ICT4D Guest Lecture at TU Wien

I am a member of the research group INSO at the TU Wien (Vienna University of Technologies). The research group for Industrial Software (INSO) deals with the study of development and maintenance of software systems in practice. I got invited as a guest lecturer next week as part of their Beyond the Desktop lecture. I will give an introduction to ICT4D, discuss projects and past research with the students and I will give them an overview of our activities and projects at ICT4D.at. We are currently looking for students who are interested in participating in our projects or start writing a thesis in the field of ICT4D at the TU Wien. Everyone is welcome to pass by and join in:

Thursday, 13th June 2019, 16:00 – 18:00 at GM 4 Knoller Hörsaal (1060 Wien, Getreidemarkt 9, Hoftrakt, Stiege IV, 2. Obergeschoß).

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ICT4D Guest Lecture at TU Wien
was published on 07.06.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe
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Android ICT4D News Application – for You from Us

ICT4D News App Icon
ICT4D News Logo designed by Chloé Zimmermann

We are software engineers, open source enthusiasts, programmers, designers, geeks and simply love to make the life of others easier with ICTs. We are happy to announce our Android ICT4D News Application. ICT4D News combines 29 blogs and news sources (complete list on GitHub) around the topic of ICT4D and Digital Development. The goal is to offer an easy way to stay tuned and receive the latest ICT4D updates. All blogs and sources are combined into one handy list and provide offline reading capabilities. The blogs and sources can be deactivated to customize your reading. Please download it and do not hesitate to send us your feedback at news.app@ict4d.at

Get it on Google Play
Download now!

The latest version hit 1.1.0 and is solely for you, the ICT4D community, made by us, ICT4D.at. But we hope this will not stay this way, the application is Open Source and just waiting for you to reports bugs, discuss new features and contribute to the code base. So if you recently fell in love with Kotlin (as I did) and want to bring in your ideas, then don’t hesitate to contribute.

We also strongly believe in diversity and the benefits coming with it. We are proud of being an international team from 3 different continents (Africa, Asia and Europe) and 4 different countries: The core team consist of three members: Noah Alorwu, who is active in Ghana, Raja Saboor Ali is strongly committed in Pakistan and myself is involved from Austria. We also have support from Chloé Zimmermann a designer from France. We develop, work, share and take decisions equally.

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Android ICT4D News Application – for You from Us
was published on 13.05.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under global
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WSIS Forum 2019 with TEQtogether

World Summit on the Information Society Forum 2019

I was delighted to visit this year’s World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum in Geneva. The WSIS Forum is a global United Nations (UN) multi-stakeholder platform facilitating the implementation of the WSIS Action Lines for advancing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is co-organized by ITU, UNESCO, UNDP and UNCTAD, in close collaboration with all WSIS Action Line co-/facilitators and other UN organizations. It represents the world’s largest annual gathering of the ‘ICT for Development’ community. It provides an opportunity for information exchange, knowledge creation and sharing of best practices, while identifying emerging trends and fostering partnerships, taking into account the evolving Information and Knowledge Societies.

TEQTogether Workshop

I was part of a panel with Tim Unwin and Bushra Hassan due to our engagement with TEQtogether and other connected research. We presented and discussed our efforts to change men’s attitudes and behaviours to women & technology. The reality is, that many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are going into the wrong direction and SDG10 aiming at Reduction of inequalities, is one of them. Therefore, it is clear that our current actions are failing on a massive scale. Men’s attitudes and behaviours are at the root of discrimination against women and we need to point our actions towards this reality. This is why we joined TEQtogether, which is part of the EQUALS movement and lead by Tim Unwin and Liz Quaglia.

From the left to the right: Paul, Bushra and Tim

We covered the following:

  • An overview of the work of TEQtogether
    • informing men about how their actions impact digital gender inequality (see Resources and Other Initiatives pages);
    • Identifying actions that men can take to enhance gender equality in the tech workplace (see Guidance Notes)
    • Recommending actions that men can take to reduce digital violence against women
    • Encouraging reverse mentoring through which women mentor men at all levels in tech organisations.
  • I gave an introduction to the Guidance Notes I created within our partnership. They are focusing on running a computer programming workshop.
  • An overview of work on the use of mobiles for sexual harassment by Bushra Hassan (International Islamic University, Islamabad).

After this short introduction we included the audience to collaboratively develop a strategy of what needs to be done to change men’s attitudes and behaviours to women & technology. The final WSIS report can be found here, download the Mindmap here and a more detailed report can be found at the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D blog.

EQUALS

There was a separate session of EQUALS which highlighted their engagement. EQUALS is a committed partnership of corporate leaders, governments, businesses, not-for-profit organizations, academic institutions, NGOs and community groups around the world dedicated to promoting gender balance in the technology sector by championing equality of access, skills development and career opportunities for women and men alike.

The panel underlined the necessity of EQUALS and TEQtogether by the fact that it is still 10% less likely for a woman to own a phone on this planet and 23% less likely to then also have access to the Internet. No phone and no access to the Internet results in a lack of basic Information. Therefore, this results in no chance to take knowledge based decisions, lesser political and economic power and being incapable of properly raising your voice. An uniformed human being cannot be a free person.

EQUALS offers a successful webinar series: Business and Leadership for Women in the Technology Sector and nominations are already open for their 2019 EQUALS in Tech Award.

Other great WSIS Sessions

Exciting sessions included Cyber Ethics, Education and Security: Serving Humanity with Values. Where the panel tried to illustrate their practical implementation of ethics. GlobEthics was part of the session. The relationship between security and freedom was discussed where most societies try to find a balance. The panel was concerned by the fact that the world is currently moving in the direction to give up their freedom to trade it for more security. The panel concluded that individual responsibility is also a necessity and the question was raised if everyone should delete WhatsApp due to its heavy privacy violation. Luckily I’m already WhatsApp free for years and solely use Signal.

Human human rights in connection with ICTs were discussed in the session Technology 4 Human Rights – The opportunities presented and methods already in evidence for the role of advanced technology, including blockchain, for promoting human rights.

Wonderful to see were also the mBot kids workshops by Techlabs and other exhibitions.

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WSIS Forum 2019 with TEQtogether
was published on 16.04.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe
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10 years of ICT4D.at – how it all got started

As we had our 10 years anniversary last year – the NGO was officially formed on 8 November 2008 – I spent some time reflecting how this whole thing came to be and how it all developed. And I’m happy to share these thoughts with you in this blog post.

The reason why I got interested into the field of ICT4D is connected to my year of Erasmus student exchange during my Master studies in “Wirtschaftsinformatik” (management information systems). I went to Sweden from August 2006 to July 2007 and attended several courses at the Department of Computer and System Sciences of the University of Stockholm. At that time they had a Master course in ICT for Development with several courses which I got interested in. Nowadays, there’s no Master course anymore but still a research focus on ICT4D (https://dsv.su.se/en/research/research-areas/ict4d). There were hardly any “Westerners” doing the course, but a lot of people from Bangladesh, Iran or Pakistan. The courses were rather theoretical in nature, but still it got me hooked – I always wanted to do “something good” with my studies.

So after this year in Sweden I wanted to pursue my interest in ICT4D further, but there was nothing similar like these courses at any university in Vienna. But still I made the topic ICT4D one focus of my Master thesis which I started in 2008 (- can still be downloaded here by the way: http://othes.univie.ac.at/3571/). In the course of writing it I was pointed by a common acquaintance to Martin Konzett who had also a big interest in ICTs connected to Africa. He is a coder himself and has personal ties to Zanzibar. We met at a cafe in Vienna and he was super enthusiastic about starting an organisation in Austria, doing a movie, a blog, going to conferences and starting projects. He had also the concrete idea to develop the organisation to run as a business – e.g. through outsourcing programming or web design to Africans we had educated in a project. I found all this very exciting and we decided to join forces.

Our first concrete activites were the movie Hello Africa and this website and blog.

For the movie Martin went with Martin Tomitisch (lecturer in Human Computer Interaction – he became the third co-founder) and Anders Bolin (film maker) to South Africa and Tanzania to document how everyday life in these countries was connected to mobile phones even then already. At that time people in Austria hardly thought of Africans as mobile phone users. The movie – called “Hello Africa” – got great feedback, was shown on festival and watched by many people. It was released under CC-license, so it can still be watched on Vimeo for free under https://vimeo.com/4664795.

The blog started on 28 April 2008 with a definition of the term “ICT4D” as the first post. In the beginning Martin and me published a blog post almost every day. We referred to all sorts of ICT4D projects, news articles and documented our own activities. To gather content and to document the whole ICT4D research scene we also went to several conferences and ICT4D-related events around Europe. There we interviewed researchers, activists and policy makers and put the videos on our Youtube channel and blog. My “highlight” was the ICTD2010 conference in London (http://www.ictd2010.org/), where we interviewed Tim Berners-Lee, Geoff Walsham, Ineke Buskens or Tim Unwin among others. I still remember the interview with Tim Berners-Lee, because I was super nervous and the questions I asked him weren’t very smart. All the videos are still up on Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/user/ict4dat/videos.

We also formed a partnership with the e-Development group of the World Bank to cover their events and webcasts on social media, mostly via our Twitter account (https://twitter.com/ict4ddotat). However, we also weren’t so avid Twitterers and the eDev group didn’t really have an enthusiastic online crowd to watch their streams, so that was most times rather redundant

Several people joined at this time. Worlali Senyo, a Ghanian ICT research analyst became interested in our NGO and became a member. He has been supporting our efforts in Ghana ever since. Also Isabella Wagner (then – student of the master course “Society, Technology, Science”) joined the NGO.

Through the movie project and Martin’s ties to Zanzibar we started our first project there in 2009. It was called “Zanzicode” (http://zanzicode.ict4d.at/) – inspired by the project “Zanzibits” which also took place there at that time. (http://zanzibits.blogspot.com/) The aim of Zanzicode was to “help build the personal careers of our graduates as well as to kickstart a local web development community”. To achieve this, we “provided free education in the field of Web Development to a small number of talented and motivated students of poor background in Zanzibar, Tanzania”. We got a little funding from the Austrian Development Agency for this project and also the NGO “Leos” from St. Pölten gave us a donation. The courses ran for around two years in total and we had different people teaching programming on the spot – first Martin himself, Dan Hamm and Fritz Grabo (then informatics student at TU Vienna) who joined the NGO afterwards. All in all the project was ambitious but rather small and worked quite well. After two years we didn’t have anyone on the spot any more who was willing to organise the courses in a way we thought made sense, with a strong focus on Open Source. So we terminated the courses around 2011.

Afterwards it became a bit more quiet, also due to Martin Konzett moving away from Vienna and investing less time in the NGO. We experimented with ICT4D “Stammtisch” in Vienna where several people attended over the years – for example Christoph Derndorfer from OLPC News. We also had guest lectures at the university from time to time. We also worked on the book “Social Business Forge” – focusing on tax and business issues around the field in which our NGO was active. This project was spearheaded by Paul Pöltner (then – student at TU Wien and aspiring tax consultant), who also initiated our next big “development”-project.

This next big project was called “ICT4DMZ – Information and Communication Technology for Development in Mozambique” (http://www.ict4dmz.org/). Its objective was to “to strengthen universities’ capacities for improved access, use and application of ICT for social development and economic growth in Mozambique.” The framework for this was a collaboration of Vienna University of Technology – more specifically the Research Group for Industrial Software (INSO) – and the faculty of Informatics at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane. ICT4D.at was facilitating the collaboration and many members were involved and made trips to Mozambique to teach, learn, connect and support – including the new member Paul Spiesberger (then student of informatics at TU Wien). I was also there myself in 2013 for three weeks, teaching a course in software development – here’s two blog posts about that:

The valuable lessons learned from this project were, that although there’s huge potential in the motivated students and teaching personnel at this particular university, it’s hard to create a sustainable impact, even though the project budget was fairly large compared to our other projects. We educated personnel which would eventually leave the university and work in the private sector, funded unnecessary hardware and had a hard time wrestling with university bureaucracy on the Mozambiquan side. We applied for follow up of this project – as this would have made it possible to profit from these experiences, but funding was denied although we handed in the application three times. We still have ties to the university, with Paul supporting some students in their app-programming efforts (see e.g. this blog post: https://www.ict4d.at/2015/09/06/ourmoz-wins-world-banks-apps4maputo-contest-in-mozambique/) and also with our project partners, but no other funding opportunity has come up in the mean time.

Another project which started at about the same time, in 2012 also had a big impact, even though it relied almost exclusively on voluntary work. Our member Margarete Grimus initiated and carried out this project in partnership with several students and staff of the Keta Technical High School in Keta, Ghana. The project focus was on using available technology, such as the mobile phones of students to create teaching materials from the internet. For this, she spent some time in Keta for three consecutive years, one time joined by another new member – Michael Pollak – to teach staff and students about difference ways to use the internet for teaching. Here’s a post of her stay there in 2014: https://www.ict4d.at/2014/06/20/news-from-ketascomobile/.

One of the students who took part in this project is Noah Alorwu, who has been active since, launching programming initiatives and workshops. Here’s some blog posts about that:

Through the project in Mozambique and other small activities, Paul Spiesberger became more and more involved in the NGO. In 2015, when I felt that I had led the NGO long enough, he decided to take over the role of chair person and has acted in this role since. I’m grateful to have been able to pass over this role to him, as since then new energy has come and we have become more active again.

The first signs of this new activities were the involvement of Georg Steinfelder (graphic designer & artist) and Chloe Zimmermann (architect), who joined together with Paul, in the Nimble Building Days, improving refugee housing in Austria – https://www.ict4d.at/2017/04/10/nimble-building-days-3-integration-through-collaborative-work/.

Also Alvaro Valverde, development professional at CABI has become engaged in the NGO in 2017 and is supporting us since with his experience.

Paul himself has made ICT4D a part of his work at TU Wien and through this has built ties with SSE Puttaprthi in India (http://sseptp.org/). He is also doing research in ICT4D, which allows him to attend a lot of exciting events:

Right after our 10 years anniversary party in November 2018 we had at our annual “vision meeting”, several new possibilities emerged for the NGO. One is the Erasmus+ project “Yes We Care 2”, which allows us to network with NGOs from Macedonia, Romania, Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe around the topics of Social Entrepreneurship. Another is the project TEQtogether, which is committed to changing men’s attitudes and behaviours towards women and technology – https://www.ict4d.at/2019/02/25/teqtogether-teams-up-with-ict4d-at/.

More projects are in store and potential new members are motivated to get more active. You’ll hear about that on this blog for sure!

I’m looking forward to 10 more exciting years!

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10 years of ICT4D.at – how it all got started
was published on 15.03.2019 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week? Actually Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development

Source: UNESCO MLW

Today I had the pleasure to be part of the first day of the Mobile Learning Week (MLW) in Paris with its keynotes and discussion rounds. Last year the conference was focused on education in a mobile context with the focus on Skills for a connected world, as the MLW title implies. It seems, that this year it was hijacked by the trending ICT topic Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the education part was left out a bit. I can only assume why, but it seems that the UNESCO is shifting its focus and tries to spicy up their events with more buzzwords. AI is a trending topic and, besides its real significance, used most of the time to sell/promote things to people who have no glue about it. A couple of years ago it was the buzzword Blockchain Technologies to trigger interest and as far as I can remember, before that it was Cloud Computing. Yes, all of these technologies did or are changing the way we use and live with technology, but as before, most people are using the term AI more like this wonderful meme:



To be fair, AI and Machine Learning are much more than just statistics, read more here.

I am reporting from the MLW only from the first day, which is called “Principals for AI: Towards a Humanistic Approach” and the discussed AI topic fits more into this definition. To be fair, the next upcoming days will apparently stronger focus on education in combination with with AI and will have sessions such as “How can AI improve learning?”, “How can AI boost education and learning management systems?”, “How can AI be harnessed to reduce the learning inequitability?”, or “Will AI promote equity and gender equality?”.
Therefore, this blog post is not about Mobile Learning, but rather AI itself and summarizes some of the statements. I am pleased that at least some of the speakers were asking questions in the right direction and I hope this will continue in the upcoming AI-Education sessions. AI is happening and used world-wide, but as it is with every technology, it is just a tool and only gets a meaning or purpose when used by us. The question is not for what we should use AI and what it can do. This will be figured out anyway by the private and public sector due to demands by the market and the people. The real questions are:

  • Who is creating the AI, in which context was it created and what are their biases?
  • How transparent is it?
  • Who owns the AI and who has access to its tools?
  • Is it inclusive? Does it really mirror the society and context it is used in? (minorities, gender, sexual preferences, etc.)
  • How can we test and verify the decisions an AI takes for us?
  • Who is responsible for errors and accidents because of AI?
  • How democratic is the use of the AI? Who decided what we ask and for what we use it?

I am sure this list can be extended, feel free to do so, the more discussion the better. Please do not get me wrong, I favour AI and I am exited about the new possibilities AI offers, but I miss often a real discussion about pressing issues and questions. The buzzword topics Blockchain Technologies and Cloud Computing did not have the same impact capabilities as AI has. As a society we need to discuss how we would like to use AI in a democratic way. If we do not, then we will end up like China, where AI is used to control people in an unprecedented way. I personally want to live in a world were AI is enriching my freedom, not used to limit it or just to display me more fitting advertisement on Google or Facebook.

Furthermore, these questions are seldom asked for people in low-income countries. They are excluded from potential benefits of AIs already straight from the beginning. Our main goal must be to use AI to improve the lives of those who need it the most. For me, this would be a real intelligent use of Artificial Intelligence.

Here are some key statements I favoured during the key note and discussion rounds:

“Artificial intelligence is a false term, it’s neither artificial nor intelligent. It is created by us and it is our responsibility.“

“I work in many African countries and some of them have no freedom of press, no mandatory primary schools and a weak economy, but they develop an industry 4.0 and AI strategy for their countries. They don’t want to fall behind, but lack of the basics.”

“IEEE is currently working on Ethical Aligned Design for all who design technology and for the users as well. We work on how to put principal into practice, e.g. use standards to be implemented by the industry which have ethics at the core.”

“Behind every data point are actual people and we should not forget that.”

“Solidarity should be a core principal of AI.“

“African questions have to be taken into the context of an African problem. The design of an AI must take the people and their context into consideration”

“Many people say, that we need more women in AI”

“The current AI situation is reflecting the unfair distribution of wealth in the world. Definition, access and implementation are key.”

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UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week? Actually Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development
was published on 04.03.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe, global
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TEQtogether teams up with ICT4D.at

TEQtogether is committed to changing men’s attitudes and behaviours towards women and technology.

Digital Technologies can bring great benefits to individuals and communities. However, they also have a darker side, increasing inequalities and being widely used for abuse and harassment. This is especially true at the interface between women and technology. Women are not only often marginalised in the tech sector, but they are also frequently violated through technology. TEQtogether fights to change men’s attitudes and behaviours towards gender equality and women’s rights in the technology sector.

We are proud to partner up with TEQtogether. ICT4D.at will fight with them for an equal world and women rights in the technology sector. We will contribute with our experience and expertise from the ICT field, create awareness for this essential issue and carry our shared vision in every project we implement. Paul is an official member of the team lead by Elizabeth Quaglia and Tim Unwin.

As a start, we contributed in the creation of a Guidance Note: Convening a computer programming workshop. Women and girls need to be able to receive appropriate and relevant training in computer programming at all levels, or they will miss out on numerous employment opportunities across the technology sector. You can find our contribution and all of the other TEQTogether’s Guidance notes here.

Six things to do if you are convening a computer programming workshop

  1. As far as possible ensure an equal balance between men and women as invited trainers and speakers.
  2. If it is intended to be a mixed gender workshop, seek to ensure an equal balance between women and men as participants.
  3. Ensure equal access for women and men to all shared material and equipment, before, during and after the workshop.
  4. Ensure that all sub-groups within the workshop have mixed genders within them and every member has equal rights to speak up and participate.
  5. Ensure that there are guidelines on expected behaviour that specifically address sexual harassment.
  6. Be pro-active if you see inappropriate behaviour.

Six things to avoid if you are convening a computer programming workshop

  1. Permitting or condoning inappropriate sexual behaviour by participants, trainers, speakers, or sponsors during the workshop.
  2. Only inviting men to be speakers or trainers.
  3. Only choosing men to participate in the workshop if it is intended to be open to all genders.
  4. Only granting male participants access to shared materials and equipment during the workshop.
  5. Separating men and women into two groups with unequal access to resources during the workshop.
  6. Doing nothing if you see inappropriate behaviour.

You can download the PDF Version from here.


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TEQtogether teams up with ICT4D.at
was published on 25.02.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under global
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Vision Meeting and General Assembly 2018

We spent a very lovely weekend in Lower Austria and did two things very well: working hard on our Vision, Mission and Values and treat ourselves a bit by enjoying our company. We are lucky to not just be members of our NGO, but also friends.
Álvaro organized an amazingly structured, but still very much open workshop for us to better narrow down our Vision and Mission. We reflected on where we come from, our skill sets and what our strengths are. We strongly believe in our new Vision are are working everyday towards it. Our Vision is the reason why we are all joined ICT4D.at and why we keep working – we want to have a World of Equal Opportunities of All.

Our new Vision – our overall goal and the world we want to live in:
A World of Equal Opportunities for All.

Our new Mission – how we, in a broad aspect, try to achieve our Vision:
Through knowledge, tools and networks we empower people to developer the skills they need to achieve their full potential.

Our Core Values

  • Community
  • Interdisciplinary & Co-creation
  • Respect & Tolerance
  • Honesty & Trust
  • Passion & Creativity

All attending members voted again for the current chairman and vice chairman: Myself, Paul, got re-elected as the chairman and would like to express my gratitude for the trust everyone puts in me. George will stay our vice chair and I am very happy to have him next to me.





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Vision Meeting and General Assembly 2018
was published on 24.11.2018 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe
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ICT4D Introduction Lecture at TU Vienna

I was invited by the Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation from the Vienna University of Technology to give a guest lecture regarding ICT4D. I will give a short overview, talk about the history and where the ICT4D community is currently heading. There will be a focus on practical projects from our past, since they lecture titles Projects in Development Aid.

Aim of course

Goal of the lecture is showing the participants the challenges of development aid projects. The participants will see that skills like social competence and flexibility are essential for success.

Subject of course

The focus of the course is the development aid program Appear (Austrian Partnership Program in Higher Education and Research for Development). After a general introduction, five speakers will present their respective projects. An essential aspect of the lectures are, in addition to the problem definition and the (technical) solution, the challenges of working in developing countries, dealing with inadequacies of the infrastructure, political developments, social challenges, economic conditions, etc.

You can find more detailed information here.

Pass by if you find the time, anyone is welcome:
Fri, 16.11.2018, 17:00 – 18:45
Address: Gußhausstraße 27-29, 1040 Vienna,
Neues EI, Stiege I, 3. Stock

 

ICT4D Lecture at TU Vienna





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ICT4D Introduction Lecture at TU Vienna
was published on 11.11.2018 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe
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ICT4D.at 10-Year Party

Last week on Wednesday, 31.10. we had a little party in Vienna to celebrate the NGO’s 10 year anniversary. We tried to think of every current and former members to invite – and also all Austria-based supporters, partners and friends (I hope we didn’t forget anybody).

It was nice to get in touch again with some people we haven’t seen for a while – like Christoph, who used to work for OLPC and is now busy with teaching computer basics to kids with his NGO TechnikBasteln or Paul who coordinated the ICT4DMZ project for us and is now super busy in his crowd investment company CONDA. And it was also great to get to know new people interested in the ICT4D field.

The setting was rather informal. Paul and me did a short intro speech and then we had two bands playing – the band I’m in and Georg’s band. Chloe, Georg and Paul had made an effort to create a poster for every project we did so far before and we decorated the party venue with these posters. Thanks a lot for that! You can download the project posters under this link.

Thanks a lot also to Margarete and her friend Sarah who prepared a buffet for us!

We collected some donations from our guests and will give them to Noah to support his efforts in spreading progamming skills with Python and Django in Ghana.

Thinking of our activities in the past 10 years brought back a lot of memories. It’s amazing that we still have our blog after all this time and that all the old posts are still available – a great resource to see how we and maybe also the ICT4D field have changed in these years. It made we want to write another blog post looking back these 10 years, but that will take some time.

On the weekend following the party we had another vision meeting with several members and this brought a lot of energy and insights – but we will write about that also in another post.

For now I’d just like to express my thankfullness to everybody who every contributed to our NGO and helped shape our path in the past 10 years. Happy birthday ICT4D.at!





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ICT4D.at 10-Year Party
was published on 06.11.2018 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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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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