In a sense, kiwanja.net is something of a deception. With so much going on so much of the time, it exudes the aura of a small, tightly-knit organisation, a team of people busily working their way through a range of mobile and ICT-related projects. If, back in 2003, I had called the site kenbanks.com as I originally planned - thank goodness it was taken - this confusion probably wouldn't arise today. Many people assume there are at least a couple of people behind kiwanja.net, nGOmobile or FrontlineSMS. The deception is well and truly driven home when I get emails asking to speak to someone from my London office. One day, my friend. One day.
The last couple of weeks or so - a few days either side of my return to Stanford, in fact - have been particularly productive. Here's a wrap up of some of the latest kiwanja.net News.
kiwanja.net was appointed a member of the Program Committee for the W3C Workshop on the Role of Mobile Technologies in Fostering Social Development. Scheduled for Sao Paulo in June, the Workshop aims to understand the specific challenges of using mobile phones and web technologies to deliver services to underprivileged populations in developing countries. A Call for Participation for the 2008 event went out at the end of February.
A talk on the uses of FrontlineSMS by grassroots health NGOs, and a live demonstration of the software, took place at Stanford University's Texting4Health Conference. This followed closely on the heals of FrontlineSMS's inclusion in a new UN "Compendium of ICT Applications on Electronic Government". The first in a series of volumes, this one focuses on the use of mobile technology in the areas of health and learning.
After a series of discussions which started last autumn came an appointment to the Advisory Board for Open Mind, a non-profit organisation which houses Question Box, a project developing a simple telephone intercom which connects rural people to the internet. After blogging about it a few days ago (see the entry below), Question Box was picked up by the popular Boing Boing website.
After successful outings with the Global Mobile Awards 2008 and kiwanja's own nGOmobile competition, 160 Characters appointed kiwanja.net a judge for the forthcoming 2008 Mobile Messaging Awards. FrontlineSMS, which was short listed for a 2007 Mobile Messaging Award, will be at the centre of a speech I'm giving in Cannes - where the 2008 winners will be announced, and where I'll be making the non-profit keynote address on the use of SMS by grassroots NGOs around the world.
On the subject of Awards, FrontlineSMS has been nominated in the "Equality" section of the Tech Awards, an international Awards program that honours innovators from around the world applying technology to benefit humanity.
kiwanja.net made its fourth appearance on the BBC World Service, this time talking about the recently announced winners of the inaugural nGOmobile competition. The interview, broadcast on Digital Planet, profiled the projects in Kenya, Uganda, Mexico and Azerbaijan and covered more broadly the continuing relevance of SMS as a tool for grassroots NGOs in the developing world.
The Social Mobile Group on Facebook, set up by kiwanja in November 2006 (and which has just hit the 1,400 member-mark) was praised in a blog posting by Social Media Guy in an entry titled "Facebook Groups Done Right". The use of Rotating Group Officers, relevant discussion topics, the presence of an external site for non-Facebook users and a voluntary Members Directory were all highlighted as innovative ways of developing and maintaining groups on the platform.
Finally, "Design Traditionalist", a blog run by Alan Manley (a lecturer in product design in India) has named the kiwanja.net website among several others in its "Good site" section. As someone forced to do their own web design and development (it would normally be a job for the London office, right?) it's always quite pleasing when a qualified observer has a "positive interaction".
Maybe I won't make those changes after all...