web 2.0 for development

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The ability of creating linkages through the Internet

I recently found this article and I think it’s worth reading it. Written by Seth Godin, it’s called “How to make money using the Internet“. As you can understand from the title, the article is meant for a business audience and not directly for people involved in development projects.

Image by kugel on flickr

Image by kugel on flickr

Nonetheless, I see interesting prods about how we can use the Internet to stimulate interaction, collaboration and knowledge sharing among people/organizations/networks/institutions interested in development activities. In all the quoted examples, the authors highlighted the ability to connect a certain kind of demand with a certain kind of offer, matching and satisfying the two counterparts: using the Web makes find the two faces of the same coin easier.

Matching” was one of the keyword for us, at FAO, during the Meeting on Rural radio last April. Participants were invited to prepare two lists, one of  demands and one of offers, and the meeting focused on putting them together. We considered, as a prerequisite for an effective action, an accurate definition of the target group and a correct identification of their needs. I’m really convinced following this approach is the key to have good results.

In the same perspectiva, talking about tools, it seems interesting to adopt an appropriate selection and a balanced mix of them to stimulate every audience through the most effective levarege. So doing, we go back again to the concept of convergence of: Intenet, rural and community radio and mobile phones.

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More and more integration and convergence

The Digital World Forum “Africa Perspective on the role of Mobile Technologies in fostering social and economic development” held in Maputo 1 – 2 April 2009 seemed to have produced numerous interventions in support of the idea of convergence between tools.

Have a look at this two interviews with Ken Banks of FrontlineSMS on “Using SMS for climate adaptation activism”:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

and Bartholomew Fisher Sulivan of Farmer Radio International on “Connecting farmer radios to mobile phones”:
Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Numbers of the world of mobile phones

A very useful summary of the International Telecommunications Union’s 2009 edition of  Measuring the Information Society – The ICT Development Index (PDF, 1.53MB) has been published by Antonella Pastore on the blog of the ICT-Km Program.

A very interesting question comes out of the analysis: “is this the end of the Web as we know it?

The question is originated by the fact that mobile growth is so strong, also in comparison with the fixed line network, that mobile communication could overpass it pretty soon. Have a look at the stats about the cellular penetration growth in The Gambia and in Africa between 2002 and 2007:

The Gambia mobile communications growth

So doing, we go back again to the question that we have been treating many times in this blog: what’s next? What is the shape of the future communication and knowledge sharing tool/platform/device?

We arrive again to the matter of convergence between mobile and the Internet and the features it will have as you can read in the some related postings:

Who is using mobile phones for development

Who is using mobile phones for development – part 2

This closer marriage between Mobile and Internet

Will cellphones replace other ICTs?

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This closer marriage between Mobile and Internet

The IAALD-AFITA-WCCA Conference in August 2008 in Japan highlighted the importance of mobile communication to bridge the digital divide. In the final declaration about “Theme 1” of the conference – Mobile Telephony in Rural Areas – one of the panel prediction was:

“mobile phones will be used as workstations and effective Web2.0 platforms

I totally agree with this statement and I’m very curious to see how this topic will evolve and what ideas will come out of the special Online Forum on “Mobile Telephony in Rural Areas” – 17/28 November 2008, that I’m joining as Subject Matter Expert.

Since the beginning of this reflection about convergence between Mobile and Internet, I’ve seen two main directions where this relationship is going:

  • In Parallel: offering to different user groups a few basic services with some points of contact (short term);
  • Towards interaction and partial merge: with users accessing either or both technologies to collect and share data (medium term).

mobile-internet convergence

New cellphones, ad-hoc software (have a look at iPhone Appstore and android market) and enhanced services are necessary to sustain this integration process!

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We have to go mobile

Things are happening in the market and I’m always more convinced that we have to start moving activities to be able to be delivered through mobile devices as phone and PDA.ipod_touch.jpgiphone.jpg

Some examples of what’s happening? Very easy: it’s under everybody’s eyes. Apple just introduced the iPhone, a new phone that is substantially an iPod + a phone. Few days ago Apple relaunched and presented the new iPod touch, that is nothing less that an iPhone – the phone!!!

Funny but very interesting because it is the signal that the long waited CONVERGENCE is now going on. It is happening really. The hardware and software industry is now producing compact transportable devices which SUM UP many different functions all-in-one: phone, agenda, notebook, calculator, music player, video player, voice recorder, radio, web browser, email, etc. Almost everything can be done with a new generation device.

What does this means for us? Many things. Let’s say I imagine two possible scenarios: the first one more advanced and sophisticated and the second one, easier but still very interesting.

  1. TOTAL use of mobile devices: it is characterized by the full use of the mobile device. Researchers, extensionists, consultants and other people which work for development will be able to have their office, and more than that, their knowledge and their relationships, in their pocket. Always in touch. Are you doing a meeting in the field and you need specific data? Browse the web and get the spreadsheet where you stored them. Need an answer from a colleague? Send an email or use the Instant Messenger. Want to share infos collected during the visit to the field? Upload immediately the images you shot or the interviews you recorded, etc…
  2. PARTIAL use of mobile devices: Pretty much the same BUT everything will be done in two different moments. Shooting images, recording interviews in the field, taking notes and collecting addresses, etc. will be done in the 1st moment. Then, once back in the office, with a very easy connection between your mobile device and the desktop pc, data will be transferred on the web for the final sharing with the other people involved in the same network.

Easy? I would say yes. So easy that, the second hypothesis is already available with a very minimal investment in equipment, and the first one could be available in a reasonable time.


iPhone seems to be an Internet device for development

Mr Jobs just launched Apple‘s new innovation called iPhone.


It seems to be something really ahead. It seems to be a good device to bring internet around the countries, in the fields, with the extensionists everyday, everywhere. A huge screen to browse and send emails, a nice camera to shoot the activities, a phone to dialogue with others…


INTEGRATION is a good keyword for this device. Nancy White‘s posting about mobile persuasion can be helpful to think about new directions we can get in development. Here you can also read some opinions about it from the business world: TechCrunch and O’Reilly.

Me, I’m just looking forward to see it in the shop under my place!!!!