"africa" entries

Four short links: 1 October 2009

Four short links: 1 October 2009

Objectivity Be Gone, Public Screens, Lobbying Patterns, DIY Africa

  1. The End of Objectivity, Web2.0 VersionOur behaviour as journalists is now measurable. And measurability gives the lie to the pretence that journalists behave like scientists, impartially observing the petri dish of society. (via Pia Waugh)
  2. Screens in Context — ideas for the video screens spring up in place of billboards. Whilst the advertising industry has one of the longest histories of trying to understand interaction, it’s a very different set of tools that digitalness brings; ones that designers at the coal face of web and mobile encounter every day. Everything can be considered in context, be timely, reactive, and data-driven. I’m going to try to outline some dimensions to think about, with some incredibly quick, simple, off the cuff dumb ideas […] The technology to achieve some of these may be over and above what is possible now, but the biggest step – installing powered, networked computers in the real world – is already being taken by advertising media companies.
  3. Interactive Network Map of Lobbying Patterns Around Key Senators in Health Care Reform — fascinating visualization of political activity, via timoreilly on Twitter)
  4. The Doers ClubHow DIY design gave a teenager from Malawi electricity, and can help transform Africa.

Mobile Banks in the Developing World Prove Simpler is Better

Recent initiatives designed to make U.S. consumer financial products simpler and intelligible to customers, reminds me of a study we did on Mobile Banks in the developing world. Designed to work on the simplest mobile devices and originally targeting the unbanked, mobile banks evolved from simple services to become widely used money-transfer and mobile payment systems. While it’s technically easy to roll out a rudimentary mobile payment system, the most successful mobile banks in the developing world use complex software systems that handle more (near) real-time transactions than traditional banking systems.

Four short links: 4 May 2009

Four short links: 4 May 2009

Maps, Africa, Protein, and Rockets

  1. Old Japanese Maps on Google Earth Unveil Secrets — Google criticised for putting up map layers showing the towns where a discriminated-against class came from, because that class is still discriminated against and Google didn’t put any “cultural context” around it. Google and their maps didn’t make the underclass, Japanese society did. Because they’re sensitive about having the problem, they redirect their embarrassment into anger at Google. You could make a long and profitable career in IT consulting simply by charging to say “it’s not a technical problem” and you’d be right more times than wrong.
  2. See Africa Differently — using the Internet to reframe a continent. Videos, essays, and more, all designed to get you seeing the majority of Africa, which isn’t defined by conflict and famine. (via NY Times book review)
  3. Fold.it – Solve Puzzles for Science — science harnesses our “cognitive surplus” by inviting us to help solve the problem of protein folding, one of the hardest in biology. (via auckland_museum on Twitter)
  4. Arduino Telemetry Payload in Class C Rocket (Jon Oxer) — Because class-C rockets are so small and light they can’t lift much of a payload and I had to keep the mass of the electronics as small as possible. You can get a sense of scale from this photo which shows a small white bundle in the bottom of the nosecone. Inside that bundle is an Arduino Pro Mini 5V/16Mhz, a 433Mhz transmitter module, and a Lilypad 3-axis accelerometer. PCBs … in … Spaaaaace!

Arduino rocket picture showing circuitry inside a foot-long rocket

BarCamp Nairobi Technology Survey

BarCamp Nairobi took place this past weekend and several bloggers estimated that there were over two hundred participants. As part of BarCamp, Erik Hersman, kindly conducted a simple survey for us. In this short post, I will give a brief summary of the results of the survey. For more details on BarCamp Nairobi, consult Erik's blog and flickr pages. The…

Africa's Energy Deficit: Energy Hacks Can Make A Difference

About six weeks ago I came across this quote from a Wall Street Journal article and I have been pondering it ever since: Africa has the capacity to generate about 63 gigawatts of power for roughly 770 million people — about what Spain produces for its population of 40 million. For most African countries, the World Bank estimates that universal…