A few weeks ago, I was sitting on a panel for a conference on Information and Communications Technology and Development. The debate on my panel was a lively one, and came down to one issue: Can information technology (by itself) lead to development? Obviously there has been a lot of buzz about this topic -- Jeffrey Sachs has called the mobile phone the “single most transformative technology” for de
CGD Policy Blogs
This is a joint posting with Kristy Bohling.
I recently received a text message from my friend Karim in Niger, asking “Keski ce passe?” (What’s happening?). Those of you who know French might notice his text is an abbreviation of the much longer expression for “Qu’est-ce qui se passe”, which is formal and proper but a bit long when you only have 140 characters. Such abbreviations in French, English and other languages have caused teachers and parents alike to blame texting for corrupting our language and “degrading [the] spelling of [our] youth.” Existing studies in the UK and elsewhere have debunked these claims, and, the National Adult Literacy Database called on people to celebrate International Literacy Day by “reading or writing, tweeting or texting.” In fact, mobile phones and texting might be a new tool in the arsenal against illiteracy: our new research in Niger suggests that mobile phones could promote literacy and numeracy skills in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Wonkcast is taking a brief summer vacation. We’ve selected this show from our archives- it was originally posted on June 1, 2010.
In the wake of the Haitian earthquake, major wireless carriers used text messages to speed up and simplify donation processes, allowing thousands of people to send financial support via their mobile phones. Within two days, USD$2 million was raised for Haitian relief efforts. Will mobile phones serve as a new paradigm for providing aid in developing countries?