My foundation Safe Democracy –co-organizer of the International Summit on Terrorism, Democracy and Security in March of 2005 and host of the Atocha Workshop 11-M— will bring together a diverse group of academics and experts specializing in various disciplines from all over the world on Saturday, March 10th, in Madrid. Guests will debate and work in 9 parallel groups towards solutions to the main challenges facing different regions of the world.
This morning I heard that The Venice Project is now called Joost. Thanks to Niklas, my partner and board member at Fon I got to be Beta Tester of Joost. I love it. As opposed to You Tube which is more about user generated content and TV moments Joost is about watching high quality TV on the internet. It´s the whole shebang!
They should have called the Sansa, the Salsa… because it has tons of Salsa. Yesterday I was one of the lucky persons to be able to play with a Sansa, because FON and the designers of the Sansa Zing have teamed up.
Zing was founded by Tim Bucher. Tim is the salsero of the Sansa. No wonder since he went all the way from being a DJ in High School to being a top designer at Apple where he was a key developer of the iPhone, another product that is full of salsa and that instead of being called the iPhone, cause Cisco owns the trademark should have been called the iSalsa. After playing with the Sansa I believe that there will be a real fight between the Sansa and the iPod. The only element in which the iPod clearly beats the Sansa is in memory. Other than that, the Sansa experience is Endgaget says “a solid alternative to the iPod” (read all the review as Endgadget is a solid alternative to my blog).
So what are we going to do with Zing? The same thing we are doing with the Skype phone (should I say the Skypefon) and that is to bundle the Skype WiFi phone with the Fonera, so when you have a Sansa you can listen to it not only through your WiFi, but through the WiFi all the other FONeros cause at FON, you scratch my back and I scratch yours….all this while you listen to Salsa, in your Sansa (btw, Sergio Mendes, as reinterpreted by the Black Eyed Peas, also has a lot of Salsa).
I am working with Diego Basch of Flaptor on an idea that I have had over a year now. The concept is a plug in that attaches to chat like IM, Skype, etc and that while you chat it searches the uncommon words that appear in the chat and provides you with elements you can use in the chat.
In this way you become a more efficient, smarter chatter. It combines the power of chat and search.
Educ.ar is a project that my foundation, the Varsavsky Foundation started in 2000 with a donation of $11.2 million dollars. Educ.ar has been described in different publicationsand its basic objective is to improve education with the use of new technologies.
Educ.ar has three main areas of activity, creating educational content in Spanish for the Argentine and Spanish speaking students, training teachers on how to use the internet and other new technologies such as interactive TV to improve their ability to communicate their learning and connecting schools to the internet. Educ.ar has so far distributed 65,000 fully equipped PCs with printers, it has created its web site, Educ.ar and it has trained over 10,000 teachers during 2006. It is estimated that around 40% of Argentine 12 million students use Educ.ar or technology or training provided by Educ.ar and its owner the Ministry of Education. Over $50 million have been invested in Educ.ar over the last 5 years.
Here there are two videos, one in English in which I show the Educ.ar team having lunch and show a typical argentine restaurant and a second one much more detail but in Spanish in which I interview Educ.ar´s CEO Alejandro Piscitelli and film a meeting in which I was presented with the latest technological improvements that are planned for Educ.ar for 2007. Educ.ar badly needs to renovate its equipment that comes from the original 2001 investments. I also want to thank Daniel Filmus, Argentina´s Education Minister for his great job as the President of Educ.ar and overall the support that his Ministry has given to the Alfabetización Digital program (Digital Literacy Program) and donated another $50K to the program.
Congratulations to the whole Azureus team and especially to Gilles BianRosa. Also many thanks Juergen Urbanski for introducing me to Gilles.
Today I saw this very well written article on Educ.ar, the Argentine project to provide educational materials and connect schools to the internet that I started in 2000, and was very happy to see that my efforts of 2002 to save Educ.ar from the collapse of the country had been successful. I am very glad that I did all I could to save the project including donating more funds because, even though I understand that food comes before education with the use of the internet, I strongly believe that if Argentina had continue educating the current generation without the internet there would have been no food for many years to come.
Here are the companies that I have invested over the last 2 years as an angel investor. Wikio, Plazes, Netvibes, Technorati, Vpod and last week, Moneytrackin, started as a project by two FON employees.
Why do I make these investments? Mostly because the entrepreneurs who run them are friends who I trust, because I believe in the markets or needs they address and because of reasonable valuations.
Today I received an interesting invitation from the government of Switzerland to speak at a conference headed by Micheline Calmy-Rey, Federal Councillor of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation. The conference is called the Executive Roundtable on Global Security. According to the organizers the Purpose: The executive roundtables on global security are designed to bring together stakeholders to identify key security themes, trends and challenges. The resulting conversation, we hope, will provide strategic reference for security stakeholders as they anticipate future threats, develop solutions and navigate the trade-offs. This event seemed very attractive and similar in content to what we did at Safe Democracy my foundation. Frankly I was pleasantly surprised at seeing that the Swiss Government had decided to break WEF´s “ownership” of Davos and have an alternative conference to that of the World Economic Forum. The roundtable is being held at the Belvedere Hotel. I am encouraged to see that World Economic Forum does not have a monopoly of Davos anymore. I always felt sorry for the citizens of Davos and the “anti Davos” movement. As an Argentine if there was an anti Buenos Aires movement I would be pretty upset. Unfortunately on that very day I will be speaking at the O Reilly conference in San Francisco so I can´t attend but I congratulate the Swiss Government for hosting an alternative conference and try to shape the world´s view of Davos. At the same time I must say from the invitation that the event looked pretty similar to WEF´s!
The following is a somewhat long article derived from the session on alleviating poverty at the Clinton Conference. Only recommended for those interested in the subject.