Draft Paper on Mobile Phones and Activism

Ethan Zuckerman has a thought-provoking draft paper on Mobile Phones and activism that echoes much of my earlier writing on this blog. He notes,

Ask an activist from the developing world the same question and you’ll get a different answer: the most important activist technology of the last five years is the mobile phone. The reasons for this are simple – for most of the world, mobile phone penetration vastly exceeds internet usage. (In China in 2005, there were 350 million mobile phone users, and 100 million internet users. In sub-Saharan Africa in 2004, there were 52 million mobile phone users and approximately 5-8 million internet users.) While analysts in the North talk about users receiving information on three screens – the computer, the television and the mobile – users in the South are usually looking at two screens, and users in rural areas of the South are looking at one: a mobile phone that might be shared by all the residents of a village.

Mobiles are powerful because they’re pervasive, personal and capable of authoring content. An intriguing new dimension emerges as they become systems of payment as well. Kenyan mobile company Safaricom has introduced a new system allowing mobile phone users to send money to other users of the network – it’s called M-PESA and has moved from pilot to full-scale implementation rapidly.

Read the full post here.

Related posts:
Mobile phones for advocacy and social transformation
Strengthening governance and fighting crime with mobile phones
Are mobile phones a basic human right?
Cellphones for civic engagement
Mobile phones for greater access : But where is the content for peacebuilding?
Defeating repressive regimes
Mobile phone futures

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