An e-book from @kaviguppta & me: Disruption in the Developing World


Over the last decade or so, technology has changed all of us, some more so than others, and crucially, some parts of the world much quicker than others. Access to technology is a core part of this, with the steadily lower cost of production putting technology into the hands of those who never had this privilege. This has changed behaviours, relationships – and governments.

Last year, I  started a weekly newsletter called the Other Valleys to chronicle some of the inspiring creative and technology projects emerging from far-flung corners of the world that were not as familiar to the Western tech press as Silicon Valley might be. Kavi Guppta, who writes for Forbes amongst other things, thought this was a good idea too, and we got chatting online. That’s where the seeds of this project were sown: what are some of the best ideas that all of us, and people in public roles especially, should be paying more attention to? If we were part of a government in Asia, Africa or Latin America, most of whom are grappling with huge societal challenges, what kinds of tools might just help make life easier? Kavi and I decided to put some time and energy into exploring these ideas in a slightly more detailed manner.

‘Disruption in the Developing World’ is a short e-book that is the result of our collaboration. We’d like it to create awareness of some of the brilliant activities already underway across the world, and create debate about what might be able to be done better. If it then leads to even one person changing something somewhere to make life better for a group of people, we’d consider our time well spent.

You can download the e-book here for a recommended donation of $2 (or more – hopefully you will think it is worth it); money that will go to organisations engaged in Nepal relief efforts. If you can, please spread the word to your friends and colleagues on Twitter and LinkedIn too – much appreciated.

Light graffiti by Barry Underwood (via @fotorater)

Image credit: Barry Underwood

Barry Underwood’s light graffiti photos immediately reminded me of Pablo Picasso’s light paintings. The reason Underwood’s work is memorable is because, as this post says:

…normally it’s the light graffiti within the picture that is supposed to grab the viewer’s attention, yet Underwood’s scenic backdrops are equally breathtaking.

In making the scenes as important as the light graffiti, Underwood has created something unique, though both individually have existed for years. Another good example of remix culture.

[Via Fotorater]

SXSW Madness 2011

I did a photojournalism piece for Imperica after my trip to SXSW last week. Here it is:

Every March, Austin has an influx of geeks. SXSW is almost legendary in its popularity as the place to be seen if you are, you know, with it – but that’s not what it is. SXSW Interactive, at least, is about people who love the internet coming together to be inspired, network and party in an atmosphere soaked with sun, margaritas and BBQ – and then so much more.

This is a snapshot of the 5 days I was in Texas this year – Austin as I will always remember it:

Austin is super-connected: taxi drivers accept payment by Square, Foursquare and Gowalla users battle it out for supremacy in every bar. One of this year’s new features from Foursquare during SXSW is a partnership with American Express where AmEx users get $5 back for every $5 spent – an Austin special.

SXSW this year was bigger than ever before, with close to 20,000 attendees for the Interactive festival alone. Everywhere you went, and especially in the Austin Convention Centre which was the heart of the festival, you saw people, people and more people.

And within the Convention Centre, I couldn’t fail to notice stickers, posters, screens and corporate logos. They shouted at you everywhere: ‘look at the number of check-ins, the number of Instagrams, the special offers, the competitions, the freebies, look look look!!’

Austin in spring is wonderful: the buildings seem brighter with the sun’s rays bouncing off the walls, colours seem to pop everywhere, and the world in general seems a nicer place. Yes, the sun can do that, for those of us who live in London that don’t remember! You will also find yourself being constantly distracted by quirky signs of all kinds.

But as soon as 6pm falls and the daily SXSW talks and panel sessions end (the evening does start earlier for many though!), the bars of the city become the focus. It’s like an exodus, but thankfully there are so many places to choose from that the question is only really whether you want to party or chill, down tequilas or swig the beers.

And so 5 days passed by in a cloud of sensory and information overload.

Did anyone say it’s time for SXSW 2012?

Nice UX touches in Copenhagen

I was in Copenhagen last weekend and noticed a couple of nice user experience touches in public areas:

These railway ticket machines were covered with plastic sheets to leave no room for confusion as to whether they were in use or not. A common problem I see in London is machines that do not operate, with people going up to them every now and then to check.

This board in Copenhagen airport clearly says how many minutes it is likely to take to clear security. Informed passengers are relaxed passengers, which mean less chance for Airline-type incidents featuring irate passengers.