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Showing posts with the label developing countries

Speaker on Datafication and healthcare at the Royal Tropical Institute

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Looks like May is blowing up on me. Getting intense but fascinating to be moving among very diverse circles from tech activists in Berlin to mobile healthcare ministries and healthcare donors. My book The Next Billion Users is definitely pushing me into many different worlds all grappling with similar questions on fairness, tradeoffs, privacy futures, user aspirations, cultural differentiation and data regulation to name a few.

So on May 9th I spoke at the Future of Health Coverage conference in Amsterdam. This is an event organized in partnership with the Financial Times, Joep Lange Institute, and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These organizations have been some of the ones who started to focus on the importance of financial innovation and the role of mobile technology in improving health systems in developing countries well before it became mainstream through mhealth initiatives and mobile apps.

Some questions explored together were How can we allow those in need to ‘p…

Boston Globe article on my upcoming book release

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I have always been a fan of Boston Globe and the Spotlight movie reaffirmed my enthusiasm for their committed coverage for quality and courageous journalism. So was thrilled to have them be the first media outlet to cover my upcoming book with Harvard University Press titled 'The Next Billion Users: Digital Life beyond the West'. 

It's getting real now! Good to have the word out there about something I care so much about.

Check out the article on my book via this link

My paper 'Decolonizing Privacy Studies' is out in the TV & New Media Journal

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My paper 'Decolonizing Privacy Studies' is out in the Television & New Media Journal ! This is part of Stefania Milan and Emiliano Trere's Special issue, ‘Big Data from the South: Beyond Data Universalism.' I presented this earlier at the Amsterdam Privacy Conference in October 2018 so thrilled its out in time.

Basically, this paper calls for an epistemic disobedience in privacy studies by decolonizing the approach to privacy. As technology companies expand their reach worldwide, the notion of privacy continues to be viewed through an ethnocentric lens. It disproportionately draws from empirical evidence on Western-based, white, and middle-class demographics. We need to break away from the market-driven neoliberal ideology and the Development paradigm long dictating media studies if we are to foster more inclusive privacy policies. This paper offers a set of propositions to de-naturalize and estrange data from demographic generalizations and cultural assumptions, n…

Project leader for an UNESCO Report on prize-based incentives for innovations in ICT's in Education

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In the next few months, I will be working on a UNESCO commissioned report on prize-based incentives to foster innovation in the area of ICT's in education. This is indeed timely as there is much hype on mobile-based learning and educating through gamification, particularly in developing countries. New technology again promises to come to the rescue by circulating hope in the midst of chronic failures in schooling in these contexts. With a majority of people in the global South gaining access to mobile phones, there is much proclamation that learning is now literally at their fingertips.


Since we cannot afford to have another 'lost generation' as the state fails the youth, funders are taking on the neoliberal approach to education, using financial incentives to capitalize on new ICT's to provide engaging and relevant e-content for these emerging platforms of learning. But are these incentives working to attract the best innovations in this field? What constitutes as su…

New article out on big data and the global south

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Last year, I initiated the Privacy and the global South Project with fieldwork on digital privacy in the favelas of Brazil, townships of South Africa and the slums of India. Its been an exciting year and while at it, big data is one of those topics that dominate this discussion. So, wrote a thought piece on this for Discover Society which just came out. Check it out if you are interested in how conversations on surveillance, privacy, big data and trust transfer to this much neglected setting and populace. 

Romance with "self-directed" and "autonomous" learning as a design gaming solution for universal education

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Educational gaming is becoming big business and definitely seen as a solution to the chronic issues of poor/ absentee teachers in schools in poor and disadvantaged contexts, particularly in the developing world. Sugata Mitra and his Hole-in-the-Wall project inspired the director of SlumDog Millionaire and resulted in him winning the TED prize for innovation

The Global XPrize for Education also holds a similar perspective of emphasizing how the youth need to be empowered by gaming with the assumption that they will teach themselves and don’t need to rely on others, especially bad teachers. But is there such a thing as 'self-directed' learning? Does this imply no intervention at all and that these gaming platforms fill the human gap? Do children make the best decisions for their own personal growth? When we talk about autonomous learning, are we talking about being independent of schooling as we know it? Are we saying its an institution that has failed our children and thereby…

Let's talk dirty?

Good intentions drive me mad. The moment you start talking about intent, it means you've failed in what you were trying to achieve right? I'm a victim of my own good intent. In class, I want to talk about countries and people that have been made exotic over decades if not longer; I want to talk about countries that have been written off as poor, corrupt and pretty much basket cases of the world. Say you bring up Ethiopia, besides our Michael Jackson's We are the world pop song charity event and famine jokes (that apparently is now off the politically correct radar on what can be made fun of), what comes to mind in the average youth? Or take South Africa and but for our man Mandela and Bono duo, rugby, and apartheid, it's pretty much a frozen picture. The idea here is to get to be less myopic about the world and more excited about global dynamism n all. Sounds all noble but hey, intent is pretty much always screwed. This is why.

To talk about a context, you've got…