KT4P: Kentaro Toyama 4 President

Today we went to the Wireless Wednesday hosted at the m:lab (which is an incubator located in the same building as the *iHub_). Leading a discussion there was Kentaro Toyama who is a visiting researcher from the school of information at the University of Berkley, California. He knows a lot about everything 4D (M4D, ICT4D etc.) related and there is a lot of good information on his website and he has some, as yet, unknown connection to an individual called the “ICT4D Jester”. Some of his main points (in our opinion) were the following:

  • Technologies can only amplify human intents. An example is the Google search engine, where people have the intent to find what they are looking for. Without the intent to find whatever they are searching for, the technology would be superfluous.
  • Edit by Kenatro: Technologies can only amplify human intent and capacity. An example is Google maps, which seems like a terrific tool, and for most people, something positive. However, it would be a mistake to think that the tool itself necessarily has positive impact. It was used by terrorists, for example, in plotting the Mumbai attacks of 2008. And, for people who cannot read, a map full of text may be of little value in and of itself.
  • Start with what you need to solve, then figure out if technology (in this case ICT) can help.
For the purpose of our study this has obvious implications with our plans to pilot the iDoc24 service within an existing organization to amplify the effect they are having. The problem needing solving in this case is logistical and health related, and iDoc24 believes their service can help an organization address this problem.
We will be returning to the *iHub_ tomorrow for a ICT4D discussion with Kentaro titled: “Why it’s so hard to get rich and help the poor simultaneously.
Besides Toyama, we also met some very interesting people involved in M4D, such as Megan White Mukuria, CEO of ZanaAfrica, an organization that among other things, provides girls with sanitary pads and work for empowerment of young individuals. Even though this has nothing to do with mobile phones per se, the mobile phones can be used to collect data on school attendance etc. and can therefore be used to aid them in their work.
Overall a very inspiring day.
**Update** Kentaro (and we) think the google maps example is better than the search engine one, so i am hereby officially instating him as a co-author to this post. Welcome to the team Kentaro!

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