It’s been over a month since the Digi project inception meeting in Oslo. Those who missed my previous posts on this, in a nutshell: the Non-discriminating access for Digital Inclusion (DigI) project is a three year project, running from 2017–2020 with the main objective to establish pilots for the InfoInternet access in DRC Congo and Tanzania. The project was founded by the Research Council of Norway as part of the Visjon2030 portfolje. R&I work related to the pilots will prove business profitability for commercial establishment of the InfoInternet as an independent and self-sustainable ICT and communication infrastructure for digital inclusion.
The project vision on free access to information for everyone’ is realised in Tanzania through the intervention free access to digital health information and in DRC through free access to information as basis for digital economy.
The assumption of the project is that information uptake will
- lead to knowledge update, both for health education and for school education;
- prepare the ground for digital literacy;
- contribute to better health for humans and animals; and will
- foster societal growth both in terms of digital entrepreneurship and the overall economy.
We approach the vision of the design of new technology, the InfoInternet, providing hot-spots with free access to information both on user devices (BYOD) and on tablets. Through the hot-spots, we address availability and affordability. The hot-spots themselves will create jobs related to the digital economy (e.g. voucher sales), and are the entry points for other actors supporting information access, e.g. sponsoring Internet Access through advertisements.
This is what happened in Oslo. Day one of the kick-off meeting happened at UNIK, in Kjeller where the first internet in Europe came in 1973. Beside the meeting and presentations I followed, I had a pretty hectic day: it was a deadline day for the Marie Curie project proposal I was applying for (note to self — never, never ever wait the last minute for a deadline or submit three minutes before servers are closing down the submission form). Bernard Ngowi from the National Centre for Medical Research, in Tanzania, presented Digital Health for Africa, and experiences from Tanzania [click here to see the presentation]. Andrea Winkler from University of Oslo talked about Germany-Norway collaboration and Centre for Global Health [click to open], and Erwan Le Quentrec from Orange presented Economic Development using Mobile Phone can transform social development into cooperation and co-development [click to open].
Afterwards, we drove to Oslo marina and from there, our group took a boat through the fjord into the beautiful nature and green area by the sea, to the peninsula of Nesodden where we had a lovely dinner in a rustic boathouse in Flaskebekk. It was so fun and adventurous to go through the fjord and drive the boat (thanks Josef for letting me navigate and not ruin your boat and keeping the team alive on the surface). After the dinner and some frolics, I returned to the city by ferry, it was already late at night.
Day two of the Digi meeting started with the identification of topics and next steps, and planning and scheduling for Tanzania and Congo. Actually, we brainstormed and discussed all day, it was inspiring and interactive; we checked out the solar panel pilot at the gazebo, a health and village platform we plan for the rural areas in Tanzania. Also, we set up the future analogue meetings in the next couple of years. My tasks include digital literacy exploration and KPI, Uptake of Digital Health Information, Technology acceptance and User acceptance, etc. Everything is collaborative work and I’m very happy and grateful to work with amazing colleagues from different disciplines.
See you next time with the new Digi project letters from Tanzania, Berlin, and Paris.
End of June and the beginning of July, I spent an amazing time in Slovenia, lake Bled. This is a short movie from the portion of the trip. Enjoy!
(This post was originally written for Australian Science)
Last week, after I spent a couple of days in Brest, Brittany at a ESF, EU workshop/seminar brainstorming with other internet and scientific researchers on interesting topics related to internet science and innovation, I got myself back to Paris. I visited a French national institute with an international reputation for scientific excellence – ESPCI (École supérieure de physique et de chimie industrielles) and the CNRS department of Physics, Quantum Foundations – a group dedicated to research on quantum effects in materials. Also, I took the opportunity to meet up with two Australian Science writers who reside in Paris: Rayna, and Charles.
ESPCI Paris Tech stands for Physics and Chemistry Higher Educational Institution (a French “Grande École d’ingénieurs”). Founded in 1882, ESPCI is a major institution of higher education – an internationally renowned research center, gathering leading scientific innovators like Nobel Prize laureates Pierre and Marie Curie, Paul Langevin, Frédéric Joliot-Curie, Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, and Georges Charpak.
At ESPCI, I met with Arjen Dijksman, a physicist and researcher interested in tiny semiconductive nanoparticles, known as “quantum dots”. His background is in applied physics, and his research interests are focused on time-resolved spectroscopy of core-shell CdSe-CdS quantum dots. Arjen works at the Laboratoire de Physique et d’Étude des Matériaux − (Department of Physics and Materials Study) – an inspiring and interesting lab, and a place for the scientist interested in these innovative fields of physics. Arjen is also a science blogger at Physics Intuitions, and you may not know the fact that Arjen is also the scientific database creator for Physics Quote of the Day: hashtag on Twitter #xsw (exploring the scientific world), he spent years collecting interesting quotes from famous scientists.
Before going to the lab, we stopped by ESPGG – the Pierre-Gilles de Gennes center, where science meets culture and society. This open place is promoting international exchanges, meetings, lectures, exhibitions, and joint discussions between researchers, science communicators, journalists, artists, and storytellers interested in science and culture. Matteo Merzagora, a program director, introduced us to the Biophilia Education program happening this month: workshops led by musician Björk at the intersection between science, education and musical awakening.
During the lab tour, Arjen showed me the labs and demonstrated synthesis of Quantum Dots. Arjen’s research puts into practice the results of quantum mechanics using semiconductor nanocrystals. To the contrary of insulators, in which electric current can not flow, and conductors, where it can circulate easily, semiconductors are materials in which current can only flow if one adds a little extra energy.
In his laboratory, Arjen synthesizes these crystals, dubbed quantum dots . They are sometimes called “artificial atoms” because their diameter is of the order of a few nanometers – the size of a few atoms. Cadmium selenide, a semiconductor material, is often used because in that case, they show amazing properties of fluorescence. In particular, electrons are confined in the small volume of the quantum dots. They are unable to move out of this space.
From Thursday I’m off to UK tour visiting friends around England’s, ending up far North, and after New years Eve returning back to pack for States. I won’t be checking my email regularly, but will be here and there online. My mobile will be on, I receive and send tweet DM’s regularly, and wherever wifi allows me to be present – I’ll be networked. You can check my schedule on Dopplr (if you’re a friend and using it, let me know), and of course – my Twitter stream updates. I’ll bring with me lot of eBooks and literature to read, some of those are good old paper books that I’m looking forward to hold and read.
Also, I’m ready for Science Online conference on the east coast, USA this/next January, to meet again wonderful folks from all over the globe, interact and collaborate. I miss my friends and colleagues, so I’m looking forward to see you all very soon. If you didn’t signed up for the Friday morning workshop I’m giving on social media tools and services, please do register. The only requirement is to bring yourself and laptop.
Next year will be super-excited and challenging for me in every field, as the 2009. was absolutely wonderful bringing lot of great events, people, awards, places I’ve been living/working, and the great adventures. I’m looking forward to 2010, hoping to be even better, as the same I wish to all of you who are reading these words. In the next year, I’ll be writing for different media too, so you’ll read me on other places on Web. It will be challenging both for work and PhD research, dissertation and other activities, I don’t know where I’ll be next. All I know that I’d need to get disciplined and make some time during the year for myself and my personal life as 2009. was insanely working fun mixture of random nature escapades.
I may post in the mid-0f-travel adventure more of my thoughts or announcements, so stay tuned.
“So, you can take the girl out of academia, but you can’t take the academia out of the girl, eh?”
Those were the words of a friend of mine after I announced the news. Well, guess who can has PhD scholarship?
Last year I applied for Oxford PhD scholarships for 2009-2010, and completely forgot about it. Then in the April I was told I was selected and invited for an interview. All happened very fast and unexpected. It began with a call from British Council and professors from Oxford, when I was asked to come in person to the interview (last minute call) to Belgrade. Since I reside in Rome, I had to take the first plane next morning and I appeared in the early afternoon as the last candidate to be interviewed for this great opportunity. Actually I was about not to go, because it seemed impossible to make it to Belgrade in such short time, but my UN supervisor was encouraging me to give it a try.
Shall I mention that the interview was more like great, nice interaction between professors and me, carefree chat on social networks and media since professor and BC representative wanted to know more about the usage of the social networks in Serbia and they were all ears when I started passionately to talk about Facebook. Anyway, at the end of the interview I was told I will know the final result soon. So I went back to Rome, and seven weeks ago (I know, I know – I was and I am very busy at work to announce this to all of you officially) good news came right into my inbox: the official email from the Oxford University. I was super-happy and ecstatic and wanted to keep this to myself to summarize my thoughts and to think about this very well, and also to talk to my closest ones, to consult with the allies, and with my UN supervisor.
As much as I was happy – I had a huge dilemma that I was not facing for the first time, to choose between two good things: research or work. There is an eternal battle in me between academic/research life and practical work. The thing is I am equally engaged into both -academia and practical work, and since it has been two years since my Master thesis – I found myself still writing papers, publishing, going to conferences, storing for my research I’ve been developing in my head, travelling over the Europe and the United States, soaking and exchanging information, getting inspired. All in between, I’ve been working on practical things, still creating and contributing to the interwebs, interacting with people, making connections.
I officially accepted the offer to spend school year at Oxford Internet Institute, to work on my PhD research, and to interact with supersmart people, including my mentor dr Hogan. w00t!!! Or shall I say Blimey! I couldn’t be any more pleased. Yes, this means I am going to start the end of my research and writing of PhD dissertation.
For those who don’t know [and I doubt that those of you reading this don’t know – there is zero % that you didn’t hear for Oxford Internet Institute] – OII is the academic mecca for scholars, researchers, web creators, superb centre for the study of the social implications of the Internet. Going to OII will allow me to continue my PhD research that is focused on communication practices in virtual communities of the young adults in Serbia, especially focused on Facebook. Spending time at OII will bring me a productive, collaborative, inspiring environment in which I can accomplish my plan. Plus, there’s amazing work at OII concerning social web and media.
I am aware that PhD process is painful, but I strongly believe that knowledge is power. I wouldn’t be working on things I did in the past, and now for the UN on developing projects, which foster the technology, sharing of knowledge, web of science, semantic web, if I didn’t believe in them. Also, being surrounded with wonderful and supportive people, I am even more determined to start writing the dissertation and continue my research, because this is what I want. I realized that PhD is worth all the craziness around and inside the academia, as well as there are things that I can do with a PhD that aren’t academia.
The practice and work will keep me to the ground and sane as much as I can be – I won’t quit my UN job, this was one of the first issues I was concerned about, but luckily I have really fantastic supervisor, dr Keizer, who fully supports and encourages me. So, with all “blessings” I shall continue working on science and technology, semantic web project and return back to my research for the final dissertation. It sounds difficult and it is, but I am enjoying it and I see great benefits for my long-term goals.
I can’t wait to begin my research and writing, exploring, examining, publishing, interacting, soaking energy from experienced and smart people, that will inspire me to produce interesting ideas and the outcomes for the future projects and work. Also, I miss UK at some points, I have friends and colleagues there, and oh I love British countryside, and London is very near. I am aware about H1N1/09 virus, but I hope British people are working on it, and I’ll try to boost up my immune system. All in all, I am grateful for this great opportunity and for the all good people who supported me in this, and in general. I couldn’t be more happier. w00t!
Five days ago I experienced really nice act of kindness by Twitterer on my followers/following list. Five minutes or so before leaving my working station I twittered about free hugs, to test the power of Facebook and Twitter in foreign city and country as well as the radius of my digital visibility here in Italy.
A minute later I got direct message from a Twitterer residing in Rome, Apple fan and one of rare Romans who is using Twitter in tech, saying he’s coming in 15 min to meet me in front of my building. Very spontaneously this nice person arrived immediately via moped in front of my working place to give me a hug, and Moleskine notebook -City Rome. Those who are following me on Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and where not – can notice that I dig Moleskine notebooks. Thanks to Twitter, I’ve instantly met a person with whom I was sending replies and exchanged thoughts on technology and life in Rome the same day. Moleskine notebook was really nice gesture and welcoming gift, and I am very grateful to all people who are interacting with me, and picking up things I say or write.
The power of social web implies also analogue communication performances influenced by the online presence and ID management of the persona. This act of kindness du jour and the whole week I am memorizing fondly as one of the advantages of the usage of web 2.0 services. I’m very thankful that I can gradually, here and there, meet my invisible audience.
Hello everyone! Finally I’m trying to get back to blogging as I’ve been lazy blogger in the last three weeks, with a good excuse: I am in Rome, Italy for now the fourth week running around, working, settling, apartment searching, adjusting, non-learning Italian yet, trying to keep up with emails. Thanks to all of you for congratulating me, writing me emails, asking how I am – I appreciate you being a part of my micro-community.
First about the work, as many of you asked: I work in the great surrounding, knowledge – sharing – science information – technology – open office with internationals in UN, FAO, networked with the lot of people internally in Roman high institutions as well as externally with EU organizations in a collaborative project that you’ll hear when it’s time to be heard. I’m very honored to be in charge from UN side for this project and thankful to my colleagues and especially my supervisor who gave me full trust and confidence that i can do it. This is great challenge in my career and I am so happy about the work that is developing because it has great future and even greater purpose in technology, science and semantic web, web 3.0. w00t! Every beginning is a bit odd as you try to keep up with everything what’s being done so far, to learn, study a lot, get familiar with new things – and sometimes I feel like a small ant amongst super-smart giants, but on the other side there are lot of colleagues on and off UN who are really owing me with their kindness, their efforts to help me and also learning things from me. One of the surprises from digital life was that half of them read this site/blog or any other written word on Internet. The other half is on Twitter interacting or following me. Those who are not familiar with UN structure would think it’s uptight, too formal institution and I agree – but I am so damn lucky to be in creative, innovative, cooperative part of this institution that is easy-going, relaxed, but hard-working at the same time. So, I am very grateful for being a part of it, participating and creating something new. In the upcoming posts you’ll read more about technology, life and web 2.0 and web 3.0 for sure.
Rome, and Romans: you all know that Rome is the city of architecture per se, no words here to describe how blessed I am to live in this ancient, eternal city (some of the photos). Every corner has it’s own story, many social and cultural characteristics remind me on Belgrade (well, it’s only 1.5 hrs by plane), many differences I’m trying to accept as they are: from the everyday functioning to people’s modus vivendi (referring to Roman people). Everything is assuming and there are no rules. Italians rarely speak English, or not at all. It can be difficult for everyday life – off work, but hopefully if you have some basics in old Latin or French, you can easily catch up with the conversation and understand what it is about.
Oh, I have so many stories to tell so far, but first settling and getting my base here. What I really like in my new Roman life here is that I have enough free time (oh weekends, I love you!) to do whatever I want, not to think about my PhD dissertation (for now), not to think about zillions of freelance projects I’ve been doing lately, exhausting late nights working for 14 hours and more, thinking about the existence or global economy crisis.
I’m trying to establish network of contacts and friends here, and if you happen to read this and you are in Rome, or planning to come – say hello and email me. There are many of my friends coming here and I’ve been meeting few since I’m here, please follow my Dopplr or LiveStream for more accurate information, and I’d be more than happy to meet you for aperitivo, walk, chat, hanging out in Rome.
More writings to come soon…