1/10 - 1/19 - Accra, Ghana at Geekcorps Africa HQ
1/20 - 1/25 - Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
2/6 - New Haven, CT at conference at Yale School of Management
2/7 - Cambridge, MA at Harvard Voices from Africa conference
2/9 - 2/12 - San Diego, CA at O'Reilly ETech
2/19 - 2/22 - Istanbul, Turkey
2/23 - 3/4 - Yangon, Myanmar
Otherwise, probably lurking around Berkshire County, MA.
Some of my projects
Behold the Power of String - A photo essay about our ger
I'm the one on the right
Geekcorps has been my main project for the past three years. It's an international non-profit organization that transfers tech skills from geeks in developed nations to geeks in emerging nations, especially entrepreneurial geeks who are building small businesses. In other words, it's a Peace Corps for geeks. I co-founded the organization in early 2000 with a number of friends who were interested in bridging the gaps between the geek world and the international development world. I now have the pleasure of leading teams of extremely cool people in North Adams, MA, USA; Osu, Accra, Ghana; Dakar, Senegal and Bamako, Mali.
Geekcorps has succeeded several orders of magnitude beyond any reasonable expectation, yielding not only some great e-development success stories, but a cool ad for whiskey and occasional friendly words in the press. In August 2001, we joined forces with the International Executive Service Corps, resulting in an organization the BBC refers to as "Geeks and Geezers". I'm pleased that I'm still firmly in the former camp.
Also worth a visit is geekhalla.org, the ongoing online journal of Geekcorps volunteers serving in Accra. Started by the first volunteers in Ghana in late 2000, the site is now in the hands of volunteer geeks around the world. My favorite posting so far is Shara Karaisic's comparison of geek life in Accra and San Francisco... though Richard's obroni site ("obroni" is Twi for "foreigner" or "white person") runs a close second.
The Berkman Center
Contrary to popular belief, Tripod wasn't originally intended to be a webhosting provider or homepage site. In its first incarnation, it was designed to be a collection of content and services for 20-somethings, described as "tools for life". Discovering earlier than most that online content is a tough sell (check out some of our server logs from late 1995 if you don't believe me), we moved into the growing area of user-created content before discovering (again, earlier than most) that fifteen million users a day weren't particularly helpful if they didn't buy anything or click on ads. We sold the company to Lycos in 1999, slightly before money paid for internet companies got way out of hand, but well before selling Internet companies was harder than selling ice in Siberia.
That annoying little popup window at the top of your screen? My fault, at least in part. I designed a vertically-oriented popup window that included navigation tools and an ad for inclusion on webpages at some point in late 1996 or early 1997. It was intended to be less intrusive than inserting an ad into the middle of a user's homepage. I won't claim responsibility (irresponsibility?) for inventing the damned things, and I disclaim any responsibility for cascading popups, popups that move to the top, and those annoying "bot" windows that open different popups every few minutes. Still, the fault is at least in part mine, and I'm sorry. :-)
People and Places
The isolation is well tempered by an abundance of terrific people and some very cool organizations. My office is in MassMoCA, the largest contemporary art museum in the US and center of much inspired artistic weirdness. One of our fellow tenants is Eziba, a nifty company that markets handcrafted products from around the world via the web and catalogs. I'm on the board of their equally nifty foundation, which works to help artisans in developing worlds support their communities and families. I'm also on the boards of the Prospect Foundation, an organization that works on technology training and workforce development in the Berksires, and RadioVoodoo, a technology company building cool interactive voice systems for radio stations and other industries.
My love for the Berkshires aside, one of the best aspects of my job is the fact that I frequently get to travel to cool and unusual places. Here are some photos from recent trips to Africa (East and West), Armenia, Mongolia and Jordan.