Beyond mobile community

Tim Smit, Founder of The Eden Project, recently gave an inspiring talk at the Emerge Conference in Oxford (which I blogged about, in Tweets, here). One of the many takeaways from his talk was this:

This applies just as much to topics and subject matter as it does to people. Some of the highlights for me last year were talks I gave to “mobile-for-development-neutral” audiences. Sometimes we’re so cosy in our “m4d” bubble that we forget that many people don’t realise things like M-PESA exist, or that in the developing world patients can get medicine or appointment reminders, or that farmers can access agricultural advice, all through their mobile phones. We’ve worked for some time at FrontlineSMS to correct this, and this year has witnessed the beginnings of an acceleration of our efforts.

Since writing a travel piece for Vodafone receiver back in June 2008, I’ve been trying to figure out how we can get mobile articles into in-flight magazines. It’s the perfect neutral, captive audience, after all. Late last year, it happened.

As well as helping with the article, we also supplied a selection of photographs from our Mobile Gallery for the Brussels Airlines feature (above). Sadly, the article – “Africa’s hotbed of phone innovation” – is not available online.

We’ve also got a number of conference talks lined up this year which continue to take the “mobile message” away from purely technical or “mobile-for-development” or ICT4D audiences. Later this week I’ll be heading off to speak at the Global Competitiveness Forum in Riyadh:

The Global Competitiveness Forum (GCF), the only event of its kind, is an annual meeting of global business leaders, international political leaders, and selected intellectuals and journalists brought together to create a dialogue with respect to the positive impact organisational and national competitiveness can have on local, regional and global economic and social development

Of course, we also have The Social Mobile Group on Facebook, and our new “Mobile Message” series on National Geographic which has gained considerable traction despite only running for a couple of months. With another dozen-or-so articles still scheduled to run, we’re hoping to keep a regular column and build on their readership’s growing interest in the topic.

And finally, back to magazines, late last year I had a long chat with the Editor of National Geographic Traveller magazine, and our ‘interview’ will be featured in the magazine within the next couple of months.

Talking and writing about our work, and mobiles-for-development more broadly, is always exciting. Taking it to new places is even more so.

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