I was struck by two compelling thoughts after reading Philanthropy’s New Prototype by James Surowiecki in the November, 2006 issue of Technology Review. It’s a fantastic article that discusses Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop per Child campaign and how said campaign is combining philanthropic, business, and government objectives in an arguably new paradigm heretofore unheard of for such a large undertaking.
Essentially, Negroponte is pursuing these typically disparate sectors to achieve results that (ostensibly) serve the governments involved (who will promise to buy a certain number of $100 laptops before they’ll go into production), the people making the computers (who will make a profit), and philanthropists funding various stages of the program to get it to float.
My first compelling thought
I think this model/paradigm is sheer brilliance. By uniting a great cause (in my opinion) with the goals of the nations involved while satisfying the business realities of getting the computers produced will be an enormously difficult challenge to achieve. But think of how many sectors/people will be compelled to see this initiative come to life. This isn’t about “bleeding heart liberals” foisting their cause in a strictly non-profit arena or big business (potentially) manipulating a positive force for profit.
In one sense, it could be both! But if kids get a computer and they’re helped, does it matter? Do they care? I think the end here would justify the means, especially since the cooperation of all the various elements to make this a success will invariably lead to a wider breadth of understanding of the children who could so greatly benefit from the laptops.
In other words—this model would in essence force the “supply chain” involved to care about the children it was serving as the kids are the customers in this equation. Or at least the end users. If they don’t (or can’t) use the computers, the time/energy/money lost will be massive.
My second compelling thought
I’m working really hard as of late to convince people that there’s ROI/money to be made with podcasting. And in short, there is. Period. I’m making money and so are lots of other people and you can too. Great. But what’s next?
Within a year or two, three for late adopters, podcasting/videocasting/social media will be the norm for the world at large. If you think otherwise, you’re incorrect. Sorry, I’m tired of pulling punches on this subject. If you aren’t offering your content via podcast/video/mobile devices, your competitors will, or are already. And if you don’t get on Second Life and YouTube and explore sites like Digg you’re avoiding the inevitable.
I think these ideas are not new but simply need to be proven to people, which is fine. Some will just accept the light already well down the tunnel, others will need multiple graphs and case studies before they can justify moving forward. And I’m not mocking that, mind you—due diligence is a major component of service your audience/customers as best you can.
So my thought here was that I’d better start figuring out what “the next big thing” is or certain aspects of job longevity will fade fast.