Qatar: everything I learned while visiting the wealthiest country in the world

Joe is a friendly Filipino private car driver who has lived and worked in Doha, the capital and dominant city of tiny Persian Gulf country Qatar, for the last decade. He forces a laugh and answers “maybe” to any question I ask him that seems to make him uncomfortable.

Last month, I was in Qatar to mentor at a hackathon organized by Aljazeera, the global news organization based in Doha. Leading up to and during my time there, I did a lot of reading about the Gulf. I had a couple dozen conversations with people who live there, like Joe, and I did a fair amount of exploring parts of Doha, or at least as much as I could considering I spent most of my short few days there inside a convention center.

I found the country so interesting (and complicated) that I wanted to share nearly everything I learned about the Arab desert nation state. Find that below.

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My testimony to Philadelphia City Council on tech business growth

To set up a Philadelphia City Council hearing on tech business that Technical.ly Philly organized with Councilman David Oh for Philly Tech Week, I gave a short testimony to committee.

Watch the full 90-minute hearing, including mine below. The goal was to better familiarize council with tech business. We organized something similar in Baltimore.

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Teacher talent is the biggest challenge to education reform: notes from Ted Hershberg

Penn Professor Ted Hershberg

A dense, 30-minute look at the past, present and future of education reform in the United States was the focus of a presentation by the celebrated University of Pennsylvania professor Ted Hershberg last week.

Though his lecture was part of a class I’m taking that is officially off-the-record, because I know Hershberg’s work through a friend of mine who is part of his research team and what he said follows what he often speaks on, I thought it was okay to share what I felt was a helpful top-level look at the problems and opportunities.

For context, Hershberg is an open left-of-center thinker, but he has a reputation for being an outspoken critic of the teacher’s unions. I share some easy-to-digest notes below.

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Junto presentation on social entrepreneurship in Philadelphia

I’m still on something of a speaking tour talking about the idea that Philadelphia has a real reason to be seen as a hub of social entrepreneurship. -Which means I need to update my slides.

This post led to this chat, which informed this event, which followed speaking at a Junto on the matter, video of which can be seen below, which was followed by still another event. And other organizations have reached out about continuing to push forward the conversation.

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Boardwalk Empire: five lessons to learn from season one of the hit HBO drama

The celebrated HBO historical drama Boardwalk Empire, set in Prohibition-era Atlantic City, is making its way through its second season, and I’m catching up, having recently finished watching the first season.

The well-funded period piece, with backing from Scorsese, Wahlberg and others, tracks the life and times of a character based on a real political boss of the time. It’s a compelling story, tinged with real happenings, heavily researched authenticity and complex characters. In short, it’s a great watch.

Having finished the first season, there are a few takeaways I found myself internalizing:

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