Putting the ‘i’ back into ICT

Most people in the tech and development space are familiar with lots of acronyms. The acronym ‘ICT’, or “information communications technology” has gotten a lot of mention lately from the development space as well as from the tech world, but very very little from the media world. There’s been a ton of focus on communications, and on the technology, but what specifically is being communicated? What’s the content? And who is focusing on it?

It would be worthwhile to bring back the focus to the ‘i’ – to the information itself – with ICT programs across the globe – and bring media producers to the table during brainstorms. Development agencies are not in the content business, and tech companies rarely are – so it’s the job of content creators, to ensure that the wrapper of messaging, as well as the strategy of how that content gets to the audiences that need it is thought through, along with the technologists. At least, that’s what I’d like to see more of.

Light Up Malawi Getting “Acquired” by buildOn

More and more non-profits are merging, and getting acquired and this is a practice I hope to see more of as common sense dictates – the best way of delivering change is not always to have a thousand voices yelling, but one very strong voice leading the pack. I was definitely excited when an opportunity came to practice this common sense came to the NGO I founded a few years ago.

As many of you know, my passion project Light Up Malawi has been run by Ryan Renner for the past several months as I took a job at the State Department and then at the Broadcasting Board of Governors to be their new co-director of Innovation. As a federal contractor, I could not hold any executive function with any non-profit organization, so I stepped down to an advisory role. While LUM was in good hands with Ryan – we also realized that the political environment in Malawi was not ideal. For a young organization like ours could thrive, or even survive, we needed entirely different circumstances, or years of experience. Both of which we did not have.

After a remarkably simple conversation with our first pilot partners, buildOn we were able to transfer the funds raised so far on Global Giving (the most amazing website for non-profit fundraising ever!) and put them into a community education program around clean energy. We think its a win-win situation. Thanks to everyone who supported us in the early days and fans through out. Thank you for believing that a few people can make a difference in the world, because we did! More details on the change here:

http://lightupmalawi.org/

Free Energy for Everyone! Light Up Malawi’s First Pilot:

Thanks to an amazing partnership with BuildON and Energy For Opportunity we had a very successful first pilot on our renewable education tract.
Over a three day workshop we taught 17 teachers from 4 different communities in the Kasungu District how to do basic electrical, and basic solar maintenance, and a solar installation. Simon Willans of EFO led the instruction. The learnings were amazing: Malawians are hungry for knowledge – we had full attendance, attention and more people interested every day. Watching the teachers create a basic circuit for the first time was fantastic. Their understanding spread from the classroom to the installation. We left tools for each student and a professional solar instruction manual for each community and also placed this manual in the library of the Wimbe School. Every one of the teachers is committed to taking this knowledge to all of their communities, and spreading the instruction into all of BuildOn’s Community Education Programs.

The panel we installed will power the lighting for two classrooms and even a laptop. Stand by as we hear feedback from the community on how one panel is changing their lives and helping them in small and large ways.


We also placed some solar mobile charging stations and dynamo lanterns for clinics in the Chiradzulu District, and Thyolo District and gave a donation to Goods for Good CBO in Luzi and met with several ministers to begin talks about Malawi’s energy policy and tariff reduction on renewable energy products. While in Kenya we attended the Lighting Africa conference where we met with key stakeholders working in renewable energy in Africa.
All in all, a very productive time in Malawi.

Please support this project !


Light Up Malawi

UPDATE: We’ve raised $6500 and secured a spot at the Unreasonable Institute! Thank you to all of our sponsors and tweeters that helped make us winners in the crowdfunding competition.

This is exciting news, because through the institute this idea hatched during a trip to India in November will get connected to some great advisors and fantastic funding. Light Up Malawi is indeed a very ambitious project, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We are determined to bring sustainable energy solutions to one entire country. That’s one nation completely off the grid – using solar, wind, biomass, and kinetic to achieve this. Malawi is where my mother grew up, and I have family there to this day. I grew up hearing her stories about the country and the people. We believe that Malawi is the best place to start on a mission of this magnitude. And we believe we can do it. I hope you’ll join me on what will be a remarkable journey to prove to the world that poverty can be solved with sustainable, strategic solutions.
For more: Go to Lightupmalawi.org/about

light-up-malawi-logo-color

Coke Zero | Doppelgänger

In conjunction with award winning master animators  MK12, the Ebeling Group, CP+B and the Agency for Holistic Branding we bring you the most sophisticated Facebook application yet. Using facial recognition software developed at Carnegie Mellon University I present: The Coke Zero Facial Profiler.
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Although I only received a 57% match when I used the system, I’ve seen it work really well for some others (I never tend to agree that I look like anyone else anyways). Since its launch a few weeks ago it already has 162,162 registered users filling the database with photos.

The recent advances in image recognition software are truly astounding. It’s incredible to think this is an app for pure entertainment, when last year software of this type was mainly used only for classified purposes. Google Goggles will also bring about a massive paradigm shift in for text, image, and location search. No doubt tons of questions on privacy, and usage will come along with its launch.  Interesting times ahead when software gets crossed with sight.