Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Jump to the business model!

Well, not quite. In fact, my advisors have been urging me to forget about the business model and concentrate on the social need.

And I really do believe that some combination of mobile storytelling, camera phones, and social networks can help increase understanding between the developed and developing world by creating deeper individual connections.

However, that being said, it's interesting to see how something I was thinking about is already a web 2.0 company, and namedropped on TechCrunch, no less.

Skipping ahead, I had the thought that once people were able to tell their own stories, the ones who lived in consumer-focused environments would (or at least could) create "user-generated content" that would have real value to companies.

This posting talks about a company called ViTrue, who just landed A-round funding from Comcast and Turner.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Newsletter 2

(Posting a copy of my second newsletter)

I'm emailing on a foggy Tuesday to give you another update on my voyage into social entrepreneurship. It's been another whirlwind month here at Stanford. I've spent most of my time working on prototypes and networking, and I hope to have some exciting partnerships to announce next month!

In the meanwhile, since my project is based on cameraphones, I've used my trusty N90 and a few other digital cameras to start a video blog; just to get in the habit of filming and editing and to share some of my experience here. I'm just getting started with video, so please forgive any rough spots. So far, I've interviewed Ken Banks (one of our fellows) about his work in primate conservation, and Tracy from SAP Labs, who hosted us for an excellent session about Alliances and Partnerships.

In social entrepreneurship at large, this has been an exciting month for microfinance. Microfinance is based on lending small amounts of money to the poor. Given that 1.3 billion people live on less than one dollar per day, a loan of even $50 or $100 can make a huge difference in enabling someone to start or grow a small business, for example.

The biggest news is that Muhammad Yunus, one of the early pioneers in microfinance, was the 2006 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. This is a spectacular achievement, and shows how a small thing can make a huge difference.

On a smaller scale, I've also become an international financier! I've loaned a small amount to a tiny videogame shop in Mexico to buy stock for increased Christmas sales and also to an electronics repairman in Ecuador to expand his business, both through Kiva.org. The founders spoke at Stanford last week about how they created a website that connects lenders directly to borrowers through the web, so I had to try it myself.

Thanks so much for all of your supportive emails and calls about this fellowship. I've gotten an amazing response to my first newsletter, and I wanted to say that everyone's help and support really makes this possible. Please feel free to forward this, and email me if you have any questions or suggestions about my project.

Best Wishes,

John Afsal Kuner


Video blog: http://projectview.blogspot.com

Microfinance Article (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microfinance

Frontline segment about Kiva: http://tinyurl.com/yjo27j

My Kiva.org profile: http://www.kiva.org/lender/john9419


Muhammad Yunus interview on the Charlie Rose show:

Monday, November 20, 2006

Writing on your hand

Interesting call-and-response video on YouTube. I'm a little leery about posting videos on YouTube because of their licensing policy but I'm not too worried about what happens to this one.. :)

Original Video:

My Response:

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Vlog 4: N-TEN Muni WiFi Conference

Last Friday, I spoke at the N-TEN conference about San Francisco's municipal WiFi rollout. I talked a bit about my upcoming pilot using mobile storytelling to connect school kids here and in Sri Lanka. I also talked about some of the other fellows' usage of wifi, such as Shashank's disease surveillance project or Netika's location education project (fun to say, eh?).

Afterwards, I chatted a bit with the conference organizers as well, Emy Tseng from the City's TechConnect project, and Holly Ross from N-TEN.

In particular, TechConnect has a Draft Digital Inclusion Strategy that is open for comment.

N-TEN's website has lots of resources for nonprofits looking for technical solutions.

You can check out Holly's live report here.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Behind the scenes

I saw an interesting post on TechCrunch about a new video service, combining a lot of the individual features on blip.tv and BrightCove like uploading & transcoding as well as creation of mobile channels.

The first release tomorrow will include mainly upload and publishing functions and the company will roll out progressively other features such as footage editing, playlist creation, mixing and broadcast features. Vpod’s service takes video from almost any source and, more importantly, transcodes for almost any device. All you have to do then, is pick your device and download the video.

Read the whole post

While I'm talking about video creation sites, I mainly use blip.tv for this one, and of course I have to thank NetSquared for linking to all of the basics on how to start a vlog. If I can do it, so can you!

There is an excellent rundown of all of the info in the Notes about Vlogging & Digital Storytelling for Nonprofits

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Digital Vision Vlog 3: Partner workshop at SAP Labs

Last week, we had a nice trip to SAP Labs where all of the Digital Vision Fellows learned about partnerships and alliances, ranging from analyzing case studies to looking at our own value propositions. I had a great time, and made a lot of progress lining up my own value proposition for a possible project in Sri Lanka! I think mobile storytelling could be an excellent fit for the groups I'm talking with.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ken Banks on primate conservation

Ken Banks, one of our Collaboration Fellows, spoke today about his work doing primate conservation in Africa. Here is with a brief overview.

One of the biggest things you can do to help is avoid products with palm oil -- lots of monkeytowns (a nontechnical term) are converted into palm plantations, furthering the problem with habitat reduction.

Ken's website is kiwanja.net, and his blog is blogspot.kiwanja.net.

UPDATE: Ken forwarded me a great (but sad) article about some of the specific problems with palm farming and orangutans on Borneo.

BBC Article

Friday, October 20, 2006

Digital Vision Vlog 1

In the beginning...

Just setting up this blog to document my project as a Digital Vision fellow and experiment with video blogging (or vlogging as the kids call it these days.)

My basic project info is: http://rdvp.org/fellows/2006-2007/john-kuner/

The next post will be... VIDEO!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Newsletter: Issue 1

I sent out an email newsletter to all of my friends & contacts when I started.. For posterity, here's a copy of it:

Hi all! Sorry for the mass-email, but I wanted to send out a quick noteto let you all know what I'm up to. A few months ago, I was awarded a fellowship in social entrepreneurship at Stanford called the Digital Vision Program In fact, I just received a call from Bill Clinton! (ok, that was actually a political ad) I’ve taken a year’s academic leave of absence from Nokia to be a visiting scholar at Stanford.

What is Social Entrepreneurship?

My definition is using the tools of business and entrepreneurship toward positive social change; somewhere between making nonprofits more efficient and making adding positive societal impact to for-profit companies. PBS's website defines it as "A social entrepreneur identifies and solves social problems on a large scale." Interestingly enough, they cite historical figures like Teddy Roosevelt and Susan B Anthony as early pioneers in the field.

What am I doing?

One goal of the RDVP fellowship is to develop and launch a project. My project idea is based around camera phones, youth education, and online community. I'm very much in the research phase right now, fleshing out what I'm planning to do, who I want to partner with, and how it'll all come together. The first two weeks have been a whirlwind of seminars, brainstorming, and amazing speakers. The highlight was probably Jim Fruchterman, a rocket scientist who started an amazing company called Benetech that is tackling everything from document processing for human rights groups to landmine detection with bomb detection technology.

Digital Vision Program
PBS New Heroes