Posts

Keynote at the DesignUp conference on 'Irrational Design'

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DesignUp, a Design-in-Tech conference in Bangalore, brought together an amazing and forward thinking group of designers, UX researchers, data scientists, policy makers, business leaders and entrepreneurs together over the course of 4 days on Nov 12-16. This year, the theme was about plurality in design. DesignUp is the largest Design & Tech event in Asia (excluding China), labelled by YourStory as the Definitive Design-in-Tech conference and listed by Quartz.com among the World's 20 most Exciting Design Events. 
I gave the keynote on the ‘Next Billion Users and Irrational Design’ that offered a new template to understanding the user behaviors and preferences of the next billion. 
After all, the failures of tech –the graveyard of apps - FB Zero, Secret and such, rests on the premise of negating the role of the cultures from below. Those at the margins of our imagination who have now become the norm – the next billion -  are pushing ahead with novel demands on interfacing, desig…

Keynote and panel discussion at Deutsche Welle in Bonn

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Brilliant experience in the last two days at Deutsche Welle (DW) at the FOME Symposium organized in Bonn on Rethinking media development - New actors, new technologies and new strategies. I gave my keynote on how the rise of the Next Billion users , low-income users in the global south coming online for the first time, is transforming the media sphere and how we need to center them in our imagination as we proceed to tackle the challenges on how to build a sustainable information ecosystem. Couple of take aways here for the field of journalism and media development when going global with these strategies:
1.  Let us not discount SMS and WhatsApp as the prime and often the sole media distribution outlet. WhatsApp and Facebook is the internet to the NBU market. We need to keep that in mind while we write content for the NBU market and how they will experience it on these devices
2. The internet is the poor person's leisure economy - thereby, for getting them interested in the media …

Re-imagining Spotify for the Next Billion Users

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It was fantastic to give a talk at Spotify in Stockholm on my book 'The Next Billion Users' 
Am a fan of this company as they really personally transformed my ways of listening and experiencing music.

It was so gratifying to be able to speak with their team on how to re-conceptualize their platform for a new market to best service them - their listening tastes, behaviors, sharing patterns, curated genres, and more.

The fact is that their business model as it stands needs some significant rethinking as they move into these new terrains and markets. Am glad to be part of this journey.

Keynote at Digital Fortress Europe in Brussels

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I delivered a keynote on 'Amplified activism from afar" in addressing border-making through social media and how diasporas can be powerful forces to contend with in the shaping of national agendas, policies and even grassroots social movements.

This was for the ECREA organized event called "Digital Fortress Europe: Exploring Boundaries between Media, Migration and Technology" held in Brussels end October.

The two-day conference served as a forum to "reflect on the relations between media, migration, and technology. These relations demand our fullest attention because they touch on the essence of what migration means in societies that are undergoing democratic challenges. Research shows that media and technologies play a vital role for people who migrate, but that the same media and technologies serve to spread xenophobia, increase societal polarization and enable elaborate surveillance possibilities. With its intensifying anti-migration populist discourses, hu…

Rockefeller Foundation Workshop on Responsible AI Futures

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The Rockefeller Foundation has committed itself to shape the design and impact of Artificial Intelligence on Society with a series of workshops and vision documents. The first in its series - 'Designing a Responsible AI Future' just took place in Bellagio Italy on Oct 9-12 ,2019. I was invited to contribute to this effort alongside technologists, thought leaders, academics, and artists, although admittedly, while diverse in their disciplines and focus, were primarily from the Anglo-Saxon region. 
So the conversation was dominated by United States concerns and issues with an emphasis on decentralization of tech, and focus on the harmful effects of fintech, facial recognition, and other innovations as a means of building a responsible AI. While undoubtedly accountability matters very much so, from a global perspective, the opportunities of AI, and the importance of convergence of diverse platforms into these hyper-ecosystems emerge from the vantage point of scarce resources and …

Keynote and Fireside chat on AI4Good at NEXT event Hamburg

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The NEXT 19 at Hamburg - what an event! Beautifully curated with the right mix of humor, creativity, seriousness and playfulness - the kind of thoughtful event required for the public to engage with important and timely subjects It was a brilliant move to connect this festival with the Reeperbahn Festival which basically mixed the crowd of tech people, creative industry folks -media, design, advertising...

I had a blast doing my keynote on my book The Next Billion Users.  The audience really engaged and I am getting really into going back and forth with them during my talks these days. I always get the surprisely reactions of how come I am so optimistic in this time of the doom and gloom of social media killing democracy, our minds, our communities and more and of course, we have been here many times before. We fall in love and we fall out of love with tech - that which we love, we fear, we loathe and then it starts all over again. Like I said at the tail end of my talk - you cannot …

Keynote alongside the legendary Jimmy Wales

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Click on the highlights of the Techfestival in Copenhagen on 7-9 September and you will see me positioned next to Jimmy Wales, the legendary founder of Wikipedia. This is such a big highlight of my career. It is such an honor to be situated alongside a person of this caliber - I continue to be in awe of how he managed to resist commercializing Wikipedia and continuing to keep it up as one of the top most loved sites around the world.

The Techfestival itself was an amazing event with a spectrum of fantastic people and even more amazingly, many with backgrounds in the humanities -literature, philosophy, the arts in general. Their backgrounds explain why this event brought sustained good conversations, thoughtful reflections and creative ideas to the fore which was not tech centric but society centric, about what it means to be meaningful, democratic, social, happy, and connected with one another - basically putting the human over tech in this conversation. I appreciated that very much …