March 18, 2011
Google's Marissa Mayer Talks Google & What It Was Like to Host Obama at HomeJohn Battelle interviewed Google's Marissa Mayer at the one day SIGNAL event in Austin last week. Her answers were thoughtful and as always, her informal and breezy way of addressing a crowd was well received. Her most memorable 'share' had nothing to do with Google.
Having hosted the Obama dinner this past month when he was in the San Francisco Bay Area talking to technology visionaries and CEOs, she talked about what it was like to have the President in her home and things she learned about security (aka, oh yeah, there will be TONS of men in black suits standing outside my home which is across from an elementary school), and meal planning. Here's the Business Insider overview on the dinner recap. It's a great interview: have a listen.
March 17, 2011
Ushahidi's Open Source Platform Lowers Barriers & Accelerates Storytelling
I ran into Juliana Rotich in Long Beach during TED, who is a Program Director with a non-profit organized called Ushahidi.
Their tools help democratize information, increasing transparency and lowering the barriers for individuals to share their stories.
"Ushahidi", which means "testimony" in Swahili, was a website that was initially developed to map reports of violence in Kenya after the post-election fallout at the beginning of 2008.
Since then, the name "Ushahidi" has come to represent the people behind the "Ushahidi Platform".
Their roots are in the collaboration of Kenyan citizen journalists during a time of crisis. The original website was used to map incidents of violence and peace efforts throughout the country based on reports submitted via the web and mobile phones.
This website had 45,000 users in Kenya, and was the catalyst to realize there was a need for a platform based on it, which could be used by others around the world.
February 28, 2011
Facecake Hopes to Transform Online Buying & The Dressing Room #democon
Facecake (cool name isn't it?), was on the DEMO stage today showing up Swivel, a new service slated to launch in May that will allow you to try things on in your own closet using a virtual application that allows you to see what they look like in various outfits.
You can give yourself a complete cosmetic makeover, such as having the experience of going from a blonde to a redhead. You can also visualize yourself losing weight, see your home in a rainbow of colors, purchase accessories for your pets, or try a cosmetic procedure with just a simple click. Just upload your image and you can "try on" a product, or "try out" a service without ever leaving home in a photo-realistic manner that's the next best thing to driving to the store or doctor.
Says the founder on stage, "you can share with swivlets with other users online - in static or dynamic moving scenes." Swivel transforms the 'changing room' by making it virtual, making the dressing room smarter not just for users directly but their plan is to bring it to eCommerce as well. "We think we're changing the way people will shop," says the female CEO and founder.
Above, the CEO is demoing the service on stage. You can see how she is testing out purses and dresses virtually, visually being able to see what she looks like in various outlets before buying them all while allowing you to share your experience with others. Could this be Fashion 3.0? I love it. Below, Matt Marshall chats with the team about its various applications and use cases in the future.
February 20, 2011
Robert Fuller on Rankism: Humiliation is More Dangerous Than Plutonium
He was fresh and frank when he spoke about racism, how it is baked into people's DNA for generations before its 'hold' becomes undone entirely.
This lead him to his work and passion for not just understanding rankism, but turning it into a movement so the generation behind us doesn't let rankism create more nobodies.
Refer to his book: Nobodoes & Somebodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rankism.
One thing I loved about Robert Fuller was his astute attention to things and people. I saw him in the green room early on and then back stage and as he was wandering around, it was not just as a speaker waiting to go on, but as an observer of 'intention,' listening in that way where you knew he was absolutely present for every part of it.
He started his talk by focusing on the word DIGNITY. He says, "to claim such a future, we have to own up to our past," and reminds us that the past of our species is a predatory past.
"Among your ancestors, there were some great predators or you wouldn't be here," he says. "Dignity is on the march yet it is defined by its absense." As for how the absense of dignity shows up? Words and actions that are patronizing and condescending, which often come across as threats, even if they're quiet ones.
Robert brought up examples in his own upbringing at a time where racism was prominent and not hidden. Even though he is a generation behind me, it applied to my own childhood and I was raised in the Northeast, not the South. He also shared stories of where it shows up today in India and Bangladesh among other emerging countries.
His calming and purposeful voice then recited a portion of an Emily Dickinson poem on stage:
I'M nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody too?
There there's a pair of us -- don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.
From examples to emotions, I loved the way he took us on a journey of dignity and lack of it and an awareness of rankism. Robert shared a thought he had in the middle of the night during a dream: Nobodys of the world unite, we have nothing to worry about or lose but our shame.
You have to wonder if you have such a powerful thought, one which you remember in the middle of a dream as if you were lucid, is it important enough to become a movement? Or a book? Or at least something to act on even if in some small way?
He says, "you can't start a movement unless you know what you're for and what you're against. When women realized that they were against sexism, they had teeth." He then moves onto the 'dignity movement' and asks "what is the dignity movement is against? It is against humiliation, it is against talking down to people, it against one upmanship, and it is against rankism."
He says, "when you're a nobody, you look for other nobodies, so you're not a freak and so you have a pal." And while I'm sure many of the people in the room reflected on grade school, high school and even college, rankism occurs everyday -- in our social encounters and in business, and sometimes it occurs where we are a part and sometimes it occurs where we are the observer.
Robert says with intent, "you're probably wondering whether our predatory nature of our past is embedded in our DNA and there's nothing we can do it. I remind you that this is exactly what men said about the women's movement. Rankism is the residue of predation. Rankism and predation are extremely dangerous.....and humiliation is more dangerous than plutonium."
I'll leave you with this thought as he left us with this and other important observations about dignity, rankism, humiliation and how we treat people everyday.
Protect other people's dignity as you would your own.
He ends with this powerfully simple but important statement: "there's only one thing that is more important than how we treat the planet and that's how we treat each other."
November 20, 2010
A Little Update from Yahoo's Carol BartzHear the latest from Yahoo's Carol Bartz at this year's Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.
November 15, 2010
Saying Goodbye to Your Most Primal Connection
In this chapter lived a little girl who was told half her heritage was French although it wasn't clear that "it" really counted because part of the family had come over from France and well.....part of the family was French Canadian not far from the New York state border.
It was a bit like the other side of her family which didn't really count either - a probable Jewish grandfather whose father likely changed their name when they hit America's shores, a long...long time ago. And, like a chameleon, he pretended to be Irish, Welsh, German, Polish or Russian depending on who he was selling to or telling jokes to at the time.
He looked like he could be all five and very well may have been; he also looked like he could be an Eastern European Jew who was more focused on making sure his family succeeded financially and socially in America than trying to adhere to a religion. The only thing that may have given it away to anyone who was paying close enough attention was the food in the fridge and in the cupboards and what sauces and beer he drank when no one was looking.
In the French Connection chapter of that old dusty book, the little girl's mother had disappeared in the sixties while pregnant with the little girl's brother, who was later born somewhere in a place only a local child protection unit would have a record of, if at all.
The little girl was told to erase the French Connection from her mind, including all fantasies of meeting her one day, based on some whimsical ideology that a mother/daughter relationship is so primal, that any mother if separated from her child, would eventually seek out her own.
The little girl was told that it was an old Chapter that had now passed, and what was passed was done and over and after all, why dig up old skeletons when she never really wanted a little girl anyway?
The little girl learned several years later that a couple of other little girls were also left with a haunting memory from that same French Connection and while they may never have been told to leave the past in the past, the alcohol breath of one of four husbands and mental anguish over the years was enough for the little girls to push such memories behind them without much help.
I wonder....does the memory of any little girl's mother - real or not - ever diminish forever even when she's been told that she isn't 'real?' Even when she's been told that it doesn't matter and that what is real, is in front of her, not in her mind's eye?
What of that bond that comes from a blood connection alone, even if a relationship was never consummated, even if there was no memory of a shared love?
One day, when the little girl was her early twenties, she finally met her French Connection, who she thought would look like Meryl Streep based on the only photo she had of her before that one intense meeting. With the photo in her memory and her heart beating wildly, the girl, together with her older sister, knocked on the door of their shared French Connection's house with no research, no warning, no notice, and no real thought as to what the consequences might be.
The ending was not one from a romantic American movie, the kind that always ends with a hug, nor was it an experience that resulted in strong bonds, emotional exchanges or a continued family relationship.
But what it was, was a stake in the ground that kept the French Connection alive, even if only alive not burning. The beautiful memory of what 'could have been' was shattered but the reality of what it was and what it is, remained. The French Connection was real, pretty or not.
Have you ever noticed that there's always at least one complex thing about one's heritage that changes an otherwise beautiful ending to an ugly one? You know, something in the DNA and history so deeply buried that nothing can get "it" to 'think' or 'behave' differently.
Sometimes that complexity means that an authentic conversation never happens between a man and his son before the man dies, or two estranged sisters.
Sometimes that complexity means that a man would choose to gamble his family savings away before he used the money to feed his children.
Sometimes that complexity means that a woman would choose to die rather than ask for help when she is faced with a terminal disease.
Sometimes that complexity results in a family becoming homeless when it wasn't necessary because of a tribal pride that could not easily be undone.
And, sometimes that complexity means that a woman may choose never to fix the unraveling chaos she created by leaving her children behind when she could have made a healthier choice.
We learn over time that we need to accept some of the things we've been dealt or experienced in our lives, in order to be at peace with the world.
We also learn over time that we can create our own destinies or change existing ones in a heartbeat, and it can be as instant as the moment we make a decision that it's time for change.
And, we also learn that we can paint our own canvases because we are the creators of our own lives. Our lives are not the stories we were told by our parents and grandparents about the way "things need to be or the way we should behave."
The should and need parts of any story, whether it's through a parent, husband, school teacher or priest, are only there to keep us connected and safe, a perceived connected and safe perhaps....but nevertheless, connected to the very 'tribe' that brought us into the world.
Once you deviate from that tribe, it no longer feels safe, nor does that tribe embrace you as one of them. It's very primal and such an integral part of human nature, that we're even seeing similar behavior in online communities today.
A long long time ago, the little girl was told to leave her French tribe behind and create a new one.
Then one day, she was told by an old boss to leave another tribe behind when it didn't subscribe to her professional goals.
And later, when she moved to Europe, she was told to leave her American tribe behind and after the girl divorced, she forced herself to leave yet another tribe behind. And then a corporate tribe. And then a country one. And then a regional one. And then a technology one. And then her family, at least the one she sort of kind of knew.
And, soon she learned, that you leave tribes behind all the time and that everything is temporary and nothing is permanent.
The girl learned to march on, forward on her life journey and look back for reflection only, not for a notch in a ladder that would add to her growth or sustain her in any meaningful way.
And, she became very good at marching.
Then one day, the girl, who had become a grown woman, received a phone call. Her French Connection had cancer with only a few days to live.
Did she ever really know her French Connection? Did she ever really know the woman who called herself her mother and once looked like Meryl Streep?
The woman who liked markets and gypsy jewelry as much as she did yet they never shopped together.
The woman who didn't like to burden people so did everything on her own, just like she did.
The woman who had this odd freckle on her wrist in the very same place she had one.
The woman who gave birth to her in another chapter, in another time and what now felt like another galaxy.
It would not be like losing the mother who raised her, this she knew. It wouldn't be like losing the man who raised her, who wasn't her real father.....this she knew too.
But, what was clear was this. She knew that the French Connection would finally die a permanent death, only to be remembered as a Chapter with its own name, the one in the forgotten book that had gathered dust and mildew.
In the chapter now over, one which was kept alive by a flickering dim light for nearly a lifetime, the story ends too, and with it, a generation as well as an era in time. It’s the kind of chapter that closes another family's photo album and history book just like it has since the beginning of time itself.
And for the girl...it was death to yet another tribe, the most primal one, but in a period of time where it was no longer necessary to tell her it was time to move on.
November 08, 2010
Meet the 2010 PopTech Fellows
November 8, 2010 in America The Free, Europe, New England, On Africa, On Being Green, On China, On East Africa, On Education, On Health, On Innovation, On Science, On South Africa, On Technology, On the Future, On Women, Social Media, United Kingdom, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
November 01, 2010
CarWoo Drives Vintage 78 Camaro to World Series to Raise Money for Breast Cancer
By bridging two significant events together, San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers fans can show their support by giving to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation to raise money for breast cancer.
The story: CarWoo! bought a 1978 Camaro and painted a pink stripe down the center.
Then, at the second World Series game at San Francisco's AT&T Park on Thursday, October 29, 2010, they asked Giants fans to donate to the Susan G. Koman foundation in exchange for being able to sign the Giants' side of the car in support of their team. They are doing the same thing for Rangers fans at the fifth game of the series on November 1, 2010.
The fans who raise the most money will win the “competition”, and all of the funds raised will go towards the Susan G. Komen chapter in the team's respective city. The car, complete with all of the signatures, will be auctioned off, and the proceeds from this sale will also be donated to the foundation.
Specifics can be found on CarWoo’s World Series page and at CarWoo Cares on the Komen site. Details of the car’s trip across the country and its ultimate exact location at the stadium in Arlington can be found here.
October 26, 2010
Yeung Attracts High Number of Women Entrepreneurs: #biztech
Go Edith Yeung, the founder and organizer of BizTechDay events, now in New York, Seattle and more recently San Francisco. She attracts a higher than normal number of women entrepreneurs -- attendees and speakers -- and does high touch things like "here's your buddy, go find them on-site" as a way to not only engage attendees but give them a creative and fun call-to-action that will encourage participation and networking with people you otherwise may not have met.
We heard from Squidoo's Megan Casey, Gymboree's Joan Barnes, Kiva's Jessica Jackley, Sue Kwon from CBS, SmallBizTrend's Anita Campbell and Facebook Era's Clara Shih. Also check out 25 amazing women entrepreneurs you should make an effort to meet. Below taken at the San Francisco event by Michael O'Donnell.
October 25, 2010
Stephanie Coontz: What Is Love REALLY? What Makes a Marriage REALLY?
What is love really? What makes for a happy marriage? Marriage was invented for in-laws--connected in-laws--says Stephanie Coontz on the PopTech stage in Maine this past week.
Stephanie Coontz, director of research and public education for the Council on Contemporary Families and the author of Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage, says the answer lies in understanding that marrying for love is a radical idea.
Coontz notes that little interactions between couples are important indicators of a successful marriage. It reveals how much interest and respect a couple has for each other.
What also counts in a marriage, say Coontz, is how well a couple can manage household duties together. Here, it should come as no surprise that men and women have different understandings of marital satisfaction.
The best predictors for marital satisfaction among men? The answer, perhaps not surprisingly, is how little criticism and how much sex he gets. According to Coontz, that has not changed since the 1960s. What has changed is how he gets it. A modern-day marriage, says Coontz, requires much more give and take—and much more help around the house. One of the predictors of a woman’s happiness in a marriage directly relates to how much a spouse contributes to household and childcare tasks.
Coontz concludes with a win-win situation scenario for each sex: The more that household and childcare duties are split between a couple, the less criticism and more sex that the man is likely to get, and the happier the woman is likely to be. Here's a link to her presentation. (it's the first time I haven't seen the embed video option on any site).
Republished from PopTech Site - Collen Kaman - Photo credit: Kris Krüg.