Jon Gosier of Appfrica has launched a simple project using a corp of mostly volunteers with mobile phones to find out what Ugandans want to know
One of the features of TEDGlobal was two sessions called TED University where attendees could give short presentations on ideas or projects they were working on. The Grameen Foundation recently contacted African designer, entrepreneur and venture capitalist Jon Gosier of Appfrica.org because they wanted to know: What do people in Africa want to know?
They knew if they opened up a hotline and offered to answer anyone's question about what they wanted to know that they would quickly be overwhelmed. Working with 'community knowledge workers' who were usually retirees looking for a way to give back to their community, people in a village in Uganda could ask these workers questions. The workers then would relay those questions back to operators using an offline internet application to find the answer in real-time. Gosier said:
We gathered so much insight into a part of the world that we don't know much about.
Passionate about data visualisations, Gosier also wanted to release the information in a way that easily showed where the questions were coming from and also the range of the topics. You can see the questions that are being asked in real time at the site, World Wants to Know. While the West and Gosier enjoys social networking tools like Facebook and many choices in terms of real-time communications, he was interested to offer something from "such a rural part of the world"
I spoke to him more about the project and it's aims, and here is what he had to say: