Welcome to Publicyte!
Publicyte is Microsoft’s corporate blog where technology, entrepreneurial principles, and pop culture inform us about innovation in the public sector and civic progress.
Publicyte is published by the Microsoft Office of Civic Innovation in Washington, DC. Our goal is to provide inspiring opinion and commentary about how the entrepreneurial spirit of America is changing government, politics, education, health, and the not-for-profit space. We’re tech-savvy but our material is written for a general audience. We hope to inspire the next generation of American entrepreneurs, makers, thinkers, and creatives to leverage innovation to change our country for the better.
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This is a guest post by Patrick Svenburg, a director of public sector development and platform evangelism at Microsoft.
Random Hacks of Kindness, or RHoK, is a joint Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!, HP, NASA, and World Bank initiative that teams subject-matter experts on global challenges with technical expert volunteers for a 48-hour hackathon. This weekend, June 2-3, RHoK events will occur in over 20 cities around the world.
This coming weekend marks the 6th edition of RHoK. What started as an experiment in 2009 has now grown into a global movement involving an international community of 4,000+ people in 50 cities on 6 continents.
What sets RHoK apart from other hackathons or similar events focused on solving challenging problems is that the events successfully and meaningfully connect subject matter experts - people who have first-hand knowledge of which challenges need to be solved – with the technical volunteer community. Everyone is welcome and everyone can contribute; not only software engineers but also designers,web experts,project managers, GIS specialists, and so on. Anyone who is able, willing and motivated can play a part in RHoK.
What has RHoK spawned so far?
The key concept of such a hackathon event is that by connecting two different communities during a confined time period, we can rapidly prototype solutions in 48 hours or less. These "solutions" manifest themselves in different ways, and cover diverse topic areas such as disaster management, climate change, and healthcare. And there is an ethos of sharing; at the end of each RHoK event, all ideas and solutions that were generated are uploaded to the Web and shared with the world.
Thus far, RHoK has spawned many interesting and impactful solutions. For example:
RHoK 6 is this weekend
This coming weekend, June 2-3, we will organize RHoK hackathons in over 21 cities around the world. We already have a great set of problem definitions created, including ones from Red Cross, Amnesty International, and even from (new collaborator) Nike, but there is still time to submit ideas that can be worked upon.
Don’t miss the unique opportunity to put your skills and passion to use for the greater good – to hack for humanity! Please visit www.rhok.org/events to sign up for an event near you. We’re looking forward to collaborating with many of you this weekend!
Image from WPCentral.
This is a guest post by Brandon Glenn, the Ohio Bureau Chief for MedCity News, where this article originally appeared. Reprinted with permission.
A health coaching startup founded by Cleveland Clinic wellness chief Dr. Michael Roizen and TV star Dr. Mehmet Oz has raised $1.6 million, according to a regulatory document.
MedCity News reported in March that Enforcer eCoaching was aiming to raise $3 million in investment funding. A subsequent regulatory filing revealed that the company has raised $1.6 million of that amount from 15 investors.
Enforcer eCoaching remains a largely under-the-radar company. It has no website and has made no public statements (to my knowledge).
President and chief operating officer Marty Butler declined comment on the funding. Butler calls Enforcer eCoaching “a health-and-wellness company with a proven track record of driving enduring behavior change through daily health coaching interactions” on his LinkedIn page.
However, a document posted on the Clinic’s Wellness 360-5 site provides the most complete picture yet to emerge of Enforcer eCoaching, and describes the company’s offering as “a series of email-based, daily-interactive wellness coaching programs designed to help people prevent and/or reverse diseases attributed to excessive weight and use of tobacco products.”
The company offers four program options: tobacco cessation, weight loss, weight loss to manage diabetes and weight loss to manage hypertension.
Enforcer eCoaching aims to sell its services to employers and says it can help companies improve the health, vitality and satisfaction of employees and reduce employers’ healthcare costs.
Enforcer says it’ll help clients achieve that with daily email exchanges with a wellness coach, encouragement to walk 10,000 steps per day and motivation and education on eating the right foods while avoiding the wrong ones.
Oz and Roizen are known by the moniker the “You Docs” and are also collaborating on another startup, YouBeauty,a website that offers advice and tips to women on the premise that the best way to achieve beauty is to live a healthy lifestyle.
A previous regulatory document,filed in January 2011, indicated that Enforcer had raised $500,000 from eight investors.
Enforcer eCoaching is apparently keeping quiet while it continues to reel in funding and add staff. It’ll be interesting to see when Enforcer takes more aggressive steps to go public with its story and what prompts the move.
A few years ago, in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, a bar called The Taj opened. What was unusual about it was not so much the fact that it was the only bar in the eastern part of Afghanistan, but the method of payment: data. In brief, if Taj visitors had useful data like images, GPS plots, and so forth, this information could be traded for a beer.
Here's a photo of the bar (and some data) from 2010.
Sometimes even well-meaning people need to be motivated in order to convene around a problem. Sure, it's a bit of a "bribe," but so what? In the end,something great gets done.
Beer-for-data in Jalalabad has inspired others to do similar things. One effort I know about (which I'm fairly certain has some of the same people involved) is Beer-for-Data: Arlington,VA (near Washington, DC), hosted at least in part by geo-expert Andrew Turner.
Now, a new twist on trading beer for favors, also from the Washington, DC area.
CEO of experiential and digital agency iStrategyLabs Peter Corbett recently announced Beers-for-Betas, in which guests (in this case, up to 20), volunteer to beta-test new apps from local Startups in exchange for beer. (No word yet on what brand(s) of beer there will be.)
On June 4th at their headquarters in Georgetown, the first startup to take part in Beers-for-Betas is Personal. See the iStrategyLabs blog for more details.
Images from Wikipedia and the blog geoiQ.
This is a guest post by Josh Axelrod, a sophomore majoring in journalism at the University of Maryland, and a writer for COLLEGE Magazine, where this article originally appeared. Reprinted with permission.
For those not directly connected with an active-duty military person or a veteran, you often only hear their stories vaguely, or in passing. Now, two very different people have created Homefront Heroes to deliver veterans' stories to you in a very compelling, human way.
Mike Allen, a Microsoft executive in their public sector division, and Brad Keller, a producer and film distributor, live 2,000 miles apart. Despite the differences in their jobs and location, however,they have teamed up to commit their free time to telling the stories of the wounded warrior community.
“We created Homefront Heroes to open a window on the lives of our wounded warriors," Mike said, "Not to focus on their injuries, but to highlight their American spirit, their courage and how they are reclaiming their lives. They are the role models America needs.”
Homefront Heroes tells the unique stories of courage, commitment and inspiration from our wounded warriors, their family members and those that are stepping forward to help them recover.
The venture was started after Mike and Brad had a dinner with a group of wounded warriors in 2008. And despite their differences on the surface, the two men share some commonalities. Mike had been to Walter Reed many times and heard their stories, always impressed with the clarity in their eyes and devotion to country. Brad’s father and brother were both Marines and when he met the wounded warriors at that dinner he wanted to do something to help.
Now, riding the wave of the rise of social media and nearly ubiquitous video and mobile technology, Homefront Heroes is hitting its stride with compelling videos about people like Todd and Crystal Nicely. Todd, a Marine corporal, lost both arms and both legs to an IED explosion in Afghanistan in March 2010 while on patrol.
The story of Todd and Crystal Nicely will now get more attention. This particular episode of Homefront Heroes has become an official selection of the 2012 GI Film Festival. Their story titled, "He's my best friend. The Crystal Nicely Story" will be screened Sunday May 20. More details and information about tickets can be found on the GIFF website. This is the 6th annual GI Film Festival, which screens movies that focus on America’s military and their families. Through viewing war films, documentaries and shorts, it is the only festival to specifically honor the members of the armed forces.
Homefront Heroes is still growing, but Mike and Brad have certainly captured the "influentials" audience, counting Admiral Michael Mullen, General Peter Chiarelli, General James Amos, General Edward Tonini, and Colonel David Sutherland among their fans.
For Mike and Brad, it's not about them. It's about the stories.
The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, or NFTE, an international non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring young people from low-income communities to stay in school and recognize business opportunities, just launched MakeYourJob.org, an new interactive web community that gives teens the tools and knowledge needed to help turn their interests and hobbies into real businesses. This peer-to-peer platform brings NFTE’s entrepreneurship curriculum to the web for free.
As a consequence of launching this new web platform, NFTE is significantly increasing entrepreneurship education beyond the confines of schools and to youth regardless of their socioeconomic circumstances, geography, or school leadership decisions. The platform also offers a micro-site for educators, youth-workers, and parents to provide the maximum amount of support to youth users.
With the U.S. teen unemployment rate at 24.5% in 2011, young people are clearly struggling to find jobs. MakeYourJob.org proactively tackles this issue by providing young people,parents,and educators with significant resources that give youth the opportunity to start their own businesses and create their own summer employment.
Upon successful completion of the step-by-step course, users will have developed all of the components of their business plan and will become certified as a “NFTE Youth CEO.” This credential can be used on students’ college and job applications as a meaningful designation that illustrates their personal initiative and ingenuity.
Amy Rosen, President and CEO of NFTE said in a press release about the new community,
“Today, global unemployment for young people is at an all time high. At the same time, the idea and dream of becoming an entrepreneur is becoming increasingly popular – and with constant innovation and digital connectedness, young people are proactively and creatively seeking to connect their educational and career aspirations in ways that are personally relevant, financially lucrative, and meaningful. By creating MakeYourJob.org, we are giving all youth across the U.S. the chance to take their entrepreneurial goals to the next level. For the majority of MakeYourJob.org users, the experience will support and develop their aspirations, teach valuable workplace skills, help them make informed education and career choices in the future. I know all of us at NFTE look forward to watching what this next generation of innovators and entrepreneurial dreamers can achieve.”
NFTE’s exciting and engaging content will be brought to life on on the site through a five step process:
Each step of this process will also incorporate a number of features, including:
Finally, MakeYourJob.org has partnered with AOL’s popular young adult destination Cambio.com, for the launch of a new content hub on Cambio focused on helping teens create businesses and learn to make smart financial choices throughout their lives. (Cambio general manager Nathan Coyle was recently featured in a NFTE fundraiser called Geek 2 Chic: photos here.) Cambio and the NFTE will collaborate to allow teens access to MakeYourJob.org, along with inspiring videos of fellow teen entrepreneurs on Cambio.com. AOL will also give a select number of teen entrepreneurs competing in NFTE’s National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge the opportunity to present their business ideas on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt-NY in September 2012.
At a time when politicians and political candidates are constantly talking about "creating jobs and improving the economy," NFTE, a traditional, well-established nonprofit, has leveraged their resources and gone into the digital space and collaborated with AOL/Cambio to expand their reach and empower young people disproportionately affected by tough economic times to help themselves by building something from scratch.
Follow more about this new site at http://twitter.com/makeyourjob.
On Thursday, May 10th, Microsoft and Bloomingdale's brought their popular "Geek 2 Chic" charity fashion show series to the west coast's Silicon Beach. A mix of local entrepreneurs and tech-savvy professionals served as models, and between ticket sales and 10% of Bloomingdale's purchases, thousands of dollars were raised for the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, or NFTE.
This event, the third in a series following events in Chicago and Washington DC, continues Microsoft's new creative approach to public affairs. Combining an eclectic mix of techies, socialites, fashionistas, and entertainment industry folks,and leveraging the best Microsoft and Bloomingdale's has to offer, Geek 2 Chic raised awareness and funds for a cause tied to education and jobs and the economy, while genuinely throwing a fun event.
Here are some photos from the Geek 2 Chic: LA event at Bloomingdale's Santa Monica Place, produced by Microsoft:
Guests walked the step-and-repeat upon arrival. Emcee Shira Lazar, host of WhatsTrending.com and Eric Kuhn, social media agent for United Talent Agency, arrive.
Janina Gavankar, best known for her role as Luna Garza on HBO's True Blood, strikes a pose. A proud "geek," she's the first actor to sign up for Twitter, back in 2006.
VIP guests at Geek 2 Chic: LA were treated to a pre-event reception in Bloomingdale's "Style Bar" on the second level.
The "geek" models mingled at the VIP reception and then changed into their outfits and rode a freight elevator to avoid being seen by the audience before the show. Some of the models, L-R: Christopher Prince Boucher, Brad Rehak, J.J. Kaye, Andrew Kirk, Ezra Butler, Steven Mandzik, David Brody, Maynard Brown. In total, 24 models walked the runway.
Former Santa Monica mayor and current city councilman Bobby Shriver, his daughter Natasha, and wife Malissa Feruzzi Shriver. Malissa is co-chair of a statewide taskforce on creative education, and kicked off the event with some remarks.
Emcee Shira Lazar kicks off the Geek 2 Chic: LA show.
Andrew Kirk of CitySourced, a Microsoft partner in the open government space, models a Theory blazer, MARC by Marc Jacobs sweater, and ceramic-colored jeans by Joe.
Ezra Butler is currently working on a stealth startup when he isn't working as the editor-at-large for The Kernel, an online magazine based in London.
Jonathan Eppers is a serial entrepreneur getting ready to launch RadPad, an app to help Angelenos have fun while finding a new place to live.
Eric Kuhn is Hollywood's first "social media agent," working at UTA. He formerly worked in implementing social media at CNN in Washington, DC. Here he models a geek-chic outfit by John Varvatos, complete with geek-standard hoodie.
Steven Mandzik is a former U.S. Intelligence Community officer, now blogging and consulting on the west coast. Here he models an outfit by MARC by Marc Jacobs.
Maynard Brown is a public school teacher teaching tech-savvy entrepreneurship and financial literacy at Crenshaw High School. He is also on the board of NFTE LA, the beneficiary of Geek 2 Chic: LA. His suit is by BOSS by Hugo Boss.
Maynard Brown shares a moment on the catwalk with Joaquin Horton, his former student and a beneficiary of NFTE's programs in Los Angeles. Joaquin was the final model in the show; his company Fuzzy Stix has been recognized by local media and in business competitions, and was founded when he was in high school.
Author of this article, Microsoft's Mark Drapeau, is also executive producer of Geek 2 Chic; here he is with Estelle Reyes, executive director of NFTE LA, concluding the show.
Bloomingdale's Santa Monica was standing-room-only for the Geek 2 Chic: LA show. Over 150 people attended and raised thousands of dollars for NFTE through ticket sales and via shopping; 10% of sales from the evening will be donated by Bloomingdale's to NFTE.
Microsoft's Century City retail store brought Xbox Kinect games like Star Wars and Kinect Sports for guests to play long after Bloomingdale's normal closing time. Microsoft is in the process of opening about 75 retail stores across the U.S.
Celeste Alleyne, director of Microsoft's west coast public affairs, poses with some of the models, Shahin and Shahrooz Kohan of AIMS360, a fashion/apparel software company, and Scott Kerfoot (blue shirt) of Microsoft.