I said in my NYT piece that banning was not the answer. We needed to work with them to address the very real problems that are facing our societies, based in part on the accelerant qualities of social media. Who is “we”? Not just governments, but also researchers (I cited some MIT research) and civil society. But that was before Aleksandr Kogan.
To get the “talk show” at the FAO-ITU workshop on e agriculture rolling we were asked to give a three-minute summary of what we had learned. This was a good opportunity to distill eight years of learning. At LIRNEasia we have looked at the role ICTs can play in agriculture both at the micro and macro levels: supply chain studies where we looked for gaps that ICTs could fill (jute, gherkin, mango, pomegranate, potato, pineapple, rubber supply chains in 3 countries) and the systematic review of 7000+ research papers/articles on effect of mobiles on rural livelihoods. Our conclusion is that Ted Schultz was right. Information by itself will be change outcomes.
I’m pretty sure we (LIRNEasia and RIA) were the only ones to have asked this question in Asia and Africa. Finally, surveys conducted in Africa and Asia found that more than half of the people that weren’t on the Internet didn’t know what it was. The Report. But I do not think the “more than half” is very accurate. This kind of thing happens when people write on the basis of other reports of research without going to the source.

Mobile is not king in the US

Posted by on December 31, 2014  /  1 Comments

A story reporting Pew research on perceptions on the Internet has this little nugget showing how different developed markets are from ours. For all the talk of our culture moving to mobile phones, more than one-third of the respondents said a landline phone was vital to their jobs, compared with the one-quarter that said a cellphone was very important. Pew surveyed 535 American adults employed full-time or part-time in September using a nationally representative online research panel. The margin of error for the survey, which was conducted in English, was plus or minus 5 percentage points. Respondents said the Internet had made them more productive and given them more flexibility in their jobs, but about 35 percent said they were also working longer hours because of it.

Indian Ocean Tsunami + 10

Posted by on December 26, 2014  /  1 Comments

LIRNEasia was three months old when the tsunami struck, killing over 200,000 people in countries around the Bay of Bengal where we intended to focus our efforts as a nascent think tank. But it hit Sri Lanka, where we are based, very hard. On a per-capita basis, Sri Lanka suffered the greatest loss of lives, close to one in 600 people perishing over the morning hours of the 26th. Our small organization was untouched, thankfully. My daughter, fresh from the US, wanted a holiday with a fireplace.
An unexpectedly detailed description of our big data session was included in the Day 3 highlights: Big data is usually in the headlines for the wrong reasons – surveillance, exploitation of personal data for commercial or governmental ends, intrusion of privacy – but can also serve a valid and immensely exciting social purpose for development. Kicking off a fascinating, packed and highly-interactive session, moderator Rohan Samarajiva, Founding Chair and CEO, LIRNEasia, set out this contradiction in perception of big data as a “competition of imaginations” between hype and pessimism, reminding us that big data is “of interest to all of us, as we are the creators of this data, the originators of this data”. Our mobile telephones, and by extension we ourselves, are permanently in communication with the nearest towers, sending out details of our whereabouts and activities in an ever-growing, highly personal call record. This session aimed to “talk not about the imagination, but about what has been done”, exploring current and future trends in the use of big data for development.
I am puzzled by the predominantly negative reaction to the manipulation of Facebook content, in the recent published research article in the mainstream media (MSM), though perhaps less in blogs and such. It seems to me that MSM’s reaction is hypocritical. They manipulate their content all the time to evoke different emotional responses from their readers/viewers/listeners. The difference is that conducting research on resultant emotional changes on MSM is not as easy as on Facebook. For example, magazines have used different cover images, darkening or lightening faces and so.
A death of a scientist is occasion to reflect on the role of behavioral research in the design of telecom devices. It is not so much that Mr. Karlin trained midcentury Americans how to use the telephone. It is, rather, that by studying the psychological capabilities and limitations of ordinary people, he trained the telephone, then a rapidly proliferating but still fairly novel technology, to assume optimal form for use by midcentury Americans. “He was the one who introduced the notion that behavioral sciences could answer some questions about telephone design,” Ed Israelski, an engineer who worked under Mr.
In 2007 Smith Dharmasaroja, the former disaster czar of Thailand, pointed to the dangers posed by mountains of mud deposited by the Ganges in the Bay of Bengal. What the research below raises is the danger of soft material combined with earthquakes. Are these not high priority research areas for our scientists? In a paper published today (24 August 2012) in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Professors Dan McKenzie and James Jackson of Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences describe for the first time the added factor that may have made this tsunami so severe: a huge collapse of soft material on the sea bed resulted in a far greater movement of water than would have been caused by the earthquake alone. Full report.
An unexpected benefit of our visit to Islamabad was learning that a new academic publication had been launched in December 2011 by the Bangladesh Institute for ICT in Development and the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh. The working papers are listed below: * Bottom of the Pyramid Expenditure Patterns on Mobile Phone Services in Selected Emerging Asian Countries by Aileen Agüero and Harsha de Silva * Mobile banking: Overview of Regulatory Framework in Emerging Markets by Rasheda Sultana * Factors Affecting e-Government Assimilation in Developing Countries by Boni Pudjianto and Zo Hangjung * Inclusive Development through e-Governance: Political Economy of e-Government Projects in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala in India by Rajendra Kumar * New Media, Knowledge Acquisition and Participatory Governance in Rural Bangladesh by Jude William Genilo and Marium Akther * e-Krishok: A Campaign to Promote Agricultural Information and Services through ICT by Shahid Uddin Akbar, Parvez Mohd. Asheque, Shariful Islam Four out of six of the papers came from LIRNEasia/CPRsouth. The first is authored by Aileen Aguero (of DIRSI, worked up during her time at LIRNEasia) and Consultant Lead Economist Harsha de Silva. The second, third and fourth papers are from CPRsouth4.
US government gets behind big data. We agree, we’re getting into big data too. Difference is that in our countries there are not that many big data streams. Big data refers to the rising flood of digital data from many sources, including the Web, biological and industrial sensors, video, e-mail and social network communications. The emerging opportunity arises from combining these diverse data sources with improving computing tools to pinpoint profit-making opportunities, make scientific discoveries and predict crime waves, for example.
I’ve been asked about how we choose our research topics. Intuition, I answer. Lot of discussion among the team and intuition. How did we choose the case studies for the research on agricultural value chains? Here, the team assembled a lot of data too.
  According the LIRNEasia’s 2011 Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) survey, stakeholders in India, Pakistan and Indonesia have identified the telecom regulatory environments in their countries as improved since 2008, the last time the survey was carried out.   In contrast, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines have seen the regulatory environments decline in effectiveness, while Thailandremains more-or-less the same. The TRE Survey asks senior level stakeholders to evaluate the effectiveness of the telecom regulatory environment in the fixed, mobile and broadband subsectors along a Lickert scale of 1 to 5 (1 being highly ineffective and 5 being highly effective, with the mid-point of 3 being considered average performance).  Seven different dimensions of regulation (market entry, tariff regulation, interconnection, universal service, anti-competitive-practices, quality of service) are evaluated by the stakeholders.    This year, 349 responded participated in the 7 countries.
Over the coming months, there will be much talk about ICTs and global climate change and e waste. There will be bad and good research and tricks to raise taxes in the name of the environment. Here is a nice balanced report by the Economist: So computing does indeed have a role in fighting climate change, but that role mainly involves using computers in new ways, rather than making the machines themselves more efficient. It is time for the industry to start thinking outside the box, as it were.
According to this research finding, Google is warming the planet by giving us fast websearches. Performing two Google searches from a desktop computer can generate about the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle for a cup of tea, according to new research. While millions of people tap into Google without considering the environment, a typical search generates about 7g of CO2 Boiling a kettle generates about 15g. “Google operates huge data centres around the world that consume a great deal of power,” said Alex Wissner-Gross, a Harvard University physicist whose research on the environmental impact of computing is due out soon. “A Google search has a definite environmental impact.
Researc h to practice is the central preoccupation of LIRNEasia. We differ from conventional researchers in our fixation on how to convey our research to policymakers, regulators, senior managers of operators and to the symbolic universe they live in. We choose our research questions and methods with this end in mind and we conduct our research on schedules determined by the need for effective communication to these key stakeholders. We measure success by whether the research that we communicate catalyzes changes in laws, policies, practices and worldviews . In this light, the SSRC organized pre-conference seemed an ideal academic event to attend after many years.