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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Amanda Palmer

English: Amanda Palmer Live 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After reading repeatedly about Kickstarter and this new era of creative philanthropy, it’s interesting to see how the mechanics of such coin-in-cup operations are continuing to develop. The music industry has seen an unprecedented shift in business in the last fifteen years, attempting clumsily to keep up with technology and the public’s desire for immediate (and free) music via downloads. The industry’s indecision has also created a burgeoning DIY propensity amongst artists and also the desire on behalf of the public to fund them. The fact that said public doesn’t actually want any tactile or physical evidence of their expenditure is even more baffling – they just want to give!

There have been several recent cases that are quite extraordinary; one concerns the Kickstarter drive of musician Amanda Palmer, who in reaching out to the public to help finance her tour, ended up receiving $1m in donations and then proceeded to not pay the musicians in her band! On a more humanitarian (and Hollywood) level, CNN recently featured an article about a homeless man who found an expensive diamond ring in his coin cup, proceeded to save it and give it back to the lady who unwittingly left it with him. Read the rest of this entry »

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4Afrika

Huawei and Microsoft have teamed up to offer a bespoke Windows phone, running exclusive African-created Apps, in an initiative called 4Afrika

Connecting rural parts of Africa to the Internet is changing lives dramatically – helping healthcare providers with location analysis, weather information for farmers and teaching children in ways previously unimaginable. Countries like Kenya have been seeing the benefit of frontline technological advances for several years, and the developments keep coming. Recently the BBC reported that Huawei and Microsoft have teamed up to offer a bespoke Windows phone, running exclusive African-created Apps, in an initiative called 4Afrika. This programme should ultimately see millions of people with smartphones in the next few years.

Another aspect to 4Afrika, and potentially more beneficial, are the new advances enabling the unused ‘white spaces’ of the wireless spectrum used for television broadcasting to be set aside for remote Internet connectivity. This will be solar-powered and a much more consistent and powerful connection for online use. Read the rest of this entry »

Food Waste

Massive food consumption in modern society – Korean food 8 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A recent report on the BBC by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers stating that, “half of the world’s food is thrown away” has inspired many heated responses from retail and governmental sectors alike. Is it true? From the volume of voices now in the debate, the exact statistics don’t really matter – the important point is that a new dialogue has now been created around the issue of food waste.

This is a hot topic that is increasingly taking centre stage in the press. Top high street UK brands like M&S and Morrisons have already been quick to keep up with the public’s desire for fairtrade, ecological and recyclable products. This comes at an opportune time, because the smart brands can make money and win public trust – and, hopefully, stay in it for the long haul. The damning report was a cautionary tale that the change must come from up high, with Dr Tim Fox, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, saying: “Governments, development agencies and organisation like the UN need to work to help change people’s mindsets on waste and discourage wasteful practices.” But surely this is a battle that must equally be fought at street level, with retail and branding and effective consumer communication as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Katherine Lucey

Katherine Lucey
“TEDxPVD-129 (Photo credit: TEDxProvidence)”

It is often argued that limitations are the fuel for creativity – innovation and ambition not being reliant upon access to technological tools or even much financial support. If the above idea is true, then Africa’s advances in the last five years are proof positive that willful ingenuity is the real backbone of groundbreaking entrepreneurial successes. CNN has been running an excellent series on African nations’ new role in devising ingenious uses for mobile phones – from banking to medical advice – and ways to harness renewable energy resources to help create better lives in many seriously impoverished areas.

The latest article details how a new initiative to be bring solar power to poor areas is helping those without electricity and empowering the women who are selling this unique service. Katherine Lucey is the founder of Solar Sister, an organization built around women helping poor communities escape ‘energy poverty’ by providing affordable solar-powered devices such as lights, and mobile phone chargers, ultimately helping those desperately in need of energy sources. Read the rest of this entry »

Electric Car

Sales of electric cars in Britain are expected to double in 2013 as cheaper models enter the market and the number of charging points increases

While governments continue to negotiate themselves out of any action on the renewable energy front, the private sector is heating up with investments. New solar energy developments in North Africa have been widely written about, but many governmental backers have recently gotten cold feet and pulled out their funding. So, it’s encouraging to read a recent article in Britain’s Guardian newspaper trumpeting the positive advances that the electric car market is making in the UK – from both public and private sectors.

Although these alternatives to traditional automobiles are still in their infancy – at least in branding and design – it seems the ’Sales of electric cars in Britain are expected to double in 2013 as cheaper models enter the market and the number of charging points increases,’ according to the paper. And unlike the stalled actions in the solar power market, Britain’s government seems to be actively looking to increase charging points for owners of the vehicles. Read the rest of this entry »

Honey Making Money

Honey Making Money

Much has been reported on the global plight of honeybees. Their diminishing numbers make for worrying reading – far from a ‘cutesy’ environmental issue that is open to ridicule by politicians and moneymen, this phenomenon is directly tied to our species’ livelihood. The fact is that scientists don’t know why bees are disappearing (climate change, pollutants etc.), but their importance societally is undeniable – almost 80% of what we eat in the EU is pollinated by honeybees. So, with this in mind, a recent BBC Future piece showcased how the burgeoning telecommunications industry in East Africa is joining forces with farmers to help cultivate honey and make more money.

“For the past twelve years, Kenyan social business Honey Care Africa has developed its innovative ‘Business in a Beehive’ model that has allowed low-income farmers to easily earn more money by producing honey,” so writes Jonathan Kalan for the BBC. And what a fortuitous time to be cultivating this lucrative trade which, much like coffee, finds the planetary demand far outstripping supply. Smartphones are playing a vital role in this project as well; allowing farmers and suppliers to keep abreast of production, pricing and distribution. This honey network is made even more opportune by the fact that it allows customers, through central databases, to find out where their honey is coming from and who produced it.  Read the rest of this entry »

Only within the last decade have humans really begun to consciously become aware of our consumption propensities and the effect they may have on what is around us, and our health in general. It isn’t just climate change that has people buzzing, but iStock_000020727386XSmallalso sourcing products responsibly, understanding what is more elemental and essential and trying to be a ‘good human.’ It’s funny that it’s taken this long to see that this orb called Earth isn’t just a plaything.

What does this have to do with a giant microwave oven-looking specimen in Lubbock, Texas you ask? Well, food scarcity is beginning to make headlines as the new universal threat. Read the rest of this entry »


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