2.0 and you

2.0 graphic

As the Washington Post put it this morning, “The subject: dragging the world’s greatest museum complex into the current century.”  And of particular interest: “Of the Smithsonian’s 137 million artifacts, however, not only is less than 1 percent on display, but most of that is in Washington. You have to come to the Smithsonian. It doesn’t much come to you.”  The writer must not know about Affiliates.

Nonetheless, one of the earliest initiatives of Secretary Clough was to brilliantly ask advice on this topic from 31 luminaries of the digital realm – digerati – in town this past weekend for days-long brainstorming and idea sharing with Smithsonian staff.  The result was some of the most stimulating dialog I’ve heard, and so many ideas about navigating this whole new world of 2.0.  Ideas applicable to all, not just the Smithsonian.

(You can participate too – check out smithsonian20.si.edu/ and the Post article about the gathering.)

Case in point – the kickoff keynoter, Bran Ferren of Applied Minds, threw out this idea – give away  your collection to the American people.  The concept?  Give one item from our collection to each citizen. The Smithsonian would retain the stewardship of the item, but that citizen would accept the responsibility for the online dialogue about that object. They would, in a new sense, perhaps a 21st century sense (?), “own” it.

So which object would you choose?


new funding opportunity

Vodafone Americas FoundationThe Vodafone Americas Foundation has launched the Wireless Innovation Challenge to promote innovation and increase implementation of advanced wireless related technology for a better world. To that end, the Wireless Innovation Challenge will provide up to $600,000 in total awards to support projects of exceptional promise using wireless-related technology to address critical social issues around the world.

The challenge is open to projects from universities and nonprofit organizations based in the United States. Projects must demonstrate a multi-disciplinary approach that uses an innovation in wireless-related technology to address a critical global issue in one or more of the following areas: access to communication, education, economic development, environment, or health. The technology should have the potential for replication and large scale impact. 

Vodafone Americas Foundation will select up to eight finalists who will present their projects before a panel of judges with expertise in the areas of wireless engineering, international development, and social entrepreneurship. Winners will be selected for awards of $100,000, $200,000, and $300,000, which will be paid in equal installments over three years.

Proposals are due February 2, 2009. For complete program information, visit https://challenge.vodafone-us.com/innovAbout.html.  

What a great challenge!

Rainforest survival

STRI caterpillar  On Monday, January 12, the Smithsonian will be hosting some of the world’s leading scientists to discuss and debate the differing perspectives on the changes in tropical landscapes, and their impacts.  The event will be webcast live from 1 – 6:30pm – at www.si.edu/tec.   

The symposium’s 8 specialists will discuss topics related to tropical extinction including deforestation, climate change, values and threats to tropical nature reserves, and possible conservation actions.  Hope you can join!


  • ·         Joseph L. Wright,  Staff scientist,  Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
  • ·         William Laurance,  Staff scientist,  Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
  • ·         Gregory Asner,  Staff scientist,  Carnegie Institution
  • ·         Elizabeth Bennett,  Director, Hunting and Wildlife Trade Program,  Wildlife Conservation Society
  • ·         Robin Chazdon,  Ecology and Evolutionary Biology professor,  University of Connecticut
  • ·         Thomas Rudel,  Human Ecology and Sociology professor,  Rutgers University
  • ·         Claudio Valladares-Padua,  Conservation scientist,  Wildlife Trust Alliance
  •              Nigel Stork, Head,  Resource Management & Geography Dept., University of Melbourne  

Introductions will be made by Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough and panel discussions will be moderated by Cristián Samper, director of the National Museum of Natural History.