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Erik Hersman (2008) Pop!Tech Pop!Cast

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POP!TECH [♪ POP!TECH Theme Music ♪] Brings Together The World's Leading Thinkers To Share Inspiration and Ideas Igniting Change And Unlocking Human Potential This Is Part Of Their Ongoing Conversation POP!TECH POP!CAST So it's really great to be here today. But what I'm most excited about, actually, is that I've been traipsing across East and Southern Africa for the last 4 weeks, and because of Pop!Tech and Yahoo! my wife and daughters can watch the live stream of this. So what I want to talk to you about today is about a new breed of Africans: global Africans, who have one foot firmly planted in a rich cultural history, and the other in the eclectic future of a broader world. Now, this picture behind me is of me and my sister growing up in Southern Sudan. My parents were missionaries, linguists, who were translating the Toposa language into the Bible. I grew up mixing the life of American Christian values with those of a childhood spent in the African bush, learning about community, patience, and loyalty. So I'm born of two cultures. Yet, I'm actually not of either. And it's this dichotomy that colors my vision of the world. It's what allows me to look into the face of abject poverty and inexcusable mismanagement in Africa, and still see innovation, change, and hope brewing. It's what makes me realize that all the negative things that the West sees about Africa can be both our greatest challenge, and that which will allow us to challenge the great. One such example of that is Ushahidi. Ushahidi means "testimony" in Swahili. And it was an organization that I co-founded with a number of other Kenyans earlier this year. In the midst of the violence and destruction that swept across Kenya somewhat unexpectedly, we launched a website in the very first week that allowed any Kenyan to tell their story, say what was happening in their area. It looked like this. It was very simple and rudimentary. But it allowed anybody with a mobile phone to send in messages of what was happening around them. Some examples: On January 17th, "Protesters gathered in groups and attempted to walk into the town centre; police fired live shots and tear gas canisters to disperse them. Three protesters were seriously injured and one shot dead." "A 13-year-old boy was laid to rest next to his uncle's house; the burial was attended by hundreds of residents, who wailed, and lit up bonfires." "Police battled youths who set fire to roadblocks; the police shot indiscriminately, 'targeting anyone on sight'; One man was shot in the stomach as he stood in front of his house." The crisis in Kenya is now over. Yet there is still need for a platform that can be used around the world when a new emergency or disaster strikes. What we're building now is the new Ushahidi, which you see here, using our historical data. It's a free and open-source platform that allows anyone in the world to deploy instantaneously when there is a need. It's a tool that can help detect new crises before they happen, that empowers ordinary people to change the status quo, and a tool that saves lives and speeds recovery efforts. But most importantly, for me, I hope it's a tool that can be helpful for you in your time of need. Now, I also have other hobbies and projects. One called Afrigadget, which allows me to travel around the world, the continent, and see entrepreneurs doing things that you just don't see normally. Examples are of Philip Isohe, who's created this model airplane out of tin metal. Everything works, even the engine and lights. The engine itself was made from scrap metal. It's of fabricators, working in the unofficial industries around Africa, who use bicycle parts to create bellows. And I also, on my personal blog, get to cover entrepreneurs, innovators, change-makers, and hackers, from around Africa, who are developing web applications, mobile phone applications, that will change the world. This is Steve Mutinda. Steve Mutinda is 24 years old, and has already developed 5 mobile phone applications. One day soon... Well, Africa is changing. And it's changing technology that's leading this evolution. One day soon, we're going to say, "This is made in Africa," with pride, and the world will agree with us. For now, I'd like to say, if you'd like to be involved with our project, know that we're an open-source system, and we welcome any type of input from the whole community, whether it's software developers, marketers, or people that I can connect us with, people who might need this tool in future. Thank you. This work is licensable under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike License For details please visit POP!TECH For more Pop!Casts, information on Pop!Tech or to learn how to participate, visit

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes and 46 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Pop!Tech
Director: Pop!Tech
Views: 83
Posted by: beth on Nov 20, 2008

Erik Hersman a Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellow talks about Ushahidi and shares his vision at Pop!Tech 2008

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