Archive for Steve Talks

Year Up: Preparing Urban, Young Adults to Get Down to Business

Following my talk on life and the Web

The Year Up program’s “About” page says that they aim to, “… close the opportunity divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education.”  After meeting a number of students and staff at their Boston campus last Friday …  I’m sold. Here’s the short story …

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Web Index Previewed at TED 2012






The theme of this year’s TED conference was “Full Spectrum” — “the rich use of multiple technologies, formats and approaches for the most powerful possible impact on an audience”.  Certainly the World Wide Web has greatly expanded the spectrum of people with access to a broad spectrum of information in a broad spectrum of ways.  I proposed a talk entitled, “Measuring the Web’s World Wide Impact”, and was fortunate to one of a couple dozen of talks selected from 250 or so candidates for a talk during the TED-U sessions at TED2012.  Speaking on 28 February, I had 7 mins to explain the Web Foundation’s scheme for the Web Index.  Here are some pics of my talk from the TED Flickr site (pic 1, pic 2, pic 3)

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Mobile 2.0 Conference – HTML5 vs Native Apps

Congratulations to Dan Appelquist from Vodafone, and his co-conspirators, for leading a very engaging forum on the future of mobile applications — Mobile 2.0 — in San Francisco on 1 September.  I keynoted at the very first Mobile 2.0 in 2006, so it was good to be back.

Given the plethora of entrepreneurial apps developers in the audience, I spoke on our Mobile Entrepreneurship Initiative as the lunch-time presentation.  I showed our video animation, too, and people seemed really locked-in as it played.  All of this was a significant diversion from the other topics of the day, which focused on technologies, monetization and the next big things.

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Names Not Numbers, New York

I’m on the train from New York City to Boston, after participating in the Names Not Numbers conference on 20 and 21 June. Editorial Intelligence, under the energetic leadership of founder Julia Hobsbawm, has organized these events in the UK for some time, and this was her first event in the US.   Most of the largely fascinating sessions focused on individualism in a mass age, looking mainly from the perspectives of the media, business, politics and arts, in the US and UK.

Julia invited me to speak about the “Internet and Power” — a talk made better through the expert facilitation of Derek Wyatt, whose credits range from being a Member of Parliament to Internet visionary.  To complement other sessions, I focused on the potential power of the Web in the developing world — where that power is needed most.  My goal was that people would leave understanding more about the Web on which much of their creative and business work relies, and that that they must become actively engaged to ensure that the Web is free, open and empowering to everyone on the planet.

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Encouraging and Leveraging an Open Data Deluge

Last Tuesday, I spoke at The Economist ‘s Ideas Economy conference, entitled,  Information:  Making Sense of the Deluge.  In the session “The Promise and Perils of Open Government”, I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with the dynamic Lt. Governor of the State of California, Gavin Newsom.  While he was mayor of San Francisco, Gavin launched pioneering efforts like DataSF, which continues to provide budget, housing, map, crime, job, etc. data in machine-readable formats. Four minutes of our 20 minute discussion can be found on the site and below.

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World Economic Forum – Africa: From Vision to Action

Rajiv Shah, Jakaya Kikwete, Kofi Annan, Klaus Schwab, and other dignataries.

I recently returned from beautiful Cape Town, South Africa and the World Economic Forum on Africa 2011.  Last Friday, I had the honor of being on the panel, Technology Update: The Next Leap Forward.  I had a really super cadre of co-panelists:  Virender Aggarwal (President, Asia, Africa and Middle East, HCL Technologies), Ory Okolloh (Policy Manager, Africa, Google), David Risher (President,, Bright Simons (President, MPedigree) and moderator Peter Wonacott, (Africa Bureau Chief, Wall Street Journal).

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Killer Web Apps, Independent Media, Salzburg

at Strengthening Independent Media

Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in the Strengthening Independent Media Initiative (SIM) seminar in Salzburg, Austria. Thanks to the Knight Foundation (John Bracken, representing) for sponsoring this, and to the organizers — Stephen, Susan, Claire, Jad (enjoyed our morning runs) and many others — for an effective discussion of the challenges and opportunities around supporting independent media around the world. Great group of people, most of whom were new to me, and many of whom I have since followed-up with.

I was invited to give a talk on the next Killer Apps, but focused my presentation on Web applications that could prove to be useful and usable for people who are not yet Web enabled.  Ethan Zuckerman, who provided some really interesting stats and views on the question of how wide the Web really is,  wrote an accurate and concise account of both of our talks.  I like Ethan’s account better than the video of my actual presentation (not sure I’ve ever been satisfied when seeing a replay of one of my talks).

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Open Data in the Caribbean

IDRC published the following press release about their conference: “Towards a Caribbean Open Institute”, and encouraged participants to share this with our communities.   Many thanks to Federico Burone and Fernando Perini from IDRC; to my co-discussion-leaders Kaia Ambrose and Bruce Girard; and especially to the engaged and experienced participants for making this an interesting and potentially important event. See also my previous post on this conference, as well as my presentation slides.  The Web Foundation has committed to support open data initiatives around the world.  We will talk with IDRC and Caribbean partners in the coming weeks, and will announce another open government data initiative in the coming days.   More soon …

Press Release: A Caribbean Initiative will Promote Open Data for Policy Research
(re-produced with permission from IDRC Web site)

(photo by F. Perini)

Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) brought together international experts and stakeholders in the Caribbean to explore opportunities for strengthening policy-oriented research in the region. The meeting, titled “Towards a Caribbean Open Institute: Data, Communications and Impact” took place June 30 – July 1, 2010 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica. The meeting was attended by 40 high-level stakeholders in the area of public policy research from across the region. Participants examined international experiences and explored the possibilities of collaborating to drive the process of making more data available online in order to strengthen the collaboration between governments, researchers and the civil society.

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Open Data: Possible Pillar of a Caribbean Open Initiative

Welcoming participants and outlining vision for workshop

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is currently convening a very interesting workshop entitled, “Toward A Caribbean Open Institute: Data, Communications, and Impact”, being held in Kingston, Jamaica from 20 June – 1 July 2010.  I was invited to give a talk entitled, “Open Government Data”.  About 40 experienced and energetic policy and technical experts from regional and international organizations (including the UN), non-governmental organizations, universities, and the finance and communications sectors are actively engaged in discussion.  A key aim is to explore how open institutional data approaches, Web 2.0 communications, and monitoring and evaluation methods can become forces that increase regional collaboration on issues such as agriculture, fishing, trade, tourism, immigration, ICTs, entrepreneurship, etc.

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Web-Empowered Education, Agriculture and More: World Economic Forum on Africa

The Web has the potential to increase access to educational materials in Africa, and make it easier for people in Africa to contribute new materials to the world.

This is a belated post on the World Economic Forum on Africa, held last month in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  First, this event has been in Cape Town, South Africa in past years, and it is critical that WEF moved it closer to the locus of matters of greatest importance to the continent.  Second, the gathering of leaders and practitioners from government, industry, and philanthropy provided the perfect mix for gaining feedback on the programs and plans of the World Wide Web Foundation.

I was invited to talk in the session, Higher Education in Africa, with a focus on the use of the Web to empower educators and students to access content from around the world, and, ultimately, to contribute educational materials for the benefit of the rest of the world.  The format of my talk, Web-Empowered Education in Africa — Read more