Video: Mobile Design and Access


The following video is a TED talk by Nokia researcher Jan Chipchase, whose blog I read regularly. He discusses mobile phone research and design in a broader context of international culture. While he doesn’t explicitly discuss politics, the ideas he introduces about the rapid evolution in the ways in which we experience technology have big implications for the ways in which we’ll experience information and government.

I tend to focus on what government needs to do in order for data to be accessible or compelling for citizens and lawmakers, trying to answer the question, "what does government need to do to allow legislative data to flourish, and how will that affect government?" Chipchase focuses on the manner in which people interface with technology, answering the question, "what does technology need to do to allow people to flourish, and how will that affect how we experience the world?"

He reminds us that there will soon be 3 million people using cell phones worldwide, and that this interconnectedness will have strong implications for how we go the business of being human, especially in third world countries. He points out that mobile phones are enabling people in third world countries to engage in banking through "air-time transactions". I’m also reminded that while we focus on freeing political data to a broader internet-using public, others are working to take that technology and integrate it into the rest of our lives, to the part that isn’t connected to computer monitors.

As cell phones in third world countries create unintended consequences like giving everyone addresses (Chipchase shows his pictures of cell phone numbers written over doorways on otherwise unindexed addresses, and remarks that our geographical system is already outdated) or enabling the illiterate to manage their contact information, democracy and government are bound to continue to be affected as well.