My Work Here is Done

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When I started at Development Gateway in late 2012, it was, well, stuffy. Its heritage as a World Bank spinoff was clear and present as the high cubicle walls. Then we went OpenGov Hub and blew away all the physical barriers. Open plan for everyone, including the CEO. That put a zap to the bureaucratic feel.

Next we broke down the mental barriers. We opened up marketing – anyone could write about their own project and we encouraged staff to explore current topics that excited them. And we liberated sales – finding new opportunities and writing proposals is now a company-wide effort, which, surprisingly, the project managers and software developers love.

The DG team is tight. From brain-bending competitive lunches where Bananagrams peel next to toppling Jenga towers, to the many happy hours remembered (and those best forgotten), Development Gateway has a esprit de corps any organization should envy. And envy you shall, their new swanky new digs when OGH 2.0 opens in April.

And that’s why I know its time to go. I came in with the mandate to shake things up and now DG is shaken, stirred, reassembled, and better and more beautiful than before. It is time for me to work my magic in the big leagues.

I’m joining the TechLab at FHI 360. John Zoltner and his team have seduced me with sweet whisperings of working directly with development constituents, of hacking hardware and screaming at software, of getting back to my roots in field-based ICT4D.

I can’t wait to get started and I look forward to seeing you in my new journey that starts later this month.

Why I Do Not Worry About Facebook Privacy And Neither Should You

There is much hand wringing about Facebook and its ever-changing privacy settings. Why just last month there was yet another attempt by Facebook to link users to purchases, this time at certain brick-and-mortar stores.

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Now all this privacy hoopla started back when Facebook introduced Beacon, an advertising system that caused a serious online uproar. In my Business Ethics class, we took a look at the Beacon case study through four moral filters, utilitarian, justice, rights, and virtue, to assess how Facebook should have responded to the backlash. You can read our A-grade paper for our in-depth analysis.

Why I don’t care about Facebook privacy

On a personal level, I wasn’t that shocked over Beacon or any of Facebook’s user privacy activities. Long ago, I lost my fear of the Internet and what I put on it. How? It’s not what you expect. I do believe in personal privacy and I do have a high regard for the privacy of others. I even have a high level of personal privacy.

What I don’t have is data on Facebook that I regard as personal. I make a conscious effort each time I share something online – be it Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or my many other accounts – to ask myself if I want to make this part of my life public. If the answer is “no”, if I would not want to put it on a bulletin board outside my house, then I don’t post it online. Not online but private – just not online to begin with.

So its that simple. I am not afraid of Facebook’s privacy because I don’t share anything I consider private. That’s how you too can loose your fear of Facebook privacy.

I do care about data divisions

That is not to say that I want Facebook, my credit card company, and my ISP to band together and either limit my Internet experience based on my social network activities, past purchases, or browsing history. Where I do draw the line is when companies coordinate to present an altered Internet experience. Net neutrality needs to be defended and I am happy there are lawyers ready to sue to keep companies in line.

That and a few other reasons are why I support the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. While I may be casual in my care about privacy, I don’t want everyone to be that way.

What is your 20% project?

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We are all busy. But you should never be too busy to experiment, explore, and build something new, especially something new that could be a new income stream or professional achievement.

I call this the 20% project.

Yes, that implies you should be spending 20% of your time on new projects, be they for work or outside of it. My earliest 20% project, Belly Button Window opened up a world of friends that helped me cross the earth in style. My most successful 20% project was OLPC News, that beget a whole new career focus for me: 6 years as a thought leader in ICT for education.

Now I am juggling two 20% projects: Technology Salon, which I am working on rolling out as a private company in 2013, and an MBA, which is a long-term 20% project.

But don’t think I am the only one.

In thinking about 20% projects, I asked around to see what others are up to. Here are a few of the responses:
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  • Ian Thorpe says: two things 1. internal UN “transformation” network 2. #post2015agenda public conversation platform
  • Linda Raftree says: kids, running, capoeira, TSNYC, curric on Visual Literacy, blog, mYWD research, FLSMS brd
  • Mike McKay says: PouchDB is an html5 offline capable DB with full sync. Phones, tablets & dev countries. me =>80%
  • And Christine Prefontaine says: Maybe too meta, or maybe because I’m a freelance, but I don’t think 80/20.

Christine brings up a good point. If you do it right, your 20% is your 80% – you are able to build innovative projects as your job, and that’s when you know you’re doing it right.

So… what’s your 20% project?

Check Out Inveneo’s New Website!

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As one of my last acts at Inveneo, I helped design and launch their new website. Well, I did a bit more than that. I spent the last two years bemoaning our old website and lobbying for a new one.

For a small company that sold best though in-person meetings, it was hard convincing others that we needed to invest in a new website. In addition, there was a perception that websites were expensive – at least $100K. So there was a long road to get the green light to change Inveneo.org

I am proud to say that we came in pretty much on time and on budget – and our budget was a tiny fraction of what they thought it would be. I will have to thank Lee Heidel of Heidel Design for both helping me demonstrate that websites can be built for very reasonable investments and actually building the new site within the expected costs. (Yes, I highly recommend him for your web needs)

But enough about the backstory – that’s not as much fun as the visual feasts this cake represents. Now dig in to http://inveneo.org!