Tuesday, 14 October 2008

MobileActive 08 in Johannesburg

This - www.mobileactive08.org - is shaping up to be a very special and possibly quite influential event. Jointly organised by SangoNet - the South African organisation that will be one of the early collaborators in CompartSouth) and MobileActive, it is focusing on the uses of mobiles in development and brings together an extraordindary mix of creative applications of mobiles to support activism, health and agricultural programmes, data gathering and corruption monitoring, communications and news. One of 381 delegates, I am here to explore how mobiles can contribute to Knowledge Sharing and support the ComPart South programme.

I have been helping with the preparations, supporting members of SangoNet's Citizen Journalism programme to download and learn mobile applications. There are two teams of documenters - one from a Rhodes University New Media programme and the other from SangoNet. Each has been issued with top-end Nokia (donated of course) with which they will use to gather photos, video interviews and audio recordings of the workshops, meetings and demonstrations.

This, I think, is an immediate and obvious application of mobiles to Knowledge and Learning. Euforic and ICCO know about the value of rich reporting during and from events. Using mobile phones is one way to involve more people in in this process, especially to contribute multi-media content to the post-event documentation. The emphasis of course is on communicating what is going on, enabling others to get connected to such events. It is also a way to capture learning, insights, excitement or ideas. This communication, and the ability to then organise and store the material, is a central part of Learning and Knowledge Sharing.

And since this is 2008, of course the phones will use very smart a software and web services which exploit the convergence of applications onto modern phones. Shozu enables posting of photos and videos instantly (via a WiFi internet connection) to your favourite social media. Look for the tag mobileactive08 on Flickr, YouTube, FaceBook and Twitter. They are also experimenting with live video streaming using Flixwagon.

Approx 9% of South Africans can access the Internet. Around 80% can access a mobile, now more even than Radio. David Barnard, the Executive Director of SangoNet was at the June Compart South learning workshop in Lisbon. He has clear ideas about where how SangoNet wants to integrate mobile phones into their work.

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