Monday, May 19, 2008

can we teach the world to tag?

geeKyoto was on Saturday. I arrived late and left early - so I'm probably not the most qualified commentator - but there was time to be a both inspired (and at times bored) before I left to catch the FA Cup final. I know. Sorry.

The talk I enjoyed the most (and by far) was by Ed Scotcher of Moamba. He told the story of the Fashoda Incident; when the UK and France battled to colonise Africa. Fashoda is a small village that happened to sit in the centre of this competition in 1898:
When one draws a line from Cape Town to Cairo (Rhodes' dream) and another line from Dakar to French Somaliland (now-Djibouti) by the Red Sea in the Horn (the French ambition), these two lines intersect in eastern Sudan near the town of Fashoda (present-day Kodok), explaining its strategic importance.
As all this went on, Ed told us, the people of Fashoda were the last to know about it. Why? Because they didn't have the technology.

The moral of this story was one of communication, information and the role of IT. Ed is working with locals and spreading the word to help connect all parts of Africa, because he believes this kind of information (I.e. your domestic political landscape) is a basic human right.

This is a belief shared by Erik Hersman, the founder of Ushahidi. Ushahidi is "a tool for people who witness acts of violence in Kenya in these post-election times." Anyone can post information about rioting, looting, peace efforts etc for locals to access up to the minute.

Erik explains more below.

Erik Hersman - Ushahidi Interview from Chris Schultz on Vimeo.

"Can we teach the world to tag?" was a question that came out of Ed's mouth as he engaged with audience questions. His plight is to find smart people that can help information-deficient countries and villages to get and share the information they need. If you can help, get in touch with Ed directly.


Anonymous Chiefmoamba said...

That's a very kind review - I'm pleased you enjoyed the talk!

2:38 pm  

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