Media highlights - new technologies

Highlights from the media on Practical Action's new technologies program and related issues.

Simple local solutions to a complex global issue (The Times, 10 July 2009)
As part of a series of reports on low-carbon initiatives from the developing world, Parminder Bahra talks to Dr David J. Grimshaw of Practical Action about using MP3 players to transfer veterinary and agricultural information in Zimbabwe.
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Pod-ready Podcasting for the Developing World (SciDev.Net 19 June 2008)
Katherine Nightingale reports on an interview with Dr David J. Grimshaw of Practical Action.   The article reports on our work, starting with podcasting in Peru in 2006, through to work in Zimbabwe in 2008.   It recognises the importance of blending old and new technologies and taking account of the local context such as the lack of electricity or cell phone coverage.

The Tiniest Miracle? (The Independent 22 April 2008)
Jane Eason of Practical Action writes that, developments in nanotechnology could help provide clean, safe and inexpensive drinking water for everyone.  But the truth is that research is focussed on meeting the wants of rich consumers; scant attention is paid to the needs of people in the developing world.

New MP3/4 Players and Practical Action (Village e-Science for Life Blog 24 September 2007)
An interesting talk at the DSA conference presented work Practical Action are doing with cheap MP3 players in an animal health programme. They are using Pencil Technologies cheap solar powered MP3 players.

The Role of New Technologies in Potable Water Provision: A Stakeholder Approach
(Meridian Nano & Development News November 2006)
Practical Action, a U.K.-based charity focused on poverty reduction, has released a report on a meeting it held in Zimbabwe in July 2006 to engage members of Zimbabwean communities and scientists from developed and developing countries in discussions about nanotechnology's potential to alleviate Zimbabwe's problems with providing clean water to its rural and peri-urban communities.

Nanotechnologies debate must involve poor communities (SciDev.Net 24 July 2006)
In 2006, researchers from Demos, Practical Action and the University of Lancaster collaborated on a process designed to engage Zimbabwean community groups and scientists from both the North and South in debates about new (nano) technologies.   "If we are going to make notechnology work for Zimbabwe, we need to keep talking to the communities to ask them what they really need," said Lawrence D. Gudza, Practical Action's team leader for Southern Africa.

The $100 Laptop (ZD Net 22 November 2005)
Interview with David J. Grimshaw about the MIT initiative to introduce a $100 laptop.    "MIT potentially have an excellent idea here.   But to make it really work in developing countries, it needs to be well thought through in partnership with content providers, perhaps in education, and also NGOs and civil societies that are in touch with grass-roots community-level organisations," he says.   "It's about working in a participative way to allow people to develop their own solutions rather than have them imposed on them."  

Podcast reach Peruvian village (BBC News 7 February 2005)
In 2005, Practical Action Latin America engaged in a pilot project to test out podcasting.   Via a blending of new and old technologies remote rural communities could access information in their own languages and make their own audio files for sharing.

Letters in the press on new technology and development issues

Avoiding the Nano-Divide (Business Week 7 March 2005)
Business Week published a letter which was in response to the useful review of nanotechnology which rightly identified the potential impact on materials with applications in a variety of sectors. However, it omitted consideration of the impact on developing countries.   Our letter challenges this omission challenges the business community to get involved.

Open Source Software Can Help Developing Nations (Financial Times 2 November 2004)
The government procurement agency's view that open-source software is a viable desktop alternative to Microsoft (report, October 28) could have a significant impact beyond the UK.

Stopping the Nano-Divide (The Guardian 20 August 2004)
In response to a Leader in The Guardian on 19 August 2004 a letter was published the following day.   This expressed our concern that yet another new technology will over-promise and underdeliver; that in addition to the already apparent "digital divide", we may be on the verge of a "nanodivide".

The Microsoft Killers (Prospect  March 2004)
Azeem Azhar’s article about open source software grabs the headlines with a bold; “The Microsoft Killers” yet fails to address one of the key issues around the open source debate. The otherwise excellent article omits any mention of the impact that open source software could have on people living in developing countries, some 78% of the world’s population.

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