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Note from the Curator: Tech and the Social Sector

Markets for Good introduces a new theme: technology. Specifically,”What do we need to build an upgraded information infrastructure, from the perspective of technologists and information intermediaries?” Let’s try a quick thought experiment for context.

What’s in a Meme?

A meme is “an idea, behavior, style or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.” For better and for worse, we often find ourselves swinging from meme to meme in today’s tech jungle. Here is one of the strongest among them: the belief that more data is being created now than ever before.

This origin of this statement is easy enough to find. But let’s not try to judge it just yet. Instead, click here—more data created in—and let the memes begin:

  • more data created in this year than in the previous 5,000 years combined
  • more data created in 2012 alone than all the data created in human history
  • more data created in the past two years than in the history of humankind
  • more data created in the last three years than in the previous 40,000

The fact that leaders of the tech conversation marvel at the scale of our environment simply signals that we are still on a steep learning curve when it comes to integrating the current version of technology into our work and lives.

(For a simple visual anecdote, try the wayback machine and take a look at tech impact on your favorite website over the past 10 years, if it even existed then.)

This learning curve is a single bundle of threads (innovation, invention, deployment, impact and evaluation) that is still shooting upward at a fast vertical rate. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of shaping this future – and at times be a little awed by it?

But we shouldn’t just go with the flow, or take memes at face value. So, this month we’ll examine our rapidly evolving technology landscape, Markets for Good, and how the two might influence one another [alternatively: how the former might influence the latter].

Technology and Markets for Good

Words like “data” and, in this case, “technology,” have meaning apart from the digital age. Those meanings have to be taken into account if we are to understand what is needed in the materials, systems, and protocols of technology that will determine the ideal, free flow of high quality data.

In that spirit, the upcoming blog posts will be from people who design, build, think about and maintain the pipes and plumbing below the house of social sector data. That includes not only the technologies we build but, in a broader sense, the “usage and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem.” In short, technology in the form of governance systems and mechanisms in the social sector.

We’ll hear from various contributors commenting on multiple dimensions of technology: How is it being used effectively in the sector today? What’s under development? Who’s doing what? Where should we make our tech investments? How should we collaborate? Who owns the systems that move data? Who owns the data when it moves?

In short, we hope to gain a wide and working view of the landscape to discover better technology, better technological approaches and viable paths to these improvements. Looking forward to your debate, discussion, and comment!