Archive for October, 2008


Oct 30 2008

World Map of Flickr Privacy Settings

by at 2:14 am

World Map of Flickr Privacy Settings

TechCrunch and ReadWriteWeb have written about a slide shared by Yahoo!’s Principal Research Scientist Elizabeth Churchill on geographical locations where Flickr users are more likely to post their photos with privacy settings (red) or use the default public setting (green). The sample set was 1 million Flickr users who self-reported their locations, in 2005.

Neither Michael Arrington nor Marshall Kirkpatrick share any details of the methodology behind the map, but a quick Google search led me to the presentation from which this slide seems to be taken: ‘Sharing Preferences and Privacy Cultures‘. The presentation itself is based on a paper by Elizabeth Churchill and Shyong K. Lam titled ‘The Social Web: Global Village or Private Cliques?’ The paper is behind a firewall but the presentation gives some more data about the research —

– More than 90% of users younger than 25 post their photos as public. In the 25 to 40 age group, public photo sharing behavior drops, almost in s straight line, to 80% and goes as low as 70% for users in their late 50s and early 60s.

– Public photo sharing behavior follows a S curve when mapped against the number of contacts: it first decreases between 0 to 10 contacts, then increases with the number of contacts to go beyond 90% for more than 30 odd contacts.

– In the world map itself, there are at least five gradations from green to red. It seems that pure red means that about 70% of the users share their photos publicly whereas green means that about 90% of the users share their photos publicly. Since no information is available for the methodology behind the world map, I can only conclude that users in America, Brazil and Russia have a higher tendency to share their photos publicly than users in India, China or Europe.

The conclusion that Indians are more concerned about online privacy than Brazilians and Americans further complicates my research on attitudes towards online privacy in BRIC countries. Another research by Synovate showed that Brazilians and Americans are more concerned about online privacy than Indians, whereas my own understanding is that both Brazilians and Indians are much less concerned about online privacy than Americans.

No responses yet | Categories: 2008-09 Fellows,Brazil,BRIC,China,Gaurav Mishra,India,Privacy,Russia,Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Oct 29 2008

LIRNEasia Study on Teleuse at the Bottom of the Pyramid

by at 2:42 pm

I recently came across an amazing study done by ICT4D research organization LIRNEasia on Teleuse at the Bottom of the Pyramid.

Here are the key findings from the 2006 study amongst 8660 respondents (including 6605 SEC D and E respondents) in India, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand —

– At the BOP, access to phones (more than 90%) is much higher than ownership of phones (20% to 50%) due to heavy used of shared, borrowed and public phones.

– At the BOP, males are heavier users of mobile phones while females are heavier users of household landline phones.

– BOP users make an average of one call per day, mostly local, mostly 2-3 minutes long, mostly to stay in touch with family and friends.

– At the BOP, convenience, in terms of anytime accessibility, is the biggest driver in the purchase of both fixed and mobile phones. The ability to afford the initial cost (up to $50) of getting connected is the biggest reason for not buying a phone even though monthly charges are low (as low as $5).

– Most BOP phone owners (up to 70% in India) feel that owning a phone has improved their ability to earn or save.

– Only 35% of the BOP mobile phone owners in India use SMS (compared to 100% in Philippines) primarily because they don’t know how to use SMS (party due to low local language support) and the cost of an outgoing voice call is almost the same as the cost of a SMS.

– BOP mobile phone users adopt various cost-cutting techniques including making missed calls, using the mobile phone exclusively for incoming calls, making only mobile-to-mobile calls and making calls at off-peak hours.

– More than 95% of the BOP mobile phone users have pre-paid connections to control costs and avoid documentation. Most of them do infrequent top-ups once in a month or even longer (>90% in India).

– More than half of the BOP non-owners want to buy a phone in the next 2 years. Almost a third of them (skewed towards female and rural users) want to buy a fixed connection. Most of the prospective BOP phone users have incomes of less than $150 per month.

– Finally, almost 70% of the BOP respondents in India hadn’t heard of the internet yet in 2006 (wow!).

Here is a three part presentation on the findings — 1, 2, 3 — and here is a two part video report on the study — 1, 2

No responses yet | Categories: 2008-09 Fellows,Access,Gaurav Mishra,India,Mobile,Social Change | Tags: , , , , ,

Oct 29 2008

Mobile for Development Innovations in Africa

by at 12:30 pm

The story on using mobile innovations for development in Africa has been unfolding for a while now, but it has become even more prominent since the Surprising Africa special at the Picnic 2008 conference in Amsterdam and the MobileActive 2008 conference in Johannesburg.

Here’s what some of the people who are writing the story on mobile-based social innovation in Africa have to say about it.

Ethan Zuckerman from Golbal Voices

If Africa is surprising, then you’re not paying enough attention.

Jonathan Gosier from AppAfrica (link) —

For social entrepreneurs and investors, the innovation occurring here is a huge sign of progress that could potentially change the continent’s world standing forever. The most exciting aspect for me, however, is the decreased reliance on developmental aid and foreign groups to provide these solutions. The number of African developers who are beginning to create applications that offer solutions for their own communities is increasing and that, more than anything else, will shape the future of Africa.

Eric Hersman from Ushahidi (link/ slides) —

Here’s one more compelling thought. The challenges brought about by bad governance, poverty, low bandwidth (all the negative things you associate with Africa) also provide an incredible opportunity. The developers who are coming up with solutions in the continent, the ones who are writing software or hacking hardware, are creating for some of the harshest environments and use-cases in the world. If it works in Africa, it will work anywhere.

Lowest common denominator design is at the core of MobiChange — it doesn’t work if it doesn’t work for everybody, everywhere — and here is a list of African mobile for development innovations I often turn towards for inspiration —

– Mobile Payments: MPESA (kenya), Wizzit (South Africa), Celpay (Zambia)

– Citizen Journalism: Africa News, Ushahidi (Kenya and South Africa), Sokwanele (Zimbabwe), Afrigator, Mzalendo (Kenya).

– Consumer Activism: mPedigree (Ghana).

– Access: WinAfrique (Kenya), Feedelix (Ethiopia), EthioBlog (Ethiopia), mobile phones on bicycles and wheelchairs, mobile charging stations.

– Agriculture: TradeNet (West Africa), Manobi (Senegal).

– Health: TxtAlert, SocialTxt and Mobilisr by Praekelt Foundation (South Africa)

Also See: Jonathan Gosier (1, 2, 3), Jason Harris (1, 2), Ethan Zuckerman, Amy Smith, Paul Polak, Ben Turner.

No responses yet | Categories: 2008-09 Fellows,Gaurav Mishra,Mobile,Social Change | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Oct 26 2008

Universal McCann: Social Networking for Making New Friends, Blogging for Socializing with Friends

by at 2:31 pm

In my earlier post on the recently published Universal McCann study, I had written about how we use different communication channels to stay in touch with our contacts.

Perhaps the most important insight in the Universal McCaan study is that we use the internet for expanding our network of contacts but use the mobile phone to maintain our current network.

Here’s another interesting insight from the Universal McCann report: we use social networks for making new friends and personal blogs for socializing with friends —

Universal McCann Social Media Study

In the previous post, we found that Brazilians and the Indians are amongst the most social online whereas the Americans are amongst the least social. The same trend can be seen here.

While differences in culture partly explain this significant difference in online social behavior, self-selection is also part of the explanation. Given the low penetration of the internet in Brazil and India, social media usage in these countries suffers from a serious early adopter bias.

But, let’s return to the idea that we use social networks for making new friends and personal blogs for socializing with friends. The idea presumes that our social network profile is more public than our personal blog, and I think that it’s indeed the case for most of us. I’m sure that many active social network users who have hundreds of friends on Facebook or Orkut have personal blogs that are rarely updated and read only by a few close friends and family members.

However, many of us have built substantial readerships for our blogs and use them as much for broadcasting as for socializing. For us, the opposite is likely to hold true. We meet new readers through the blog, interact with them via the comment section, e-mail or internet messenger, become friends with them, and then add them as a friend on Facebook or Orkut. I think that Twitter and FriendFeed are more similar to blogs than social networks on the broadcasting/ socializing continuum, in the sense that they are also hybrids, used both for broadcasting and socializing.

What’s the directionality for you? Do you make new social network friends via your blog or do your social network friends become readers for your blog? Do share your experiences in the comments section.

One response so far | Categories: 2008-09 Fellows,Brazil,BRIC,China,Gaurav Mishra,India,Russia,Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Oct 24 2008

Electricity is the Bottleneck for Mobile Penetration in Rural India

by at 4:04 pm

Atanu Dey on why electricity is the bottleneck for mobile usage in rural India

We don’t usually associate telecommunications with power. But cellular towers don’t work on love and fresh air (and fresh air is not something that you can take for granted, anyway.) They require power and in areas where the grid is unreliable, you have to spend fairly large sums on diesel generator sets. That, among others, is a major problem in rural India. The cost of energy accounts for a third of the operating costs of a cellular network, I am told. Higher costs means higher prices. So what’s to be done.

I am a firm believer in the market. The market figures out a solution. Recently I came across a firm that has developed cellular technology that is miserly in the use of electricity. It does not require grid and can do without diesel generator sets. It is VNL, a Swedish Indian company. As they claim, “VNL’s WorldGSM™ is the industry’s first microtelecom solution; a complete re-engineering of GSM for the billions of low-income, rural users.”

As you know by now, I’m a big believer in the idea of of transforming the macro into the micro and microtelecom sounds more exciting than anything else I have heard of late.

By the way, mobile penetration in rural India is growing fast. According to TRAI, at the end of June 2008, the rural wireless subscriber base in India was 71 million, or 25% of the 287 million mobile subscribers in India. Even more importantly, out of the 25.8 million new mobile subscribers in April to June, 8.55 million, or more than 30%, were rural subscribers.

Clearly, mobile penetration in rural India is increasing and initiatives like microtelecom will only enable the process.

No responses yet | Categories: 2008-09 Fellows,Access,Gaurav Mishra,India,Mobile,Social Change | Tags: , , , ,

Oct 23 2008

Universal McCann Study: Indians Have the Highest Number of Personal Contact Points Across Communication Channels

by at 9:47 pm

BRIC Social Circles

I had earlier used data from the Wave 3 of the Power of the People Social Media Tracker by Universal McCann to do a comparative analysis of social media usage in BRIC countries.

Now Universal McCann has published some more findings from the same study in another report titled When did we start trusting strangers? How the internet turned us all into influencers. The report is a treasure trove of interesting findings on how digital media is changing how we look at relationships and influence and I’m sure that I’ll return to it often in subsequent posts.

However, in this post, I want to focus on Universal Mccann’s findings on how we stay in touch with our personal contacts —

The evolution of the web as a social platform and primary communication channel has had a dramatic impact on the scale and nature of our friendship networks. Figure 8 shows the global average number of friends and personal acquaintances we maintain via different forms of communication including face to face, digital and letters.

The amazing truth is that the web has massively expanded the size of our social platforms and virtualised a large proportion of our daily contact. Today, although we still maintain an average of 35 friendships face to face, it is rapidly being equalled by email with an average of 32, social networks with 30 and Instant Messenger with 29.

Interestingly these all rank above SMS or phone calls, which shows that PC based internet is for expanding networks, while mobile is for maintaining current ones.

The nature of friendship is changing from voice to text and written word. This is a significant change in the ability to influence and share opinions as it’s much easier to do in text – communication is more frequent and can include additional information like links, videos and photos.

It’s important that we keep four clarifications in mind as we think about these numbers —

– These are the average number of people the respondents stay in touch with regularly in their personal life through each communication channel. These are not the number of people in their phone- or computer-based contact list, which is likely to be much higher.

– There is likely to be a large overlap between the number of people the respondents stays in touch with using different communications channel. So, the sum of these numbers is the number of total contact points and not the number of contacts itself.

– “Staying in touch” can mean different things in different cultures and these numbers do not capture the frequency of use of these communication channels.

– These numbers are based on responses from active internet users in the 16-54 age group, who aren’t representative of the overall population, especially in the BRIC countries who have very low internet penetrations.

While the worldwide figures are interesting in themselves, the country-wise comparisons are even more illuminating.

At the overall level, the Indians are the most social with 292 contact points, followed by the Brazilians at 260 contact points and the Chinese at 234 contact points. The world average is 194 contact points while Americans are rather asocial at 110 contact points.

Face-to-face, the Indians (42 contacts) and the Brazilians (38 contacts) are very social, the Chinese not so (28 contacts) and the Americans even less so (20 contacts).

On social networks, the Brazilians (52 contacts) and the Indians (43 contacts) are also hyper-social, which probably connects with the Brazilian/ Indian obsession with the rather open social network Orkut. The Americans, who are more mindful of online privacy, prefer the more controlled environment of Facebook and stay in touch with only 17 contacts.

Both the Indians (with 36 contacts) and the Chinese (with 32 contacts) like to stay in touch with SMS, while both the Brazilians and the Chinese (with 49 contacts each) extensively use instant messengers to stay in touch with friends.

The Indians, in fact, are truly channel agnostic and heavily use the phone (45 contacts) and letters (24 contacts) to stay in touch with personal contacts.

Finally, the Chinese have truly embraced personal blogs and use it to stay in touch with as many as 26 contacts, almost the same as the 28 face-to-face contacts.

I have always thought of myself as a introvert, but I regularly (that is, at least once a month) stay in touch with a surprisingly large number of friends — 50+ face to face, 50+ by e-mail, at least 100+ by social networks, less than 5 by instant messenger, 20+ by phone, 20+ by test message, 20+ by personal blog and none by letters, totaling to at least 250-300 contact points.

What about you? What is your preferred communication channel? What is the number of your contact points?

No responses yet | Categories: 2008-09 Fellows,Brazil,BRIC,China,Culture,Gaurav Mishra,India,Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Oct 22 2008

Social Network World Map: Why Do Indians & Brazilians Love Orkut?

by at 2:18 pm

Here’s the latest world map of social networks based on Alexa data (via Oxyweb) —

World Map of Social Networks 2008

— and Indian and Brazil are the only two countries in the world where Orkut is the most popular social network.

I have often wondered what joins Brazilians and Indians in their love for Orkut. The answer is a combination of serendipity, first mover advantage, faster loading time, simplicity of the name, similarity of the name to Hindi/ Portuguese sounds, simplicity of the user interface, and association with the Google brand name, but the most powerful reason is the lax attitude towards privacy common to Indians and Brazilians. Continue Reading »

No responses yet | Categories: 2008-09 Fellows,Brazil,Gaurav Mishra,India,Privacy,Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Oct 21 2008

Top Five Resources: Social Media for Social Change in India

by at 5:00 pm

Sometime back, I made a list of the top ten resources on social 2.0 or how to use social media for social change.

Here’s a follow-up list of the top five resources on social media for social change in the Indian context.

ThinkChange India — started by Vinay Ganti and old friend Santhosh Ramdoss — aims to be “your primary source of information on social innovation and social entrepreneurship in India.”

InfoChange India — managed by Centre for Communication and Development Studies — is “an online resource base that provides news, views, perspectives and debates on crucial issues of sustainable development and social justice in India and South Asia.”

India Banao — started by the uber high profile trio of Sanjeev Sanyal, Jayant Sinha and Sheetal Talwar — is “a platform for young people to participate in public affairs.”

Lead India 2020 aims to “lead Indian youth to lead India to lead the world by 2020.”

Change India aims to “encourage all citizens to participate in nation building by working with the government to improve quality of life of the citizens.” Continue Reading »

2 responses so far | Categories: 2008-09 Fellows,Gaurav Mishra,India,Social Change,Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Oct 20 2008

Edward Hall’s Context Prism

by at 12:05 am

In search of more prisms that I can examine BRIC countries through (Gaurav blogged about Geert Hofstede, which gave us some interesting data points), I came across Edward Hall’s high- and low- context analysis.

Other sites already cover Hall’s theory pretty well, but basically he differentiated cultures based on an idea that some had high-context communication and others had low-context communication.

Scandinavians, for example, have low-context communications.  You can walk into any conversation with them and their dialogue will contain very direct messages that are self-encapsulated and contain most of the information you would need to make sense of it.

There are codified norms within the society that make the conversation rules-based and less personal.  It comes off as very direct and to the point. Continue Reading »

4 responses so far | Categories: 2008-09 Fellows,Ben Turner,BRIC,China,Context,Culture,Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Oct 12 2008

A Framework to Understand Power Distribution in Mobile Banking Platforms

by at 10:14 pm

Ignacio Mas and Kabir Kumar from CGAP have written a great paper on the issues involved in mobile banking — Banking on Mobiles: Why, How, for Whom?1.

Here’s a quick summary of some of the ideas in the paper —

– Mobile phones offer always-on/ anytime/ anywhere ubiquitous reach and can partially or fully work as four devices: a virtual bank card, a POS terminal, a human ATM and an internet banking terminal. Not only that, mobile phones provide a unique user experience driven by personalization, immediacy and perceived control. Finally, mobile phones combine the tight security of the SIM with the flexible open architecture of the phone itself. Combined with the location awareness embedded into mobile phones, this capability can be the basis for a number of unique services.

– Banks can use the benefits offered by the mobile phones to build services that allow them to achieve one or more of the following objectives: increase penetration, sell more services, retain the most valuable customers, and reduce the cost of providing services. Continue Reading »

2 responses so far | Categories: 2008-09 Fellows,Gaurav Mishra,Mobile | Tags: , , ,

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