Invite: Curry Stone Design Prize Ceremony

In just over a weeks time I’ll be heading back to the US to collect the Curry Stone Design Prize on behalf of FrontlineSMS. This is an exciting (and interesting) award for us for a number of reasons. You can read more of my thoughts on that here, and check out our official prize page here.

The Prize Ceremony is being held at the Harvard Graduate School of Design on 7th November, and it’s open invitation. If you’re interested in coming along drop the organisers an email. Details below.

Advice for social innovators at heart

For the past two years I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with some of the most inspirational, talented social innovators (aka Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellows). This year, good friend Erik Hersman and I returned to Camden, Maine to work with the 2011 Class. Sharing our own experiences of 2008 – when we were both Fellows – and lessons we’ve learnt on our journey is a large part of why we’re here.

Here’s a brief summary of twelve of the key lessons I shared with the Fellows before the retreat wrapped up earlier today.

  1. Don’t be in a hurry. Grow your organisation on your own terms.
  2. Don’t assume you need money to grow. Do what you can before you reach out to external funders.
  3. Volunteers and Interns may not be the silver bullet to your human resource issues.
  4. Pursue and maximise every opportunity to promote your work.
  5. Remember that your website, for most people, is the primary window to you and your idea.
  6. Know when to say “no”. Manage expectations.
  7. Avoid being dragged down by the politics of the industry you’re in. Save your energy for more important things.
  8. Learn to do what you can’t afford to pay other people to do.
  9. Be open with the values that drive you.
  10. Collaborate if it’s in the best interests of solving your problem, even if it’s not in your best interests.
  11. Make full use of your networks, and remember that the benefits of being in them may not always be immediate.
  12. Remember the bigger picture.
Further/related reading:

ICT4D postcards

“Luxury Travel Stories is about the idea of connecting the world via ‘stories’ in postcard format. A photo with accompanying text no more than what would fit on the back of a postcard”.

Last month I was invited to contribute a postcard to the Luxury Travel Stories project, and chose the photo – and text – below. You can view the post, and those from other contributors, here. The whole site is based on the idea of “connecting the world via ‘stories’ in postcard format. A photo with accompanying text no more than what would fit on the back of a postcard”. Like “Dear Photograph” (which I blogged about here), it’s a simple but compelling idea.

It was 2004, and I was working on a project which took me to the intersection of technology and international development. Much to many people’s surprise, mobile phones were beginning to make their way into parts of rural Africa, including areas like that in the photo. This is Bushbuckridge – an area which straddles Kruger National Park in South Africa. These women spend most of their days queueing for water, and we pulled up one morning when I took this shot. I use it a lot in my work. It highlights the challenges we face in the development community, and challenges me to think hard about the role of technology – if any – in improving people’s lives.

One of the things I’ve always maintained is that we often know little about the background and motivation of people working in our field, and how they came to work in it. So, in part as a way to rectify this I thought it would be great to put together a slideshow of ICT4D-related postcards to share online.

If you’d like to take part I’ll need the following:

1. A photo (high resolution if possible) – one you’ve taken, please. All it needs to qualify is to have a technology theme – radio, mobile phone, computer, solar lamp and so on.
2. Details of where it was taken and the year (if you remember).
3. A short description of what it is, and why it means something to you. Keep it short – think back of a postcard! We want personal stories – how you connect with the picture – not just a description of what it is.
4. A link to your website, blog or Twitter handle (or all three) so I can point people back to you and your work.

You can email all of this to

Once I have enough I’ll pull everything together and drop it into Slideshare. If enough people contribute it might be fun to map the photos, and stories, on Ushahidi.

Looking forward to seeing where this goes…