Patrick Meier is currently serving as the Director of Crisis Mapping at Ushahidi. He co-founded the Stand By Volunteer Task Force and was publicly recognized by Bill Clinton in 2010 for his leadership and contributions. He recently served as co-director at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s Program on Crisis Mapping and Early Warning.
Meier also has an incredible educational background. He holds a PhD from The Fletcher School at Tufts University where his dissertation research focused on the intersection between nonviolent civil resistance and digital activism in repressive environments. He also has a pre-doctoral Fellowship from Stanford University as well as an MA in International Relations from Columbia University. To top all of these, he was a Research Fellow at the Peace Research Institute, OSLO and holds advanced certificates from the Sante Fe Institute and the New England Complex Systems Institute. But wait, I almost forgot to mention that he was born in Africa, must help a little in terms of shutting down the white savior label!
iRevolution is a blog designed to empower individuals through radical self-sufficiency, self-determination, independence survival and resilience. The blog features short thought pieces on how innovation and technology are revolutionizing this process of self-empowerment. Blog topics address civil resistance, crisis mapping, crowd sourcing, digital activism, early warning, humanitarian technology, satellite imagery and social media. The blog encourages information sharing, which has become a key feature to all areas of development, not just ICT4D. The website holds an incredible wealth of open source information that will undoubtedly be incredibly useful to many.
I was able to get in touch with Mr. Meier to ask for some of his input in this profile. When asked why he started iRevolution, Meier responded, “ some friend and I had just launched a group blog on technology, and I soon found myself hooked (while my friends did not blog as much). So I struck off on my own and have enjoyed blogging as way to collect my thoughts, bounce of ideas and get feedback”. I also asked him exactly what he was looking for in students coming out of ICT4D educational programs, and got a surprising response. Rather than suggesting that they receive a high degree of professional training, Meier replied, “students who are pro-active, reliable, creative and team players”. I was also curious about that Meier felt students should do to prepare themselves for the ICT4D field, and what university programs should be addressing. To this he suggested that students read up on ICT4D as much as they are able, to speak with as many professionals in the field as they can contact and to “blog blog blog”. As per university programs, Meier advocates more hands on experience both inside and outside of the classroom, and volunteering for groups such as the Standby Volunteer Task Force (I like how he slipped this little advertising ploy in here).
So, though Meier is quite the academic scholar himself, he seems to be more an advocate of self-education than university and post-graduate programs. I find it very interesting that he prefers this approach, and feels that it speaks to his confidence in the inherent capabilities of people to educate themselves to achieve their ends, whether in development or otherwise. His projects empower people to help themselves solve their own problems. This refreshing approach is most certainly the future of development; I hope more organizations will begin to follow his lead. He truly is an innovative and admirable thought leader in the field of ICT4D.
Please visit his blog, iRevolution.net, I promise you won’t be disappointed!