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How Jason Fried and Kiva are Changing the World

Jason Fried, CEO of web app company 37 Signals, has been named an MIT Tech Review Young Innovator.

But Tech Review got it wrong.

Fried's significant contribution isn't in online collaboration software.

It's in creating meaning for thousands of people, many of whom aren't even paying customers.

He, and 37 Signals, do this by showing people there's a different way to develop software.

It's a way that's simpler, quicker, and more aligned with what users want.

Basically, it's more fun to develop software their way.

And showing people how to have fun while doing something they love is incredibly meaningful, for both Fried and for people who buy into his philosophy.

Now, let's talk about Kiva. enables people with money ($5, $20, $100, whatever) to provide micro-loans to people in the third world.

Reminds me of my smart cheap friend Noah, who, in high school, borrowed ten cents from ten people to buy a bag of chips.

I found Kiva a couple months ago and loaned $20 to Jane Gathiru, who runs Muranga Best Butchery in Kenya.

Her $750 loan was complete shortly afterwards. Within a month, Jane has paid back nearly 10%.

Umair wrote about Kiva eloquently, but this is about more than loans.

It's about Meaning.

Anybody reading this blog has the ability to create meaning by loaning money through Kiva.

And creating meaning for yourself and for others is what it's all about, whether the subject is software development, or micro-loans, or something else.

So what about you? How are you making meaning?

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Comments (Post | Latest)

1. Alexander Kjerulf said on Sep 17 2006:

Great post.

To me, there can only be one kind of meaning. Or at least, this must lie at the root of all meaning: To make yourself and others happy.

If you can look at what you do and say "When I do this, I make these people happy" then you have meaning right there.

If you examine your actions and are forced to conclude that "this makes no one happy" or even that it (on the whole) makes people unhappy then meaning is extremely hard to come by!

2. kareem said on Sep 17 2006:

Well said, Alex!

3. Tim said on Oct 8 2006:

Thanks for your post on Kiva. It all starts with getting the word out; you've shown your readers a very practical way in getting involved with a worthy cause. Perhaps you may consider extending the shelf life of Kiva's message by placing a link or small banner on your site (easy to apply code is found at Thanks again for the post!

Tim (volunteer with


Hi, I'm Kareem Mayan. I co-founded eduFire, an online video tutoring company.

I've done time at ESPN and FIM.

I advise WorldBlu, helping them build democratic companies.

I moderated a council for Creative Good.

And, I helped bring Barcamp, a technology un-conference, to LA, which is where I live. I am now living and working in cool cities around the world.

More about me.

Opinions stated here are mine alone.

Contact: blog -at- reemer


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