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Rethinking Schumacher

Ever since I came across Fritz Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful” at University back in 1997, I’ve been a close follower of the appropriate technology movement. Although for many appropriate technology is associated with ploughs, stoves and farming implements, for some time I’ve been thinking about how it applies to the work we do with mobile. I tackled this in a PC World article a couple of years ago, and more recently in a blog post on how appropriate “cloud-based” mobile solutions are in a world where so many people are yet to be reliably connected to the web.

Now the World Watch Institute have taken the discussion a step further in an excellent article in the May/June edition of their magazine. In it, John Mulrow argues that, if carried out appropriately, Schumacher’s original concept of local initiatives, local ownership and local innovation can be applied to today’s mobile world, despite mobile phones being a technology often designed, developed and controlled from the ‘outside’. This is one of the best articles yet on mobile vs. appropriate technology, and is well worth a read.

“Think Mobile, Act Local” is available as a PDF here.

68 comments

1 Ken Banks { 04.07.10 at 8:56 am }

Compliment or conflict? Thoughts on mobile phones as appropriate technology. "Rethinking Schumacher" at http://is.gd/bii9W

2 Egghead Odewale { 04.07.10 at 8:56 am }

RT @kiwanja: Compliment or conflict? Thoughts on mobile phones as appropriate technology. "Rethinking Schumacher" at http://is.gd/bii9W

3 changefeed { 04.07.10 at 8:57 am }

->@kiwanja: Rethinking Schumacher http://bit.ly/cp2aO4

4 Alexandria Fisher { 04.07.10 at 9:00 am }

RT @kiwanja: Compliment or conflict? Thoughts on mobile phones as appropriate technology. "Rethinking Schumacher" at http://is.gd/bii9W

5 Tweets that mention Rethinking Schumacher | Build it Kenny, and they will come... -- Topsy.com { 04.07.10 at 9:21 am }

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ken Banks, changefeed and Alexandria Fisher, Egghead Odewale. Egghead Odewale said: RT @kiwanja: Compliment or conflict? Thoughts on mobile phones as appropriate technology. "Rethinking Schumacher" at http://is.gd/bii9W [...]

6 Ed Pomfret { 04.07.10 at 9:30 am }

RT @TopsyRT Rethinking Schumacher http://bit.ly/ct6IDs <–interesting post about development & mobile tech

7 Nick Baldwin { 04.07.10 at 9:35 am }

RT @kiwanja: Compliment or conflict? Thoughts on mobile phones as appropriate technology. "Rethinking Schumacher" at http://is.gd/bii9W

8 uberVU - social comments { 04.07.10 at 9:36 am }

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by kiwanja: Compliment or conflict? Thoughts on mobile phones as appropriate technology. “Rethinking Schumacher” at http://is.gd/bii9W

9 taitdave { 04.07.10 at 9:42 am }

RT @kiwanja: Compliment or conflict? Thoughts on mobile phones as appropriate technology. "Rethinking Schumacher" at http://is.gd/bii9W

10 taitdave { 04.07.10 at 9:42 am }

RT @kiwanja: Compliment or conflict? Thoughts on mobile phones as appropriate technology. "Rethinking Schumacher" at http://is.gd/bii9W

11 @mikegechter's RSS { 04.07.10 at 9:47 am }

Rethinking Schumacher: Ever since I came across Fritz Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful” at University back in 1997… http://bit.ly/cp2aO4

12 Sam Fleming { 04.07.10 at 9:47 am }

RT @TopsyRT: Rethinking Schumacher and appropriate technology – http://bit.ly/ct6IDs

13 lovisa { 04.07.10 at 9:48 am }

RT @kiwanja: Compliment or conflict? Thoughts on mobile phones as appropriate technology. "Rethinking Schumacher" at http://is.gd/bii9W

14 topsy_top20k_en { 04.07.10 at 9:48 am }

Compliment or conflict? Thoughts on mobile phones as appropriate technology. "Rethinking Schumacher" at http://is.gd/bii9W

15 Anna-Leena Vasamo { 04.07.10 at 12:16 pm }

RT @kiwanja: Compliment or conflict? Thoughts on mobile phones as appropriate technology. "Rethinking Schumacher" at http://is.gd/bii9W

16 Letsbuy com { 04.07.10 at 1:13 pm }

Rethinking Schumacher | Build it Kenny, and they will come… http://bit.ly/dnEtWX

17 iGetcha.org { 04.07.10 at 1:35 pm }

RT @kiwanja: Compliment or conflict? Thoughts on mobile phones as appropriate technology. "Rethinking Schumacher" at http://is.gd/bii9W

18 Jan Chipchase { 04.07.10 at 5:26 pm }

Think Mobile, Act Local: leveraging mobiles in development: http://is.gd/bii9W (WorldWatch) http://bit.ly/pi_shu (@kiwanja commentary)

19 Mobile Ministry Mag { 04.07.10 at 5:33 pm }

RT @janchip: Think Mobile, Act Local: leveraging mobiles in development: http://is.gd/bii9W (WorldWatch) http://bit.ly/pi_shu (@kiwanja commentary)

20 lovisa { 04.07.10 at 5:48 pm }

Think last pg is missing from PDF RT @kiwanja: Compliment or conflict? Thoughts on mobile phones as appropriate tech. http://is.gd/bii9W

21 heatherfleming { 04.07.10 at 6:16 pm }

RT @kiwanja: Compliment or conflict? Thoughts on mobile phones as appropriate technology. "Rethinking Schumacher" at http://is.gd/bii9W

22 Ken Banks { 04.07.10 at 6:37 pm }

@lovisatalk Sorry about that! Fixed now. =) http://is.gd/bii9W

23 mobi { 04.07.10 at 6:38 pm }
24 Free Article Directory » NHL History: New York Rangers | New York Islanders NHL Announcer { 04.07.10 at 8:37 pm }

[...] Rethinking Schumacher | Build it Kenny, and they will come… [...]

25 Bryan Rieger { 04.07.10 at 9:30 pm }

Compliment or conflict? Thoughts on mobile phones as appropriate technology. "Rethinking Schumacher" at http://is.gd/bii9W (via @kiwanja)

26 Laser Diode Microsystems | Microtechnology Material Geek | Microtechnology Material Geek { 04.07.10 at 10:56 pm }

[...] Rethinking Schumacher | Build it Kenny, and they will come… [...]

27 Dave Birch { 04.08.10 at 10:44 am }

"Think mobile, Act local" Love it. http://bit.ly/aXNljP

28 Alex Anderson { 04.08.10 at 11:55 am }

RT @kiwanja: Compliment or conflict? Thoughts on mobile phones as appropriate technology. "Rethinking Schumacher" at http://is.gd/bii9W

29 Luis F. Solorzano { 04.08.10 at 3:27 pm }

RT @janchip: Think Mobile, Act Local: leveraging mobiles in development: http://is.gd/bii9W (WorldWatch) http://bit.ly/pi_shu (@kiwanja

30 Thomas Bjelkeman { 04.08.10 at 9:09 pm }

RT @kiwanja: Compliment or conflict? Thoughts on mobile phones as appropriate technology. "Rethinking Schumacher" at http://is.gd/bii9W

31 Oliver Galloway-Lunn { 04.09.10 at 3:46 am }

RT @kiwanja: Compliment or conflict? Thoughts on mobile phones as appropriate technology. "Rethinking Schumacher" at http://is.gd/bii9W

32 ichiro miyazawa { 04.10.10 at 6:28 am }

hi, my name is Ichiro, working in UNESCO Islamabad.
We are using mobile phones (SMS) to promote literacy, which has been successful for learners to obtain literacy skills in their language.
Please take a look at this site http://www.unesco.org/en/education/dynamic-content-single-view/news/expansion_of_womens_literacy_by_mobile_phone_programme/back/9195/cHash/04ce77a521/

If you are interested, I can send details of the project.

thank you

Ichiro Miyazawa

33 kiwanja { 04.11.10 at 7:36 am }

@Ichiro – If you have any further information/links, that would be interesting, thanks.

34 Magda Wesolkowska { 04.13.10 at 1:32 am }

Think Mobile, Act Local: mobile tech & development: http://is.gd/bii9W (WorldWatch) http://bit.ly/pi_shu (@kiwanja commentary via @janchip)

35 frog design { 04.13.10 at 2:08 am }

Think Mobile, Act Local:mobile tech&development: http://is.gd/bii9W http://bit.ly/pi_shu (@kiwanja commentary via @janchip, via@wesolkowska)

36 Kristina Loring { 04.13.10 at 2:09 am }

@sammartintweets, just found this after we talked re: small is beautiful http://bit.ly/dfeF5R

37 kristinawalsh (Kristina Loring) { 04.13.10 at 2:16 am }

Think Mobile, Act Local http://bit.ly/dfeF5R (@sammartintweets, just found this after we talked re: small is beautiful)

38 Kristina Loring { 04.13.10 at 2:16 am }

Think Mobile, Act Local http://bit.ly/dfeF5R (@sammartintweets, just found this after we talked re: small is beautiful)

39 Out of the Jungle: Some Computer Security Folks Rethinking the … | Network Security { 04.13.10 at 3:59 am }

[...] Rethinking Schumacher | Build it Kenny, and they will come… [...]

40 felipe { 04.13.10 at 4:13 pm }

RT @frogdesign: Think Mobile, Act Local:mobile tech&development: http://is.gd/bii9W http://bit.ly/pi_shu (@kiwanja commentary via @janchip, via@wesolkowska)

41 Worldwatch Institute { 04.16.10 at 3:20 pm }

RT @kiwanja: Compliment or conflict? Thoughts on mobile phones as appropriate technology. "Rethinking Schumacher" at http://is.gd/bii9W

42 sharath srinivasan { 04.17.10 at 10:30 am }

RT @TopsyRT: Rethinking Schumacher http://bit.ly/ct6IDs really enjoyed this from kiwanja, it&#39;s all making more and more good sense

43 neobion09 { 04.19.10 at 11:15 am }

RT @kiwanja: Compliment or conflict? Thoughts on mobile phones as appropriate technology. "Rethinking Schumacher" at http://is.gd/bii9W

44 SMS Chile { 04.19.10 at 4:24 pm }

Nada es nuevo, todo es colaborativo: http://ow.ly/1AiBo En SMS Chile tambien creemos que lo Pequeño es Hermoso.

45 cris_hernandez { 04.19.10 at 4:25 pm }

RT @smschile: Nada es nuevo, todo es colaborativo: http://ow.ly/1AiBo En SMS Chile tambien creemos que lo Pequeño es Hermoso.

46 Practical Action { 04.27.10 at 9:38 am }

RT @TopsyRT: Rethinking Schumacher http://bit.ly/ct6IDs

47 abbieupton { 04.29.10 at 2:55 pm }

RT @TopsyRT: Rethinking Schumacher http://bit.ly/ct6IDs

48 Landon Young { 05.02.10 at 8:41 pm }

RT @TopsyRT: Rethinking Schumacher http://bit.ly/ct6IDs

49 Anthropology: Taking it mobile | Build it Kenny, and they will come... { 05.08.10 at 6:20 pm }

[...] the May/June edition of World Watch Magazine, John Mulrow wrote one of the best articles to date on mobile phones and appropriate technology, and this month an anthropology-focused article came to my attention via a Tweet by John Postill, a [...]

50 Anthropology: Taking it mobile | Socialbrite { 06.01.10 at 4:55 pm }

[...] the May/June edition of World Watch Magazine, John Mulrow wrote one of the best articles to date on mobile phones and appropriate technology, and this month an anthropology-focused article came to my attention via a Tweet from John Postill, [...]

51 Rethinking innovation | Build it Kenny, and they will come... { 06.15.10 at 11:50 am }

[...] to date on “mobile technology as an appropriate technology”. You can read about that here, and it is well worth a [...]

52 The rise of “user-experienced” innovation | Build it Kenny, and they will come... { 08.10.10 at 3:58 pm }

[...] the appropriate technology work ethic as it could be. John Mulrow in World Watch Magazine recently wrote a great article about the relationship between mobile technology and appropriate technology, but for me many [...]

53 Ken Banks { 10.27.10 at 4:49 pm }

Keep coming back to this excellent World Watch article on #mobile as an appropriate technology. http://is.gd/gmEzV #m4d

54 AppLab { 10.27.10 at 4:52 pm }

RT @kiwanja: Keep coming back to this excellent World Watch article on #mobile as an appropriate technology. http://is.gd/gmEzV #m4d

55 tedx kigali { 10.27.10 at 4:52 pm }

RT @kiwanja: Keep coming back to this excellent World Watch article on #mobile as an appropriate technology. http://is.gd/gmEzV #m4d

56 Pablarribas Radar { 10.27.10 at 5:41 pm }

dlcsubs Rethinking Schumacher | Build it Kenny, and they will come…: http://bit.ly/cp2aO4

57 Tech at State { 10.28.10 at 12:02 am }

RT @kiwanja: Keep coming back to this excellent World Watch article on #mobile as an appropriate technology. http://is.gd/gmEzV #m4d

58 #Tech: Don’t Confuse Innovation For Implementation This Year | Nonprofit Marketing 360 { 01.09.12 at 7:56 pm }

[...] poor and the opportunities of organizations engaged in working with them. Trumpeting the need for “appropriate technologies” at a development conference is only helpful if people don’t then run off and build iPad 2.0 [...]

59 Ken Banks { 01.20.12 at 1:59 pm }

Great to see this excellent World Watch article on mobiles as appropriate technology doing the rounds again http://t.co/MX5HM4Vu

60 Shikoh Gitau { 01.20.12 at 2:04 pm }

Great to see this excellent World Watch article on mobiles as appropriate technology doing the rounds again http://t.co/MX5HM4Vu

61 Bevsmeridian { 01.20.12 at 2:04 pm }

RT @TopsyRT: Rethinking Schumacher http://t.co/lE9JSbno

62 Steve Finikiotis { 01.20.12 at 6:13 pm }

Great to see this excellent World Watch article on mobiles as appropriate technology doing the rounds again http://t.co/MX5HM4Vu

63 What if Apple worked in ICT4D? Reflections on the possible | Build it Kenny, and they will come... { 01.24.12 at 10:35 am }

[...] product line hardly fits into the appropriate technology model – they’re expensive, power-hungry and the devices are reliant on a computer (via [...]

64 Global Health, Farming, Education or Climate Change: What Would Apple Do? – News Watch { 03.06.12 at 12:51 pm }

[...] product line hardly fits into the appropriate technology model – many are expensive, power-hungry and in most configurations the devices are reliant on a [...]

65 Ken Banks { 04.20.12 at 9:13 pm }

@mikiballester If you're interested in mobile/appropriate technology, there's a great World Watch article here. http://t.co/BgWB9XZv #ftg9

66 When is a new technology an “intermediate technology”? { 05.17.12 at 8:22 pm }

[...] But don’t just read my views (as a Practical Action insider), see John Mulrow’s recent article on think mobile, act local; and Ken Banks blog at Kiwanja net. [...]

67 In search of an ICT4D mantra | Build it Kenny, and they will come... { 08.27.12 at 9:24 pm }

[...] Further reading Social mobile: Myths and misconceptions Mobile applications development: Observations Rethinking Schumacher. [...]

68 Ken Banks { 12.14.12 at 4:13 pm }

@GSMACPM If you're interested in how mobile fits into Schumacher's thinking, World Watch wrote a great piece recently. http://t.co/MX5DeuMk

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