Scott Anderson

Friday Roundup – 8/5/11 – ?Everything is a Remix?

We often confuse innovation with invention. By we I mean, admittedly, me. But nothing is ever original, any innovation is just remix of things that came before and reassembled as never before. First we copy, then we develop. That thought isn’t original either, of course. I copied it from this video, one in a series of truly stimulating videos “Everything Is a Remix” by Kirby Ferguson, a New York-based filmmaker who explains this concept powerfully:

Our staff and guest writers had a lot to say about innovation this week, both in terms of conceptual thinking around creating something new and regarding concrete innovations such as NextBillion’s recent inclusion in the iPad app Flipboard. (Shameless promotion, I know).

I suppose you can see innovation in motion in every industry and every “space” if you look closely enough. But perhaps because of the impact of what our “industry” does, there is a heightened sense of urgency around product/service development because people’s lives, livelihoods and basic survival are riding on it. Take this new organization called mPowering, which has developed an app to connect aid groups to help poor students earn credits that can be redeemed for food, medicine, and other incentives. As the Stanford Social Innovation Review reported:

“Co-founder Jeff Martin spent a decade at Apple Computer before starting Tribal Brands, which combines entertainment marketing with mobile technology. Their shared goal is to take advantage of ubiquitous technology, “and reach the bottom bottom of the pyramid,” Sugrim says.

An app helping children from having to choose between school and an empty stomach seems slightly more important than the app to help find where you parked the car or the latest version of Angry Birds.

It’s mildly apropos that when SOCAP 2011 released a strong list of keynote speakers this week it included numerous innovators, both inside and outside of the space, including Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist. Newmark, from what I’ve read, has never called himself an inventor. The classified advertisement was a tried and true medium, one which served as the bread and butter revenue of newspapers for almost a century, without much innovation. Newmark’s version, which is loathe to change much beyond its spartan 90’s layout, was simply better; and the first of the Internet age to connect buyers and sellers of … everything. And, it was free. There’s nothing sinister in that, it’s just plain old competition.

Suffice it to say, it should be fascinating to hear Newmark’s thoughts on innovation inside social investing.

In other news …

• Millions of poor people will receive phone numbers via a United Nations partnership with “cloud phone” service provider Morvirtu. Under the Business Call to Action Iniative, which solicits services from private sector firms to fight poverty, Morvirtu will help the U.N. supply 3 million poor people, mostly in Africa and South America, with mobile phone numbers for the first time. Those numbers can be used on any mobile phone. Check out the UPI story for more details and you can find NextBillion past coverage on Movirtu here and here).

Geeks Without Frontiers this week announced the “final development” of low cost and open source Wi-Fi software to spread the availability of Internet connectivity to potentially millions of underserved countries. Sponsored by the Tides Foundaiton, the idea is to use existing hardware to build a mesh network. Game changer? Possibly, reports PC World.

In Case You Missed It … This Week on NextBillion

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In Next Practice Collaborative, Top Companies Transition To Low-Carbon Future By Samantha Putt del Pino

INNOVARE or the Phenomenon of the Unprecedented Question By Angel Morales Figueroa

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