Early morning. Bushbuckridge. September 2003

Women begin their long wait for water…

I use this photograph a lot, particularly during my “Keeping it Relevant” talks. It was taken back in 2003 during one of several research trips to South Africa and Mozambique for the Vodafone t4cd project proposal, and the “Mobile Phones: An Appropriate Tool for Conservation and Development?” report, which I co-authored with good friend and colleague Richard Burge. Looking back, 2003 seems remarkably early to be attempting something like that, and it was indeed challenging at a time when mobile phones were only just beginning to show their potential. We even discussed an idea for mobile payments, although this didn’t get into the final document. If only I’d had the time and resources to explore that one…

I wanted to use this image on the front cover of that report, but was voted down in favour of a more ‘traditional’ photo. Most people just never got what a picture of women queuing for water had to do with appropriate technology.

Who you lookin’ at?

You know how it is. You take a shortcut and end up further away from your destination than you would have been had you stuck to your original route. But sometimes it pays off.

Although it’s hard to believe that I hadn’t seen these before – for those who know the area, Cambridge (UK!) is pretty flat – I bumped into these little beauties taking a short cut to a little village where I live. It’s unusual to see such contrasting technologies literally side-by-side.

Unless, of course, the windmill happens to be powering the mast. Now, that would be neat.