• internet,  my stories,  quick read

    Taking the digital sabbatical

    I just returned from the winter holidays that I used to practice some time offline, the so called digital sabbatical. Around this time of the year, and a couple of times during the year in general, I take a time off social media and email, to reset myself and prepare for the next phase for work and interaction online. I do  keep my phone for calls and texts, though internet interaction is on hold during this time. Why do I practice this?

    We live in times where our attention is being hacked. Our brains are being fragmented and distracted. And we are not paying enough attention to what is literally in front of us, often because of this and we need to detox from all kinds of things, including the digital one.

  • art,  my stories,  quick read

    I’ve been illustrated!

    I am so excited – the conceptual artist and illustrator from Belgium, Nima Nilian, approached to me the other day and showed me the illustration/cartoon he made of me geeking out/working on my computer, and asked for permission to publish it online. I can’t get over how multi-talented this artist is and how honored I am. This illustration is so cute, be sure to check out all his work at Artstation.


  • events,  my stories,  technology,  travel

    A letter from Oslo

    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.

    Oslo Marina

    through the fjord

    arriving in Flaskebekk


    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.

    Digi meetings

    in front of the pilot

    See you next time with the new Digi project letters from Tanzania, Berlin, and Paris.

  • my stories

    wrapping up 2016.

    happiness-jarIt’s been exciting, surprising, generous, and unpredictable 2016. I traveled the cities and places I never been before, I had wonderful collaborations worldwide, I learned a lot about myself and others, I started to change my old habits and implement new ones.

    At the beginning of the year, I won the best dissertation award for 2015. That is the first PhD related award I got and I’m very grateful and happy, that years I spent on the research, it makes sense to other people as well. Working in academia is nice, however, I rather see myself working on projects and with organizations that make the difference in the world. And so it happened.

    Last summer, I started to work for the Basic Internet Foundation as a digital equality advisor and I’m very happy and grateful that I can deploy my skills and expertise for a higher cause of helping people worldwide. This month we won a nice budget from the National Council of Norway for the project of connecting the unconnected 4.000 villages in Tanzania. I wrote about the Foundation and my work there on the Global Voices. Also, I did a research on the societal aspects and implications of the Internet of Things (IoT). I am very grateful to be included in something that is happening around us and that, indeed, present our near future.

    I am continuing with the tradition of giving back and donating to those who need; this time beside the usual donations, I included the project in Ethiopia called Give a Child in Africa the Gift of Reading, because of children and literacy matter.

    I shared with you ten things I learned in the past ten years of my professional life, and blogging. On a personal note, some good and challenging (at the times) things happened that made me re-examine how I nourish my body. At the moment, I am 6 weeks sugar-free and 8 weeks dairy-free (I plan to stay that way) and I feel great. Anyone interested in further story, I can write about it in some of my future posts.

    Also, this photo of the happiness jar – it deserves a separate post. I believe that the happiness is not one time or huge event that will keep you happy throughout the year or that it is something we wait for us to happen. Instead, I believe that the life is made with zillions of little happiness tiny moments, situations and people that contribute in a sustainable way to our well-being on all levels. I proved myself how happy and grateful I was and I am in the past year; I plan to keep this happiness jar tradition in 2017.

    I won’t comment the events on a global level, this is my 2016 wrap-up, as you all know – most of them were unexpected and ugly (good luck my friends in America and England). Many great people, artists have left us. I cannot look forward enough to new 2017 year. I wish you all the happiness, health, and joy in it! Cheers to 2017!


  • internet,  my stories

    Ten years of this site – things I learned

    in OsloThis month (and year) is ten year anniversary of this site and blog. Can you believe how fast a decade passed by? I’ve been publishing online since 2001 on different platforms (LiveJournal, Wired blogs, Blogger) and finally found the place here at my dedicated website.

    I started here with small posts on culture, technology, life, academia, travel, a micro-snippets of daily life. In 10 years, I’m grateful to share all the events, new findings, travels, and life stories with you. In 10 years, I learned a lot! It’s been both challenging and rewarding, mostly rewarding and full of blessings. For 10 years we’ve seen how technologies changed, how the web evolved from 1.0 into 2.0 and further on into web 3.0/social/semantic version of itself; and now we have the big data and Internet of Things (IoT) and the vast of new and exciting technologies to embrace. And new generations, millennials and post-millennials are dictating in a way the dynamics of the ICT and online communication. Now, everything is brief, short, micro-posted online, and the attention is the most wanted and valuable asset.

    Here are the top 10 things I learned in the past 10 years. These professional lessons can be also applied to a personal life, and the list would go on and on:

    1. to know when to take chances and risk and when to say “no”. Also, it is OK to switch to a different field or profession;

    2. to accept collaborations and projects even if they are outside my comfort zone of knowledge and skills;

    3. to learn new things at work as I go. You don’t wait to be “ready”, you make yourself ready by daily learning and gaining new skills;

    4. to be aware that there may be some people on the way who may try to destabilize or diminish your work, and then you have to change your focus and direction immediately and,

    5. to focus on the good and positive new people you will collaborate with, and enjoy the blessings that these collaborations will bring only great fruitions and awards,

    6. to maintain and keep connections, people, and collaborations who mean well and work both for your good and common good;

    7. to help and give back, to charity, to the cause, to a project, to the world;

    8. to know when to quit the gig/job/work knowing that,

    9. when you close one door, the others are opening right beside you (trust me this is so true, been there done that), and

    10. to have the courage and always to listen to your own self.

    I hope these micro-reflections can inspire you for your own profession and life.

    Thank you for reading and following this blog all through the years, stay tuned for new and exciting stories 🙂

  • events,  internet,  my stories

    My current appointments & whereabouts

    basicinternetSince the life can get hectic when you work several things, I finally found a bit of time for the current update on my appointments and whereabouts. I love to be occupied with several projects, gigs, jobs (if you like it) because they are interconnected and entail all my professional and personal interests and expertise.

    Since January this year, I’m serving as Advisory board member at International Child Art Foundation (ICAF), Washington DC.  ICAF serves children worldwide, an organisation that employs the arts to build bonds of understanding and creativity and empathy among children around the world. Check out the ways you can support ICAF – here.

    This spring I joined the Basic Internet Foundation (Oslo, Norway) as Digital Equality Advisor, and I’m working on international project that provides the underconnected areas (such African countries) with open and free access to the Internet, as well as to basic information on health care, education, help to girls and women, and development.

    And finally, my new Internet research interest is IoTSec (the security of Internet of Things) and I’ve been given the opportunity to work as a visiting researcher at UNIK research institute in Norway. The research is related to the NFR project “IoTSec – Security in Internet of Things (IoT) for Smart Grids”, and my contribution is on Internet-related social innovation and social implications into IoTSec.

    Words cannot express how grateful I am to have an opportunity to work on a variety of projects. Also, with my business partner, I initiated a start-up, you’ll hear about it in some future posts. Until the next writing, thanks for reading 🙂