I was no different to many other children my age, taking every opportunity to get my hands on a National Geographic magazine and flicking through each colourful page in wonder and amazement. I’d get most of mine cheap from jumble sales back then – I can afford to buy them full price these days – but that sense of fascination remains.
Thirty years on and I find myself in Washington DC attending the National Geographic Explorers Symposium. I’ve packed quite a lot in over those thirty years – school building in Zambia, hospital building in Uganda, a degree in Social Anthropology, carrying out biodiversity surveys in Uganda, running a primate sanctuary in Nigeria and various trips and visits to a host of other countries, most on the African continent.
Since 2003 my career took a significant turn when I started working in mobile, and the development of FrontlineSMS takes up the majority of my time these days. It was this work which caught the eye of the panel at National Geographic, culminating in the Award announced last month.
I’ve always been keen to take the mobile story out of the entrepreneurship, social media, activism and technology circles and more into the mainstream. Many of the articles I used to write for PC World were primarily designed to do just that. I’m excited to be able to talk about the role of mobile technology around the world to the Symposium delegates and attendees this week, and am excited to meet at first hand some of the amazing explorers and adventurers I was previously only able to read about (the man who helped discover the wreck of the Titanic among them).
It promises to be a fascinating few days, and I’ll be taking every opportunity available to see how our work – and how mobile more widely – can be applied to some of the work being done by National Geographic and their incredible family of Fellows and Emerging Explorers.