Musings

NASA on Mars vs. Development in Africa?

Better late than never, I’m about to start reading “Dead Aid“, Dambisa Moyo’s much touted book. I’ve already read a few blog posts and reviews – some about her, some about her book – and the Guardian’s “An evening with Dambisa Moyo” seemed worth a look. In an otherwise downbeat review, one statement stood out a mile.

Social mobile and the missing metrics

Scenario 1: Five hundred people gather together for three days. They talk, they discuss, they share and they learn. And then they leave. Some stay in touch, others have picked up enough to start a project of their own. Others just leave with a satisfied curiosity, others with the odd new blog post behind them
Scenario 2: A charitable foundation funds the creation of a new mobile tool. Over a one year period there is software development, a new website, user testing and roll-out

Mechanics vs. motivation: The two faces of social innovation

It’s been a busy and interesting few weeks, and I’ve met many people interested in many of the subjects which also fascinate me – entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, innovation, Africa, mobile technology and appropriate technology, among others. Being on the road is my equivalent of the town hall meeting, of door-to-door canvassing. It’s a great way – maybe the only way – to stay connected with the grassroots and meet the up-and-coming innovators of the future. I’m beginning to realise I enjoy speaking much more outside tech circles than within them. We need to introduce social mobile to new audiences, after all, rather than continually preach to the converted.

Footsteps

Mount Elgon, Uganda (1998)I’m something of a walker. During my time at Stanford University my battered old trainers got me to and from most places, as they did in San Francisco and as they continue to do today in London, Cambridge and anywhere else life takes me. Walking – accompanied by my trusty iPod – is the only time I really ever get these days to think and contemplate. Classic downtime, I guess.

Enabling the inspiration generation

During one of my many epic walks around Palo Alto last week, I stopped and tapped this into my phone:
Note
Let me explain.

Computer science, meet global development

What happens when you put computer scientists, user interface (UI) specialists, human-computer-interaction (HCI) designers and non-profit work together? You get ICT4D, surely? Well, maybe not as it turns out.

Poverty: The elephant in the room

A recent tweet by good friend Juliana Rotich on street/graffiti artist Banksy reminded me of another image he put together a couple of years ago. On display in Los Angeles for a limited time as part of an exhibition on global poverty and injustice, this was an incredible piece of “live art” which made it stand out from many of the other ‘works of art’ he has become famous for.

Coffee, Clark, Careers

All great journalists immediately put you at ease. Clark Boyd, someone I’ve been extremely fortunate to have spoken to on a number of occasions, is one of them. Interviews feel more like chats over cups of coffee in the dentists waiting room than recorded interviews set to go out over the airways in the US (and beyond).

Unintended consequences

This is a subject which always fascinates me - “potential negative outcomes” from “perceived positive acts”. I’ve seen this kind of thing in the field before, but today found a blog which brings it much closer to home and, as a result, makes it far more relevant to far more people.

The Social Mobile Long Tail explained

What follows is a short extract from the recent “Soul of the New Machine” human rights/technology conference hosted by UC Berkeley, in which I explain my theory of the Social Mobile Long Tail.

This video is also available on the FrontlineSMS Community pages

Hope meets phones.

It’s been another landmark day in the short history of FrontlineSMS:Medic. For those of you who don’t know, today saw the launch of their latest initiative - Hope Phones - which, generally speaking, encourages people to dig out their old phones and give them a new lease of life in the hands of a community health care worker (CHW) in a developing country.

Why does this picture trouble me?

I wonder.
Is it because it looks staged? Or because it reinforces our perceptions of the “old” and the “new”, the “developed” and the “underdeveloped”? Is it because it likely shows the beginning of the end of a complex relationship going back generations between a people and their culture?

The world according to FrontlineSMS

We’re not far off a year since the launch of the revised version of FrontlineSMS, and great progress has been made on many fronts. One of the challenges we’ve faced is that there’s no manual for what we’re trying to do, so it’s been something of a shot in the dark much of the time. The past, present (and no doubt future) of the software remains heavily influenced by the organic spread of the tool - NGOs finding it by “discovery” and adopting it in their own projects, for themselves, by themselves.

Syndicate content