DAVID, a Masai herdsman from Kisumu in Kenya, answers a call on his cellphone. After listening to the message, he repeats a short phrase in his Masai dialect. He then listens to another short message, and repeats the new phrase. After 30 minutes, he ends the call, having earned enough for a week’s worth of personal cellphone airtime.
LG, Sony Ericsson and Samsung mobile phones have been fingered as some of the most problematic handsets available, according to a poll of users.
The research also delved into the personalities of mobile phone users and concluded that Nokia owners are “handset simpletons”, while Samsung’s clan is full of “snap-happy photo geeks”.
What is GarbageScout? The streets are full of interesting and potentially useful things that have been thrown out. If you see something good, snap a picture of it with your camera or camera phone, post it to flickr with the tag garbagescout. It will go up on the home page and others can go and get it.
This is an ingenious freecycle variation… which would work really well in Brighton.
Text to catch the next bus home Catching the bus is about to get even easier. A new text messaging service will ensure passengers never miss the last bus home. A simple text with the bus stop code will provide details of the next buses due – all you need to do is decide which one to catch. Brighton & Hove City Council is considering introducing the text messaging service at bus stops throughout the city. If introduced, the system will provide 24 hour up to date information for bus arrival times, similar to the details displayed at the city’s popular Real Time bus stops.
This is my dream story – combining genuinely useful SMS functionality, buses… and Brighton!
Part of the reason is that many people are still trying to figure this out. Mobiles do present the ICT4D community with a huge opportunity to help some of the poorest and most marginalized members of society, but the “mobiles for development” sub-discipline is still a relatively new one, and people at all levels are still trying to figure out what this new mobile opportunity really means. For all the talk of shared learning and for all the conferences and workshops, to the man on the street — or the developer in the bookshop — there is strikingly little to show for it.
Of course, we can’t forget that in practice the primary form of coordination was from friend to friend through mobile phones; that was also the main approach used by young students for coordinating their initiatives, demonstrations, and direct actions.
When we talk about trouble with the economy, we’ve been overlooking an astounding opportunity. Something new is possible for the first time in thousands of years. If you care about the planet, if you care about your kids, if you care about other people, this is something to pay attention to. The availability of cheap, networked, programmable devices is as big a deal for human economics as the invention of paper money and coins were. It gives us, for the first time, the opportunity to change the rules of the game, to tune the incentives, and to create much more flexible access to resources—including other people—all without creating the huge bureaucracies and informational inefficiencies associated with previous attempts.