Technology, Decentralization, International Development

Byron Bay, Australia

+61-491-082-515 voice, sms - Australia

+1(510)423-1767 sms, whatsapp, signal)

Technology for Good

My life's main thread is using technology for "good". How can we create and use technology to make the world a better place.

I'm a do-er rather than an advocate. I work at the creative intersection between technical and business/organizational aspects, making things happen that can lead us to a better planet, and doing it at a scale that is relevant to the challenges we face.

There are three interwoven threads that recur in my career: the internet, developing countries, and clean technologies (especially renewable energy).

Scalable Innovation for Sustainability & International Development

I'm passionate about developing and using technology and innovation, to sustainably solve the problems of poverty and international development (aka the SDGs) at scale. I believe there are many challenges in development that are amenable to solutions that are at least in part technical, and where often a solution exists in the West but for a number of systemic reasons we haven't found a solution that works for all the world's population. I've started several Social Ventures and NGO's in this theme, and since the sale of Lumeter I am mentoring, or consulting to a number of interesting technology based projects.

Folia Water and Folia Materials Advisor and board member 2018 ...
Advisor and Board member 2018 ...

Folia Materials has developed technology for affordably impregnating silver or copper into paper. Among other anti-bacterial and anti-viral applications it has been turned into an affordable water filter. Folia Water is bringing clean water to the billion+ who still lack it. By leveraging existing retail chains the problem of scaling solutions is removed. Trials are going really well in Bangladesh. Folia is raising their next round of finance and exploring other uses for the core technology.

Lumeter Networks - PAYG Technology leader Founder 2012 - 2017 ...
CEO, CTO and Founder 2012 - June 2017

We developed the leading PAYG technology, including hardware solutions embedded in the products of multiple manufacturers; and a full-stack dashboard enabling solar companies to deliver solutions to 40,000+ people. We had sales in 69 countries by the time we sold the company to Mobisol in 2017.


I'm active as a mentor, through a number of organizations including: Mentor Capital Network where I've been a board member, judge, and entrant in their competition; Tech2Impact; and Sourdough; I have also been a judge on ASME & Engineering for Change (E4C)'s iShow competition & for CleanTech Open Global. I'm always interested in how we can improve the support that can be brought to technology based social entrepreneurs.

Ecosystem for technology and development

There are very few sources of funding for technical solutions to important problems. They often fall between the cracks: Too big for Angels; not enough return for VC's; too risky for Philanthropists; and too early for Impact funds.

I'm interested in talking to foundations about aligning some portion of their funding to higher risk, higher impact, developments that have a chance of solving a problem they, or their grantees, care about. I'm also interested in talking with people who may have other approaches to this problem.

In the past ...

Using technology for good has been a thread throughout my career. Some highlights include:

  • Starting a solar company in Byron Bay, Australia that, through a rigorous analysis of the broken business models of the time, cut the installed cost by 30% enabling thousands of home owners to access previously inaccessable renewable energy. This region is still a leader for residential solar.
  • Mentoring the developers, and raising the capital for, the first viable aquaponics system. Urban Ecological Systems / Blue Smart Farms.
  • Three years traveling the world, mentoring, and learning from innovators in technology for international development. See

Previous work on early Internet and decentralization.

I was very involved in the early internet and web development, before moving on to focus on impact and sustainability. But from 2017-2020 I led the decentralized and offline web projects at the Internet Archive. Its goal was to further a vision of a decentralized internet, and to bring the Archive's content to those beyond the reach of the current internet.

Universal Library and Offline Internet Archive

We wanted to bring the resources of the largest online library to everyone including the half the world's population who live where the internet is slow, expensive or censored.

We worked with collaborators who support underserved communities to build a set of tools that allow deploying local servers on really cheap devices, or integrating into apps that get around cost, speed and political limitations.

The project was closed because the content at the Internet Archive was not particularly relevant to those who don't have internet access

The result, open sourced at dweb-mirror, can run in boxes as small as a Raspberry Pi.

Decentralized Web and Archive -

In 2017-2018 we worked with some of the other current and former internet pioneers, to advance a vision of decentralized web, where power lies with the users - both writers and readers. Imagine a world where storing in "the cloud" really meant the cloud - all the computers on the net - rather than server farms under centralized control.

This culminated at the Decentralized Web Summit in launching which used IPFS, WebTorrent and GunDB to provide a decentralized version of the Archive.

This isn't Blockchain, but its built on many of the same underlying tools that power Bitcoin and its succcessors such as strong cryptography and decentralized file stores or databases, and its open-source.

In the past

I was an early pioneer on the internet and the web, with a focus on its use for good, a few examples:

  • Started, in 1985, GreenNet, an ISP (Internet Service Provider), supporting the non profit and activist sector, it is still going.
  • Co-founded, in 1989, the APC (Association for Progressive Communications), which pioneered the internet into the global South, and today is the main international Civil Society group for civil rights on the internet, especially in less developed countries.
  • Active in early Internet standards through IETF, where I co-authored, or was an active contributor to, several standards including: HTTP, the URL, URN, VRML etc
  • Co-authored US Patent # 09883064 on swarming and using hashes as file identifiers in Peer-to-Peer, which is the core of the techniques used by Bittorrent, IPFS, and others for downloading parts of files from other participating computers.
  • Technical lead for the connection between AOL and the Internet. AOL was uncontrolled users, in a highly controlled environment, while the Internet of the time was largely academics but large (uncontrolled) quantities of information (in Gopher and WAIS - this was pre-Web). Bringing the two together was the first mass use of the internet.
  • Led the networking team that built Worlds Chat, the first shared 3D environment on the internet.