to these men. Vestberg pointed out that even a 10% penetration of Broadband in a country will result in a 1% GDP growth. What was not pointed out is that GDP is not a yardstick for measuring the overall well-being of the people of a nation.
At best, a nation’s GDP may indicate how well a nation’s top 20% are doing. One could even argue that many of the calculations of the GDp are “anti-people”. If GDP is high, then the corresponding factors for the economic well-being of the majority will likely register negative in the real world.
In 1992, a report from the Council on Environmental Quality, “Accounting Systems Used to estimate GDP”, stated that the GDP does not reflect depletion or degradation of the natural resources used to produce goods and services. As a result, the more the nation depleted its natural resources, the more the GDP goes up. A trip to the grocery store on your bike to purchase a $2 gasket will only add $2 to the GDP but a trip to the store in your Hummer C02 producing vehicle to buy that same $2 gasket will cost $5.)
But that is all really irrelevant because the leaders of most nations are themselves global investors so an increase in GDP always registers a plus mark in their asset column. If these people see their personal net worth increasing by letting the people have Broadband, the people will have Broadband.
Internet Freedom, Mobile Technology and Human Rights
Andrew Rasiej (founder Personal Democracy Media) and Peter Gabriel (Genesis)
Gabriel said that he believes the Internet has a larger role than politics and he is right. As he mentioned, the power of mobile which helps users access information immediately, will affect healthcare, education, the economy and culture. He also referenced the Qualcomm Tricorder Contest–a $10 million competition to bring healthcare to the palm of your hand. Imagine a portable, wireless device in the palm of your hand that monitors and diagnoses your health conditions. That’s the technology envisioned by this competition, and it will allow unprecedented access to personal health metrics. The end result: Radical innovation in healthcare that will give individuals far greater choices in when, where, and how they receive care. Learn more about the competition
Those who are old enough to remember The Whole Earth Catalog* smiled when Gabriel mentioned that he is producing a digital version of this old hippie catalog in the Spring of 2013. More information on Gabriel’s version can be found on The Toolbox. Gabriel’s digital version of the old catalog organizes applications into categories that make it easier for people to find just the app they need.
One of the more outstanding statements Gabriel made about the Internet is that with it, we have the potential to create an entity that supersedes government. (Does that mean that we will supersede ourselves?)
*Note on Whole Earth Catalog: Steve Jobs and others have compared The Whole Earth Catalog to Internet search engine Google. Steve Jobs compared The Whole Earth Catalog to Google in his June 2005 Stanford University commencement speech. “When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation…. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along. It was idealistic and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.” During the commencement speech, Jobs also quoted the farewell message placed on the back cover of the 1974 edition of the catalog: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” I think today, almost 40 years later, we can say that we are still hungry and even more foolish.
Twitter and Thomas Jefferson
Rob Reich, Associate Professor Stanford University
Although referring to horses and lanterns as “technology” was a bit of a stretch for me, I did appreciate the red meat of this presentation which was the need for creating a Declaration of Internet Freedom to secure the Internet for the majority. I once viewed that as “silly” but today it seems like a needed and practical thing to do.
The Declaration has five principles:
1. Don’t censor the Internet
2. Promote universal access to fast and affordable entworks
3. Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect
4. Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don’t block new technologies.
5. Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used.
Certainly puts Hillary’s taking a trip half-way around the world from the Democratic convention into an understandable context.
She has been saying she is “out of politics” but perhaps she means out of politics for the next four years. You can bet she will still be in the public spotlight though.
Hillary steps back.
Bill has four years as Secretary of State.
Then they both return in 2016 with Hillary running as President.
Possible? I don’t know, but there is something weird about her, one of the most popular figures in the Democratic Party not attending a National Convention in this important year. There is something more to that story.