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May 04 2012


Vodafone xone™ AI Hackathon

Vodafone xone™ Hackathon Challenges Developers and Entrepreneurs to Build a New Generation of Artificial Intelligence Powered Apps

Vodafone xoneTM, in collaboration with one of its incubating start-up partners, Expertmaker, is hosting a ground-breaking developer hackathon event - Vodafone xone™ AI Hackathon. The event is focused on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and analytics for developers and entrepreneurs to tackle the issue of content and information overload on mobile devices. This challenge will take place June 8-11 at the Vodafone xone incubation facility in Redwood City, CA.

“AI powered apps can change the way people consume content and information on their mobile devices,” said Fay Arjomandi, Head of Vodafone xone. “We invite developers to Vodafone xone to stretch their knowledge about the latest in AI, analytics and business intelligence and build an intelligent app or web solution.”

“Our goal is to ignite an AI revolution. We packaged a lot of advanced technology into a simple to use platform that anyone can use to build AI powered apps,” said Lars Hard, CTO and Founder of Expertmaker. “We’re excited to share this tool with the developer community in Silicon Valley and look forward to the solutions they will create in just a weekend!”

Each participating team will present their solutions during the Hackathon, with cash prizes going to the top three winners. All participants will receive a free Expertmaker license for one year (SaaS). Participants are encouraged to sign up before May 25. More details and event registration can be found at http://expertmaker.com/partners/vodafoneaichallenge/.

Vodafone xone™ is the incubation center of Vodafone, one of the largest global mobile operators. Based in Silicon Valley, Vodafone xone™ offers onsite development, integration, and investment support. Vodafone xone’s objective is to fast track the path to market for new innovative products and services for our customers worldwide. We take pride in our dedication to operate with speed, simplicity, and trust. Learn more at:

About Expertmaker
Expertmaker is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) software company. We offer a platform for developers to build intelligent apps and handle big data analytics. For more information, please visit www.expertmaker.com .

WHEN: June 8 – 11, 2012.

Registration and team formation: June 8 at 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Hackathon at Vodafone xone™: June 9 & 10 - 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Hackathon complete: June 10 at 9:00 PM
Mixer and App Presentations: June 11 - 5:00 to 8:00 PM


Vodafone xone: 275 Shoreline Drive, Suite 400, Redwood City, CA 94065, (650) 400-9540

October 07 2011


Apply or nominate for the Antonio Pizzigati Prize!

Through October 31, 2011 you can apply or nominate  for the Antonio Pizzigati Prize. The challenge annually awards open source software developers. The 10,000 USD prize is founded by The Florence and Frances Family Fund of Tides Foundation and honors the brief life Tony Pizzigati, an early advocate of open source computing.

“And The Prize Goes To...”

The Pizzigati Prize challenge seeks to recognize developers who are making a two-faceted contribution to social change. First, they have an important practical impact: their software helps nonprofits both become more effective on a daily basis and build their capacity to better inform and mobilize their constituents. In addition, public interest software developers play a broader role. The ideals of public interest computing, as they have evolved inside the open source movement, promote collaboration and sharing.

Applicants will be evaluated by an advisory panel that includes past winners of the Prize on a range of criteria. The winner is expected to have:

  • Developed an elegant open source software product that serves a critical need in the broader U.S.-based nonprofit community
  • Evolved a plan to scale the product through wide distribution of the code
  • Exemplified the values of public interest computing
  • Demonstrated vision and inspired innovation in the field of public interest computing


All completed application materials for the 2012 prize competition including

  • an application
  • nomination form, as well as
  • a link pointing to the the relevant software

must be sent in one email to pizzigatiprize@tides.org no later than by 5pm EST, October 31, 2011.  The Tides Foundation, as host of the prize process, will name the next annual Pizzigati Prize winner at the Nonprofit Technology Network's  2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference in April 2012.


Do more


July 27 2011


Check Out the Best Apps for Education! Hack Education Challenge Winners Announced

Back in April, DonorsChoose.org gave developers and data crunchers an opportunity to “hack education.” The contest challenged the public to build apps that improve education in the United States. Contestants developed apps and data analyses across seven categories, which were evaluated against a central question: Which app or analysis has the greatest potential to engage the public and impact education?


Choosing the Big Winner from 50 Entries

After participants submitted a total of 50 contest entries in the categories of PHP, JavaScript, Ruby, Python, .NET, and data analyses, they were then judged by respected experts in those communities. During the next stage of the competition, Arianna Huffington, Fred Wilson, and Wendy Kopp selected the main winner. He was announced by Stephen Colbert himself during the taping of the Colbert Report show on June 24, 2011. The winning app, designed by Michael Nutt, enables anyone to easily add a dynamic DonorsChoose.org project listing in an email signature.

Meet the Winners

An online showcase displays the projects of the Big Winner, 8 finalists and 25 additional contestants
that wowed the judges and DonorsChoose.org staff. Get a taste for the creativity and ingenuity by checking out the category winners:


Data Analysis contest category winners:

“Hacking Education” Series by Lisa Zhang
An examination of the kinds of projects that teachers post and the kinds of projects that donors decided to support.
"Data->Knowledge->Insight" by Tiffany Bergin
A very user-friendly analysis of project funding trends.

Javascript contest category winner:

"DonorZon" by Jed Wood
Search on Amazon.com, and this browser extension shows related classroom projects within the Amazon UI.

.NET contest category winner:

"DonorsChoose Factbook" by Jeremy Kratz
On this user-friendly and dynamic dashboard, you can slice and dice an organization’s historical data by a number of facets, including date range and state.


PHP contest category winner:

"DonorsChoose Projects Near Me Wordpress Plugin" by John Mertens
This WordPress plugin determines the geographic location of each blog reader and displays nearby classroom projects.

Python contest category winner:

"DCJ2 The DonorsChoose.org Automatic Press Release System" by Max Shron and Mike Dewar
Automatically creates compelling summaries of completed classroom projects and notifies local television and newspaper journalists.

Ruby contest category winner:

"Donors Choose Signature" by Michael Nutt
Creates a dynamic email signature to show classroom projects in need of funding each time your email is viewed.

Wildcard contest category winner:

"Charity Chirpa" by Mark McSpadden
Suggests classroom projects you should recommend to your Twitter friends, based on your friends’ geographic locations.


July 20 2011


Stop Human Trafficking in Russia: Video your App Idea and Enter the Challenge

NetHope, in partnership with USAID, GBI, and DNA, recently launched the Stop Human Trafficking App Challenge. This contest draws upon the thriving culture of innovation in Russia to respond to one of today’s most pressing development challenges – sex and labor trafficking. The contestants are invited to compete in a skills-based challenge to design and build innovative and functional mobile applications.

Target a Human Trafficking Issue

The application should be used to raise public awareness of trafficking, educate at-risk people, or provide services to victims and survivors. This contest is specifically designed for residents and organizations from Russia and Eastern European countries. To see the full list of countries and learn more about the eligibity criteria, visit the NetHope website. You can also follow the twitter hashtag for the challenge (#StopHTapp) to monitor challenge progress and engage in discussions around it.

Participate in the Challenge

The challenge participants are asked to

  1. Come up with a new mobile phone app idea
  2. Fill in the application brief
  3. Upload a two-minute video that demonstrates the functionality of the application

Work for Change and Win Big

One winning application will be implemented by an organization working to combat trafficking in Russia. There are also two cash awards for the winning apps. The grand prize equals US$15,000. The winner of the first prize will receive an amount equaling US$15,000. In addition, both winners will travel to the Annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York in September 2011.

We keep our fingers crossed for you!

April 19 2011


What do librarians know about apps? Plenty.

Today I had the great pleasure of sitting in a room--a small room--with the FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski, as he announced a new project in collaboration with the Knight Foundation: Apps for Communities. This exciting new venture will put $100k of prizes in the hands of folks who dream up creative and useful ways to capitalize on existing public data and connect local folks to local data that solves local issues.

While Chairman Genachowski likely didn't have librarians in mind when nurturing this idea with the Knight Foundation, my first thought was: librarians! You might be thinking, "but I'm not a coder," and that may be true, but you have ideas. And you know your community. And you're crafty, innovative, and smart. What does your community need?

From the FCC:

This challenge is an effort to drive the great technical skills we have in our country out into our local communities. A particular goal is to build new applications to improve access for people who struggle with accessing information and services online: Seniors, non-English speakers, people who are uncomfortable with technology, and others. This contest seeks to bring the value of broadband to people who are, up until now, less likely to be online."

These people are in your library, using your library's services. What do they need? Do they need access to information during a disaster? Do they need to know where urgent care facilities exist and how to get there by public transportation? These were just two ideas shared during the press conference and discussion, but you likely have better, more focused ideas because you know the patrons who walk through your doors.

But what to do with your idea? Well, here's an idea:

One of TechSoup's projects, NetSquared, holds monthly offline events for anyone interested in technology and social impact. These local gatherings are an opportunity to share ideas, learn from one another, and collaborate on projects to create real world impact. What's more, they take place in 80 cities around the world, and if one doesn't exist near you, you can start on AT YOUR LIBRARY! How cool is that? Perhaps this FCC/Knight Foundation challenge is just the venue for you to share your idea with folks who could really make it happen. Try it. Or let me know why not. Or share your idea in the comments. Or just plain get in touch.

March 04 2011


Participate in the Follet Challenge!

Follett Corporation has announced a challenge to recognize the most innovative school libraries.

Through the contest the company wants to draw attention to a strong link between well-developed library programs and students achievements. Six winning libraries will be rewarded with the cash-equivalent of products and services, i.e. books, audiovisual materials and electronic resources. The judges, comprised of library and educational professionals,,are looking for schools that “do the most outstanding job of applying technology, content and creativity in ways that engage students, foster literacy and critical thinking”.

 Applications are due June 1, 2011. 

Read more about the challenge and apply!


January 20 2011


Social Actions API, Semantic Web, and Linked Open Data: An Interview with Peter Deitz

Peter Deitz is a long-time member and contributor in the NetSquared community; he started the NetSquared Montreal group and his Social Actions project was a winner in the 2008 N2Y3 Mashup Challenge. Over the last few years, we have watched and supported the growth of Social Actions, including partnering for the Change the Web Challenge in 2009 - a Partner Challenge designed to tap into the NetSquared Community to find innovative ways of using the Social Actions API and data stream. We are really excited about the latest developments to the Social Actions API and the larger implications of what these updates mean for powering open data and supporting action around the world. To learn more about it, I caught up with Peter earlier this week to get all the details and am excited to share them here first!

Hear from Peter Deitz about the Social Actions API!

Let’s start at the beginning: What is Social Actions and where does the API come in?

I describe Social Actions as an aggregation of actions people can take on any issue that’s built to be highly distributable across the social web. We pull in donation opportunities, volunteer positions, petitions, event, and other actions from 60+ different sources. That’s today. A few years ago, we had just a handful of pioneering platforms in microphilanthropy.

The Social Actions project began in 2006. I wanted to make some kind of contribution to the world of microphilanthropy. My intent was to inventory every interesting action I came across to make it easier for people to engage in the causes they cared about. There wasn’t much scalability in the way I was pursuing the project.

In 2007, I realized that a much more effective way to aggregate interesting actions would be to subscribe to RSS feeds from trusted sources. I wrote about the potential for aggregating RSS feeds of giving opportunities in a blog post called, Why We Need Group Fundraising RSS Feeds. Three months later I had a prototype platform aggregating actions from RSS feeds, with a search element around that content.

Around  the time of the Nonprofit Technology Network’s 2008 NTC conference, an even brighter light bulb went on. I remember sitting in a session by Kurt Voelker of ForumOne Communications, Tompkins Spann of Convio, and Jeremy Carbaugh of The Sunlight Foundation. They were talking about API’s. (API stands for Application Programming Interface, and refers broadly to the way one piece of software or dataset communicates with another.) In fact, the name of the session was "APIs for Beginners."

I knew I wanted to be in the session even without really knowing why. It was there that I realized my RSS-based process for aggregating actions could be so much more with a robust distribution component. I wrote a blog post called, Mashups, Open APIs, and the Future of Collaboration in the Nonprofit Tech Sector. I left that session knowing exactly the direction I wanted to take Social Actions.

And what would you describe as the social definition of Social Actions API - the purpose?

There’s a groundswell in interest, on the part of “non-nonprofit professionals,” to engage with social movements and causes. It’s well-documented at this point that people are hungry to engage with causes they care about in various forms.

The premise behind Social Actions is that there are enough actions floating around on the web that nonprofits produce, but that they’re not linked up properly or adequately syndicated. There are a million opportunities to take action on a cause you care about, but it’s not easy to find them. The Social Actions API attempts to address the distribution and syndication challenge while also encouraging nonprofits to make their actions more readily available.

What were the limitations that Social Actions and its API were hitting up against before the recent updates?

We have encountered a number of challenges over the years. Originally, adding actions manually. was difficult. That challenge was resolved by creating a platform that used RSS feeds to pull in opportunities,  which in turn evolved into the Social Actions API, allowing people to access the full dataset from any application that connected to it.

The vast majority of applications that have been built since 2008 match actions with related content: for example, by reading a blog post and searching the Social Actions dataset for related actions. The quality of the search results were limited by our querying capabilities and relevancy ranking. The results we were able to produce didn’t reflect the full contents of our database. They tended to reflect only the most recently-added actions, not the most relevant. As a result, we weren’t equipping developers with a platform that allowed for more accurate location- and issue-based searches. Until the recent enhancements, producing the best possible search results for a given phrase or keyword was a biggest challenge.

What did the recent updates accomplish, and how did the opportunity to make them come about?

The updates introduce Semantic Analysis and Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities to the Social Actions API and begin to connect Social Actions to the wider Linked Open Data community.

The enhancements effectively put Social Actions back on the cutting edge of social technology. These were changes that we had wanted to make for a long time. In Spring 2009, we were approached by a group that was building an advanced video + action platform and that wanted to draw on the Social Actions API. Link TV, in prototyping their ViewChange platform, noticed that the Social Actions API wasn’t producing the best possible results. They invited us to explore with them what would be involved in updating our platform so that ViewChange could feature more relevant results.

Link TV helped us articulate the changes that would need to occur and then connected us with a funder who could underwrite what amounted to a very significant enhancement to our code base. In one month, we had approximately as large an investment in the technology as we’d had in total up until that point. It has been incredibly exciting to see how open source projects like Social Actions tend to grow in fits and bursts, depending on the demands and resources made available by users.

What do “Semantic Analysis” and “Natural Language Processing” mean, and how do they make the Social Actions API better?

Semantic Analysis and Natural Language Processing both have to do with the process of identifying the meaning of a collection of words together. Semantic analysis, for example, can help to identify the meaning of a phrase like “poverty relief” as distinct from what “poverty” and “relief” mean independently. The Social Actions API now uses a tool called Zemanta to apply these processes when searching the actions contained in the dataset. As a result, we can say with more confidence what an action is about and where it is taking place. When searching for the phrase “poverty relief,” for example, not only are the search results more accurate, but Zemanta helps us to identify other actions that might not in fact use that phrase but are nonetheless linked in meaning to it. It’s a difficult concept to explain, but hopefully this makes sense.

And what does “Linked Open Data” refer to?

Just like in 2008 when I had an “aha moment” about APIs, in June 2009 I had an “aha moment” about Linked Open Data. I was presenting Social Actions at the Semantic Technology Conference (SemTech), describing how Social Actions was an open database and how we encouraged developers to build open source applications that distributed this data widely. Ivan Herman from W3C listened to the presentation asked, “Why are you building something that’s so closed? Why aren’t you publishing this data in RDF?”

I was surprised to the say least. Defeated in fact. I had spent close to three years trying to build this open platform only to have someone more tech-savvy than me explain that what we had built was in fact still a closed platform. It turns out I was at the epicenter of the Linked Open Data community.  Their mission is to link the world’s knowledge in the same way that all of the world’s web pages have been linked to one another.

If you can imagine that today the web is a collection of links between pages, the web of tomorrow (proposed by these folks and Tim Berners-Lee) will be a collection of links between discreet knowledge, or datasets. Anyone will be able to follow the connection that’s been made between one repository of data and another the same way people can now hyperlink between one web page and another.

Linked Open Data essentially refers to building connections between these repositories in a standard format not unlike HTML and hypertext.

What role do API’s, and the people who build them, play in Linked Open Data?

The stewards of databases are no longer just asked to open up their datasets but to make them available in such a way that they link with other data repositories by design. In the case of Social Actions, Ivan from the Wc3 was effectively saying, “It’s great you have all of this data on actions people can take, but what are you doing to link that data with other datasets? What are you doing to help people make the connection between ‘poverty relief’ as an issue, for example, and existing data sets on the prevalence of poverty in a specific location?”

The Social Actions API now cross-references issues and locations with universal identifiers that have been assigned to them. Just like you might cross-reference the subject of a book with a Dewey Decimal number, we are now cross-referencing each action with a universal identifier that helps to link it to related data. Using Zemanta, we are able to provide URIs (Uniform Resource Identifier) from Freebase and DBPedia that make the connection between actions in our system and other material on the web that relates to the same topic.

You can see examples of this at http://search.socialactions.com. Search for any phrase. Below each result you’ll see a link to “Entities.”

Can you tell me more about what ViewChange has done:

ViewChange is an example of an application that queries our actions using Freebase and DBPedia URIs as well as traditional keywords and phrases. The application says to Social Actions, “Show me everything that matches this URI.” The same query is submitted to the Social Actions API as is submitted to any data repository - news articles, videos, blog posts, etc. It’s truly commendable that Link TV, through the ViewChange project, has driven these enhancements on our platform.

A lot is also owed to Doug Puchalski, a programmer with Definition who helped lead the development of ViewChange.

To you, what might the future look like for people who want to take action on the causes they care about?

The technology exists for us to do really amazing things when it comes to matching people with actions they can take to make a difference. The technology itself is advancing, opening up more possibilities for even smarter applications.

The future of social technology, specifically creative implementations of the Social Actions API and similar open source platforms, is very exciting provided nonprofits and foundations continue to make rich data available and link it up with other repositories in the way I’ve attempted to described. The future is also very bright if we continue to experiment with how these linked data repositories can be deployed for forms of community engagement that we would not have thought possible a few years ago.

If everything goes incredibly well in the coming years, what might emerge is ubiquitous infrastructure of enabling technology and complementary applications that continuously present individuals with meaningful and relevant opportunities to enact change.


The Social Actions API – a pioneering open source project since 2008 – continues its boundary-pushing agenda by embracing the semantic web and contributing to the Linked Open Data cloud, encouraging the sector as a whole to leverage open source software and linked data for greater impact.

Visit socialactions.com today to learn more!

December 21 2010


Deadline for the New Media for Social Change Competition submission extended!


The deadline for the One World New Media for Social Change Competition submission has been extended to the 31st of December 2010. To read more about the competition go to the Fundacja TechSoup website or check out the previous blog post concerning the topic.

We have already received some excellent submissions, but hope for even more organizations and individuals to participate, showing what they are doing and explain how their work is helping to make the world a better place.

read more

December 08 2010


New Media for Social Change Competition: December 20th deadline to submit

The deadline for the New Media for Social Change competition almost here: December 20, 2010. Interested groups and individuals should read the Rules and Regulations and fill out the online submission form as soon as possible. If you have any questions or concerns that might keep you from submitting something, please feel free to contact One World immediately by writing Scott Hudson scott.hudson@oneworld.cz.

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August 31 2010


Support social justice with the FACT Challenge

The FACT Social Justice Challenge opened for submissions last week (and will continue accepting your ideas until October 4th). There are already some great ideas in the mix and we wanted to take a minute today to help get you thinking about new Projects you could submit or maybe highlight a Project you are already working on that aligns with the Challenge topic. So, just what does “social justice” mean?

What is "Social Justice"?

For our purposes, let's start with FACT's "About" statement, at least as a starting point to lead the discussion:

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May 14 2010


A Challenge to Create Mobile Solutions In South Africa

Vodacom Challenge LogoVodacom is hosting three challenges to support people who are using mobile technology to solve problems dealing with education, health, or community information that are deployable in South Africa. Their hope is to find projects that can demonstrate value for users, ease of use and deployment, scalablability, sustainability, and innovation. The winning teams will receive R20,000 ($2,646) and the winner with the most promise will receive an additional R20,000.

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April 20 2010


Mobile Technology in Developing Countries: Three Award-winning Projects

Wireless Innovation Project LogoThe Vodafone Americas Foundation and the mHealth Alliance recently announced the winners of the second annual Wireless Innovation Project™ and the first mHealth Alliance Award. The winning projects were selected for their ability to leverage wireless technology to help meet challenges faced in developing countries, including access to clean air, medical care, and financial services for the rural poor.

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April 15 2010


The NetSquared Challenge Model: An Interview with Marnie Webb

Case FoundationEach year, we hold a NetSquared Challenge to mine, profile and accelerate technologically innovative projects focused on social change. Recently, the Case Foundation interviewed Marnie Webb, our co-CEO, about the challenge process, opportunities and impacts.

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