Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Celebrate Women in Science and Technology Today

Ellen Swallow Richards, First Woman to receive...Image via Wikipedia
It's Ada Lovelace Day - an international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science.

I posted about Ellen Swallow Richards on the AAUW Kingston Branch Blog. She's responsible for clean tap water and food safety standards; the first woman student and instructor at MIT. She also co-founded AAUW.

Later today I hope to spend some time surfing the list of woman people have chosen to celebrate. Maybe you'd like to read about a few, too.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Access, Access, Access - Kristof's Column

I'm tired of the health care debate. It's been going on for decades and I don't understand why. Please read Nicholas Kristof's NY Times op-ed column in its entirety. Are you weary, too?

Op-Ed Columnist - Access, Access, Access - "If Republicans succeed in killing Mr. Obama’s reform package, the share of Americans with medical coverage will continue to drop. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimated this month that if significant reforms do not pass, the number of uninsured Americans could grow by 10 million over just the next five years.

Partly because of lack of access, American health statistics are notorious: Our children are two-and-a-half times as likely to die before the age of 5 as children in Sweden. American women are 11 times as likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth as Irish women. The average person in Honduras or Vietnam is expected to live longer than the average African-American in New Orleans.

Opponents of health care reform claim that America’s health statistics are poor simply because of America’s racial diversity and large underclass. But there is one group of Americans who do fine in international comparisons — and that’s the 65-plus crowd. They have Medicare.

One careful study after another has shown that uninsured people are significantly more likely to die than insured people. That’s because diseases are caught at later stages on uninsured people, and they don’t get treated so well.

There’s one group that should be particularly passionate about supporting Mr. Obama’s efforts: opponents of abortions. There’s abundant cross-country evidence that the best way to hold down abortion numbers is to improve access to health care and thus prevent unwanted pregnancies."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Technologies that Empower Women: Tom Watson

Tom Watson, in his post Technologies that Empower Women, talks about the surprising ways that new technologies change the lives of women and their families for the better around the world.

"In most cases, it's not cool social-media widgets or super-wired gadgets that are making a difference. Much of the social change being driven by technology involves local innovation, local investment, and local custom. Technology that can be sustained at the country or regional level and through public-private partnerships—without massive international aid—is the kind that often brings the most lasting change. Often, this kind of transformation entails looking past the established solutions of the developed world and adopting canny new technological shortcuts."

Here are the technologies Watson cites. Are they the technologies you would have guessed? Used in the ways you would expect? Do read his article. It's fascinating.
  1. Video Everywhere
  2. Clean Cooking
  3. Birthing Kits -- 25 Cents each
  4. Electronic Election Monitoring (note: not electronic voting)
  5. E-learning
  6. Clean Water Nanotech
  7. Mobile Digital Banking
  8. Peer-to-Peer Funding Networks
  9. Micro-Agricultural Technologies
  10. Connected Communities
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Monday, March 01, 2010

Searching for Saddam: how the military mapped his social network

What could people learn about you by analyzing your photos on Facebook, Picasa, or Flickr? Well, our military learned enough about Saddam Husein's social network to capture him by analyzing the pictures in his family albums.

Slate has an interesting series about social networking and its role in searching for Saddam Husein.  The series underscores the difference between activity that is top-down directed -- Husein's government -- and networked -- his protectors after invasion.

The younger military interrogators knew the importance of understanding Husein's social network earlier than the leadership. In fact, they kept two diagrams -- one to show the brass, including the big names, the other, the real one,  that included his loyal friends, mostly bodyguards and nobodies in the former government power structure.

Here's a link to a brief video overview of the process to uncover Saddam Husein's social network. And here's a link to the series.

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