25 May 2009

Funds for creative ICT in development solutions in Asia-Pacific

The Information Society Innovation Fund (ISIF) is taking applications now for their 2010 round of grants. ISIF is a joint initiative between the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Internet Society (ISOC), and the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC).

These grants are focused on supporting creative solutions that use digital ICT to benefit development in the Asia-Pacific region. Funding of up to AUD 40,000 per project is available.

Deadline for the grant submission is 31 July 2009, so don't delay.

24 May 2009

Donate Your Used Mobile Phone to Help People

Now here's something really great, a new program called HopePhones that was just launched.

Old phones save lives. Donate yours to a medical clinic in a developing country today.

Not only can you do good with this, it provides a service to you! You have an old phone, you go to their website, print the mailing label - postage paid, put the phone in a box and send it off! How easy is that?

HopePhones uses the value of your old phone to acquire appropriate mobile phones in developing countries. Those phones are placed with community health workers who are part of programs to improve the health and welfare of those who need it most. The HopePhones website has more details about where these phones are helping people live better lives, and how some are working with the FrontlineSMS:Medic platform. Mobile phones are causing a small revolution in rural development, and one of the key areas for impact is in health care due to their ability to transmit information quickly and easily, from anywhere there's a cellular signal. (Some of you will know I am a great believer in the potential of mobile telephony to improve rural livelihoods through my work with the e-Agriculture community.)

Also, you are saving the environment by not throwing your old phone into the trash.

So far the postage paid service is only good within the United States. To any of my friends in Italy or Thailand or elsewhere, if you give me your old phone I will send it in to HopePhones on my next trip to the States. That's the least I can do.

(Why didn't we have examples of initiatives like this at WSIS last week?)

14 May 2009

The "m" term ... where are we going with it?

I find myself struggling with something here, and would love some feedback.

Suddenly I am not so comfortable with all the "m" terms that are starting to pop up, m-banking, m-learning, and in particular m-agriculture. This last one is a relative unknown - the only use I've seen of it up until this week has been by MobileActive (who I have a lot of respect for, by the way). I don't challenge the intent of those using the terms, but wonder if we are doing the correct thing by creating another set of terminology, when even many of the "e" terms still have diffuse definitions.

Also in talking with several people I collaborate with, I find the "m" may indicate a specific focus on the wireless, movable technology. On one hand, if we come to a common understanding that this is the case, then I will be more content. When I read an explaination of m-learning I think this may be the point of using the term. (Considering my own interests and focusing on the specific case of "m-agriculture" I do not find a definition. The closest I have found so far is "m-development", but I am not trying to substitute one for the other.) Yet there is still a part of me that wonders if this terminology isn't more about trending.

I realize that mobile technology is in the forefront of the ICT arsenal at the moment - indeed I've facilitated discussions on the use of mobile technology in rural development, and participate in panels about this next week. However, I really think what is important is the impact on development issues, how processes are modified and enhanced (or new ones created) for better outcomes, not the technology per se.

What do you think? Do we need both "e" and "m" terms to add value to our discussions and work in using ICT for development? When is it important to distinguinsh between technologise, versus the way people use and understand a technology? Am I making a mountian out of a molehill? :-) I would be greatful for any thoughts.

11 May 2009

sawasdee Bangkok, ciao Roma

I'm well behind in my writing (what you can't see is the number of unfinished posts saved as drafts) ... my excuse is that I have changed positions at my job, being offered a great opportunity and some engaging challenges, and with that I've also moved from Bangkok to Rome.

After eleven years in Thailand this is quite a change for me. Thailand had become as much my home as anywhere I have ever lived (in fact, eleven years in Bangkok was longer than I have lived any other single place in my life).

Now that I have started in on my new job I am counting on the skills and knowledge I developed all those years living in Asia, and counting on my network of colleagues and friends to continue being my inspiration, my support, and my teachers. As in turn I hope to extend my vision and bring something back to them.

As I reach out to the Eternal City, the Big Mango is always on my mind.