23 April 2009

What on earth are anthropologists doing playing with mobile phones?

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Indiana Jones
What on earth are anthropologists doing playing with mobile phones, asks Ken Banks, founder of kiwanja.net and creator of FrontlineSMS.

“It’s widely recognised that projects can succeed or fail on the realisation of their relative impacts on target communities, and development anthropology is seen as an increasingly important element in determining these positive and negative impacts. In the ICT sector – particularly within emerging market divisions – it is now not uncommon to find anthropologists working within the corridors of hi-tech companies. Intel, Nokia and Microsoft are three such examples. Just as large development projects can fail if agencies fail to understand their target communities, commercial products can fail if companies fail to understand the very same people. In this case, these people go by a different name – customers.”

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