Author Archives: sophiwaterr

About sophiwaterr


Cases Across Asia

Cases across Asia:

1) Too much control:

Google has been released world-wide, available to every country- except China. Unlike Google plus, which had been terminated by tireless government blocking. Although there are drives equivalent to Google available, such as: Baidu’s WangPan or Shanda’s Everbox, the citizens of China had no voice in the decision. Yet again, China’s rulers have made a choice to keep certain information out of reach.

“Today in international tech news: Google Drive is “dead in the water” in China. Meanwhile, a soap opera is unfolding in South Korea, where there’s a feud between the chairman of Samsung and family members who want a bigger piece of the company’s fortune. Elsewhere, Twitter plays a central, and unfortunate, role in an English court case.”(Google Drive Hits China’s Wall)

2) What happened to restrictions?

“The victim of a 2011 rape had her identity divulged both on Twitter and on a television broadcast that displayed a Twitter feed as part of its coverage, according to The Guardian” (Twitter Overshares).

The newspaper released this statement, “”In our coverage last night we very briefly revealed the victim’s name despite heavy redaction, and if watching in real-time viewers would not have noticed,” said a Sky News spokeswoman. “We would, however, like to apologize to the victim and her family for any distress caused.””

The two cases, while unrelated, bring up the issue of security- how much is too much or not enough?

ICT4D Professional Profile: Michael (Mike) McKay

Mike McKay

  • “Occupation: hacker for social justice”- present
  • Works at RTI International
  • Health Informatics Specialist, present
  • Viant, DecisionSoft, and BaobabHealth
  • Attended Claremont McKenna College for Management Engineering and UCLA for Computer Science Engineering
  • Lives in Washington DC
  • He has accounts on: Quora, Flicker, twitter and who knows how many other sites
  • Married, grateful, honored

Mike McKay has worked in an astonishing number of diverse positions in the ICT4D world. His experience includes:

  • RTI International – Washington DC
  • International Development Technologist
  • SocialRange LLC – Washington DC
  • Co-Founder, organization developing mobile applications: embrace open technologies, improve lives, prosper.
  • Dimagi – Washington DC
  • Implementor
  • Qualcomm Wireless Reach Philippines – Tarlac, Philippines
  • Technical Lead, contractor to RTI International
  • World Health Organization – Geneva, Switzerland
  • Consultant
  • Baobab Health Partnership – Lilongwe, Malawi
  • Country Director
  • Social Enterprise Initiative of the Claremont Colleges
  • Member of advisory board – September 2010 – Present
  • TED Alumni
  • Long Beach, CA March 2009
  • • Received high-five from Tim Berners-Lee for using HTTP to fight HIV in Africa.
  • NBC Universal and the Motion Picture Association of America –
  • Oxford, UK / Lilongwe, Malawi
  • Online media consultant, April 2003 – Jan 2006
  • Semanak – California, USA / Oxford, UK
  • Partner, Jan 2003 – Jan 2005
  • DecisionSoft – Oxford, UK
  • Software Engineer, Oct 2001 – Dec 2002

Past these positions, McKay has an extensive list of publication, presentations and related activities. Since a young age McKay has devoted his time and resources to ICT4D applications to improve world health.

Forum Websites he’s a member of:


  • Peek You
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Foursquare
  • Xanga
  • Blogger
  • eBay
  • MySpace
  • Pinterest


  • Flickr


He also has a personal blog, Hactivate, where he writes about his life and technologies.


1 Dir. Edward Scotcher and Mike McKay

S: “What in your opinion is the best way to give exceptional Africans visibility.”

M: “I think blogging is a pretty powerful way of doing it. I found a newspaper article about William Kamkwamba when I was living in Malawi, put it on my blog, and before he knew it he was on a plane to Ted in Uganda and now he has a best selling book because I saw his story in a newspaper article and I put it on my blog! So I think that has a lot of potential to really impact innovators and people doing great stuff on the ground”

Mike McKay – Baobab Health  Dir. Edward Scotcher.

S: “How could sharing ideas in the kind of online-offline format that Africa Gathering’s got help expose talent in Africa further?”

M: “I guess using multiple forms of conversation. It’s really critical to have that face-to-face chance to meet someone and to make a connection or to share a meal with somebody and just talk about the weather or whatever. But to be able to follow them on twitter and start thinking about what their work is or even what they’re doing on a daily basis, I think provides a connection that can lead to friendships that often lead to opportunities to start businesses or organizations together or just collaborate on a new idea that you couldn’t have thought of yourself.”

Ironicly posting this to Facebook- Sherry Turkle’s TED talk

Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone?

This TED talk features Sherry Turkle, an award winning author on the potential of technology and computers specifically. Her book came out in the 80’s, when new advances were historic. The first computers showed the potential to drastically change the way we live. Turkle’s book praised the innovation and cited many of the issues or daily activities that this could address.

Her opinion has changed, too many texts, Turkle says, can be bad. Originally, as a psychologist she hoped we could use what we learned in the virtual world about ourselves and identities to live better lives in the real world.

“I’m still excited by technology, but I believe and I’m here to make the case that we’re letting it take us places that we don’t want to go.” She’s been studying technologies of mobile communication for the past 15 years and has concluded that our devices are so psychologically powerful that they change what we do, how we act and even who we are. We no longer give each other our full attention, we remove ourselves from situations and go into our phones-  at conferences, meetings, while hanging out, even at funerals.

This changes how we relate to each other, but especially “how we relate to ourselves and our capacities for self-reflection”. People are now used to being with each other while being somewhere else, having every other option at their finger tips. We try to gain control by “customizing” our lives, being free to go in and out of places and attention. Turkle says that many people “want to go in and out of all the places they are because the thing that matters most to them is control over where they put their attention. So you want to go to that board meeting, but you only want to pay attention to the bits that interest you. And some people think that’s a good thing. But you can end up hiding from each other, even as we’re all constantly connected to each other.”

She touches on so many aspects of our relationship with technology and  affects on our relationships with others and ourselves. Human relationships are not meant to be controlled, edited and planned. We need to wake up and see that the technology we think we control has turned the tables on us. When we’re lonely we automatically reach for a phone or computer. We know that people will read a facebook or twitter post, but it’s a cowardly way to hide from real interaction and an excuse to redefine how we share our feelings.

Underground Sewers to Wastelands

Newer is  better, that’s “the first law of the digital age”. Inside all of the electronic materials that we constantly rely on and dispose of are toxic chemicals and metals. These products, once dumped are called e-waste, and are shipped from the US to countries all over the world.

E-waste is the fastest growing component of municipal waste world wide. Land fills already taken over by styrofoam, paper, plastics and so on are being toppled over by e-waste. The toxic materials built into all of these systems creates highly deadly dumps, placed near many rural villages.

The US alone throws out ~130,000 computers- DAILY, and over 100 million cell phones annually. Sending our garbage over seas is irresponsible and doesn’t solve the problem of excessive waste, just displaces it. American companies make more by sending recyclables and e-waste abroad, where they have cheaper manual labor. Lower income labor means more hazardous conditions for the workers as well as less training to teach them how to correctly disassemble products.

Further more, the import of materials into places, such as Hong Kong, is illegal by US and Chinese law. The chinese town (Gway-Yu) in this clip has one of the highest levels of cancer causing dioxins in the world. the list of effects goes on and it is clear, pollution has ruined this town. E-waste is a political , ethical, environmental and prevalent issue that must be addressed with real laws and actions.





The move towards 5G?

“Ask any cell phone expert and they will tell you that it takes a long time for significant new technologies to be developed to a level at which they are ready for market. The development of both 2G and 3G took about 10 years respectively before they became standardized” says Rosette Summer (1). 3G and 4G networks have recently been released world wide, when will the next stage come?

Currently no development projects for a 5G network have made progress. There is a general skepticism about the reliability and achieve-ability of a 5G network. “New mobile generations are invariably assigned additional frequency bands and a wider spectral bandwidth for each channel. Skeptics argue that there is simply no room to accommodate this in the current infrastructure” (1).  The latest generations of technologies each require frequency bands and wider spectral bandwidths per channel. Many people doubt the actual potential to incorporate these networks into the existing system.

However, in 2008 South Korea proposed $58 million towards the creation of 4G and 5G technology. By 2012 they aimed to create the largest “mobile phone share in the market”. Since the release of 4G, it has been unclear whether they are still pursuing a 5G network. In order to  provide speed for uploads and downloads Korea needs to drastically improve “peak bitrates”. A Bitrate is “the number of bits that are conveyed or processed per unit of time” (3). Basically, bits per second tells you how fast the connection is. An upgrade from 3 to 4G means an increase in the peak bitrate. Additional upgrades improve speed and download quality.

“4G typically peaks at 10Mbps downstream for WiMAX (and Korea’s variant WiBro) and 100Mbps for Long Term Evolution (LTE), each of which allows for real-time full quality Internet video over the air as well as online action games and other actions that depend on low lag and high speed” (2). Many believe that the actual benefits of an upgrade in this system will be too similar to 4G. With more information on 5G one can say whether or not people will integrate it, but more needs to be offered than a slight speed improvement.

One other improvement could be a cleaner way to charge users for bandwidth. South Korea has until the end of 2012 to meet their goal of a 5G network. Altogether, small improvements throughout many aspects of the technology could result in an increase in the quality and value.





Use Technology to learn, not the Bible

John M. Broder of The New York Times wrote an article, Climate Change Doubt Is Tea Party Article of Faith. In it he addresses Tea Party groups and their opposition to global warming. Norman Dennison, a 50- year-old electrician and founder of the Corydon Tea Party actually booed a democratic candidate for his House cap- and-trade bill. The bill would generate job opportunities and lessen our dependence on foreign oil while also addressing global warming. Mr. Dennison stated, “’It’s a flat-out lie,’  adding that he had based his view on the preaching of Rush Limbaugh and the teaching of Scripture. ‘I read my Bible,’ Mr. Dennison said. ‘He made this earth for us to utilize.’”

What? With all of the resources and access to information sure, it can be hard to weed out the truth sometimes. But look at scientific data and you’ll see clear answers. Since when do people trust the words of politicians over actual research?? Presidential candidate Rick Perry has slandered scientists, claiming that they’ve all lied about climate change to make money. And people believe him. They’d rather live in denial because it’s easier than dealing with the scary truth and having to care/change.

Mr. Broder mentions how many Tea party’s against global warming also just happen- to be sponsored by Fuel and Oil companies. What?! So the tea parties sponsor candidates who share the same views, meaning if the candidates want to keep the money rolling in, they have to make sure the oil companies are well taken care for.

This doesn’t have to do exactly with technology, but if people would just make the effort to find out the truth, less lies would be spread. Find out the facts for yourself, rather than trusting a corrupt politician or lobbying group.

-Sophi Zaken