“It has been a while since the mobile phone became more than just a phone, serving as a texting device, a camera and a digital music player, among other things. But experts say South Korea, because of its high-speed wireless networks and top technology companies like Samsung and LG, is the test case for the mobile future.”
Posts in category 'Asia'
This brochure, published by GTZ, provides a systematic overview of Web 2.0 experiences made to date in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It serves as a practice-oriented introduction to the theme and discusses both the potentials and the possible limits to the participatory web.
“To effectively identify and address the explicit and unmet needs of the broader consumer base in emerging markets, I believe multi-national companies [MNCs] must adopt a new global innovation model. Let’s call it global R&D 2.0.
This global R&D 2.0 strategy calls for a talent recalibration in MNCs’ R&D labs in emerging markets. I suggest that multinationals, besides employing technically-oriented engineers and scientists, begin to staff their R&D units in developing nations like India with two other types of experts, namely:
Anthropologists and ethnographers. By having anthropologists study and interact with end-customers in their natural settings, Western firms can learn to tailor their business models and offerings to match users’ socio-economic and cultural context. [...]
Development economists. [...] To effectively lure low-income buyers into procuring their low-end goods and services, multinationals need the help of development economists who can concoct creative pricing and financing mechanisms, such as microcredit schemes.”
“In this program we’ll highlight several interesting initiatives, one in Africa and one in the South Asia region, initiatives which have had success largely because of their responsiveness to people needs. And we’ll also question the West’s preconceptions about the future technological needs of the world’s poor.”
The programme features Nathan Eagle, a research scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico, whose “area of expertise is exploring ways in which the lives of people in the developing world can be enhanced by creatively using a simple piece of everyday technology, the mobile phone”; Jerry Watkins, a senior lecturer in design at Swinburne University in Melbourne, who is the co-principal investigator of the ‘Moving Content’ project in India; and Archie Law, CEO of ActionAid Australia, which is “in the process of setting up what they call a ‘blog outreach post’ where the idea is “to send someone to a remote part of the developing world, in this case Tanzania, and have them establish a communications point there.”
“[The conference] frequently explored and critiqued the thesis of CK Prahalad in The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits, which argues that aiming corporatized products at those living at the very bottom of the social ladder will enable markets to alleviate poverty while giving do-gooders a respectable profit by aiming for a kind of long tail that aggregates small sums and micropayments and often uses mobile phones and other kinds of ubiquitous computing technologies to foster exchange.”
My preferred pieces:
Skills: Business must learn from the new tribe
So-called ‘digital natives’ are bringing down the barriers to collaborative working, finds Jessica Twentyman
(If you read one article only, this is the one.)
Mobility: Flexibility is driven from the bottom up
But organisations must ensure employees are not slaves to mobile devices, notes Stephen Pritchard
Overcoming the fear of connectivity
Some organisations, fearful of untoward consequences such as reputational damage, ban social networking websites. Others embrace them enthusiastically and try to persuade others to do likewise.
Developing world: ‘Have-nots’ no closer to catching the ‘haves
Cellphones are nearly ubiquitous but internet access is still very patchy, says Paul Taylor
Case study: Text messages give shopkeepers the power to bulk buy
Stroll through South Africa’s villages – as steeped in ancestral tradition as they are deprived of basic services – and you will come across the convenience store, writes Tom Burgis.
Opinion: IT makes poverty a ‘curable affliction’
Olav Kjorven of the UNDP argues that innovative programmes in developing nations have helped people increase their choices and opportunities
Donor programmes: Sponsors can now view benefits online
Non-governmental organisations and government bodies can see exactly how their money is being spent, writes Danny Bradbury
Developed world: Those with no access miss out on opportunities
Jessica Twentyman examines the evidence that digital exclusion and social disadvantage go hand in hand
Connecting the world: Ubiquity will be a hard state to reach
Network access for all requires money but there are also significant technical hurdles, writes Stephen Pritchard
(Note that without subscription you can read only 10 FT articles a month. But you can double or triple that by installing more than one browser.)
“Adrian Simpson discovers the future of TV entertainment in Belgium; how the mobile phone camera revolutionizes healthcare in Kenya; the way in which government processes are facilitated through internet access in Mexico; and the political influence of SMS and social networking sites during the Obama election campaign in the US. But that’s not all – in the second half of 2009 Adrian will continue to travel to the corners of the globe, to find out how connectivity is impacting people’s lives from Austria to Zimbabwe.”
Currently the site has five 10 minute video episodes up on Europe, Africa, Latin America, USA and India (with China and Jakarta/Tokyo following soon). Each episode comes with clearly marked additional footage, plus interviews of Nokia Siemens Networks customers in those areas.
Mira Slavova of the excellent mmd4d blog that deals with mobile services for emerging markets, reports extensively on the African episode and its additional footage.
The company went to rural India to investigate the impact of mobile technology and developed concepts for new mobile devices for this market. Based on the research they conducted there, they developed a series design principles and concepts for mobile devices to meet the needs of people in emerging markets.
You can find more information in a new dedicated section of their website.
More background is also on their blog:
The authors, a group of people around Mimi Ito, believe that examining new media practices from an international (and, in some cases, transnational) perspective will enhance their current efforts to theorise youth, new media and learning, a wider MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Initiative.
China (by Cara Wallis): introduction – mobile phones – gaming – internet – new media production – conclusion
Korea (by HyeRyoung Ok): introduction – internet – gaming – mobile phones – new media production – conclusion
India (by Anke Schwittay): introduction – mobile phones – gaming – internet – new media production – conclusion
Brazil (by Heather Horst): introduction – internet – new media production – games – mobile phones – conclusion
Japan (by Mimi Ito and Daisuke Okabe): introduction – internet – mobile phones – new media production – gaming – conclusion
Ghana (by Araba Sey): introduction – mobile phones – internet – new media production – gaming – conclusion
Each case study focuses upon the telecommunications landscape, internet and mobile phone practices, gaming, and new media production, and provides a unique perspective on the ways in which infrastructure, institutions and culture (among other factors) shape contemporary new media practices.
“The cellphone appeals deeply to the Indian psychology, to the spreading desire for personal space and voice, not in defiance of the family and tribe but in the chaotic midst of it.
Imagine what it was like, back in the Pre-cellular Age, to be young in a traditional household. People are everywhere. Doors are open. Judgments fly. Bedrooms are shared. Phones are centrally located.
The cellphone serves, then, as a technology of individuation. On the cellphone, you are your own person. No one answers your calls or reads your messages. Your number is just yours.”
And the entire contents are available for free online.
Here are some of the recent contributions:
- Digital Green: participatory video and mediated instruction for agricultural extension [in India]
- Constructing Class Boundaries: gender, aspirations, and shared computing [based on research in India and Chile]
- A Peer-to-Peer Internet for the Developing World
- The Case of the Occasionally Cheap Computer: low-cost devices and classrooms in the developing regions
- Why Don’t People Use Nepali Language Software?
- Warana Unwired: replacing PCs with mobile phones in a rural sugar cane cooperative
- Problematic Empowerment: West African internet scams as strategic misrepresentation
- Sustainability Failures of Rural Telecentres: challenges from the sustainable sccess in rural India (SARI) project
- The Impact of Mobile Telephony on Developing Country Micro-Enterprise: a Nigerian case study
- ICT in Education Reform in Cambodia: problems, politics, and policies impacting implementation
Corporate social responsibility is vital for business survival
Corporate social responsibility used to be seen as a luxury. No longer. In today’s climate, looking beyond short-term profit is increasingly important – and ICT can help. Roger Trapp explains.
Diane Coyle: For new networking technologies, there are boom times ahead
The whole world should feel the benefit.
Closing the digital divide
How the spread of ICT is improving quality of life for millions in the Third World.
Dreaming up a connected world
Adrian Turpin on the ‘imagineers’ whose visualisations will determine the nature of future communications technologies.
Modern networker: using ICT to change Kenyan life for the better
Ory Okolloh, 32, could be seen as a face of Africa’s connected future.
He is currently doing research on South Korean new media culture (2006-2009), human-technology interaction, cultural aspects of new media and ubiquitous society visions.
Check these two recent papers:
A Modern Fetish: The Value of the Mobile Phone in South Korean Youth Culture
DRAFT for a paper to be presented at IADIS Multi Conference on Computer Science and Information Systems, 17 – 23 June 2009, Algarve.
This paper attempts to analyze the cultural significance of the mobile phone to the youths living in Seoul. It is based on the observation data produced by a group of communication students at Seoul National University. The paper presents the students’ observations on mobile phone use in the public and urban context of Seoul area as well as the students’ personal reflections on the subject. The paper further discusses the mobile phone as a significant element of Korean youth culture and, further, of the contemporary modern society.
Keeping in Touch: Notes on the Mobile Communication Culture of Korean Youth
DRAFT ONLY for Sonja Kangas (ed.): Communication Acrobatics, forthcoming in 2009
Discusses South Korean youth and their mobile communication culture. Based on participant observation and interviews conducted by Korean university students.
It explores the socio-economic benefits that mobile technology offers as well as best practices from around the world in order to encourage affordable mobile communications and bring Internet to the next billion consumers. It also shows how to create a favorable environment for market growth.
(via Nokia Conversations)
“The research in this group consists of both technical and social-science research. We do work in the areas of ethnography, sociology, political science, and economics, all of which help understand the social context of technology, and we also do technical research in hardware and software to devise solutions that are designed for emerging and underserved markets, both in rural and urban environments.”
Check out some of their projects.
Designer Matt Webb talked about the relationship between science-fiction and design, followed by Joerg Jelden, a trend analyst from Trend Buero who addressed the importance of fake products and services in the near future. Web veteran James Gillies told us his perspective on the history of the Web, and new media artist Natalie Jeremijenko discussed the opportunity for social and environmental change that new technologies provide.
Note: this post contains embedded video which might now not show up in your rss feed.
(Note that the picture above does not show Matt Web, but the video does.)
Matt Webb (blog) is a principal of the design shop Schulze & Webb, which has a special focus on the social life of stuff. Projects include material prototypes for Nokia, Web strategy for the BBC, and an electronic puppet that brings you closer to your friends. Matt tinkers with short fiction and web toys, speaks on design and technology, is co-author of acclaimed book Mind Hacks – cognitive psychology for a general audience – and if you were to sum up his design interests in one word, it would be “politeness.”
Matt talked about scientific fiction and design. He starts from a book called World War Z, the 21st Century best zombie novel so far. When you read it, it makes scientific sense. It is believable.
Despite the outlandishness of some science fiction novels, what has held constant is believability, plausibility.
In a scientific fiction, there are three things that have to work together: human nature, society and things.
You can see the same things in physics: pressure, temperature and volume are intimately linked in water.
Scientific fiction explores the chart of possible worlds in the future. You can’t just invent a product and expect that things will change. Society and human nature will have to change too.
Which products are going to work in the landscape of possible worlds?
Market research is one solution. Economics is another. Evolution is another such way of exploring the chart of possible worlds.
This kind of evolutionary thinking was implemented in the iterative design process to create Olinda, a prototype social digital radio Schulze & Webb developed for the BBC.
The radio then evolves into a number of prototypes and ended up “in where we ended up”.
The past is another set of possible worlds, and just as hard to read. Matt focuses on counterfactuals: “what if?”. Popper says it like this: “try to imagine the conditions under which the trends of the history in question would disappear.”
It is manifest in the counterfactual mobile phones, a project done for Nokia in 2005, which melts at 47 degrees Celsius. What is it about the mobile phone despite this violent evolution into different forms? That brought about an exploration about fabrics and phones, and the possibilities of “editing” your phone, thus creating the much-desired value of “greater attachment”.
For Matt, “design is a way of walking over the landscape of possible worlds.”
Joerg Jelden (blog) is a senior trend analyst at Trendbuero – Consultancy for Social Change, in Hamburg and Beijing. At Trendbuero, Joerg advises companies like eBay, Deutsche Post, O2, OTTO or ECCO about the opportunities of social change. His main field of interest is centered around Network Economy: How will the rise of the internet change our society? How will consumer behavior change? How will we do business tomorrow? What will be new business models to answer the changes?
During his stay at Trendbuero’s Asia-Pacific office in Beijing Joerg examined The Future of Fake or “Fakesumption”. He tried to find out, why fakes are so successful, what they do differently and what brands can learn from the fake industry. The project will be published in early 2009 and he gave a preview at LIFT.
Joerg started off with a history of fakes, some insights on a survey they did on how Germans feel about fakes, and a description of the fakes industry in 2009.
So, what can we learn from their success stories? (Fake creators)
1. Consumers: fake delivers something to consumers that the originals don’t, but still these consumers consider themselves to be brand customers. To spy on, sue or punish these consumers might not be the best idea. Are there new ways of integrating customers rather than outlawing them? Can we give consumers a convincing reason to spend much more for the original?
2. Brands: fakes truly explose the brand gap. Companies overvalue brands, brands overestimate themselves. But consumers aren’t buying it. Trust in brands has decreased by 50 percent in the last fifty years. Brands focus too much on products, but what makes the difference is strong relations. One way to deal with this is a better bonding.
3. Fakers: The originals look at the fakes, are inspired by the fakes. Yet fakers attack brands from within. They convert originals into fakes. They sell fake parts to manufacturers, mix fakes with originals and open up online stores to sell directly. So the originals can’t find the fakes anymore. Why don’t brands collaborate with their best fakers? In other words, the way we deal with fakes might need a reconsideration.
James Gillies is the head of communication at CERN. In 2000, he published a book with Robert Cailliau, Tim Berners-Lee’s first partner on the Web project, giving a history of the internet seen through CERN eyes. The fact that the Web was invented at CERN “is no accident”.
James was asked to write the story about the history of the web, when he started working at CERN in 1995.
His presentation, which is best viewed on video, goes through some of the main historical founders — Vannevar Bush (who in July 1945 wrote about the Memex machine), Donald Davies (who developed the concept of packet switching), and Louis Pouzin (who was commissioned by France’s national research network INRIA to build the first internet).
So where does CERN to fit in? It is and has always been a very open place and a research place. In the early 80′s, the Internet was already in place.
Tim Berners-Lee came to work at CERN in 1980 as a consultant to computerise the control system for the particle accelerator. He noticed that none of the programmes could talk with one another. So he wrote a paper that argued that the internet should be an emulation on a computer platform the way that our brains work. He then left CERN and came back in 1989 to implement his vision. By Christmas 1990 he had the web up and running. It only ran on Next and allowed a collaborative flow. Tim always saw the web as a collaborative tool, not as a one-way flow of information.
Then there were a series of developments (the first browser, the first server outside of Europe in 1991, and the pick-up of the web’s commercial potential in 1994).
What was probably the most significant thing that CERN institutionally could have done for the web, happened on 30 April 1993. The web was put in the public domain through the issue of a legal document.
James is absolutely convinced that this single act is the only reason why we have a single web, and not an Apple web, a Microsoft web, etcetera. Another main factor was that all the people James interviewed were altruists in the best sense of the world. In the words of Tim Berners-Lee: “It’s not always what you get out of society, but what you put in.”
(Note that the video stops a few minutes early, which is a pity.)
Natalie Jeremijenko is a new media artist who works at the intersection of contemporary art, science, and engineering. Her work takes the form of large-scale public art works, tangible media installations, single channel tapes, and critical writing. It investigates the theme of the transformative potential of new technologies—particularly information technologies. Specific issues addressed in her work include information politics, the examination and development of new modes of particulation in the production of knowledge, tangible media, and distributed (or ubiquitous) computing elements.
Natalie, who started her career at the computer science labs of Xerox Park, has always been concerned with the question what the opportunities for change are that new technologies represent and how might we seize that to build the kind of social change that we want.
She introduces the audience to a future where environmental issues are “no longer out there” but right here, in our cities and houses. It is a future where global media and global discourse has crumbled.
Whereas environmentalism used to be driven by the “sue the polluter” approach, now the biggest polluters of an urban centre are you and me (because of the city’s many impermeable services).
Natalie then introduced us to a different strategy in the light of this transformed environmental discourse. An example is the environmental health clinic which is in the East River, and thereby externalises health (as health is not only internal and pharmaceutical, but external and something that can be shared).
Another strategy are the pet tadpoles — named after local bureaucrats whose decisions affect water quality — a species which is very sensitive to industrial contaminants.
Finally, she showed the mouse trap that self-administers anti depressants.
Six in 10 people around the world now have cellphone subscriptions, signaling that mobile phones are the communications technology of choice, particularly in poor countries, according to a U.N. report published Monday.
By the end of last year there were an estimated 4.1 billion subscriptions globally, compared with about 1 billion in 2002, the International Telecommunication Union said.
Fixed line subscriptions increased at a much slower pace to 1.27 billion from about 1 billion over the same period.
“There has been a clear shift to mobile cellular telephony,” the agency said, noting that developing countries now account for about two-thirds of cellphones in use. In 2002, less than half of mobile subscriptions globally were in the developing world, it said.
Internet use more than doubled. An estimated 23% of people on the planet used the Internet last year, up from 11% in 2002. Poor countries still lag far behind on Internet access, with only 1 in 20 people in Africa going online in 2007 — the most recent year for which firm figures were available.
One of the subtle change in the last fifteen years revolves around how collective action and solidarity have changed. Ramesh Srinivasan and Juliana Rotich, two speakers from different parts of the world, showrf how technologies such as mobile devices reshape the rule of living together.
Note: this post contains embedded video which might now not show up in your rss feed.
Ramesh Srinivasan (personal page) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Information Studies and Design|Media Arts at the University of California Los Angeles. His research interests and doctoral seminars build on his interdisciplinary background as an engineer, designer, social scientist, and ethnographer. His research focuses on convergent questions between new media technologies and global cultures and communities; the use of design and social-science perspectives to analyze the impacts of information technology.
Ramesh started out with a few core questions:
- How is an understanding of how different cultures see the world in different ways fundamental for how technology is conceived and how would a culturally diverse web look like?
- How are technologies, which are themselves cultural artefacts, impacting other cultural worlds in different ways?
He then followed up with a number of stories and observation that illustrate cultural appropriation, and the power of people innovation – people are good at adapting technologies to the uses that benefit them best, based on their own ontologies.
To really make technology matter, we need to reflect upon how policy makers and decision makers view the world. What is their ontology vs the ontology of someone in a village? And how can this gap be bridged?
Juliana Rotich (blog | profile) comes from Kenya and is an author, blogger and digital activist with Global Voices Online. She has a particular focus on the environment. She is also a programme director of Ushahidi, a non-profit web platform for the crowd sourcing and mapping of crisis information. Recently she was selected as one of the TED Fellows.
Juliana’s talk was entitled “Globalism, Mobiles and The Cloud”, and started off with highlighting the work done done by Global Voices, which gives space to events that are not covered by the global media.
One of the important issues in Africa is language translation. That’s why Global Voices started the Lingua project, with a translation in over 18 languages, through the help of volunteer translators.
The mobile phone has now become the platform for development in Africa. Good examples of mobile applications that are relevant in Africa are Mobinfo (developed by a Kenyan for Kenyans), Google SMS Search (launched in Kenya), MXit instant messaging on mobile phones, LiveQuotes (Nairobi stock exchange information), m-Pesa (money transfer via mobile), and health information on “please call me” text messages.
“It is almost painful to watch Nissan designer Naoki Yamamoto get out of a test car. To understand the challenges aging drivers face, the 39-year-old interaction specialist is encased in a proprietary “aging suit” that gives him the mobility and faculties of a driver twice his age. “Sure, it’s uncomfortable,” Yamamoto says, “but to really understand a problem you have to feel it in your bones.”
At an “Interaction Design Workshop” today at the Nissan Design Center in Atsugi, Japan, Yamamoto demonstrated to reporters one of many methods Nissan’s Interaction Design team employs in a continuing effort to make future car interiors easier to understand and more comfortable to use.”
- A huge amount of articles and whitepapers on basic internet access for the ‘next billion’ customers (see also here).
- An entire section on enriching the customer experience (see also here), including a whitepaper on end-user insights.
- In-depth information on the role of ICT in creating a sustainable future (see also here).
- The Connectivity Scorecard (see also here), which measures the availability of Information and Communications technologies, and the extent to which people, governments and enterprises put these technologies to economically productive use.
- The Unite Magazine section. The latest issue (February 2009 – pictured) has a cover story entitled “Putting people first: enriching the customer experience”. [Yes!]
- Finally, a series of more than 20 podcasts, including one on the cost of owning and using a mobile phone in emerging markets, and another one on ICT and rural markets (focused on India).