Roland’s Sunday Smart Trends #159
April 22nd, 2007

Responsibility is in their sites: Web entrepreneurs have an eye on social need — not personal greed

The online grassroots trend has taken some by surprise. Silicon Valley hasn’t always been known for its largesse. Sharing the wealth with the less fortunate usually means issuing more stock options to employees. And the Web 2.0 generation, with its YouTube and Twitter mania, has gotten a particularly bad rap for self-obsession and indulgence. But social activism is rising among entrepreneurs who are using ambition, creativity and daring to fuse their personal values and career goals.
Source: Jessica Guynn, San Francisco Chronicle, April 15, 2007

Braille converter eases web use

RoboBraille was started by a Danish organisation and now has partners in five other European countries. Anyone wanting to use the service, which is partly funded by the EU, can send plain text, rich text, html or Word documents by e-mail. Within a few minutes they receive their document either as an MP3 audio file or as electronic Braille.
Source: Geoff Adams-Spink, BBC News, April 12, 2007

The Sell-Phone Revolution

Advertising is about to get very personal. Marketers are taking tools that they already use to track your Internet surfing and are preparing to combine that information with cell-phone customer data that include not just the area where you live but also the street you’re standing on. The aim is to target the exact person who is most likely to buy a product at the precise moment they’re most likely to buy it. It’s the ad industry’s dream come true: a perfect personalized pitch. For privacy advocates, though, this combination of behavioral and geographic targeting is an Orwellian nightmare.
Source: Catherine Holahan, BusinessWeek Magazine, April 23, 2007 issue

Caterpillar robot to mend broken hearts

A device that sounds like a 21st century version of a medicinal leech may soon be set loose inside the chests of heart patients. Resembling a robotic caterpillar, it will crawl across the surface of their beating heart, delivering treatment without the need for major surgery. The device, called HeartLander, can be inserted using minimally invasive keyhole surgery. Once in place, it will attach itself to the heart and begin inching its way across the outside of the organ, injecting drugs or attaching medical devices.
Source: Claire Bowles, New Scientist, via EurekAlert!, April 18, 2007

A yogurt maker wants to change the world

On April 26, when the shareholders of French food giant Danone congregate in Paris for their annual meeting, they will have a unique proposal to consider: setting up a mutual fund to channel investment into Danone’s nonprofit social ventures in developing countries. Unlike Danone’s regular business units – which produce yogurt, water, and cookies – the ones receiving investments through the proposed new fund, to be called “danone.communities,” will aim for “maximization of social objectives and not that of profit,” according to the proposed resolution.
Source: Sheridan Prasso, Fortune, April 18, 2007

Geldof, BBC plan ‘A to Z’-of-mankind Web site

Bob Geldof and the British Broadcasting Corporation are planning to set up a Web site they say will be a definitive guide to mankind. The Dictionary of Man (www.dictionaryofman.com) and an eight-part television series aim to document every human society currently existing, the BBC said on its Web site. Geldof said the Web site would create the largest living record of DVDs, books, films, photographs, art, and documented and personal accounts from people in every group in society.
Source: Reuters, via CNET News.com, April 20, 2007


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