A Voice of the Web

Steph's personal blog on professional matters


This is the blog of Stephane Boyera...Yet another blog about mobile, ICT and Social & Economic Development in the South.

a new baby is bornThis is a first post of my newly created blog! I’ve been blogging since quite long time, particularly at the Web Foundation. I don’t like to write a lot, but I like to write longer posts about my opinions or views on specific topics where I have a field experience. If I found the time, I will transfer here a few blog posts I wrote at the Web Foundation because I invested some time there to present in depth my vision on e.g. the role of mobile operators in value added services, or on mobile entrepreneurship or on ICT and Agriculture.

In fact, this is where I feel that I’ve my core expertise. In the past, I’ve met thousands of people who have opinions about things but no real expertise in the field. They have lots of theoretical background, but no real ideas about the challenges that people have in the field. At the opposite, I’ve also met lots of small NGOs that are struggling in their mission and can’t afford the time or budget or expertise to have a proper integration of technology in their operations. Sometimes because proposed solutions are totally irrelevant, sometimes because it is almost impossible for them to have an informed decision about which tools are best for their purpose. In that regards, I’m particularly impressed (and hopefully share the same vision) by people and organizations that have tried to make a difference in that area, and support small NGOs by providing low-cost, easy-to-use, out-of-the-box solutions. This obviously includes my friend Ken Banks and FrontlineSMS, Ushahidi or freedomfone.

All these cases are very similar. It is always people with a very deep understanding of the local conditions and the challenges, designing a solution that is perfectly fit for the problem, and provide more impact than any large and expensive intervention that has been designed from abroad without a local knowledge, and without involvement or even consideration of local users. This is a whole debate in the research community about designing solution for people or with people. Personally, I’ve made my mind, and I’m convinced that only the latter delivers sustainable locally-relevant solutions. Another great example for me in that area in the work of Mikel Maron on Open Street Map and Map Kibera.

That’s enough for a first post!


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