Call for a new hero in school reform
“We elevate the wrong hero in school reform every day: we dramatically overvalue the importance of academic learning, and assume that merely focusing on better curricula and clearer standards will carry the day. Yet the research suggests otherwise, affirming what sociologist Pedro Noguera and others have said repeatedly: “unmet social needs become unmet academic needs.” Sam Chatlain, a...
Opting-Out of Online Advertising
Over the last year or so, I have become increasingly interested in the issue of online privacy. The reason, at least for now, is two-fold. First, I am convinced that without privacy there can be no freedom. Second, we seem to be finding ourselves in a truly historical moment: Never before have we shared so much information, willingly or unknowingly. In a society like the U.S., it’s hard to...
Ashoka and YV partner with the Bully Project
Whew. What a week! With just four days notice, teams at Ashoka and Youth Venture managed to pull together a youth campaign just in time for today’s launch of “Bully” — a documentary film that follows the lives of five families affected by bullying and their determination to make a difference. In partnership with The Bully Project, the campaign will be a platform that...
How did we end up sorting our time in weeks?
The questions arose from the outburst: “Can’t believe it’s Thursday all ready!”, which prompted the dead pan response “because it was Wednesday yesterday”. But how did it end up that way? According to the good people producing Wikipedia: The English word week continues an Old English wice, ultimately from a Common Germanic *wikōn-, from a root *wik-...
Unpublished Photos of Rebels →
I’m on the road traveling today, and so I found the LIFE magazine photos in the link really caught my attention. This unpublished set of photos from the 1960’s chronicles day to day life of the notorious biker gang the Hell’s Angels. These photos have it all - action, adventure, danger, humor, drama, humanity, and the open road. One of the most interesting aspects of this set is...
How about this?
Instead of mapping our tummy aches, let’s apply the algorithm to social challenges. Imagine it: a real-time map using cues from social networking sites (a la Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Media) to capture the most pressing challenges our communities are facing. Building awareness of what our neighbors struggle with creates a demand for solutions. For social innovation. For the importation of...
Speaking of Kiribati. The leaders of Kiribati are now considering an unusual insurance plan for the nation’s inhabitants in case of destruction caused by climate change: moving to a new island. Kiribati leaders have been looking at the possibility of moving the 100,000 or so citizens to a tract of land on Fiji if necessary. See photos of Kiribati and read more about the plans here:...
Caring about Kiribati
In pursuit of creativity and innovation, each Thursday, a group of Ashoka staff meets to discuss things we’ve come across that are interesting or thought-provoking in some way. The only rule we have is that it should have no apparent connection to our work. Last week, I brought up a recent news article about Kiribati’s president looking to purchase land for his people in the face of rising sea...
In her blog in the New York Times, Jane Brody writes about her experience losing her husband Richard and how the following years has taught her about the profound need for social connection. She sites numerous articles, books and studies that demonstrate the positive health outcomes of strong social ties. It is amazing to think that just enjoying time with other people can be as powerfully...
Ability to Learn Is Affected by the Timing of... →
In the need of remembering something tricky tomorrow? Read before you go to bed! Looks like the way we’ve arranged our lives with a 9-5 work schedule isn’t truly compatible with how our brain works. Wonder what a daily cycle would look like, if it was created to optimize our resources (brain and body) without inducing stress caused by overload? (via Tim O’Rielly)
Apple Products II: Putting Empathy in Design
While wading through the media deluge on the new iPad, Marisol came across an older article highlighting the design philosophy of Steve Jobs. Included in Jobs insistence on impeccable craftsmanship was empathy - anticipating and understanding customer needs. Is the massive following behind Apple products a result of empathetic design? (Image of the very first Macintosh courtesy of MacHEADS)
Grieving for Shaima Al Awadi, Trayvon Martin and...
Shaima Al Awadi, mother of five, was brutally killed in her home in El Cajón, CA this weekend. The perpetrators of the crime left a note next to her body for her family to find. It essentially said: ‘go back to your country.’ There are no words to adequately express the horror I felt when I learned of this news. This happened a few weeks after the equally heart-wrenching murder of...
Why Did It Take So Long to Care?– Lane Ulanoff, Mashable. Karabi asked the same question in a discussion last week. Lane Ulanoff has a great post on Mashable, where he tracks mentions of Trevor Martin, the 17 year old who got shot by a volunteer, neighborhood watchman last month, and wonders why it took so long for it to pick up...
Meet our team!
Name: Charlotte Position: Program Associate for the US Team 1 thing I’ve done that I’m proud of: played 4 years of college soccer 1 thing most people don’t know about me: once ranked expert in African drumming
End the week on a good note! Are you tired of constant reminders of impending doom for the world? An article from The Economist encourages you to look past zombie apocalypse, food insecurities, medical challenges, poverty and see the good work that is being developed through innovations in all sectors. Only seeing the challenges and problems in the world can be overwhelming and discouraging. Now...
The Relationship School
Interesting piece this morning by David Brooks in the NY Times. I like his line about the school’s founder, Shimon Waronker: “He wants schools to operate more like the networked collaborative world of today.” It’s exciting to see the increasing recognition that our schools aren’t fully preparing students for today’s rapidly changing world. And to read about...
The Hunger Games Handbook: Unleashing the power of...
After successfully resisting The Hunger Games clamor for months, I found myself picking up my roommate’s copy last weekend, before quickly abandoning all subsequent plans. Regardless of where you stand on the books, however, it’s worth musing over what we can learn from all the hype, or more to the point, from the hype-creators. The NY Times ran a piece earlier this week about the...
30 Stories in 2 Weeks!
A Chinese corporation has managed to build a 30 story hotel in China in a mere 2 weeks…The pre-fabricated building that was under construction 24 hours a day for 15 days and is said by the builders to be more environmentally sustainable, safer, and more cost effective than traditional buildings. You can’t help but wonder about your own effectiveness, when you hear such a story. What did I do, for...
There's an app for that
“It seems to me this technology offers us a chance to get empathy into the DNA of both a teacher and a kid,” Ellen said. “This could significantly change teaching practice.” I admit, I’ve been something of a skeptic when it comes to the latest in gaming technology: “this new iPhone app will change your life—-and better yet, the world!” Sure, I love...
"Mousing Around" - My New Favorite Expression
It’s like horsing around, but on a computer screen. Ex: I first learned the term mousing around when I was mousing around on Ashoka US’ tumblr. Credit goes to our wonderful Spring intern Marisol. -Laura
What would you do if you were taoiseach? Well, if I was asked that question, the first thing I would ask is what on earth does taoiseach mean. Sorry for my ignorance. It is the irish name for prime minister. Our colleage Paul O’Hara, Ashoka’s Ireland country director had a good answer for that question: he would open highways for social innovation in his country. How? First, by...
“The deal is owning it”, says Ashoka Fellow Molly Barker, on being without makeup: “not feeling we have to (use beauty products), you know what, this is my choice.” She and Catlin Boyle are halfway through a test period of 60 days without makeup, and have talked to ABC News’ Lisa Stark on their experiment, The Naked Face Project. “On a bigger scale, it’s the...
Global Initiative Seeks to Transform Schools By... →
An Ashoka Changemakers competition is on the lookout for great ideas.
I’ve worked with my friend Piedad Rivadeneira for almost 20 years now, on different roles. She is a Chilean designer -probably the best Chilean designer- and our paths first crossed in the TV industry at one of the most interesting media projects in Chile in the early 90s: Rock&Pop TV , a channel for youth and by youth that revolutionized a media landscape that was timidly emerging...
Online Privacy: a Subversive Education Model →
Think about what would happen if we all knew exactly how Google, Facebook, Ebay and others used our information, and more importantly how we could make informed decisions about what we want to share or not. Now imagine if it were really easy to understand and change? That is what Learn.ly is attempting to do with their first application on Online Privacy. One important question remains: Do...
Assuring that veterans get the benefits they...
Ashoka Fellow Paul Reickhoff’s organization IAVA has just launched their new New GI Bill Calculator, leveraging the possibilities of the web to ease the transition from combat to everyday life for veterans. “You fought hard to earn your benefits, and IAVA is committed to empowering new veterans like you for future success” Great tool and a great cause!
I always enjoy reading the corner office section of the NYT. Every Sunday Adam Bryant, the Business Editor, interviews a CEO or leader about their lessons and insights on culture, hiring, teams. Last Sunday it was the turn of Jim Whitehurst from Red Hat. He spoke about building an open-source culture, engaged teams and how he differentiates a meritocracy from a democracy. He also addressed the...
Is there no such thing as privacy?
At Ashoka US we’re (among other things) looking in to finding a social entrepreneur working in the field online privacy. But after reading this piece in the Wired, it seems the distinction between offline and online privacy might be irrelevant, as it claims that “The NSA has become the largest, most covert, and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever”: Under...
Recommended Ted Talk - Rob Reid on: “Copyright Math (TM), a remarkable new field of study based on actual numbers from entertainment industry lawyers and lobbyists.”
Building Community a la Lady Gaga
According to an article in Fast Company Magazine, marketeers have a lot to learn from Lady Gaga and other music superstars, who employ high impact strategies for engaging and communicating with their vast league of followers in an authentic and interactive way. With 47 million Facebook fans and 18 million Twitter followers Lady Gaga has clearly found a pipeline to her listener’s hearts. Do not...
The Chronicle of the Perfect White Bread
A new book out by Aaron Bobrow-Strain chronicles the development of what we now think of, as the classic white bread: The ”USDA White Pan Loaf No. 1”—the archetype of 1950s-vintage American bread. Finding that perfect loaf of American bread for the all american family wasn’t an easy task: in 1954, USDA investigators journeyed from Chicago and Washington, D.C., to the shores...
Live by the numbers
What would the details of your life look like in charts, and graphs, and numbers? Too many lattes and not enough trips to the gym? Nicholas Felton, the graphic designer behind Facebook’s Timeline has been visually representing his life from the mundane to the extraordinary in the form of an annual report since 2005 and has just released the 2010/2011 Felton Report. Here you can scrutinize and be...
Why anyone can innovate
If you haven’t seen it already, go read this article on Wall Street Journal by Jonah Lehrer, in which he shares new insights into the nature of creativity and innovation. According to him, the “creative type” is a myth. In an excerpt from his upcoming book “Imagine”, he argues that: Creativity is not a trait that we inherit in our genes or a blessing bestowed by...
Happy (US) Pi-day!
Today parts of the math community celebrates Pi, so Pi related content are all of the sudden turning up in our streams. Here are two from today and one from memory. The New Scientist Plays Pi. Beautifully, one might ad. Youtube user “FlippyCat” set up a 10,059 domino spiral: (via Huffington Post) And an oldie but a goodie.
Framework change at a personal level
Changing a few words, can make the world of a difference sometimes. Like in real life: if you change one of the components in a structure - a supply chain or elements needed to produce something - it can radically change the way you think about something. Our Fellows mash-up ideas, conventions and subject areas, often by changing a component in a process or having a completely different take on...
Introverts and empathy
Powerful Ted Talk by Susan Cain that made team member Hanae think about the connection to our goal to #StartEmpathy. Susan Cain: “introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.” What do you think?
Changemaking is the new sustainability
In a recent piece in the Guardian, Felix Oldenburger describes how the word “social” is becoming the new “green”: something every company has to label themselves to avoid scrutiny in 2012. And with it comes a devaluation of the word and the potent meaning. He asks: ”Can there be a common denominator for a celebrity-packed fundraising campaign and a local after-school...