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Posts in category 'Asia'

6 March 2009

Nokia’s Expanding Horizons magazine

Expanding Horizons
Expanding Horizons is a quarterly publication aimed at ICT decision-makers in the private and public sectors.

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)

6 March 2009

Microsoft Research’s “Technology for Emerging Markets” group

Technology for Emerging Markets
The Technology for Emerging Markets group at Microsoft Research India seeks to address the needs and aspirations of people in emerging-market countries, including those who are increasingly consuming computing technologies and services, as well as those for whom access to computing technologies remains largely out of reach.

“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.

2 March 2009

Inspiring stories at LIFT09

LIFT 2009
The last day of the LIFT conference started off with a session devoted to inspiring stories from people with extraordinary projects and lives.

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.

Matt Webb

(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

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

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.”

Natalie Jeremijenko

(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.

2 March 2009

World’s poor drive growth in global cellphone use

Alaburu Maiga, right, tries to use the camera on his cellphone with the help of an unidentified boy in the village of Gono, Mali, last year.
More than half the world’s population now pay to use a mobile phone and nearly a quarter use the internet, according to an ITU report, as reported by Associated Press.

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.

- Read full story: San Francisco Chronicle | The Guardian | USA Today
- Read ITU press release
- Download report

1 March 2009

Ramesh Srinivasan and Juliana Rotich on the power of local innovation at LIFT09

LIFT 2009
Solidarity was the first afternoon theme of the LIFT conference.

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

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

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.

She ends her talk with information on the websites of Sokwanele.com (mashups of maps and political news) and Ushahidi.com (which aggregates and localises).

1 March 2009

Nissan interaction design team suffers to make future cars simple and painless

Nissan prototype
With the help of a proprietary “ageing suit” that mimics the mobility and faculties of an elderly driver, interaction designers at Nissan Design Center were able to create a unique interior-concept prototype.

“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.”

Read full story

22 February 2009

Nokia Siemens Network going for “putting people first”

Unite
The Nokia Siemens Network website and its forum site “Unite” contain a wealth of valuable articles and background papers:

10 February 2009

Jan-Christoph Zoels talk at India’s National Institute of Design

NID
Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels is currently in Ahmedabad, India, for a client project.

But he found time for an informal talk at the highly acclaimed National Institute of Design, scheduled for Wednesday 11 February at 17:15.

“Join us for the Baatein session with Jan-Christoph Zoels on Wednesday at 5: 15 pm sharp in auditorium. Please be there on time to witness how new forms of interactive media can create wonders with strong functional value.

Jumping jack flash – new forms of interactions

This talk presents some key trends and design ideas for our interactions with devices, services or applications. As more and more devices support location-aware, contextual or rich media, how will we interact with them, choose content, navigate or connect multiple sources of information? The presentation explores gestural, haptic and other sensorial interfaces for a variety of applications.

Jan-Christoph Zoels is responsible for user experience design at Experientia, based in Turin, Italy. Until recently he was senior associate professor at Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, where he ran the business innovation workshops called Applied Dreams.

In his work Jan-Christoph focuses specifically on people’s experience of mobile services and applications, and on using information technology to support simplicity.

Previously he was director of information architecture for Sapient (New York), and senior designer at Sony Design Center USA. He holds four patents. He has taught at Rhode Island School of Design, Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, Samsung’s Innovative Design Laboratory in Seoul, and Domus Academy, Milan.”

3 February 2009

Book: The Reconstruction of Space and Time: Mobile Communication Practices

Reconstruction
The Reconstruction of Space and Time: Mobile Communication Practices
By Rich Ling, Scott Campbell (editors)
Published by Transaction Publishers, 2008
ISBN 141280809X, 9781412808095
304 pages
Google preview

Summary

One of the most significant and obvious examples of how mobile communication influences our understanding of time and space is how we coordinate with one another. Mobile communication enables us to call specific individuals, not general places. Regardless of location, we are able to make contact with almost anyone, almost anywhere. This advancement has changed, and continues to change, human interaction. Now, instead of agreeing on a particular time well beforehand, we can iteratively work out the most convenient time and place to meet at the last possible moment—on the way to the meeting or once we arrive at the destination.

In their early days, mobile devices were primarily used for various types of emergency situations and for work. In some cases, the device was an essential element in various business operations or used so that overseas workers could communicate with their families. The distance between a remote posting and the people back home was suddenly and dramatically reduced. People began to share these devices not necessarily out of economic issues, but also questions of family and interpersonal dynamics.

The process of sharing decisions as to who is a legitimate partner makes the nature of relationships more explicit. By examining the economy of sharing, we not only see how sharing mobile phones restructures social space, but are also given insight into an individual’s web of interactions. This cutting-edge book deals with modern ways of thinking about communication and human interaction; it will illuminate the ways in which mobile communication alters our experience with space and time.

About the authors

Rich Ling is a sociologist at Telenor’s research institute near Oslo, Norway and has been Pohs visiting professor of communication at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is the author of New Tech, New Ties: How Mobile Communication is Reshaping Social Cohesion and The Mobile Connection: The Cell Phone’s Impact on Society.

Scott W. Campbell is assistant professor and Pohs fellow of telecommunications in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan. His research has been published in the journals Communication Education, Communication Monographs, International Journal of Communication, Journal of Applied Communication Research, New Media & Society, and others.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The reconstruction of space and time through mobile communication practices
by Rich Ling and Scott W. Campbell

Tailing untethered mobile users: Studying urban motilities and communication practices
by Dana Diminescu, Christian Licoppe, Zbigniew Smoreda and Cezary Ziemlicki

Migrant workers and mobile phones: Technological, temporal, and spatial simultaneity
by Fernando Paragas

Portable object in three global cities: the Personalization of urban places
by Mizuko Ito, Daisuke Okabe, and Ken Anderson

New reasons for mobile communication: Intensification of time-space geography in the mobile era
by Ilkka Arminen

Nonverbal cues in mobile phone text messages: The effects of chronemics and proxemics
by Nicola Doring and Sandra Poschl

Mobile phones: Transforming the everyday social communication practice of urban youth
by Eva Thuline and Bertil Vilhelmson

Mobile phones: Transforming the everyday social communication practice of urban youth
by Eva Thuline and Bertil Vilhelmson

Negotiations in space: The impact if receiving phone calls on the move
by Ann Light

Mobile phone “work”: Disengaging and engaging mobile phone activities with concurrent activities
by Marc Relieu

Beyond the personal and private: Modes of mobile phone sharing in urban India
by Molly Wright Steenson and Jonathan Donner

Conclusion: Mobile communication in space and time—Furthering the theoretical dialogue
by Scott W. Campbell and Rich Ling

Chapter summary

Beyond the personal and private: Modes of mobile phone sharing in urban India
by Molly Wright Steenson and Jonathan Donner

This chapter contributes to the overall dialogue on the significance of mobile communication for human, social space by expanding the inquiry into one of the world’s largest communities of mobile users, India. In this context, we draw on ethnographic research to identify various modes of mobile phone sharing which cannot be entirely explained by economic necessity, and instead reflect deeper processes of human organization. In the process, the chapter further illustrates how mobile communication helps people create and alter the social spaces around them.
(via Jonathan Donner)

1 February 2009

New report: Mobile phones as media platforms in the global south

The Promise of Ubiquity
African peasants paint their mobile phone number over their front doors. Indian slum dwellers buy SIM cards to use on friends’ handsets. Chinese students spend three months’ allowance on a phone they can use to surf the web. Once almost the exclusive domain of rich countries, the mobile revolution has swept through the developing world. An estimated 3.8 billion people, or half the world’s population, own a mobile, and most of the growth is taking place in the global South. This has deep implications for the media, but the change has been so rapid that it has completely overtaken most media outlets – they are struggling to digest its impact.

The Promise of Ubiquity report was commissioned by Internews Europe in order to help the media to understand the exciting potential, the incredible challenges and the perils of refusing to change. What kind of information services can be carried on the mobile now and in the next five years? Is the mobile viable as an information channel even when many new users may be illiterate? There may be few right answers, but author John West provides a roadmap on how to navigate through the brave new world of mobile telephony. West suggests a checklist of useful questions and of some best practices which have emerged so far.

Through interviews with leaders in the field – software engineers and designers, journalists, and businessmen – the book examines current and future trends, from the dominance of SMS texting to mobile Web, and suggests approaches on how media outlets can negotiate with network operators as well as decide what services to offer.

- Read full story
- Download executive summary | full report

28 January 2009

New blog series on media practices in international contexts

China
A new blog series, New Media Practices in International Contexts, looks at the intersection of youth, new media and learning in a range of countries outside of North America and Western Europe.

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.

Over the next three to four months they will be introducing six case studies – Brazil, China, Ghana, India, Korea and Japan.

China (by Cara Wallis): introductionmobile phonesgaminginternetnew media productionconclusion
Korea (by HyeRyoung Ok): introductioninternetgamingmobile phonesnew media productionconclusion
India (by Anke Schwittay): introductionmobile phonesgaminginternetnew media productionconclusion
Brazil (by Heather Horst): introductioninternetnew media productiongamesmobile phonesconclusion
Japan (by Mimi Ito and Daisuke Okabe): introductioninternetmobile phonesnew media productiongamingconclusion
Ghana (by Araba Sey): introductionmobile phonesinternetnew media productiongamingconclusion

Each case study will focus upon the telecommunications landscape, internet and mobile phone practices, gaming, and new media production, and will provide a unique perspective on the ways in which infrastructure, institutions and culture (among other factors) shape contemporary new media practices.

(via Mimi Ito)

19 January 2009

India: The Impact of Mobile Phones

India: The Impact of Mobile Phones
Vodafone publishes a very good, but highly under-communicated, Public Policy series. The aim of the series is “to provide a platform for leading experts to write on issues that are important to Vodafone and that may help policy makers as they strive to provide a regulatory environment which stimulates growth and economic development”.

The latest report: “India: The Impact of Mobile Phones” (pdf) contains five meaty research contributions with lots of data:

  • A policy overview by Dr. Rajiv Kumar
  • An econometric analysis of the impact of mobile by Professor Rajat Kathuria, Dr. Mahesh Uppal and Mamta
  • The impact of mobiles on agricultural productivity by Sanjay Gandhi, Dr. Surabhi Mittal and Gaurav Tripathi
  • A survey of usage of mobile in poor urban areas by Professor Ankur Sarin and Professor Rekha Jain
  • The impact of mobiles in the SME sector by Dr. Mahesh Uppal and Professor Rajat Kathuria
3 January 2009

M-banking and economic development

m-banking
Jonathan Donner of Microsoft Research India and Camilo Andres Tellez of the London School of Economics and Political Science have together written a paper on mobile banking and economic development that just got published in the December issue of the Asian Journal of Communication.

Abstract:

Around the globe, various initiatives use the mobile phone to provide financial services to those without access to traditional banks. Yet relatively little scholarly research explores the use of these m-banking/m-payments systems. This paper calls attention to this gap in the research literature, emphasizing the need for research focusing on the context(s) of m-banking/m-payments use.

Presenting illustrative data from exploratory work with small enterprises in urban India, it argues that contextual research is a critical input to effective “adoption” or “impact” research.

Further, it suggests that the challenges of linking studies of use to those of adoption and impact reflect established dynamics within the Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD) research community.

The paper identifies three crosscutting themes from the broader literature—amplification vs. change, simultaneous causality, and a multi-dimensional definition of trust—each of which can offer increased theoretical clarity to future research on m-banking/m-payments systems.

- Read paper (preprint version)
- Read review

11 December 2008

Mobile banking for poor people: pioneer perspectives

cgap
I am currently watching a live webcast from the World Bank in Washington on mobile banking in emerging markets. If you are near a computer, you might want to check in too (there is 2.3 hours to go at the time of writing – the webcast runs from 2 to 5 pm, Washington DC time, on 11 December).

Mobile Banking for Poor People: Pioneer Perspectives
a CGAP roundtable and webinar

Dec. 11, 2008 | 2:00pm – 5:00pm
World Bank Headquarters, Washington DC | online at http://technology.cgap.org

Join CGAP for a lively discussion on how mobile phone banking can deliver a range of financial services to poor people and change lives for the better.

By the end of 2008, the UN says there will be four billion mobile phone connections globally. Millions of air-time resellers and retail agents in developing countries make it possible to distribute financial services at far lower cost than through traditional channels.

Yet in many ways, it is still early days for mobile phone banking. Examples of successful large-scale implementations that target poor customers, and deliver products other than payments and transfers are rare. CGAP, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is working to increase the numbers of such successful m-banking projects. CGAP has provided technical advice, market research and funding to the following organizations. The goal is to increase the reach and scale of financial services for poor people worldwide.

Panelists

  • Nick Hughes, Vodafone Group
  • Rizza Maniego-Eala, Globe Telecom (Philippines)
  • Sam Kamiti, Equity Bank (Kenya)
  • Ali Abbas Sikander, Tameer Bank (Pakistan)
  • Bold (Mongolia)
  • Brian Richardson, Wizzit (South Africa)
  • Carl Johan Rosenquist, c/o Maldives Monetary Authority (Maldives)

Hear real-world experiences with implementing mobile banking solutions at scale, in multiple markets, with a diverse range of clients.

Update 20 December: videos are now online.

7 December 2008

Mobiles for advocacy

Moiab
The Tactical Technology Collective, an international NGO helping human rights advocates use information, communications and digital technologies to maximise the impact of their advocacy work, has just released “Mobiles in-a-Box“, a collection of tools, tactics, how-to guides, and case studies designed to help advocacy organizations use mobile technology in their work.

Included are sections on conducting surveys and petitions, mobile fundraising, creating a mobile website, setting up an SMS hub, and more.

(via ShareIdeas)

7 December 2008

Johannesburg conference showcases African bottom-up innovation in mobile phone use

MobileActive08
If you are interested in bottom-up innovation within emerging markets using mobile phones, the recent MobileActive08 conference (more here) in Johannesburg, South Africa generated a wealth of materials. Below are some videos:

Mobiles and news gathering at Al Jazeera
Safdar Mustafa, head of Al Jazeera’s mobile media unit, describes some trials where mobile phones were used for news gathering in Chad and the Sahara.

Money, mobiles, micro-business
Jonathan Donner, from Microsoft, talks about the transformation that has been brought upon the way small/informal businesses function using mobile devices (specifically mobile phones). He provides an anecdote on one businessman he knows – a baker, whose business flourished due to the use of a mobile phone he acquired. Included in this video are examples of how this technology enhances the efficiency of product/service delivery by informal businesses.

No difference in how Zambian men and women use mobile phones
Here Kutoma Wakunuma discusses whether women how women are using mobile technology including what are the barriers and social implications. Dr Kutoma revealed that there is no difference in how men and women use cellular phones and also no difference in the socio-economic potential of mobile usage. She unveiled that mobiles phones decrease isolation among women in society and provide easy and fast communication, especially as the price of mobile phones is becoming cheaper by the day. She added that cellular phones encourage job creation for women who sell airtime and those who run public phone stations. They help in emergencies and danger and have made a major impact in health information as some people access counselling through mobile phones on an anonymous basis.

Measuring social impact of mobiles
Dr Peter Benjamin, the General Manager at Cell-Life, together with Patricia Mechal, the Millenium Villages Project advisor hosted a workshop at the MobileActive08 conference. The workshop, on Mobile Metrics and Evaluation explored the importance of investigating the social impact of initiatives that introduce mobiles into societies expecting the impact to be an inherently positive one. The workshop also dealt with how such initiatives tend to be ignorant of the negative repercussions such projects may have.

Microsoft launches ‘Midas’
Microsoft representatives Fredrik Winsnes and Ian Puttergill talk on the MIDAS prototype, a mobile survey application for developing contexts.
MIDAS is based on a Microsoft driven research initiative based in India, to develop an SMS application for improving the farmer’s access to timely and critical information.
The MIDAS prototype allows farmers to send an SMS query pertaining to details about the local crop market, and an almost immediate response is sent back with the appropriate details.
The project is about making farming efficient, and increasing availability.

Mobiles and citizen media
David Sasaki and Juliana Rotich discuss the role of Global Voices online and Ushahidi.com in leveraging citizen media during the post-election violence in Kenya.

Banking the unbankables
Jesse Moore of GSMA development fund facilitated a workshop at mobileactive08 which evaluated mbanking and mpayment and the evolution of these services within the market. The social impact these services could have on people who are not banking, how mobile banking and payments would work and the future of this service were topics addressed in the workshop.

Mymsta – a loveLife conception
Trina DasGupta, loveLife Mobile Marketing Specialist shares the process that went into creating mymsta.com. A youth website geared at guiding the youth towards making their move. Mymsta is about mobilising young people towards positive change. Its about giving them a forum to share their views, on everything from relationships to employment.

Gary Marsden, mobile interaction designer
Interview filmed at MobileActive08 in Johannesburg, featuring Gary Marsden from the University of Cape Town.

Social SMS gets message across
Activists are boosting their social campaigns by piggy backing on “please call me’s”, flashes and beeps.
Please call me’s are free messages that cellphone users send to get friends and loved ones to call them back.
Jonathan Donner (Microsoft Research India) and Robin Miller (Praekelt Foundation) tell how to use please call me’s to maximise social campaigns and call-centre traffic.

Erik Hersman of whiteafrican.com
Interview with Erik Hersman from whiteafrican.com, shot at MobilActive08 in Johannesburg.

Freedomfone’s fresh look at radio
Mobile’s answer to radio is the Freedomfone. Freedomfone gives users access to dial-up information and services over their mobile. Dubbed ‘dial-up radio’, the service will be invaluable in societies where many people own cellphones but draconian governments have restricted access to newspapers and the airwaves.

Save sea-life with your cell
eMobile phones are becoming the latest gadget used for environmental activism. iVeri payment technology has developed a mobile system for the Southern Africa Sustainable Seafood Institute (sassi)where the public can text a query. The system then sends back a prompt short message reply informing the consumer who is about to make a seafood purchase about the sustainability of the sea life product and other health parameters.

Burma’s GenX activists
Digital Democracy 2.0′s Emily Jacobs and Marc Belinsky show how Burmese (Myanmar) youth use cellphones to communicate with the outside world on political issues that are suppressed by the government.

Mobile’s ‘Dark Side’
“What are the real risks of mobile surveillance?” Al Alegre, executive director of the Foundation for media alternatives has conducted research in 5 Asian countries to investigate the dark side and vulnerabilities in digital interactions and discovered there are threats both internal and external.

Mobile use in low income areas
The use of mobiles in South Africa has increased over the years in low income areas. Tino Kreutzer a masters student at UCT conducted a pilot study into how the youth in low income areas are using mobiles, what this data means and where can researchers go now that they have this data available.

Mobile phones in rural development and agriculture
Ugo Vallauri, David Newman and Jonathan Campaigne discuss small farm productivity issues which are key to economic growth and poverty reduction. They discuss how farmers are not effectively linked to the larger industry and therefore how mobiles phones can be used to help with this area. Farmers use these phones which allow people to enter markets and improve access to partners thereby improving their likelihoods and food security.

Here is the full list of videos

7 December 2008

Human Centered Design for small holder farmers

Small holder
A team at IDEO led by Tatyana Mamout and Jessica Hastings has been working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently to develop a toolkit to help NGO’s apply human centered design methodologies to the work they do with small holder farmers.

IDE, one of the NGO’s supported by Gates, collaborated closely with the team and co-developed the toolkit and tested it in the field.

The toolkit can be downloaded here and while it would need to be adapted for use in other categories it may be a useful starting point for others who are working on design problems for the poor and under served.

(via Tim Brown)

1 December 2008

The many futures of our digital lives

Genevieve Bell
We all live in a digital world, although it means different things to different people. In her inaugural public lecture as Adelaide’s Thinker in Residence, Intel’s Genevieve Bell will explore how digital technology is shaping our lives, our culture, and our future.

Dr Genevieve Bell is an anthropologist and ethnographer with both an academic and industry background. Her research has provided considerable insight to the importance of culture in the adoption and adaptation of technology. She is currently the Director of User Experience in Intel Corporation’s Digital Home Group in the United States.

Listen to lecture (mp3, 48 min, 16.5 mb)

29 November 2008

Social media in closed societies

closed societies
Ethan Zuckerman, a researcher on the impact of information technology in developing nations, reports on his blog on a recent panel discussion, organised by the Open Society Institute, on new media in authoritarian societies.

The discussion started from the premise that our understanding of the effects of online media on society “are largely based on research in open societies, especially in the U.S. But there’s lots less work on the effects of new media in other parts of the world, especially in closed societies, and much of the work that’s done is incomplete and sometimes inaccurate.”

Aside from Zuckerman himself, panels included John Kelly, founder of Morningside Analytics, who talked about the emerging networked public sphere and presented his maps of online social networks in Iran, Egypt, Russia, and China; Evgeny Morozov, who is writing a book on the Internet in authoritarian countries; and Porochista Khakpour, an Iranian-American writer who discussed how the Iranian diaspora uses the Internet..

Read full story

(via Worldchanging)

23 November 2008

People centred innovation with base of the pyramid

Base of the pyramid
The Denmark-based Center for Sustainable Innovation (blog) is embarking on a new combined research and consultancy project about People Centred Innovation with Base of the Pyramid.

The project, which is funded by the Danish Network for Research Based Userdriven Innovation – NfBI, will be exploring how to create new products and business models to improve the life of the half of the world’s population that is getting by on less than 4 USD a day (in comparative purchasing power as if they were living in the US), and how to put people first and include their needs and aspirations, and their knowledge and resources in this [which the UN calls Growing Inclusive Markets].

Aside from the forementioned Center, other entities involved are SPIRE – Research Center for Participatory Innovation at University of Southern Denmark, and the Danish company Danisco, that provides bio-based solutions for food ingredients and other stuff and is exploring how it can develop products and business models that will improve the nutrition and income of people in the rural areas of India.

According to a blog post by Louise Koch of the Center for Sustainable Innovation, the research project aims are:

  1. To map the existing field of knowledge and methods for people centred innovation with BoP
  2. To identify the key challenges and opportunities for companies in identifying and incorporating peoples needs and aspirations in innovation with BoP
  3. To sketch a methodology for a people centred approach for innovation with Base of the Pyramid.