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An Interview with Kristin Little and featuring the Global Shift Council

After being dormant through the past few months – watching the world turn upside down, I pondered on who I wanted to interview for our next blog.  Then, I met Kristin and I knew!

I am excited to have had the opportunity to get to know Kristin through some weekly Uberconference meetings and to interview such a leader in research and design.  Kristin and I met through our colleague Kevin Clark, Founder of Content Evolution.  And, I met Kevin as an advisor to SocialTech.AI.  The world is closely connected, and what I like most about the work of Innovate+Educate and Close It is the connection of humans and their passion to solve some of the biggest issues our globe faces in social equity and economic mobility.  
I also am thrilled to feature our thought leaders from the Global Shift Council at the end of Kristin’s interview.  In October 2019, I+E launched the Global Shift Council to create a network of thought leaders across the Globe. Again, more passionate leaders working together on workforce and learning.
As for Kristin, she brings over a decade of experience at the World Bank, where she designed, conducted, and contributed to field-based, mixed-methods evaluations of $200 billion of the Bank’s investments in infrastructure, disaster recovery, climate change mitigation, water, cultural heritage, and social development. Kristin lives in Palo Alto, California.  She recently was announced as a fellow with People-Centered Internet (PCI), and here we dive into what her role will be, as well as some personal facts. So, make sure you read to the end!
JB – Kristin, I am so pleased to interview you for the Shift Blog.  We definitely are seeing a global shift right now – no doubt about it.  As our friend Kevin Clark says, “We’ve been looking at the Future of Work (FOW) and projecting out 10 years, and that future just arrived in two months”. We can stop studying the FOW because we are living the FOW!  Obviously, the internet and its power has a huge influence on the future of working learning, and everything else.  How do you reflect on what has happened in the past months coming from your experience with disaster recovery, climate change, and your expertise in social development?
Kristin –  Obviously, COVID 19 has definitely increased significantly the need for the internet for all. It has also meant that there are more voices, and more people coming to the table. Cooperation in an era of an ever-expanding digital world is becoming at once more difficult and more important.
JB – So, Kristin, let’s focus on your new fellowship role at People-Centered Internet (PCI) announced in April.  Congratulations, and what a great role to have you in as our globe figures out a new world with the internet playing a critical role for working, learning, innovations, and solving problems.
Can you tell me a little bit about PCI (peoplecentered.net)?
Kristin:  Sure. PCI was co-founded by Vint Cerf, one of the “fathers of the internet,” and Mei Lin Fung, “godmother of CRM” – customer relationship management. Its mission is to put humanity at the center of the internet. It is a community of people who drive to make sure the Internet helps people and our planet to thrive. I just recently took on this fellowship as Digital Cooperation and Diplomacy fellow for their new initiative.
JB– So how large is PCI? 
Kristin – It is a network with close to 1000 members. There are about 300 members on the monthly call list and these members are working on fascinating issues, putting humanity at the center of the internet.  It is a dynamic network of people doing really incredible work!
JB– I really like that the “Digital Cooperation and Diplomacy” (DCD) initiative builds on the groundwork established by the United Nations High Level Panel for Digital Cooperation.  Can you tell us a little about that?  
Kristin –  Yes, it is important background for sure! The United Nations Secretary General convened a high-level panel on digital cooperation, with experts from around the world. The Panel established a strong vision of “a future which is inclusive and empowering; a future in which digital technologies are used to reduce inequalities, bring people together, enhance international peace and security and promote economic opportunity and environmental sustainability.” In 2019, the panel published a report, The Age of Digital Interdependence, which outlines several recommendations for steps to take to reach that future vision.
JB – Well, that vision speaks great responsibility in the face of COVID-19 and where we are now.    Can you talk a little more about your role as Fellow for DCD and what your goals are?  (or what you are most excited about?)
Kristin – So, there are a number of things that I will be working on, and I am excited about all of them.  I will be monitoring the lay of the land in terms of who is doing what in the work of digital cooperation and diplomacy.  There is SO much work being done around the world. I will be writing articles related to DCD, about the work being done in different areas and by different people.  We will also be holding convenings (hopefully) in some form to discuss ongoing efforts.
Currently, we have an informal working group with intergovernmental organizations, civil society focused on operational implementation of some of the recommendations of the UN HLPDC, the idea behind that being that the only way to advance digital cooperation is to try it and see what works—talking about it won’t work. Those representatives are from the UN, ITU, EU, IEEE, as well as digital envoys from 2-3 foreign ministries – a group that is under the PCI DCD Initiative. We are coming together once a month in a meeting moderated by Vint Cerf.
PCI is working on finding ways to implement the official recommendations of the HLPDC in ways that lead to a more people centered Internet. We believe that developing robust people centered digital approaches requires “reality testing” the proposed ideas in real life: That both engagement of ordinary people and incorporating their feedback was an essential part of how the Internet evolved to be the robust network that has risen to the challenge of the enormous surge in demand in this time of Covid, and allowed many people to work remotely and learn online who otherwise would have had to stop working and learning.  
It’s important to remember that the internet does not know borders. The way it evolved was as a people-to-people network for information to flow – and it spread because of the immediate value it provided those who used it. It is important to build that network of interoperability not only of the systems, but of the people.
JB – awesome, so what else are you excited about?
Kristin – Another thing I am really interested in is the GIGA Initiative, driven by UNICEF and the ITU. Their mission is to connect every school on the globe to the internet by 2030.
I find it interesting because oftentimes the internet’s first appearance has been through educational institutions. When you connect schools, you connect students and their families. So, essentially you connect the whole family. Also, when schools bring in the internet, it’s a chance for students and teachers to be involved in installing the internet, maintaining the networks and learning how they work. I think GIGA could have a big impact.
JB– anything else that you are excited about?
Kristin – yes, I am very excited that we are cooperating with the Hasso Plattner Insitute (HPI) School of Design Thinking.  PCI and HPI are doing a design challenge on digital cooperation and diplomacy. It’s an advanced project in design thinking, focused on how to strengthen cooperation in an era of digital interdependence among government, the private civil society, international organizations, the technical community, academia, and others.   The institute’s students have just started with interviews now, and it will be fascinating to see what the process brings.
JB – What is something you have done that has really impacted you and/or your thinking? 

Kristin – Well, I decided a couple of years ago to take a year off from work and take my 10-year-old twin sons around the world and “world school” them.   Our focus as we moved around the world was WWII, in every single country – how did it play out? How was it experienced? The other focus was Civil Rights, as it pertained to each country.  Everywhere we went these topics went in so many directions.  You can imagine, as both impacted each country in big ways.  It was a trip of a lifetime, and an amazing adventure. My husband held the fort down here at home, working.  I will always be grateful to him for enabling us to go on that journey.
JB – That is so amazing!  So, as I was talking to you I wondered –  Do you remember the first time you used the internet?
Kristin – Ha. Hadn’t thought about it. But, I remember a number of things.  Specifically, I was thrown feet first into the fire as I was made to code in HTML and make my own website.  I think it was around 1995.   Some years earlier I had almost joined the WELL in Berkeley which was one of the first virtual communities.  But, I decided to leave the country instead!
JB– and I remember it was 1995 when my mother called me in Little Rock, Arkansas and said. “there is this thing called AOL.  If you will set yours up, I can send you something called an email and you will get it within 24 hours over your computer!”
It took about 24 hours as I recall!
Thank you, Kristin, for sharing your journey. We are excited to watch PCI and the work in coming months.

Global Shift Council Highlights

In October of 2019, we launched the Global Shift Council. – a council of 12 Countries working across the globe in learning and workforce.   I felt we just had to take advantage of the amazing people we met through the Close It network and our SHIFT Happens papers.  There must be a reason to be surrounded by so many amazing global leaders.  While the network has slowed down somewhat through COVID-19 happenings, we will continue to build the Council to share best practices and ensure equitable access for all through solutions.  Our role is to elevate and convene.   Below are some of our small and mighty founding team.  We will feature the group more in 2020 individually through the SHIFT blog!

Esteban Venegas Villanueva  
Affiliation: Tecnológico de Monterrey    
Your Region/Country: North America/México    
One Word of why you joined the Council: Collaboration

Andrew Williamson     
Affiliation: Holmesglen Institute of TAFE- A Tertiary Level Institute      
Your Region/Country Australia    
One word of why you joined the Council: Community

Stephen Rice

President, Upskill Enterprise
Your Region/Country UK/Ireland/Europe      
One word of why you joined the Council: Networking

Dr. Roti Balogun
Affiliation: AFRILECH – http://afrilech.org
Your Region/Country – Africa/Nigeria
One word of why you joined the Council: Cocreate

Amyris Fernandez      
Affiliation: FGV      
Your Region/Country: São Paulo, Brazil     
One word of why you joined the Council:  Compassion

Diana Wu David
Affiliation:  Future Proof Lab
Your Region/Country: Hong Kong / Asia
Why you joined the Council: to contribute to global change in future of work

Kolvert Rautenbach
Affiliation: Startup – Freelance Consultant
Your Region/Country – South Africa/Africa
Why you joined the Council: Opportunity to collaborate with like-minded individuals in order to scale universal solutions to benefit marginalized and disenfranchised learning workers