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A Minute with Jeff Skoll on Technology and Global Social Change

Jul. 5 2011 – 9:30 am | 78 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments By Rahim Kanani/Forbes.com In a brief minute interview, first president of eBay and philanthropist Jeff Skoll shares his thoughts on early inspiration and the role of technology today in bettering our world. What role did technology play in your life as you were growing up, and how do you perceive the intersection of technology and social change today? Ever since I was a young engineer, I believed that technology could make the world a better place by empowering and connecting people and helping to improve lives.  This was the underlying power of eBay and I’ve since applied these lessons to my other organizations, including the Capricorn Investment Group, the Skoll Foundation, the Skoll Global Threats Fund and Participant Media. Today, technology is the social catalyst empowering communities in all corners of the globe to improve their lives and shape their collective future.  Modern technology is opening floodgates of information and influence historically reserved only for those in power.  It not only helps to uncover the way to tackle a big issue, technology also helps to stimulate the most elusive and most needed breakthrough of all:  the will to act in our collective self-interest. How has this evolved understanding and experience translated into your work today? My philanthropic and commercial investments are guided by these principles.  Whether it is teaching indigenous tribes in the Amazon to use GPS devices to prevent illegal deforestation, or investing in companies like Nanosolar or Tesla, or even bringing social activists together through our social action network TakePart, technology that benefits humanity is the enabling factor. One other thing that I’ve learned over the years is that social change is a team sport.  Real progress comes not from one company, one idea or one philanthropist.  As Alexander Graham Bell observed over 100 years ago, “Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds.” With social change being a team sport, what are some ways in which we can foster more collaborative efforts and engagements between the technology sector and social changemakers? You have to be deliberate about it.  We develop specific communities – the Skoll World Forum, Social Edge, and TakePart to name a few – that cultivate collaborative impact among the social, finance, private and public sectors. Different corners of the technology sector contribute significantly to these platforms, helping to scale and accelerate social innovations in philanthropic and commercial markets alike. http://blogs.forbes.com/rahimkanani/2011/07/05/a-minute-with-jeff-skoll-on-technology-and-global-social-change/