Saturday, October 27, 2012

Social Good Summit 2012 Highlights

The Social Good Summit Goal - Daring to spark a global conversation.

Never mind that they already planned a jam-packed 3-day summit full of some of the most high profile speakers you could gather into one conference room. This conference room was just the conversation starter. The real audience was the rest of the connected world.

On the website of the Social Good Summit, you see a call to join the global conversation surrounding the hashtag #SGSGlobal. The goal was to create "one of the biggest, most global and most powerful conversations the world has ever seen."

So how did it go?

Well, just check out the report from UN Foundation:

This year’s Social Good Summit sparked a record-setting global conversation on using social media and technology for good. The Summit united people participating online and in-person in nearly 300 cities, including New York, Beijing, and Nairobi, around one goal: unlocking the potential of social media and technology to make the world a better place. The gathering took place as world leaders gathered to kick-off the UN General Assembly, opening the dialogue about world issues and challenges to a global constituency. According to RecordSetter, on Monday, September 24th, 2012, the Social Good Summit set the record for the largest global conversation on one topic to take place in a single day.

Highlights of the Summit’s reach:
  • Nearly 300 cities across the world gathered for meet ups (ranging in size from small groups to gatherings of hundreds) to discuss and share ways that new technology and social media can tackle problems in individual communities.   
  • The Twitter hashtag #SGSGlobal trended locally, nationally, and globally during the course of the summit and has been used over 60,000 times to date.
  • The livestream of the summit was translated in real-time in seven languages including all six official UN languages, making the proceedings available to people around the world, free of charge via the internet. 
  • The Social Good Summit content has been viewed in more than 150 countries sparking conversations in more than 50 different languages.  

You can read the full UN Foundation press release here. But there are lots of pretty good summaries and resources available online. I recommend checking out:

That's a lot of online talk going on. Is that it?

Definitely not. And I like the way the Social Good Summit team summarized it in an email they sent out:

So what does this all mean?  It means its more than just online traffic, its real life impact.  We came together from every part of the world around a single theme - the power of social media and technology to change the way we solve our toughest development challenges – and we made people listen.

U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, summed this up perfectly when she kicked of the New York event of the Summit, “We are living at a moment when anyone can be a diplomat.  All you have to do is hit send.”  Thanks to your efforts, we can wake up today knowing this is true, that your voice can be heard and that you have a role to play.

Personal conference highs

So that's what everyone else is saying. As for my personal conference highlights? Well, those three days were so full, I'm sure I cannot remember all of the brilliant things that came up. But for the ones that I do recall, let me talk about them in three main sets:

Food for thought:
Some new ideas and insights that I enjoyed thinking about
(or not so new ideas, but I liked their articulation of it)

Unleashing the Power of Open Innovation in Government
Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer of the United States (@todd_park)

One of my favorite speakers was Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer of the United States Government. As an ideas and data person myself, I appreciated how Todd clearly saw his role as the builder of bridges between data and data interpreters, data apply-ers, and eventually the consumer/end user. This is one tech guy who is not stuck in his end of the process where it's just about the tech itself.

The Thinking:
As the Chief Technology Officer, he saw his work as being the "incubator inside the US government not birthing companies but rather projects and initiatives to apply the power of data and technology to help advance the president's priorities."

That also means he saw the government's role differently. Rather than this big top-down type of government, what he saw was the potential for government to be a platform for open innovation. The formula: tax payers' money is already used to gather lots of data so it's just a matter of making that data available to people who know how to understand that data and, to use his own words, "jiu-jitsu it, and turn it into awesomeness." Awesomeness here means a wide range of apps and programs that have real and revolutionary applications in people's lives.

The Projects:
Open Data Initiatives

Jan Karski’s Legacy: Preventing Genocide in the Digital Age
Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, Former Prime Minister of Poland (@Jan_Karski); Rabbi David Kalb, 92nd Street Y (@rabbidavidkalb); Eva Wierzynska, Leader, Jan Karski Legacy Program and Wanda Urbanska, Director, U.S. Jan Karski U.S. Centennial Campaign

The Thinking:
What if social media were around at the time of the holocaust? What if citizen journalists spoke up about the atrocities happening that the media in free countries refused to talk about? What if the world had twitter and social media in 1939, would the holocaust have happened?

Interesting points to think about.

Digital Disaster Relief
Wendy Harman, Director of Social Strategy, American Red Cross (@wharman); David Kobia, Director of Technology Development, Ushahidi (@dkobia/) and Samantha Murphy, Mashable (@MurphySamanthaJ)

What they do:
The American Red Cross is mentioned 4,000 times a day on social media on a normal day; the number spikes up during times of crises. They're already aggregating data to report trends / topline concerns, and building volunteer taskforces.

Ushahidi aggregated stories of violence reported on various social media platforms and aggregated it on a visual map.  In doing so, they closed the loop between the people reporting information and the people who respond to disaster and crisis. In other words, they made information actionable.

The challenges of making social web data actionable:
At the beginning, it's a trickle of information. Later on, it becomes a flood of information. Things like rumors reverberate throughout the system. How do you put verification tools in place to make sure these are true, and how do you find that one important information in this flood of data?

Live it:
Apps and programs that can change the way we live or work

How Google Earth is Changing the World
Rebecca Moore, Engineering Manager, Google Earth Outreach (@rebeccatmoore)

"What happens when you put in the hands of the world for free the most accurate, comprehensive, detailed, realistic replica of the planet that has ever existed?"Rebecca Moore of Google Earth Outreach gives demos on how different advocacy projects and groups can use Google Maps and Google Earth to make more powerful arguments for their causes: from wildlife habitat changes to landmines to calculating the value of nature in certain localities and mapping the effects of mining activities in a region. 

Drones, Digitals and #OWS
Tim Pool, Independent Journalist (@timcast) and Zoe Fox, Mashable (@zoebfox)

Digital Tracking for Human Trafficking
Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. State Department (@JTIP_State); Alison Friedman, Senior Coordinator for Public Engagement, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. State Deptartment and Justin Dillon, Executive Directory, Slavery Footprint (@slave_footprint)

Fan girl moments
Of course one of the benefits of going to these conferences is the fact that you get to see some of your heroes in person. Here are some of mine:

Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus is my microfinance rockstar. He pretty much talked about the same thing you can find in his books but it was a treat to meet him in person and snap a photo with him.

Social Entrepreneurism
Muhammad Yunus, Founder, Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize Winner ( and Stacy Green, Mashable (@stacygreen)

Jane Goodall has done amazing work as a primatologist but the first time I met her was an event in Beijing back in 2007 where she talked about the Roots & Shoots program in China. I loved the concept and eventually volunteered for them while I was living in Beijing. I already thought it was great to hear her speak again after so long, but as an added treat, they involved her in a little musical number! So the video below isn't of her talk. Just check it out to see the surprise ;p

Musical Performance with Dame Jane Goodall
DBE, primatologist, anthropologist, activist and U.N. Messenger for Peace (https://

1 comment:

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