Netsquared – Jim Forrest of Tech For All notes

JimforrestnetsquaredJim Forrest of Tech For All was the speaker at NetSquared Houston last night. Topics ranged from a discussion of the Tech for All involvement with Katrina relief at the Astrodome in 2005 to a discussion of Houston Hope Neighborhoods.

  • The goal of TechForAll is to "put the tools of technology in low income communities"
  • On Katrina relief in Houston:
    • "50% of the people were found through comments"
    • many did not know the name of the street they lived on
    • many had unique spellings of their first names but the red cross database did not allow you to search on first name (really? seems odd)
    • Yahoo was there from the beginning. Jim said this over and over that Yahoo had the people on the ground in the dome from the start. He spoke very highly of David Filo. Good to hear that.
    • He talked about the Recovery2.0 efforts.
    • Volunteers – fatigue over time. "this notion of social responsibility, it wore off"
    • "At the end of the day there were 56 systems"
  • On Houston, Independence Heights, a Houston Hope neighborhood, still has no city utilities on all streets despite being annexed in the 1928. Definitely no wifi to sign up for the prescription drug plans.
  • In the low income neighborhoods many pay exorbitant rent because of the don’t ask don’t tell aspect of being an immigrant. (can we call this "hush rent"? – ed)
  • The shift from corporations owning computers to leasing has reduced the number of computers available to be given to non profits.
  • Jim talked about Jerome Crowder’s efforts in cultural anthropology. Specifically the photography efforts to give people cameras because they will naturally take pictures of "trusted icons" (can’t find much on that on google though and the link on Jerome’s page is broken)
  • The need for "recovery war games"

For more on Technology for All check out their site and blog.