Results tagged “Technology Salon” from Wayan Dot Com


Today I have the honor of announcing a flurry of conferences and events I will be participating in this month. Please join me for all those that are pertinent to your focus area:

So far, October is not looking as busy with one exception: Fail Faire DC - a celebration of failure I'm organizing and you should be attending on October 13th.


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Vital Wave Consulting has asked my opinion a very simple, yet profound question:

What should the donor community do to expand national health information systems in the developing world?

Speaking as a technologist on a mission to change the way international development employs information and communication technology (ICT) to reach its aims of economic and social development, I am honored for the opportunity to present the key activities I believe donors need to engage in immediately to better implement national HIS.

Recognize Problems Are Human, Not High-Tech

In Washington DC, I convene the Technology Salon a monthly conversation between international and technology professionals, and recently we tackled the barriers to effective deployment of national health information systems. After a hour of debate, we came to the conclusion that the key national HIS success technology is change management.

That is deploying a national health information system successfully does not necessarily require the high-end technology resources available to richer countries. The major hurtles to successful national health information systems are human, not high-tech.

Having a clear goal of improving data quality, and a solid change management approach to achieve is the critical success factor. And this can be accomplished in countries as varied in resources as Belize, India, and Sierra Leone, regardless of what technology or technical approach is used.

So Move Beyond Shiny Flashy New Thing

If we accept that its not the information or communication technology that matters most, but old school change management, then donors need to get past their infatuation with the newest shiny, flashy gadget.

Move past mHealth (Img: DataDyne)

mHealth is a great example. While mHealth more than just mobility, and mobile phones are revolutionizing ICT in Africa, do we really need yet another program that tries to be mHealth? Is it really the answer to every health problem? You would think so by all the recent donor focus on it in lieu of the larger health initiatives that can be empowered by technology.

It even propelled Karl Brown of Rockefeller Foundation to ask, "Will mHealth eat eHealth and spit out its bones?" I sure hope not, as we should be talking about health - not focus on the letter in front, be it e, m, p, q, or z.

And Get Back to Building Human Capacity for Change

Then how can donors effect greater adoption of national health information systems, if not by focusing on the technology? By supporting a structured approach to transition Ministries of Health staff into accepting, even demanding data-driven decision making - the ultimate national HIS outcome.

This means a shift towards human capacity building across health ecosystems. Using the ADKAR Model for change, Donors and their implementing partners (consultants, NGOs, and the private sector) working together with all health stakeholders in the slow but effective community organizing process to articulate the need for data-driven decision making, and create a real desire by the stakeholder to change to it.

Then, via in-person training and workshops, give stakeholders the knowledge and ability to make the change at an individual level, and finally, ensure that Ministries of Health will reinforce the change to data-driven decision making at the organizational level through its hiring and budgeting processes.

Notice there wasn't one mention of information and communication technologies in any of those steps. Why? Because if the donor community really wants to expand national health information systems in the developing world, it needs to recognize the inhibitors are human, not high-tech, stop focusing on the shiny toys, and build human capacity to accept change. Its only then, we'll see any real impact from national HIS, no matter the technology.

This post was original published on Insights on Health Information

I am proud to announce that the Technology Salon is now officially sponsored by the United Nations Foundation's Technology Partnership with the Vodafone Foundation.

In April of 2008, I started the Technology Salon as a forum where technology and development professionals could share there opinions on emerging trends in information and communication technologies and international development in an intimate and informal discussion around:

  • technology's impact on donor-sponsored technical assistance delivery, and
  • private enterprise driven economic development, facilitated by technology.

A year later, as we've grown towards a community of practice, the Technology Partnership came to see the Salon as an effective way to increase the discussion and dissemination of information and communication technology's role in expanding solutions to long-standing international development challenges.

With agreement that the Salon will maintain its key attributes and its humble host, it became part of the Technology Partnership family. The Salon also got a whole new look - I created a new online presence to reflect its new status: Please redirect your Salon attention to this new site.

But don't get too excited - their sponsorship is just free donuts and coffee, as its our collective input that really powers the Salon. And along those lines, the views and opinions expressed on the site and in the Salon do not necessarily reflect those of the UN Foundation or the Vodafone Foundation.

In April of 2008, I started the Technology Salon as a forum where technology and development professionals could share there opinions on emerging trends in information and communication technologies and international development in an intimate and informal discussion around:

  • technology's impact on donor-sponsored technical assistance delivery, and
  • private enterprise driven economic development, facilitated by technology.

Now, almost a year later, the Technology Salon is developing into a real community of practice - a network of development and technology professionals who share a common passion for ICT4D, and through regular interaction and communication, are improving their knowledge and implementation expertise in empowering development with technology.

From its inception and reinforced through feedback from its participants, I've found there are three attributes keys to the Technology Salon success and growth:

  1. Conversation, not presentation
    The Technology Salon is primarily a forum for discussion, so presentations are discouraged and Power Point is generally banned. Speakers have only 10-15 minutes at the beginning to present their activity, before participants are free to ask questions, share their own experiences, and drive the conversation in a direction that interests them. This both brings forth the group's knowledge and keeps participants engaged for the full meeting.

  2. Intimacy of participants:
    The Technology Salon attendance is capped at 15 people to make sure each participant has the opportunity to speak and share their experience. This cap also encourages pre-registration and subsequent attendance. Last but not least, it allows for quality pre-and post-event networking by participants.

  3. Confidentiality of opinions:
    The Technology Salon employs the Chatham House Rule - what is said in its discussions can only be attributed to the Salon itself, not to any specific participant. At the same time, the Salon is not recorded nor the discussion transmitted outside its meeting place. These precautions allow participants to speak their opinions freely, thoughts that would not be shared if participants worried about attribution or out-of-context quoting.

In 2009, I look to improve on the Technology Salon's success while maintaining its three key attributes - conversation, intimacy, privacy. Its goal is to evolve beyond its current exclusive nature into a standard of discourse between technology and development professionals. To achieve this greater scale and legitimacy, and make its impact felt beyond its direct participants, the Technology Salon will need to improve its:

  1. Event promotion:
    The Technology Salon has grown organically, mainly through word of mouth and a small announce-only email list I manage. It could benefit from a larger promotion in the technology and development space, reaching practitioners who as yet have not heard of it, and attracting higher-profile speakers and attendees. At the same time, this new interested needs to be balanced with the intimacy that differentiates the Salon.

  2. Meeting regularity:
    Owing to its informal nature and my hectic travel schedule, the Technology Salon meeting have been ad-hoc - scheduled with speakers are available or a topic of interest presents itself. The only regularity has been its timing - on a Thursday from 8:30am to 10am. For it to become a fixture in professional life, it needs to have a regular schedule, but one that can be balanced against the opportunity for guest speakers and capturing of fast-moving topics.

  3. Publication of outcomes:
    Until recently, the Technology Salon has been forcefully off-the-record. Few if any details of the Salon or its conversation points have been documented or shared publicly. For the Salon to have a larger impact, it needs to publish more of its outcomes - be they points of consideration and interest vs. formal pronouncements or conclusions. Yet this grater transparency needs to be balanced carefully with the need for confidentiality for individual participants - which if anything, seems to be the key success metric to date.

  4. Sponsorship:
    To date, the Technology Salon has enjoyed informal sponsorship by its host, the UN Foundation. For it to gain greater legitimacy as a professional forum, it needs to have a formal organizational sponsor that allows the Salon affiliation and yet autonomy in topics and conversation - so that the Salon remains driven primarily by its participants.

And in the spirit of its participant-driven organization, I encourage your ideas and suggestions for improvement, especially if they can help me with the four areas I want to focus on for 2009: publicity, regularity, publication, and sponsorship.

Better yet, are there topics of ICT4D interest you'd like to see at an upcoming Salon, where you can also provide the speaker?

For November, we have a very special Technology Salon. In coordination with the World Bank e-Development Thematic Group and infoDev, we will have a World Bank ICT and Education Community of Practice Discussion on Total Cost of Ownership:

olpc cdma india
How much does this really cost?
How much does it really cost to introduce and sustain computers in schools? A discussion of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and models of affordable computing for schools in developing countries.

"Total cost of ownership" (TCO) is often underestimated, sometimes grossly, when calculating costs of ICT in education initiatives in developing countries. Estimates of initial costs to purchase equipment to overall costs over time vary widely; typically they lie between 10-25% of total cost. That said, there is a dearth of reliable data, and useful tools, to help guide education decision makers in their assessments of the true costs of educational technology initiatives.

A recent whitepaper from Vital Wave Consulting, "Affordable Computing for Schools in Developing Countries: A Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Model for Education Officials", and accompanying case study of ICT in education initiatives in India, provide further insight and perspective on this important and often controversial issue. The white paper discusses key issues related to technology use in education and presents several major findings.

At the same time, we now have an update to the TCO Tool for schools developed by the Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative (GeSCI) and Mr. Camfield. This tool, "Deploying 1:1 educational models in large scale: a practical budgeting tool based on TCO", is currently being utilized as part of planning processes in Rwanda, drawing on lessons learned from its earlier use elsewhere in Africa, most notably in Namibia.

Come join what we hope to be a lively presentation and discussion of the findings of both activities, their potential implications, and the underlying methodologies and assumptions underpinning the models explored in this work.


11am to 12:30pm - 6 November 2008
The World Bank "J" Building,
701 18th Street, NW, room J-B1-075

While this Technology Salon promises to be larger than usual, seating is still limited, so please RSVP to Lorelei Lacdao, with the subject line: "Attend ICT/ed TCO meeting"

The Technology Salon returns to Washington DC this September 25th to explore an innovative initiative from USAID: ICT4D Challenges.

Let's solve his ICT4D challenges

Akin to the contests that had Lindbergh cross the Atlantic and Rutan/Branson cross into space, ICT4D challenges (contests, makeovers, and competitions) will leverage user-driven innovation to create ICT-based solutions for major development challenges, with the incentive of cash prizes and possible inclusion in a USAID project.

These challenges will spur innovation at the nexus of development and technology while forging new connections between the technology and development communities.

What better forum to explore where USAID is going with these challenges and help shape that path than the Technology Salon, our intimate and informal discussion of technology and development?

Leading the conversation will be Seema Patel, Alliance and Management Specialist for DAI, who is consulting with USAID on the Global Development Commons Initiative - the sponsor of the ICT4D challenges. Our gracious host is the UN Foundation and I'll have coffee and donuts for a good morning sugar rush to wake everyone up.

September Technology Salon: USAID ICT4D Challenges
Thursday, September 25th, 8:30-10am,
UN Foundation Conference Room
1800 Mass Avenue, NW, Suite 400,
Washington, D.C. 20036 (map)
Do note that seating is limited and the UN Foundation is in a secure building. So the first dozen (12) to RSVP will be confirmed attendance and then there will be a waitlist.

For the July Technology Salon, we're returning to the cellular technology world, with a twist. We'll be discussing mobile banking, m-Banking, but we'll move beyond the handsets and the hype to discuss the legal frameworks required to make it a reality.

The future bank teller in Mali

In some countries, text messages cannot be used as evidence in court - a problem if that's all you have to show for a money transfer. In other regions, cross-border and multi-currency transactions is the domain of banks, not mobile operators. In either situation or more, what is the development community's response to facilitate m-Banking?

Please join Michael Tetelman of AED, and Ann Casanova of CARANA, at the UN Foundation headquarters for a vibrant discussion of their work in overcoming legal and regulatory barriers to make local and intra-regional m-Banking a reality in the developing world.

July Technology Salon: Empowering m-Banking, Legally
Tuesday, July 15th, 8:30-10am,
UN Foundation Conference Room
1800 Mass Avenue, NW, Suite 400,
Washington, D.C. 20036 (map)
Do note that seating is limited and the UN Foundation is in a secure building. So the first dozen (12) to RSVP will be confirmed attendance and then there will be a waitlist.

About the Speakers
  • Ann Casanova is a lawyer with fourteen years of combined experience in multilateral trade negotiations, institutional strengthening, and management of USAID and IDB projects in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. Ms. Casanova joined CARANA Corporation in 2004 as Vice President of the firm's Trade Practice.
  • Dr. Michael S. Tetelman is director of the dot-ORG program at the Academy for Educational Development (AED), and designs and manages innovative ICT infrastructure and applications projects that stimulate economic growth and improve the service delivery of governments and other institutions.
About the Technology Salon

Wayan Vota hosts the Technology Salon, an intimate and informal discussion around emerging trends in technology and international development, with a focus on both:
  • technology's impact on donor-sponsored technical assistance delivery, and
  • private enterprise driven economic development, facilitated by technology.
Active participation with your ideas, opinions, and predictions is actively encouraged, and Power Point presentations are banned. If you'd like to join us, please subscribe to get invitations.

There is much talk about One Laptop Per Child, Nicholas Negroponte idea of a "$100 laptop" empowering education in the developing world. Yet the focus tends to be on the XO laptop itself, not the overall impact of the program on both technology and education.

Rabi Karmacharya
Rabi Karmacharya

For the next Technology Salon on June 3 at 5:30pm, we'll move pass the headlines and into the field with two special guests:

  • Aaron Kaplan, of OLPC Austria, will talk about how he's leveraging wireless mesh networking initiatives to facilitate one laptop per child
  • Rabi Karmacharya of OLE Nepal, will explain how he is developing lasting educational advantages within the Nepalese school system
We'll have an hour of free-flowing conversation and debate around the topic and its impacts, followed by open-ended informal discussions between practitioners, in an intimate and informal setting:

June Technology Salon
Tuesday, June 3 @ 5:30pm
Hosted by RTI International - DC
Main Conference Room
701 13th Street, N.W.
Suite 750 (map)

One year ago this week, One Laptop Per Child changed its mission, dropping its invitation for lower-cost alternatives to the XO laptop. Was that a reaction just to Intel's Classmate PC, or amazing foresight?

Walter viewing the future

Either way, a year later we are witnessing a dramatic change in the low-cost laptop marketplace. New low-cost laptops, or as I am now calling them, 4P Computing (Power, Performance, Portability, Price) are popping up daily with entrants from the practical Asus Eee PC to the seemingly comical Van Der Led.

In the midst of all this action, I'd be honored if you could join me in an intimate and informal discussion on:

  • What will all these low-cost laptops (4PC's?) means to developing world markets?
  • Where might all this take us, both as "first-world" producers and consumers?
  • How can we influence 4PC growth as leading voices in the technology for the developing world space?
Be ready to share your ideas, opinions, and predictions. At the last meetup in August, I predicted G1G1, which sounded crazy at the time. Also, please bring examples of 4P technology if you have it - I'll have an XO or two of course.

Inveneo has graciously offered to host us in their new offices in San Francisco and Vital Wave Consulting is donating lunch.

4P Computing Meetup
Saturday, April 19
11am - 1pm
at the new Inveneo Offices
972 Mission Street, 5th Floor
San Francisco, CA
Parking is available
Please feel free to invite others who would be interested and interesting, just let me know so I can keep a headcount.

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