A dynamic community of global leaders coming together to discuss a big idea: the power of innovative thinking and technology to solve our greatest challenges.
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST JOSH POLLOCK
and MAGAZINE EDITOR SUSAN MAIER-MOUL
Website SGS at Mashable.com
Website Ericsson Networked Society
Website UN Foundation
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5 pm Josh
As another great day winds down I’m sitting in the Digital Media Lounge here at the summit next to Jennifer Butte-Dahl from Nokero. She showed me their inexpensive, solar powered light bulb that can be hung outside of the day to charge and then used at night inside homes with no electricity. The bulb costs a fraction of the yearly cost of fuel for lamps. Jennifer is looking at innovative ways to connect people and resources to the people who can benefit from this technology.
Their Give A Light campaign is a partnership with Solar Sister and NextAid to help provide these bulbs to women who are empowering themselves through direct sales of solar technologies in third world countries. This is a great way that renewable technology can be used in an innovative way to help people grow a sustainable business for themselves while reducing emissions. They are raising money on their site to provide free bulbs to the participants that they they can then resell.
4:15 pm Josh
A great panel called Women And Girls Lead: Where Storytelling, Gaming And Public Media Converge just wrapped up. Abigail Disney, the Executive Producer of Women, War, War & Peace WomenWarPeace(@WomenWarPeace) spoke about changing whose voice is heard when we tell the story of war. Her five part mini-series on PBS that asks not only the question, “What if you looked at war as if women mattered?” but also the question, “What if you looked at peace as if women mattered?”
It’s not just a question of who’s watching media, it’s an issue of who’s talking. Abigail Disney.
The award winning actress Geena Davis (@GDIGM) was also part of the panel. She reiterated the point she made earlier today that women need to be portrayed better on television and in films. She said that while programming for young children is great on gender equality, after the age of seven the images children see in media are incredibly imbalanced. Davis stressed the dangers of what happens when female characters do not get a chance to portray positive role models to women and girls.
Also part of the panel Asi Burak (@ABurak,) the co-president of Games of Change agreed with Geena Davis about women’s role in media, adding that the way women are portrayed in video games needs to change as well. Burak briefly highlighted several games that raise money for important social issues and educate about important health issues. He sees games as a way to reach beyond the converted and create a social change engine.
On the subject on the power of games, I just have to share an amazing story about what games can accomplish. Researchers at the University of Washington announced today that thousands of gamers playing Foldit made an important breakthrough in research, one that is important for work on developing treatments for HIV. Scientists using traditional research methods have been trying for over a decade to find the structure of a particular retroviral protease, doing so is important to better understand how to target antiretroviral drugs. Gamers unlocked the structure of the enzyme in only three weeks. You can read more about this breakthrough here.
3:45 pm Josh
António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (@Refugees) spoke about a woman he met recently who had walked for two weeks from Somalia to a refugee camp. He asked her how many children she had. She said she started her journey with six children, now she has two. He spoke on a panel with Hans Vestberg, the President and Chief Executive Officer, and Christopher Mikkelsen, the Co-founder of Refugees United. They discussed being surprised by how many of the people in the refugee camps, who have almost nothing, have a mobile phone.
Technology is not just helping aid organizations organize their efforts, but helping refugees to help themselves. Refugees United has created a system that allows refugees, using their phones to create a profile, and then search for and find the loved ones they have been separated from. Guterres called mobile devices the most democratic technological invention, from most privileged to the most vulnerable, because of the connectivity they allow for and how widely they have been adopted. He noted that since all banking transactions in Kenya can be done via mobile phone, they are a great tool for microfinance when working with Somali refugees.
All of the panelists spoke about the enormous potential of using this technology. Guterres recalled being on the border of Ethiopia and Somalia. In Ethiopia he had no phone service, but when he entered Somalia, a country that has not had a functional government in over twenty years, he got service from one of the countries six mobile providers.
Technology is not the answer to the refugee problem, it’s a tool we need to leverage. -Christofer Mikkelson, Refugees United.
2:45 pm Josh
Lance Armstrong was on stage a few minutes ago along with Doug Ulman, the President and Chief Executive Officer of LIVESTRONG. They spoke about the power of their yellow armbands not just to raise a lot of money for cancer research, but to make awareness of the issue visible. They admitted they were shocked by the success of the campaign. They said that Nike gave them 5 million armbands to start with and they were expecting it to be a huge joke when they were stuck with 4.8 million of them. Obviously it turned out very differently. The LIVESTRONG Facebook page is now one of the first places go after being diagnosed with cancer to find important resources.
Speaking of simple tools to raise awareness of issues, Children’s International’s Spread the Health site has a simple video about the proposed cuts to foreign aid. It is a short but powerful way to show the importance of continuing the programs that are at risk with these funding cuts. It’s worth watching and sharing with your friends via social media.
1:30 pm Josh
Today’s event opened with author and Nobel prize winner Ellie Wiesel discussing the future of ethics in a connected world. Wiesel told an audience, more than half of which have a laptop on their laps, that he doesn’t use a computer. Doing so didn’t make what he had to say any less relevant to how we use new technology to connect with others.
Weisel spoke about timeless values and the need to use new tools with respect. In his mind, the technology is neutral but to be a human you have to interact with others and you must speak to the others in order to do something useful. For Wiesel humanity is defined by the other, not the self and anything you do, any experiment, any experience, must have an ethical dimension and respect other people’s need to live.
Central to this view is how we see the other. Wiesel told the summit that what was done to him and to millions of people during the Holocaust was possible because his otherness was seen as a wrong. Instead, he said we must value the diversity that the other represents.
Respect the otherness of others…We are different but not superior or inferior to others.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.