A couple of weeks ago, a very interesting collection of people crammed into the London headquarters of the Movement Design Bureau for the first meetup of "GlueSniffers" - the network we've started to stick together skills from the tech world with the knowledge and experience of those working in grassroots international development. Next Monday (2nd March) sees the follow-up, here on our home ground at the Young Foundation.
The reason for building stronger connections between these two worlds is simple: the spread of communications networks is overtaking that of basic infrastructure, so that we are heading towards a situation in which millions of people have access to mobile phones (and then mobile internet) but not to reliable clean water. As GlueSniffers co-founder Vinay Gupta writes in his excellent essay, 'The Future of Poverty', there are many "no-capital" or "low-capital" solutions for water purification, toilets, small-scale agriculture - solutions which could be spread far more effectively as the kind of information networks most of us now take for granted reach out to the people directly affected.
At the last meetup, I found myself in conversations about the spread of wifi in Peru, online tools for mapping infectious diseases, and how School of Everything could provide face-to-face back up for services like Appropedia and Akvopedia. It looks like other people had an interesting evening, too - judging by Pamela McLean's blog post and Mark Charmer's photos. (Though I don't remember Imogen Heap being there...)
If this stuff interests you and you're in London next Monday, come along to GlueSniffers 2:
Monday 2nd March, 2009 - 5.30-8.30pm
The Young Foundation, 18 Victoria Park Square, E2 9PF - map here
(Followed by beer and pies in The Camel, Globe Road.)
For more information, get in touch with me - dougald(at)schoolofeverything(dot)com.
GlueSniffers is a joint project organised by School of Everything and Akvo.org - the open source for water and sanitation.