Crowdfunding: What’s in it for Development?

Picture taken from

Crowdfunding – another example of the globalized world we are living in. No matter where you are from and where I am from, no matter how far we are apart and what status or ethnicity we were born into, no matter if we know each other or not – we can support one another financially by just one klick.

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Who benefits from disruptive technologies? Part 2: Blockchains

“It produces a better democracy than democracy; it produces better money than money.

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Can a machine take a joke? Twitter, sentiment analysis and irony


Photo credit: Esther Vargas

UN Global Pulse recently announced a partnership with Twitter (Tatevossian 2016):

“The Sustainable Development Goals are first and foremost about people, and Twitter’s unique data stream can help us truly take a real-time pulse on priorities and concerns – particularly in regions where social media use is common – to strengthen decision-making.”
Robert Kirkpatrick, Director of UN Global Pulse

It sounds so simple. But there are a lot of big questions here –

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Not becoming Icarus: how to use Big Data wisely

The use of big data is increasingly becoming an integral part of understanding many of our current problems on a global scale.  However, when reading and reflecting upon big data, it becomes evident that the benefits are contrasted with many pitfalls and risk. It is of great importance not to have too high hopes in data and technology without remaining critical. Remember the myth of Icarus? He who fell victim of hubris, flying to close to the sun and ending up having his wings melt. In the book “Big Data: a revolution that will transform how we live, work, and think” Mayer- Schönberger and Cukier underline the importance of not having naive trust in technology: “We must guard against overreliance on data rather than repeat the error of Icarus, who adored his technical power of flight but used it improperly and tumbled into the sea” (Mayer- Schönberger, 2013, p. 170). Continue reading

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Disaster Management with the help of CDRs?


Crises evoke an innate need to be connected. Picture taken from National Geographic (2015)


Call Detail Records (CDRs) are probably the most exemplified data supply tool when the focus is on facilitated development work by means of big data resources. But besides its real-time descriptive promises, which issues emerge when we talk about the use of personal call details?  Continue reading

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Who benefits from disruptive technologies? Part 1: Bitcoin

s_bitcoinThe other day I had lunch with an old friend who works as an analyst for a multinational technology company, inhabiting a very different world from me. I mentioned that our current task concerns data and development, and she replied “Ah – the blockchain.” I had to confess I hadn’t heard of it – is it just me? – So I thought I should try and find out more. It forces me to enter two alien worlds – tech and finance – but here goes with a naïve newcomer’s introduction to bitcoin and the blockchain on which it is based.

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Big Data – Big Agriculture

There are few questions more central to the future of humankind than the future of food security, farming and agriculture. With regards to this, the hopes are high for technology, big data and “smart farming”. Many believe that big data will be “the fuel that drives the next industrial revolution, radically reshaping economic structures, employment patterns and reaching into every aspect of economic and social life” (Spratt, 2015, p.6).

In a Ted-talk from 2015, Jim Ethington, technologist and entrepreneur with long experience from building data analytics and machine learning products, focuses on how big data can be used to help solve world hunger problems. With an ever increasing Continue reading

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