« Previous entry | Home | Next entry »

Fighting poverty with Java; Podcasting with Ev at TED

We didn't make it to this year's exclusive TED Conference taking place in Monterey right now (OK, so we weren't invited). But it sounds like quite a show. U2's Bono rallied the attendees tonight around a new campaign to fight AIDS and world poverty. Apparently, the TED winners, of which Bono is one, get to make life-changing wishes every year, and those wishes are then thrown to the TED community for help with execution. Bono, videocasting from Ireland, made a pitch for the One Campaign, "a major new social movement in the US, aimed at fighting poverty worldwide." (The full TED release is below.) The group's goal is to get countries like the U.S. to commit at least one percent of their budgets to fighting AIDS and poverty.

The group was founded last year by a bevy of aid groups, and Bono's wish was that it sign up one million members by year's end. He also challenged the TED community "to show the power of information – its power to rewrite the rules and to transform lives – by connecting every hospital, health clinic, and school in one African country, Ethiopia, to the Internet."

Several tech companies have signed on to help. Sun Microsystems is going to provide Java technology that will make it easy for music fans to sign up for the One campaign at concerts using SMS on their phones.

"It's the 20th anniversary of LiveAid, and we're trying to make every concert into a LiveAid,'' Jamie Drummond, the executive director of Debt, Aids, Trade in Africa, told us from TED. "What TED can do is bring us firepower.''

AMD is going to help with the Internet wiring in Ethiopia. And we're told that Keyhole, the 3-D mapping service now owned by Google, will play some sort of role as well.

John Gage, Sun's chief research officer, told us that the rallying of the tech community around the One Campaign reminded him of NetDay, the late 1990s effort, which Sun helped drive, to connect the nation's schools to the Internet. Gage said he was toying with the idea of encouraging companies to contribute one percent of their employees' time to the cause.

Also coming out of TED is news that Evan Williams, late of Blogger and Google, has hooked up with old pal Noah Glass to start a podcasting company called Odeo. The duo are expected to announce the company at TED on Friday, according to a Times story by John Markoff that just moved across the wires. The service will apparently let people create podcasts over the phone.

Markoff says the Odeo business plan involves embedding "automatically generated audio ads within the downloadable files. And because the files are specifically chosen by the consumer, the company is also hoping that consumers and advertisers might find one another as readily as through the keyword Web search advertisements that are at the heart of Google's and Yahoo's businesses.''

Glass is the founder of Audblog, a service that allows people to use the phone to create audio blog posts. He also worked with Google's Blogger to create its audioblogging service. We haven't seen Odeo, but it sounds similar to what Eric Rice is doing at Audioblog, though far more ambitious.

Williams told Markoff he expected podcasting to "repeat the steep growth curve of the text blogging phenomenon.'' In truth, podcasting is probably growing more quickly than blogging in its early years, because it's an iteration of an already existing technology and social phenomenom. But we'll be curious to see how much room for growth there is. Audioblogging, through services such as Glass' Audblog, has been around for a couple of years, but hasn't caught fire the way many hoped. That's in part because a page of text is still far easier to digest quickly than an audio recording.

Nonetheless, as Markoff notes, there's a rush to figure out to make money off the podcasting phenomenon. The father of podcasting, Adam Curry, is working on developing a podcasting network. And in the coming days, we'll be blogging about a local entrepreneur who's starting his own podcasting network of shows.



MONTEREY, CA February 25 - Four months ago, three extraordinary individuals
- musician Bono, photo-artist Edward Burtynsky, and inventor Robert Fischell
- were each granted THREE WISHES as winners of the inaugural TED Prize. They
were given time to formulate their wishes and strongly encouraged to THINK
BIG in order to impact life on this planet. They were allowed to wish for
anything at all, with TED agreeing to spend $100,000 on each winner to help
make their dreams come true. Now, live on stage at the TED 2005 conference,
they divulged their wishes to the world.

BONO announced the launch of ONE, a major new social movement in the US,
aimed at fighting poverty worldwide, and wished that it would sign up one
million members by year end. He then called for one billion impressions
about ONE prior to the African G8 Conference. And he challenged the TED
community to connect every hospital, health clinic and school in one country
in Africa.

ROBERT FISCHELL sought new uses for his extraordinary invention of a
neurostimulator implanted in the cranium, to follow on from its potential in
curing epilepsy. He asked for help turning an electrical device for curing
migraine headaches into a marketable design. And he called for the setting
up of a brain trust to rethink our approach to medical liability.

EDWARD BURTYNSKY wished for the launch of a major campaign based around his
landscape photographs that would raise people's awareness of man's impact on
the environment. He also called for a major competition in primary schools
to promote sustainable ideas. And he wished to learn how to translate his
work to film format in order to make an IMAX movie.

"The ambition and creativity behind these wishes is breathtaking," said
Chris Anderson, Curator of TED. "If the TED community is able to fulfill
even a few of them, then the TED Prize dream will have been spectacularly
realized. No one here is under-estimating the challenge involved to make
these wishes real. But there are already signs that spectacular
contributions will be forthcoming."

The dream behind the TED Prize is that the three recipients will find a way
to leverage the resources of the TED community, as well as TED's corporate
sponsors and partners, to achieve value that is an order of magnitude
greater than the $100,000 set aside for their wishes.

Here, in more detail, are the wishes of each recipient:

TED Prize Winner Edward Burtynsky is a photo artist who captures modern
society's impact on the environment.

"Being granted three wishes is quite surreal, but it forces you to think in
a very real way about how you can help change the world," said Burtynsky. "I
talked with key people around me, queried students, and even hired a
researcher to uncover the most worthy ideas and initiatives. I felt a huge
obligation to make the right choices. My wishes are dedicated to my two
daughters, ages 10 and 7, and to providing future generations with a better

Burtynsky Wish #1: WORLDCHANGING
· WISH: I wish to use my artwork to persuade millions of people to
join a global conversation about sustainability.
· GOAL: To encourage a massive and productive worldwide conversation
about sustainable living by partnering with Worldchanging.com.

Burtynsky Wish #2: "IN MY WORLD" KIDS CONTEST
· WISH: I want to launch a groundbreaking competition to be called "IN
MY WORLD" that motivates kids to invent new ideas in sustainable living.
· GOAL: Raise environmental awareness in grade school kids to empower
them to propose solutions and act upon them.

Burtynsky Wish #3: CREATE IMAX MOVIE
· WISH: I wish I could create an IMAX film that would make my work
accessible to a broader audience.
· GOAL: To make my subject matter accessible to an audience that
wouldn't normally see his work.

TED Prize Winner Bono may be one of the most well known musicians in the
world, but he is also a tireless and amazingly effective activist who
continues to change lives across the planet.

Bono explained, "The geopolitical world has got a lot to learn from the
digital world, from the ease with which it blew away obstacles nobody knew
could even be budged. You have closed the gap between dreaming and doing. My
wishes are for the people at TED to blow away some more barriers and build
an online activist community of one million Americans for the One campaign;
achieve one billion media hits for the one billion people living on less
than one dollar a day; and to wire up every clinic and school in one African
country, Ethiopia."

· WISH: I wish for you to help build a social movement of more than
ONE MILLION American activists for Africa.
· GOAL: Empower Americans to fight poverty.
· PLAN OF EXECUTION: Use U2 2005 Tour to recruit people to the ONE
Campaign using a text messaging solution based on a creative combination of
Java technology, java.com site participation and technologies from Sun
Microsystems and Voxiva.

· WISH: I wish to tell people ONE BILLION times about ONE, with as
much of this as possible before the G8 Africa Summit in July 2005.
· GOAL: One billion media impressions to tell every person in the U.S.
about the ONE Campaign to make poverty history. I would also like to reach
every person in other G8 countries about the opportunity for a historic
breakthrough in the fight against AIDS and poverty in 2005.
· PLAN OF EXECUTION: Engage religious leaders, soccer moms, Hollywood
and the heartland in the ONE Campaign; produce and distribute video, audio
and web content.

· WISH: I wish for you to show the power of information-its power to
rewrite the rules and to transform lives-by connecting every hospital,
health clinic, and school in one African country, Ethiopia, to the Internet.
· GOAL: Prove the power of the Internet in a country's development.
Track and improve public health with information technology; expand the
resources available to local schools. AMD has generously agreed to provide
support for this ambitious plan.

TED Prize Winner Robert Fischell is an inventor whose creations have saved
countless lives.

· WISH: I wish to discover new cures for brain disorders utilizing a
responsive neurostimulator computer device implanted in the cranial bone
connected by wires to electrodes in the brain.
· GOAL: Make life better for millions of people suffering from brain
disorders due to electrical activity in the brain, such as
obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

· WISH: I wish to create the final design for a portable Transcranial
Magnetic Stimulator (TMS) that can erase a migraine headache without drugs.
· GOAL: Eliminate migraine headaches without the use of drugs for the
millions who suffer without relief (nearly half of 25 million Americans gain
no relief from drugs).

· WISH: I wish to create a Brain Trust to re-think our approach to
medical liability.
· GOAL: Change a system that currently prevents numerous important
medical innovations. Reduce number of malpractice lawsuits, while
simultaneously giving patients better information upon which to base their
choices. Stop medical practitioners from quitting the practice of medicine
due to escalating costs of medical insurance.

Shashi Tharoor, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications
and Public Information, presented each of this year's TED Prize winners with
awards created by New York-based sculptor Tom Shannon. These sculptures
feature a magnetically levitated sphere with three ripple points. All
recipients received their awards in person, with the exception of Bono who
appeared on stage via Teleportec, a video conferencing system that provided
a life-size image of the musician. HBO introduced the Winners with a video
tribute of their works.

Nominations for the TED Prize 2005 will open March 1, 2005. Members of the
public are strongly encouraged to nominate remarkable candidates - even
those not currently in the public eye.

TED Prize and TED conference Background
TED -- an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, Design -- is an annual
conference that has been described as the ultimate brain spa. Each year a
unique audience of 1,000 leading opinion formers experiences the latest,
greatest ideas, inventions and passions, delivered by more than 50 speakers
and performers. TED was founded in 1984 and acquired by the Sapling
Foundation four years ago.

In May 2003, a group selected from the TED Community set out to brainstorm
an awards program unlike any other. The goal was to tap into the formidable
talents and resources of the TED Community in the most creative way
imaginable to leverage the work of remarkable people. This process, further
aided by a creative team from world-renowned design and innovation firm
IDEO, culminated in the Three Wishes format, to our knowledge, the first
time this format has been used in an awards program.

In February of 2004, The Sapling Foundation began soliciting nominations for
the inaugural TED Prize from the TED Community and members of the public.
The Foundation also appointed a secret team of official Nominators covering
areas as broad as Science, Technology, Business, Design, the Arts,
Entertainment, and Social Entrepreneurship.

The Nominators were asked to find people whose work was capable of
transcending boundaries and making a significant impact on our shared
future. More information is available at www.ted.com.



Here's a "podcast": http://www.idlewords.com/audio/manifesto.mp3

Text: http://www.idlewords.com/audio-manifesto.txt

Anonymous Techie on February 25, 2005 12:58 AM
Comment link

The point about common geography catalysing new companies is a valid one, but let's not forget this cuts both ways. There are a lot of interesting companies emerging in China and India driven by those very forces. The glory is likely to be spread around the world a little bit more this time around.

Michael Parekh on February 26, 2005 8:21 AM
Comment link
This thread is closed to new comments.