ICTs for Development

February 17, 2009

Cell phone demand to stay strong despite downturn: U.N.

Filed under: Uncategorized — myriamusc @ 9:41 am

The cell phone is indeed becoming a basic necessity everywhere, including emerging markets. Even in developed nations, the cell phone is starting to replace fixed line phones, namely because it is cheaper, and more convenient.


Mobile phones can call for health, education and safety, UNICEF says

Filed under: Uncategorized — myriamusc @ 9:34 am

I thought this article is relevant to the discussion we’ve been having about cell phones. Although the evidence about how cell phones can help further the MDGs is anecdotal, it is still very interesting! Also, it seems that there is growing interest in how to use cell phones for development purposes, which is encouraging.

February 13, 2009

Future tool for early childhood development?

Filed under: Uncategorized — amandafi @ 9:14 am

Hey guys-

So this link will take you to a demonstration made by an MIT grad student for a new toy called Siftables—Siftables are, ‘cookie-sized, computerized tiles you can stack and shuffle in your hands. These future-toys can do math, play music, and talk to their friends’. I can only imagine this toy is incredibly expensive–at first when I watched the demonstration I thought I would just share with you because it’s SO cool (really, watch the video). But then I started thinking about how this toy is an incredibly innovative way for children to interact with technology and have technology interact with itself in a way which is educational for the child working with the siftables. 

Check it out.

February 9, 2009

Up to speed with ICTs

Filed under: Uncategorized — commentarybycate @ 1:17 pm

In a Filipino newspaper, The Negros Chronicle, it mentions integrating ICTs into primary education in order to help the children become “globally competent.” However, the article does not address the sustainability of the ICTs in the program, nor how they will be integrated. The article brings the question, of how do these schools intend to use ICTs for educational purpose. What type of curriculum will provide the best results? In addition, how will the resources be maintained, and who will see these programs through.

It isn’t enough to include ICTs in schools, it takes government cooperation and program sustainability to maintain and achieve consistent results.

You can view the article here:


February 8, 2009

Cell Phone = Mobile Medical Lab

Filed under: Uncategorized — candicee88 @ 6:41 pm

Here’s the link to a really interesting article, guys.


A UCLA professor took a Sony Ericsson cell phone, added a few parts, and produced a detailed image on the phone that shows the thousands of cells in a small fluid sample such as human blood. The device is called LUCAS. It uses a short wavelength blue light to illuminate a sample of liquid — blood, saliva or another fluid — on a laboratory slide. LUCAS captures the image to a chip in the cell phone. If the phone is loaded with an algorithm program, it then counts the microparticles much faster than a human can. The image also can be transmitted wirelessly to a computer, which analyzes it and sends back a text message with the results. The further development of this technology could have huge ramifications for healthcare workers who travel overseas – they could run tests on entire villages and get results back in minutes.

Kenyan ICT Bill Imposes License on Public Content

Filed under: Uncategorized — westsideamy @ 4:17 pm

Business Daily Africa, Feb 3, 2009 –

In a bid to do what no other government has done, to exercise complete control over the national content on a global network designed to enable the free sharing of information, the ICT Bill has ruled that all Kenyan content on the Internet must now be licensed by the Government.


February 7, 2009

More on Google

Filed under: Uncategorized — kehogue @ 11:12 am

As a follow up on the article on Google, I also found an article on how both Google and Amazon are putting more books on cellphones.  Google announced that 1.5 million books could now be accessed through cellphones.  From a development standpoint, this allows books that were once only found in large and expensive libraries to now be brought directly to the fingertips of anyone in a developing country.  However, if this does take off and become the new way for developing countries to access information, is it scary that companies like Google and Amazon have the power to decide what books and information will be provided to these countries and what will not?


February 4, 2009

Google is taking over the world of books

Filed under: Uncategorized — mayav @ 12:45 am

Speaking of monopolies in class…I found this article about Google Book Search in the NYT.

Aided by a recent class-action settlement, Google is getting access to virtually all books covered by copyright in the United States. And it’s digitizing them on a massive scale. 

Where do you think this is going? Should we be worried? Is Google getting monopoly over the access to information? I would love to hear your thoughts on that.


Here’s the article, retrieved from the NYT

February 2, 2009

Some Fear Google’s Power in Digital Books

IN 2002, Google began to drink the milkshakes of the book world.

Back then, according to the company’s official history, it began a “secret ‘books’ project.” Today, that project is known as Google Book Search and, aided by a recent class-action settlement, it promises to transform the way information is collected: who controls the most books; who gets access to those books; how access will be sold and attained. There will be blood, in other words.

Like the oil barons in the late 19th century, Google is thirsty for a vital raw material — digital content. As Daniel J. Clancy, the engineering director for Google Book Search, put it, “our core business is about search and discovery, and search and discovery improves with more content.”

He can even sound like a prospector when he says Google began its effort to scan millions of books “because there is a ridiculous amount of information out there,” he said, later adding, “and we didn’t see anyone else doing it.”

But there is a crucial difference. Unlike Daniel Plainview, the antihero of “There Will Be Blood,” played by Daniel Day-Lewis, who cackles when describing how his rigs can suck the oil underneath other peoples’ property — drink their milkshakes, if you will — when Google copies a book the original remains.

Instead, the “property” being taken is represented by copyrights and other kinds of ownership. There will be lawsuits.

In the latest issue of The New York Review of Books, Robert Darnton, the head of the Harvard library system, writes about the Google class-action agreement with the passion of a Progressive Era muckraker.

“Google will enjoy what can only be called a monopoly — a monopoly of a new kind, not of railroads or steel but of access to information,” Mr. Darnton writes. “Google has no serious competitors.”

He adds, “Google alone has the wealth to digitize on a massive scale. And having settled with the authors and publishers, it can exploit its financial power from within a protective legal barrier; for the class action suit covers the entire class of authors and publishers.”

Google is certainly solidifying a dominant position in the world of books by digitizing the great collections of the world. It relies on a basic mathematical principle: no matter how many volumes Harvard or Oxford may have, each can’t have more than Oxford plus Harvard plus Michigan, and so on.

The class-action settlement (which a judge must still approve), Mr. Darnton writes, “will give Google control over the digitizing of virtually all books covered by copyright in the United States.”

As long as Google has a set of millions of books that it uniquely can offer to the public, he argues, it has a monopoly it can exploit. You want that 1953 treatise on German state planning? You’ll have to pay. Or, more seriously, your library wants unfettered access to these millions of books? You’ll have to subscribe.

While Harvard has allowed Google to digitize its public domain holdings, it has thus far not agreed to the settlement. “Contrary to many reports, Harvard has not rejected the settlement,” Mr. Darnton wrote in an e-mail message, in which he said his essay was “not meant as an attack on Google.” “It is studying the situation as the proposed accord makes its way through the court.”

To professors who track the fast-changing nature of content on the Internet, not to mention Google officials, the idea of Google as a robber baron is fanciful. Google has no interest in controlling content, Mr. Clancy said, and in the few cases where it does create its own content — maps or financial information, for instance — it tries to make it available free.

Eben Moglen, a law professor at Columbia and a free-culture advocate, puts it this way: if the fight over digitization of books is like horse-and-buggy makers against car manufacturers, Google wants to be the road.

To those who write about the significance of Google Book Search — and a bit of a cottage industry has formed online in a few months — it is not Google’s role as the owner of content that preoccupies them. Rather it is the digitization itself: the centralization — and homogenization — of information.

To Thomas Augst, an English professor at New York University who has studied the history of libraries, including those in the past that were run as businesses, what is significant is that the digitization of books is ending the distinction between circulating libraries, meant for public readers, and research libraries, meant for scholars. It’s not as if anyone from the public can walk into the Harvard library.

“A positive way to look at what Google is doing,” he said, “is that it is advancing the circulating of books and leveling these distinctions.”

In a final twist, however, the digital-rights class-action agreement has the potential to make physical libraries newly relevant. Each public library will have one computer with complete access to Google Book Search, a service that normally would come as part of a paid subscription.

One of Mr. Darnton’s concerns is that a single computer may not be enough to meet public demand. But Mr. Augst already can see a great benefit.

Google is “creating a new reason to go to public libraries, which I think is fantastic,” he said. “Public libraries have a communal function, a symbolic function that can only happen if people are there.”

February 3, 2009

The Tipping Point

Filed under: Uncategorized — melinda20 @ 11:18 pm

In response to our discussion of The Long Tail, I thought an interesting point would be to think of the alternative, a phenomenon called The Tipping Point.  I actually read both books for another course and wrote a paper comparing the two ideas.  While The Long Tail deals with unique products in niche markets, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell discusses the idea of how social trends and phenomenons can spread like wildfire.  This can include music, crime, fashion, education, etc.  I think the theory could certainly apply to various technologies in developing countries.


Philanthropy VS. Business

Filed under: Uncategorized — jin4shin @ 11:07 pm



 It seems like that OLPC (one laptop per child) project is struggling due to the sudden decline in corporate sponsorship. And I hear the organization recently downsized half of its staff. 

  Since so much has been written about OLPC, I don’t want to reiterate things already said here. But recent layoffs got me into thinking, even with well crafted and good intended foundation finds that the social impacts they desire are not being realized unless they harness market force.

 I mean the reason behind the success of Microfinance was the strategic use of market force. The Grameen bank’s model was profitable enough to sustain its operation. Why would Citi bank jump into that business if it wasn’t profitable. Yet, to me, OLPC’s Give 1 Get 1 initiative looks more like a philanthropy than to a sustainable enterprise.

 It’s just a dilemma in that you can’t ‘SELL’ laptops to African people (they are too expensive after all) and you can’t just give them away as an aid.

Here is the ted talk of Negroponte, a chairman of OLPC. The idea itself is mind-boggling and inspiring but I guess it needs a little more innovative way to deliver. 

Ted talks of Negroponte



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