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First POST: Longform

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 16 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Steven Johnson responds to Henry Farrell's critique of the "Tech Intellectuals"; Twitter's Evan Williams lays out his vision of the future of media; Freshman Rep. Justin Amash gets some respect for his NSA fight; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

Can Better User Experience Reboot Kenya's App Economy?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, July 17 2013

Mark Kamau (Flickr/Whiteafrican)

African bloggers have bemoaned the failure rate of mobile apps in Kenya, in particular those that win competitions and then disappear. While many factors could contribute to the phenomenon, at the iHub UX Lab in Nairobi, Kenyan web solution expert Mark Kamau shows developers how to put the user at the center of the design. UX is short for User Experience, and Kamau advocates for it as a way of sharing the “cognitive load” between mobile app developers and users.

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WeGov

Google Launches Mobile Micropayments in Africa

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 30 2013

A Nairobi matatu (bus) (Wikipedia)

Google just announced the launch of rebranded electronic payment system BebaPay in Kenya, home to the popular and successful mobile money system M-Pesa. With the BebaPay card, Google tackles the notoriously chaotic bus system in Kenya. The BebaPay card standardizes fares and provides riders with receipts, protecting them from unscrupulous conductors charging hiked up fares or not providing change. And it costs consumers next to nothing: the card is free and there are no transaction fees, although cell phone operators can charge to transfer money to the card. With all those perks, many are asking, “What’s the catch?”

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WeGov

Crowdscouring to Cut Traffic Congestion in Nairobi

BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, April 3 2013

Crowdsourced traffic updates, at Ma3Route (screengrab).

Traffic congestion is a major issue in many large African cities, with commuters spending hours a day on clogged thoroughfares. The Kenyan capital of Nairobi is home to some of the worst traffic not only on the continent, but also in the world, with gridlock so unmoving that you can, on occasion, sleep in the middle of the road.

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WeGov

Hack Day Brings Tech Solutions to Refugees Seeking Family Members

BY Julia Wetherell | Friday, January 25 2013

Developers at last weekend's Refugees United Hack Day

The world population of refugees displaced both within their home country’s borders and to harboring nations numbers in the tens of millions. Four fifths of that population is accounted for in the developing world, where humanitarian crisis cuts across communities, often separating families. On January 19, London-based developers worked to create new solutions for reconnecting these families, at the second Refugees United Hack Day. Read More

In the Slums of Nairobi, a Mobile Phone is More Valuable than Clean Drinking Water

BY Lisa Goldman | Monday, July 30 2012

Ethan Zuckerman, the director of MIT's Center for Civic Media, traveled recently to the Nairobi slum of Baba Dogo to see if there was demand for some simple hardware that could enable people with their own generators to supply energy to multiple customers for low fees paid via mobile payments. He thought Kenya would be an ideal market because it had a very successful mobile payments system,Safaricom, that was used by more than 70 percent of Kenyan adults. Given the poor infrastructure in the slums, he thought it was fair to assume that few people had access to electricity. It turned out he was wrong about that — and about a few other things, as well. Read More