In the Company of Giants: I am an infoDev Mobile Apps Labs Implementer

Community of Practice

infoDev is implementing the ambitious “Creating Sustainable Businesses in the Knowledge Economy” program with the Government of Finland and Nokia to expand the impact of mobile applications in the economic and social advancement of the developing world.

A major component of the Creating Sustainable Businesses program are five regional mobile application laboratories, in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. These “mLabs” will facilitate demand-driven innovation of breakthrough low-cost, high-value applications through a web of inter-related activities to help entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and partners share knowledge, experience and perspective.
After a series of RFP’s to identify organizations that will implement this program with infoDev, I am happy to note that infoDev announced that CSIR Meraka Institute and *iHub_ will be the two African mLabs. I have also learned that Vital Wave Consulting is advising infoDev and the mLabs on sustainable business models. In this mix, yours truly will also play a role.
I am honored to announce that I will be working with infoDev and its mLab partners to create an international community of practice for those working on mobile applications for development. While the exact scope and goals of the community are still being developed, early indications are that it will consist of a range of mLab community news and networking opportunities, including promoting local offline gatherings.
I am very excited to work with Meraka Institute, *iHub_, and Vital Wave Consulting. Principals at latter two I’ve known for years and always admired.
To hold my own with them, I plan to draw on my 15 years experience with every aspect of Internet publishing, from hand-coding commercial websites, to starting blogging before the term “blog” existed, to using multiple social networking tools, to building communities of practice that bridge the real and virtual worlds.
This includes developing the following four international communities of practice – each a leader in its field:

  • Educational Technology Debate – a discussion of low-cost ICT devices for educational systems in the developing world, and one of infoDev’s flagship online communities of practice.
  • ICTworks – a premier knowledge resource for ICT practitioners deploying sustainable technology interventions, already central to over 300 entrepreneurs around world.
  • OLPC News – the leading independent analysis of the One Laptop Per Child program. It is now the largest community of OLPC supports, recognized as such by Nicholas Negroponte himself.
  • Technology Salon – a monthly meeting of ICT and development experts to discuss the impact of ICT in the developing world. It is so prestigious the UN Foundation’s Technology Partnership with the Vodafone Foundation now sponsors the Salon.

My key learning from all four of these communities? No matter how fancy the platform or its social networking capacity, it’s engaging personal contacts and timely and relevant content that form the basis of a successful community. Both are also interrelated as the best content comes from the best contacts that are outstanding because they have thought leadership and share it through good content.
To that end I hope I have your trust and support to help me develop and launch the infoDev mLabs community – I surely can’t do it alone!