Author Archives: Clare Angelle Ripoll

ICT4D Professional Profile: Clay Shirky

Clay Shirky acts as a writer, consultant and teacher among the ICT4D professionals.  His main area of focus is on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies.  Because the Internet can be both a useful or harmful tool to society, I think that it is important to study its effects so that we can adapt to its changes.  Shirky had a very extensive list of educational experiences.  After graduating from Yale with a Bachelor of Arts degree in fine art in 1986, he moved to New Yorkand found himself embedded in the inner workings of a theater company.  Shirky held many other jobs at the same time before acting as a visiting lecturer at Harvard University.

Clay Shirky now focuses on splitting his time between consulting, teaching, and writing.  The main focus of his consulting practice is the rise of decentralized technologies like peer-to-peer, web services, and wireless networks that provide alternatives to the wired client-server infrastructure that characterizes the World Wide Web.  Shirky is great at explaining his views to his audience with eloquence and persuasion.  He has written two books: Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age.  Shirky’s main talking points include:

  • The action of a group adds up to more than just an individual action
  • Cognitive surplus, the concept that the time freed from watching TV can be extremely productive when applied to other social activities
  • People are now interested in producing and sharing as much if not more than they consume
  • The impact of social media
  • People are now learning to use free time more constructively for creative acts instead of constructive ones

I believe that what makes Shirky so effective is that he is not only extremely intelligent about ICT4D, but he has the tools to make speeches and presentations that are actually conveyed to the general public so that they can understand.


Clay Shirky-

Twitter- @cshirky

Dodd backtracks, says anti-piracy bill SOPA is ‘dead’ and ‘gone’

As the Internet and other technologies grow and expand, privacy concerns are brought to attention.  In the past year, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has been one of the biggest topics of debate in the U.S.  While Hollywood is concerned about their revenues decreasing from online piracy, the majority of Internet users are more concerned about their privacy that could essentially be taken away if SOPA were too pass and be implemented.

Fear no more, because the latest news is that the SOPA act is “dead and gone.”  Chris Dodd, former senator and current chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, originally suggested that legislation be reworked for another round in Congress, but he has now taken that idea back and regrets to have to say that SOPA is no more.  Although, there has been talk about negotiations on new language for the anti-piracy bill, nothing more has developed.

Privacy concerns have always been an important issue in the U.S.where we base our values off freedom.  This was exemplified greatly on “Internet Blackout Day,” the protest led by Google and other Internet companies.  The online protest majorly contributed to the House and Senate’s decision to pull SOPA from its calendars.  These actions not only show how much we value our privacy on the Internet, but that the Internet can be an effective source even in regards to legislation.  I believe that SOPA is just the start of Internet trials and tribulations, because it is so mainstream and hard to regulate.  While our privacy can be breached easily on the web, we still have much control over what personal information of ours is out there.

E-brokerages Tap Social Media for Faster Service

Social media is beginning to not only impact people in a leisurely aspect but is affecting operations of some of the largest businesses that exist.  Tom LaScola sent out a Tweet to his 5,000 followers about the problems he encountered regarding setting up a new TD Ameritrade account.  Minutes later to his surprise, the company (who wasn’t one of his followers) tweeted LaScola with an apology and direct number to contact about resolving his problems.

Other financial companies are also monitoring social media outlets for mentions of their business in order to improve customer service, sales and any other department that is being mentioned in customer Tweets.  A few of these companies include: TD Ameritrade, E*Trade, and Schwab.

I think that this use of social media is beneficial in many ways.  Not only does it help companies get feedback and improve, but it creates a new sector in the corporate world.  There are now new positions for people who have specialized social media skills.  Lastly, the most important development aspect of social media is that is allows for quicker and better communication on a global scale.

For more information on E-Brokerage click here.

Nigeria: Defense Minister urges development of software solution

Click here for article chronicling Defense Minister’s Call to Action

In Lagos, Nigeria, we are beginning to see a governmental recognition for the need of ICTs for development purposes. The Defense Minister, Bello Mohammed has called on ICT experts to help resolve insecurity in Nigeria. At a Defense Sector ICT Forum, Bello Mohammed asked the experts to develop software solution for the problem. He specifically called upon ICT stakeholders, giving them a position to be able to help the current national challenges facing the country regarding security.

Bello Mohammed said, “We are at a watershed in the history of our nation. When a nation is at a crossroads, it is time to break barriers and leap to higher grounds. The reason is because every nation is a bundle of talent, intellect and creativity. These inner resources are hardly exploited or harnessed to the full except there are challenges.” He also notes that all stakeholders must work together to evolve new ways of doing things and building capacity in modern information and communications technology.

This ties in with Shirky’s TED talk about using the free time that we have wisely by being innovative towards ICT. With the government calling upon stakeholders to help assist with problem solving through ICT is a great strategy. The synergistic approach can allow for less miscommunication and more development in countries.


Women As Party Favors And Eye Candy: The Latest Tech Marketing Meme

The article focuses less on why a smaller amount of women are in the tech industry and more on the sexist behavior of men in tech. She mentions a few different circumstance where women in the tech world were being discriminated. For example, Sqoot advertised in Boston listed “women” as one of the perks. After reading the ad, a man noted the offensive language on Twitter. Sqoot claimed that they were trying to make a joke about how tech is a male-dominated field.

This idea that “tech is for bros” also occurs elsewhere. The company Geeklist exploited a women as apart of their branding, which also received backlash. The main point of Cassidy’s blog is how negative treatment of women in the tech world is beginning to be recognized and addressed. She says, “In the past week, social media has simply shone a light on what the tech environment is really like…In a world where not we’re not exactly welcome (unless we’re serving beer to the hardworking hackers) being nice isn’t going to serve us very well. The problem isn’t our skill set or ambition – it’s our attitude. And if it doesn’t change, the gender breakdown in tech is going to stay the same.”


Telemedicine adoption “disappointing” so far

The article focuses mainly on the barriers preventing telemedicine to succeed in both rural and urban areas.  Since telemedicine has existed in the healthcare landscape for over a decade now, its adoption efforts in most areas are considered “modest, if not disappointing,” but some believe that as broadband initiatives have become more pervasive on a global level in the past few year, telemedicine has potential to be revived and revolutionized.

Telemedicine now includes doctor to patient phone calls, teleconsultations, videoconferencing, and real-time remote patient monitoring using mobile devices.  These ICT labors have the potential to maximize efficiency in the health care industry, but there are few blockades that come along with its adaptation efforts.

Reasons for low adoption of telemedicine:

  1. Lack of support by governments and insurance companies to reimburse patients for the cost of telemedicine services and devices
  2. Lack in access, awareness and legal understanding
  3. Lack of examples of telemedicine succeeding on a wider scale beyond pilot programs
  4. Standards, regulations to create ubiquity
  5. Needs public-private joint support

Overall, the telemedicine system seems to be supported but not enough for it to be adopted on full scale.  ICT systems like this will not be affective unless they are fully implemented, utilized and sustained with great collaboration between the public and private sectors.

Gender-Specific Ads in the UK use Facial Recognition

The newest development in the UK doesn’t involve smart phones or smart televisions, but rather, “smart advertisements.”  PlanUK, a non-profit, has produced an ad that plays different messages for men and women.  The ad itself has employed facial recognition technology to deploy a certain message based on whether the person in front of the ad is a man or a woman.

PlanUK is an organization dedicated to helping children in developing countries.  This specific ad is garnered to their “Because I’m a Girl” campaign, which sponsors the education of girls, with a gender-specific message.  When a man walks up to the ad, a video incorporating statistics about girls’ education and its importance plays.  When a woman walks up to the ad, a much longer and sentimental video is shown.

I think that this type of advertisement is very innovative, but there does not seem to be a way of measuring how successful it really is compared to other non-gender based ads.  Another problem can be with the facial recognition technology and its quality.