Awards season, and good causes

Awards, part one

I’ve been asked to present an award at the Computer Weekly IT Blog Awards 2010 which IBM is supporting this evening in central London. I speak regularly about my experience of using social tools, particularly blogs, within and outside of a large company, so I’m excited to have been asked to be involved in this event. Now that I’ve looked through the impressive list of nominees I’m clearly put to shame in my own use of the medium. It’s great to see such useful content being generated out there… although my own blogging has tailed off slightly in favour of the instant gratification of microupdates, I’m a strong believer that blogging is not being killed off by Twitter, Facebook at the like, and events like this really emphasise the quality of writing that is out there.

A good cause

One aspect of the IT Blog Awards that I’m particularly impressed and excited by is that they have added a challenge category to encourage charitable giving to a good cause. In this case, they are asking bloggers, twitterers and anyone interested to support Computer Aid International’s Computers for Schools Kenya project.

It costs just £50 to get a refurbished PC onto a Kenyan school desk. There is a chronic shortage of PCs in the Kenyan school system and many Kenyan children complete school never having a seen a PC. Without simple IT literacy these children will be denied basic life chances such as equal access to employment opportunities.

All we are asking you to do is encourage your readers or followers to make a donation by directing them to a JustGiving page, and stating it was your blog or tweet that encouraged them to donate.

The person whose followers fund the most PCs for the project will win a prize and we will also put each blogger’s name on a sticker that we can attach to the PCs they fund.

I want to be absolutely clear that I’m not angling to be part of this award category at all (it’s far too late to garner the kind of support I’d need, anyway!) – but I would very much like to encourage you, my blog readers and followers, to donate to the cause if you are able. As with all of these kinds of things, “every little helps” and I think the cause of computer literacy in less well-off countries is tremendously important and worth supporting. I don’t usually use my blog to suggest causes to support, but on this occasion through my involvement with the Computer Weekly IT Blog Awards I’m doing so (just this once). Thanks!

Awards, part two (and more good causes)

From one set of awards, to another. IBM has been running an event called SmartCamp, a global programme bringing startups and entrepreneurs into contact with investors and mentors, all around the theme of building a Smarter Planet. It has literally just been announced that Streetline have been named the winners, with their innovative systems for bringing real-time parking information to drivers in cities using smart sensors.

IBM helping startups? That seems a little bit unusual, doesn’t it…? Surely IBM is big slow company all about doing “enterprise” software, hardware and consulting?

Not so fast! 🙂 IBM actually has a Global Entrepreneur programme which is all about teaming with entrepreneurs who are interested in developing startups to help build a Smarter Planet. A few weeks ago I had lunch with Kevin Farrar, one of the leaders of the initiative, and he got me really excited about some of the things IBM is doing. We’re able to provide enterprise-grade software free-of-charge, support, mentoring, and (for example) visits to labs with Innovation Centres like IBM Hursley. Check out some of the benefits. I’ve spent the past couple of years working on some extremely exciting Smarter Planet-related technology like MQTT and it’s thrilling to see the ways in which startups can begin to take advantage of IBM’s capabilities in these spaces.

I’d honestly missed some of this stuff – it’s so easy in a large organisation sometimes not to pay attention to everything that’s going on – so I really appreciated that Kevin took the time out to explain it to me. Once again, it changes my own perceptions of the sorts of spaces that IBM is operating in. Do get in touch with the Global Entrepreneur folks if you are interested in applying to work with them.

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