Much more than an app developers camp…

Ohrid is located on the shore of a big lake with crystal clear water in the south west of Macedonia. It bears a diverse ecological system and is millions of years old. The UNESCO accepted Lake Ohrid as Natural World Heritage Site. Tiny fish tickle your body when you keep still for a while. It is a holiday paradise and i wonder why i’ve never heard of it before.

There we met last weekend to choose the 3 winning projects of an international app development project called mYouth 2.0 which provides space for youth that is already in the field of new technologies in order to develop further their potentials and ideas.

4 participants from Asia, 4 from Africa and 4 from Europe pitched in front of a 12 member expert jury.
The jury chose one winner of each continent.
The 3 winners are invited to the European Youth Award festival in Graz in November 2018.

 

photo (c) Mladiinfo

It took me several days to write this recap. Why? Cause it was such a valuable experience that i didn’t want to cut it down to a few words. Nor would some pictures show what really fascinated me about this event. I’ll give it a shot…

We spent 5 days together. More than 30 people from 3 different continents: East African Region (Kenya and Tanzania), West African Region (Senegal and Ghana), North Asian Region (Vietnam and Hong Kong) and South Asian Region (Singapore and Philippines) as well as the European Region that involves Poland, Germany, Austria, Macedonia and Romania  – I thought of justing naming a few exemplary countries but it is so impressive if you make yourself aware of this diversity. Just being in the middle of this vibrant community was already worth travelling to Ohrid. I felt an excitement that i experience seldomly these days. A feeling that there is a vibrant and positive world beneath frightening news and fascist governments. That there are people who are actually making a change by helping their local communities and therefore bringing valuable ideas to the global society.

And the contestants do exactly that. Some of them experienced hard times in their young lifes and decided to protect people in the future from those experiences. Some of them observe problems in their communites and decide to do something about it. Some have a smart idea and want to develop it further. They get creative and use mobile technologies to help for example pupils who want to learn more about the world but simply don’t have learning material. Or to make dental service affordable for people who can’t rely on a health care system. Or to give an effective tool to people who want to make music but have no idea where to start – Spoiler: Those are the winners 😉

Jurying and choosing those 3 winning projects was tough. Many of the presentations where very convincing, several of the pitches where brillant, all of the projects are worth to be supported. It took us hours to discuss and decide. Sometimes i ask myself if competitions like this one are just wrong when all of them deserve to win. But then again it is a big boost for your motivation if you strive towards a goal.

The competion itself tough was just one aspect of the whole event. We coached the contestants and their projects and we learned a lot from them as well. So it was in fact a win-win situation. And we had time to spare. Some of the most interesting and deepest conversations emerge while you have lunch together or enjoy the sunset on a hill in Ohrid.

There would be so much more to say about the event, about technological aspects, about how important a proper design process is for an app project and so on but i think i already implied what was most important for me:
People from different cultures, of various ages, with different backgrounds came together in a peaceful, respectful and joyful way. We worked together, supported each other and simply had fun. It was organised by a careful and dedicated team (thanks so much Mladiinfo!). Jumping into this intercultural experience was one of the best things i did recently.

To be fair: It was an almost perfect setting and it is not easy to organise such intercultural events. But i think you can scale it down to your daily life as well. Even short contacts between persons with different cultural backgrounds can be interesting and authentic if you kick yourself in the butt and step our of your comfort zone. Give it a try! You won’t be disappointed. And it doen’t matter if you speak the same language or not.


Much more than an app developers camp…
was published on 30.09.2018 by Georg Steinfelder. It files under east africa, east asia, eastern and central europe, Europe, global, middle east and north africa, south asia
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2018 IFIP WG 9.4 and an Interactive Workshop about Sexual Harassment via Mobile Phones

In the heart of the beautiful Tirana, the capital of the surprising modern and dynamic Albania, the IFIP WG 9.4 conference took place. I was invited to present my work and also co-chair with Tim Unwin a paper and demo session regarding Equality and Safety issues with Digital Innovations. Tim and I wanted to mix up the session a bit to try out something unusual.

Before the conference, we started to discuss the issue of sexual harassment via mobile phones, after I read his blog post concerning the findings of their research. I proposed a, as we call it now, flawed solution to the problem. I designed a simple mobile application to register sexual harassers and warn victims. I wanted to start a discussion. Quite quickly all the drawbacks of potential abuse, legal implications, data management/ownership, etc arose. So, we got stuck in finding a good solution to empower victims of sexual harassment (via mobile phones) in developing countries.

We then decided to bring the topic to the table of the conference and use the participants to brainstorm for other and foremost better solutions. The goal was to break my programmed engineering thinking and use the diverse minds of our demo and paper session track to come up with something much better. The goal was not a technology, but anything which could empower the victims. The topic was intentionally set very broad to not limit the flow of ideas. This was also challenging, since there were no boundaries and many questions arose during the brainstorming. Furthermore, solving this complex in just workshop is unrealistic, but we were willing to try our best.
We formed groups, I introduced the concept of the Brainwriting-Pool (see our IFIP workshop slides for an explanation) and we tried to generate as many ideas as possible. We only had 45 minutes to discuss and brainstorm together. While some groups kept stuck in great discussions, others were quite productive and proposed many ideas of what we could do. One of the participants opened her heart and shared her story of harassment via mobile phones, which gave us a much better understanding of the topic. This once more showed the importance of including the targeted user group in the design process. Of course, we did not solve the issue in the 45 minutes, but many key points and ideas were stated. Ideas were put out to

  • create an anonyms social network for victims to connect with others and find help.
  • To visualize the harassment to show that this is a big issue and to illustrate that victims are not alone.
  • Make it easier for victims to defend themselves by offering information material on how to legally fight back. Illustrate the rights of every person.
  • When harassed by mobile phones, then the harassment is actually documented by call logs and text messages. This offers a new way of using this as a prove of harassment against the harasser and visualize the attack.
  • Translate sexual rights and women rights into pictograms and make them accessible to everyone.
  • Better illustrate that sexual harassment is not the fault of the victim and that they have a right to dignity.
  • Create mobile awareness campaigns.
  • Provide a quick help by offering options to victims to protect themselves.
  • A place where victims can share their story anonymously. To make it first possible to talk about the incident in a safe environment and also help others to understand that they are not the only ones going through such a difficult time.
  • Provide call centres with no charges and ensure anonymity.
  • A self-defence Drone you can launch to film your harasser and document the incident.
  • Better offer statistics about incidents to trigger a discussion and create awareness.
  • A “one button click” to connect one victim to another to reach out for help and understanding.
  • Create a SMS based one/two-way communication with empowering and motivating messages. Also offer a smart phone application.
  • Implement a general filter to block harassment content entirely form your platform. Have a “Right to delete” content on the Internet.

Many more issues, problems and ideas were discussed and mentioned. The possibilities and challenges are there, the sensitive topic of sexual harassment is too often ignored and our workshop underlined that we need to put a spotlight on this issue. ICT can do good, but also too often bad. It is our responsibility to also discuss the dark side of the technologies we promote and to be aware that ICTs are not always shiny and golden.

All of this was possible due to Kutoma Wakunuma and Sirkku Männikkö Barbutiu who also presented their profound work in our track. They agreed beforehand to shorten their presentations to give us the stage to carry out our workshop. I would like to again express my gratitude and recommend reading their valuable contributions:

Kutoma Wakunuma: Hey women can play dirty too! Social media Building and Construction – A tale of empowerment in the developing world

Sirkku Männikkö Barbutiu: A Facebook Account of Ones Own

I would also like to thank Endrit, the conference chair, who gave us the opportunity and a big thank you to Tim, for supporting me in my work.

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2018 IFIP WG 9.4 and an Interactive Workshop about Sexual Harassment via Mobile Phones
was published on 09.07.2018 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under eastern and central europe, global
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Erase all kittens! – spending quality time at the European Youth Award Festival 2017

I am no newbie to the EYA. Four years ago Paul, me and two friends of us won the Award in the category “Go Green” with our App/Game Woody. So i already knew the organising team and over the years we kept contact. I was a juror in 2016 for the first time and it was so much fun that i was looking forward to do it again this year…

In my last post i talked about our network as a small and stable yet dynamic family. I can find many of these qualities in the community of the EYA. Although in a different way. It is large and shrill and posh and everyone seems to be busy being the next big Start-Up CEO. In an interesting workshop, conducted by two wonderful friends from Syria, my group amongst others noticed that we all lack a significant resource: Time. For ourselves.
I want to compare the well organised and tight festival program with a river steadily and strongly flowing. Sometimes you can find people floating next to you at the same velocity. I had many such encounters throughout the last two days. And although it sounds stressful, in fact it has always been energetic and pleasurable. As well interesting and demanding. Personal background stories mixed up with social business models. Example: My dear friend Attila and i just met again after one year and had to catch up in a 10 minute coffee break which ended up having a conversation about how the factor “efficiency” can affect design in a very negative way. When the bell rang we were still standing in line for coffee but almost forgot the river running towards the next workshop.

In the afternoon the winning teams presented their projects to the jury and the festival audience. After last year’s experience i knew in advance that our mission to choose the overall winner would not be easy. The rules for each contestant: exactly 3 minutes of presentation time and 3 minutes of Q&A by the jury. 17 projects and about 2 hours later we were all pretty much filled up with inspiring ideas … and we were exhausted. The contestants were free to spend a nice evening in Graz. For the jury the work just started at that point. At around 11pm and after a we discussed the presentations and projects we finally elected the overall winner.

The winning teams and the moderators of the EYA 2017

“Erase All Kittens” confused with it’s name but also won the hearts of many people in the jury and the audience immediately. As they state on their website: “E.A.K. is a revolutionary, online game that provides kids aged 8-14 with knowledge of both computational thinking and professional coding languages, to effectively prepare them for 21st Century degrees and careers.” Not only it was clearly the most innovative project but it was also the best presentation: I had no struggle at all to understand the concept and their goals within the 3 minutes (almost no questions needed). It amazes me how the team combines the logic process of coding with the ease of playing a fun game about kittens.

Here are the winning teams of the 9 different categories.

Erase All Kittens is the EYA overall winner 2017

In a big evening ceremony on the next day the winning teams were honored by officials and celebrated themselves afterwards. We all know how important partying and dancing is. Sometimes it feels like shaking of the weights of hard work. Especially after so many hours of conceptualizing, creating, designing, coding, calculating, marketing etc. I congratulate and thank the teams and the organisers for making it once more a special experience!

The European Youth Award is a wonderful source of inspiration and gives insights into the young social entrepreneur and start-up scene. At ICT4D.at it is nice and helpful to be part of this international network. I talked to several people about our work as an NGO and there might emerge collaborations in the future. What i definitely know though is that i will be happy to spend some quality time at the EYA again next year.

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Erase all kittens! – spending quality time at the European Youth Award Festival 2017
was published on 03.12.2017 by Georg Steinfelder. It files under eastern and central europe, Europe, global, middle east and north africa
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Nimble Building Days

Connect and collect…

More than half a year ago we participated at the Helpathon TU Vienna. Can you remember? – An emotional rollercoaster at Helpathon TU Vienna
After winning the 2nd price we decided to continue the work on our concept. So we moved on and started to meet the organising team of the Red Cross Vienna to gather more information. Also we met the teams of two refugee houses in the Vordere Zollamtstraße and in the Lindengasse. Lots of photos and notes were taken, several interviews were made, overall we collected valuable inputs for our concept to become a really helpful system that enables easier communication between refugees and employees of the Red Cross.

A good talk can save hours of work…

Packed with impressions we returned to our desks and tried hard to figure out the next steps. We thought of the best possible way to pull off the implementation of an easy to use visual communication system. It seemed so clear in the beginning: Work out a concept, gather information, refine your idea and a raw diamond turns without a doubt into a perfect one. However we realized that there is in fact so much more to consider. What we did before was important investigative work but also just a scratch on the surface. And so after a really nice and intense meeting our small team decided to push the project to another direction.

An event to help those in need…

What we learned after hours of research was a wide overview of the variety of challenges the Red Cross faces every day in the refugee houses. Some are big, some are smaller but often the staff can’t solve even the smallest problems because they simply don’t have enough time or the problems are too specific. That’s why we came up if a new concept: Organise an event where volunteers and refugees work together to solve as many of those big and small problems as possible. And so six months after the initial event the foundation stone of the Nimble Building Days was laid.

The conclusion of a piece of hard work…

The Nimble Building Days are an event that gives us the opportunity to help people who where forced to leave their homes behind. The ones who received shelter are living in temporary refugee houses like the Kurierhaus Lindengasse. The Red Cross Vienna satisfies basic needs however they lack infrastructure like free internet access and the overall atmosphere of the rooms is rather spare.
Together with the inhabitants of the Kurierhaus and employees of the Red Cross we try to help those people and their families to live normal lifes again.
Now we are looking for support! Participate in the Nimble Building Days or make a donation! Send us a private message on our Facebook page or write an email to office@ict4d.at
Here is our event page.

Our dear friend Anders made a short film to promote the event. It reflects the positive energy of our team. Enjoy!

Together, creative and effective for families in need!
Team Nimble is looking forward to hear from you!

 


Nimble Building Days
was published on 13.06.2016 by Georg Steinfelder. It files under eastern and central europe
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An emotional rollercoaster – Team Nimble at Helpathon TU Vienna

The Helpathon is a Hackathon where participants focus on developing IT-solutions for people in need. This kind of event gained a new level of importance since more and more refugees from Africa and the Middle East are seeking shelter in european countries. It took place at TU Vienna throughout the weekend on November 14th and 15th.

Our freshly re-elected chairman Paul (member of the INSO and one of the organisers of the Helpathon) invited us (Chloé Zimmermann, Florian Sturm and me) to team up and try our best. Which was not easy for anyone in the beginning – just a few hours ago Paris was hit by terrorist attacks and the news spread like a shockwave. It was difficult to focus under these circumstances. But we tried hard and figured out a nice concept after talking to Ulrike Karpfen and Elisabeth Palugyay from the Viennese Red Cross and Jochen Petri from Train Of Hope. Because two thirds of us weren’t able to write code for an IT-programm we decided to take the exact opposite direction.

The idea: Provide a flexible information system for buildings and rooms that is easy to understand for both refugees and helpers.

The key: Well designed Pictograms which can be sprayed or sticked easily onto walls and also be rearranged quickly. Furthermore the pictograms can be downloaded from a website. New pictograms can be uploaded and users can recommend well designed pictograms. All pictograms should also have a positive “attitude”, which means there should not be any signs that show prohibitions. In our opinion it is better to show people in need what they can do instead of what they must not do. It may be a way to contribute to the well-being of refugees and prevent frustration.

Our credo: Doing it as low-tech as possible to make it useable for every organisation.

When an architect, an IT-developer and a graphic designer combine their skills there might be some chaos first but in the end something beautiful can happen. As the deadline approached on Sunday we felt the pressure growing but we didn’t give up. We finished in time and presented our idea to a jury next to 5 other teams. After a thrilling hour of waiting the result finally relieved us: 2nd place and 1000€ for the realisation of the project. A wonderful ending of this rollercoaster ride called Helpathon.

We are looking forward to the next steps of this exciting project! Stay tuned!

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An emotional rollercoaster – Team Nimble at Helpathon TU Vienna
was published on 21.11.2015 by Georg Steinfelder. It files under eastern and central europe, global
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In Progress: Social change and globalization of work

The Technical Museum in Vienna, Austria, are now showing an impressive collection of artefacts and display of information under the headline “IN ARBEIT” (“IN PROGRESS”). The 800 square meters large venue opened up for the public in late October this year, and will be running for around two years.

It aims to show different aspects of technical developments, economic conditions, social change and “the effects of increasing mobility and globalization of work”. ICT4D.at are represented here too, with a selected edit of our documentary Hello Africa from 2009.

Go have a look: In Arbeit, Die Ausstellung zur Dynamik des Arbeitslebens, Technisches Museum Wien.

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In Progress: Social change and globalization of work
was published on 06.12.2011 by Anders Bolin. It files under eastern and central europe, global
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Hello Africa festival screening in Wales

Our documentary Hello Africa continues to tour the world. Previously shown in Accra, Ghana, at the Maker Faire Africa event, 14-16 of August (Which we attended and covered in detail here) , and just recently we were honoured to be invited and have it screened at a festival event called May You Live in Interesting Times, in Cardiff, Wales, 22-24 of October. This was a three-day festival “that celebrates the latest intriguing uses of everyday technology and social innovation, enabled through shared ideas”, and the film was screened daily on their festival hub. Here’s a brief description of the core idea behind the festival:

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“With technology now firmly placed in the everyday we have put together a festival programme that explores how participation is increasingly the driving force behind much digital content. Mass-technology has enabled individuals and communities to become connected and share information.”

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Unfortunately we had no possibility to attend this great event ourselves, but according to Carolina Vasquez who is a festival coordinator there, the movie was highly appreciated by the audience and a “great success”. Check out the screening program here, and the Hello Africa entry here.

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Hello Africa festival screening in Wales
was published on 03.11.2009 by Anders Bolin. It files under eastern and central europe
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Announcement: Stammtisch #3

As we successfully survived two previous “Stammtisch” events plus the release party of our movie Hello Africa, we want to continue this series EVERY FIRST FRIDAY of a MONTH in Vienna, Austria and of course vie internet worldwide, open for everybody in the area of ICTs that wants to get to know us, wants to talk about own projects or just wants to have a nice evening with like-minded people.

One of our big aims when we created this platform was not only to provide information about ICT4D topics, but also to establish real life contact between interested and commited people.

It’s not institutional, it’s not even a barcamp so don’t be shy, we are happy to meet you. Bring your own cold drinks, since this is appreciated by the management of the venue.

What: ICT4D.at Stammtisch #3

Where: Museumsquartier Vienna, Meeting point right in the middle of HOF1 (Haupthof); We will hold up a banner, so you can’t miss us … Later on we may recline to one of the bars.

When: Friday, 7th August 2009, 19:00

See you there!

RSVP via: and/or

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Announcement: Stammtisch #3
was published on 02.08.2009 by Martin Konzett. It files under eastern and central europe
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