Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 3:53 pm
Once upon a time, you could crack open a radio, a telephone, a lawnmower, even a car, take it apart and figure out how it worked. No more. Pretty much everything we use these days comes with computer chips, which you can't really take apart. (I mean, you can, but all you'll find inside are a bunch of 1's and 0's with no obvious logic.) So car mechanics can snap a new chip into an engine, wait till it whirs and watch the gears come to life, but do they know what's going on in there? For most of us, chips are "black boxes." They work, but we don't know why.
Oregon has spent more than $40 million to build its own online health care exchange. It gave that money to a Silicon Valley titan, Oracle, but the result has been a disaster of missed deadlines, a nonworking website and a state forced to process thousands of insurance applications on paper.
Some Oregon officials were sounding alarms about the tech company's work on the state's online health care exchange as early as last spring. Oracle was behind schedule and, worse, didn't seem able to offer an estimate of what it would take to get the state's online exchange up and running.
A former Amazon executive who helped Jeff Bezos turn shopping into a digital experience has set out to end illiteracy. David Risher is now the head of Worldreader, a nonprofit organization that brings e-books to kids in developing countries through Kindles and cellphones.
Risher was traveling around the world with his family when he got the idea for Worldreader. They were doing volunteer work at an orphanage in Ecuador when he saw a building with a big padlock on the door. He asked a woman who worked there what was inside, and she said, "It's the library."
Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 2:05 pm
There's no easy way to track all of the world's crops. What's missing, among other things, is an accurate map showing where they are.
But the people behind Geo-Wiki are hoping to fix that, with a game called Cropland Capture. They're turning people like you and me into data gatherers, or citizen scientists, to help identify cropland.
Tell Me More's Twitter series "A Day in the Life" launches today, and it allows you to experience, in real time, the imprint that African-Americans are making in our country's technology engine. You can follow the conversation: #NPRBlacksinTech.