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Re: [learningfromeachother] Re: [minciu_sodas_en] Muhammad Yunus: Center for IT Solutions to End Poverty

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  • Peter Burgess
    Dear Colleagues I have been away from my computer for a few days and was pleased to find that Pam MacLean has been circulating the latest Muhammad Yunus book
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 20, 2008
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      Dear Colleagues

      I have been away from my computer for a few days and was pleased to
      find that Pam MacLean has been circulating the latest Muhammad Yunus
      book ... and first Andrius Kulikauskas, then Edward Cherlin have
      picked up on the Yunus challenge and then others around various places
      including Africa.

      This is wonderful ...

      I am in New York ... and my progress cannot be described as Internet
      speed ... but there is modest progress. I have committed to helping
      with the Community Impact Accountancy that are needed to help in
      assessing the value of Social Business and any initiative that has a
      social dimension (and I would argue that all economic initiatives
      ought to have this dimension ... the question is simply how large is
      it and how efficient is it?

      Chris will be meeting Dr. Yunus in a few hours time in London, and I
      doubt he will see this before the meeting ... but your involvement is
      exciting news.

      Sincerely

      Peter
      ____________
      Peter Burgess
      The Transparency and Accountability Network: Tr-Ac-Net in New York
      www.tr-ac-net.org
      IMMC - The Integrated Malaria Management Consortium Inc.
      www.IMMConsortium.org
      The Tr-Ac-Net blogs ... start at http://tracnetvision.blogspot.com
      917 432 1191 or 212 772 6918 peterbnyc@...

      ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
      On Fri, Apr 18, 2008 at 6:42 PM, Edward Cherlin <echerlin@...> wrote:
      >
      > On Fri, Apr 18, 2008 at 12:59 PM, Andrius Kulikauskas <ms@...> wrote:
      > > Chris Macrae alerted us a few months ago to Nobel Peace prize winner
      > > Muhammad Yunus's book "Creating a World Without Poverty" which describes
      > > social tools for overcoming poverty such as microcredit and social
      > > business.
      > > http://www.grameenfoundation.org/yunus_book/
      >
      > I haven't seen that post, and I can't find it on Google.
      >
      > > Pamela McLean came to Vilnius with many copies of this book (thanks to
      > > Chris! I think) and is organizing us to discuss this book locally and
      > > online. I have read parts.
      > >
      > > On page 197, Muhammad Yunus encourages the creation of a virtual
      > > organization which he calls the Center for International Initiatives for
      > > IT Solutions to End Poverty. He writes, "How will ISEP get
      > > started?... Any individual, group of individuals, organization
      > > (business, NGO...) can start it by presenting a mission statement on the
      > > Web and asking others to join in the network." Surprisingly, nobody has
      > > done so, and there have been few links even to the concept.
      >
      > A Google search for "IT Solutions to End Poverty" gets 9 hits, of
      > which 6 point to the first listed.
      >
      > http://www.advogato.org/article/966.html
      > Advogato: Muhammed Yunus Vison - IT Solutions to End Poverty (ISEP)
      >
      > http://muhammadyunus.org/content/view/105/128/lang,en/
      > Muhammad Yunus . org - High on Values, Low on Profits
      >
      > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learningfromeachother/message/1665
      > learningfromeachother : Message: Creating a World Without Poverty
      > Pamela McLean wrote this in her Minciu Sodas mailing list,
      > learningfromeachother@..., which is part of this discussion.
      >
      >
      > > So why
      > > don't we pursue this, as Chris has suggested? I have started up this
      > > wiki page:
      > > http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?Isep
      > > I invite our thoughts in our letters and at the wiki page. We can
      > > develop our own mission statement.
      >
      > I'll join you there after a bit more research. I will also create an
      > ISEP page on the One Laptop Per Child Wiki.
      >
      >
      > > I also wrote the letter below. I think it would be great to work with
      > > him, but surely he is quite busy.
      >
      > I'm sure he isn't too busy to listen to people taking up one of his own
      > ideas.
      >
      > > However, he can open up many
      > > connections for us.
      >
      > We have other connections to him in our networks, and to many others
      > in the Grameen organizations. I will think about how we might map our
      > network. Other ideas welcome. For simple, small cases, a mindmapping
      > tool is good. Yunus's network is far too big for this. A Wiki has the
      > capacity, but does not visually display the network.
      >
      > Well, I know of mathematicians who have worked on this issue in the
      > case of mathematician Paul Erdos (Erdős Pál). (My brother's Erdős
      > number is 2, with links based on co-authoring a published paper.) So
      > Andrius has a weak Yunus number of 1, which gives all of us weak Yunus
      > numbers of 2. I am defining the weak Yunus number based on having any
      > contact at all, while a strong Yunus number would be based on working
      > together on a project. So, members of the staff of a Grameen company,
      > 1; customers and partners, 2; customers and partners of partners, 3;
      > and so on.
      >
      >
      > > I would like to propose a more positive approach
      > > and name, based on the idea of "wealth is relationships", because ending
      > > poverty is a dead-end goal if poverty is going to end up in museums, and
      > > also the name ISEP is dysmal, in my opinion. Whereas "wealth is
      > > relationships" allows us to link with each other as equals. I think
      > > that this movement could be the economic / business engine for our
      > > culture of independent thinkers. We could organize ourselves from that
      > > perspective. Also, I think that the ethics of sharing responsibly is
      > > key to nurturing and supporting consensus structures. Who might be
      > > interested? Please speak up and perhaps we can pursue this as we
      > > ourselves think is best.
      >
      > I don't like Yunus's name, and I don't like Andrius's name, and I
      > don't like any of the names I have thought of so far. We must discuss
      > this further. We want a name that we don't have to explain to the
      > unenclued. Before we can find such a name, we must be clear on what we
      > are trying to say. Various people have proposed:
      >
      >
      > * IT Solutions to End Poverty
      > * Ending poverty (at a profit)
      > * Make Poverty History
      > * Obliterating the Digital Divide
      > * Fulfilling (actually, overfulfilling) the Millenium Development Goals
      > * ICT4D (Information and Communications Technology for Development)
      > * Providing the means of production of the Information Age to all
      >
      > All of these are correct, but unwieldy. Well, this is a new thought in
      > the world, so it is not surprising if there is no word for it.
      >
      > > Here is my letter:
      >
      > * This needs to be broken into paragraphs. I'll do that below.
      > * This is a personal letter. I think we want a letter from the group.
      > * We are not that important. The language needs to be toned down.
      >
      >
      > > Muhammad Yunus,
      >
      > > Thank you for your inspiring and innovative leadership.
      > > I heard you speak in Rome in December and I gave you a note that you
      > > were able to read.
      >
      > What was it about? I don't think "that you were able to read" is any
      > help in recalling you to his memory, unless perhaps you mean that he
      > read it out loud to the audience.
      >
      >
      > > Since then I have read in your book about creating a
      > > virtual organization for "IT Solutions to End Poverty". I lead the
      > > Minciu Sodas laboratory http://www.ms.lt for serving and organizing
      > > independent thinkers around the world. In many ways we have the impact
      > > of such a center.
      > >
      > > But we are turning the question of poverty around so
      > > that it is positive rather than negative. Wealth is relationships - if
      > > you have relationships, then you will get loans, jobs, contacts, ideas,
      > > opportunities, and if you are poor it is because you are "out of the
      > > loop".
      >
      > Very important. This is one of the main reasons why I work on One
      > Laptop Per Child. In addition to providing educational software,
      > designed for collaboration, and electronic textbooks, the OLPC XO
      > laptop gets the children on the Internet in most cases, and provides a
      > strong incentive to governments an NGOs to provide more and better
      > (and less expensive) Internet connections for all. Getting children
      > (and their parents and the rest of the community) online allows them
      > to talk to each other and to the rest of us, to discuss their problems
      > and possible solutions, and to start doing business together. I can
      > cite a number of projects where a single telephone or a single
      > computer in a village had significant social and economic benefits,
      > now encompassing millions of those formerly cut off from most of the
      > world.
      >
      > Isn't it curious how all the talk of the Global Village doesn't
      > include the villagers?
      >
      > We can take this further. I have noted in several places how the XO
      > would enable all of the conditions of Perfect Competition to a much
      > greater degree than currently, though not, of course, perfectly. This
      > is the sine qua non of a genuine Free Market. Not the current Free
      > Trade nonsense about corporations being able to operate in any country
      > they like, but not real people.
      >
      >
      > > We are reaching out to include the widest variety of independent
      > > thinkers and in this way we are accumulating enormous assets.
      >
      > In Yunus's world, enormous means having tens of thousands of partners
      > reaching hundreds of millions of people. "Valuable assets" would work.
      >
      >
      > > For
      > > example, we responded to the Kenya post-election turmoil in 2008 to help
      > > our colleagues and quickly went further to organize 100 peacemakers
      > > on-the-ground and 100 helpers online to avert genocide. We organized
      > > more than a dozen sophisticated strategic operations to embrace enemies,
      > > open roads, and provide alternatives to unruly demonstrations. We saved
      > > lives, saved homes, fed the hungry. We pioneered the distribution of
      > > aid as cell phone airtime that was shared across the country and
      > > bartered for food, medicine, transport when cash was hard to get because
      > > the banks were closed.
      >
      > Excellent, but not relevant to the question of bringing together
      > hundreds of thousands of NGOs and other organizations.
      >
      >
      > > We would be very interested to take the lead to
      > > organize support for your vision.
      >
      > "We believe that our mission statement at
      > http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?Isep is the first step anybody has
      > taken to further your vision. We will be happy to recruit others to
      > the cause."
      >
      >
      > > A key project for us is the Includer
      > > http://www.includer.org a device for reading and writing emails offline
      > > which can later be uploaded or downloaded at an Internet cafe. Such a
      > > device would serve the billion or so people with marginal Internet
      > > access and help us include independent thinkers around the world. I
      > > hope we might find ways to work together!
      >
      > Where is that documented? You have to give the references. Ah, here we
      > are. http://www.worknets.org/upload/AndriusKulikauskas/includer.pdf
      >
      > I disagree on the significance of this idea. The OLPC XO is currently
      > $189, and the Pixel Qi $75 computer should be available in 2010. The
      > true low-cost alternative is to add Free/Open Source e-mail software
      > to a $16 mobile phone.
      >
      > A key project for me is OLPC, which has orders for 800,000 units so
      > far to go to ten countries. I know of many other important projects.
      >
      >
      > > Andrius
      > >
      > > Andrius Kulikauskas
      > > Minciu Sodas
      > > http://www.ms.lt
      > > ms@...
      > > +370 699 30003
      > > Vilnius, Lithuania
      >
      > --
      > Edward Cherlin
      > End Poverty at a Profit by teaching children business
      > http://www.EarthTreasury.org/
      > "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."--Alan Kay
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