Information wars begin - expert

2010-08-13 22:09
Eric Hersman has urged organisation to adopt crowd-sourcing tools. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Eric Hersman has urged organisation to adopt crowd-sourcing tools. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Special Report

New Firefox to feature 3D video
New Firefox to feature 3D video

The new version of Mozilla’s Firefox internet browser will have significant changes, and might soon even boast 3D videos and games.

Johannesburg – The expansion of the internet in developing countries and the resistance by governments signals the start of the information wars, believes Eric Hersman, co-founder of Ushahidi, a crowd-sourcing web platform.
“As the web expands with these tools, states start losing power and depending on the country you’re in, when the operator in the pocket of the government, you in trouble,” Hersman told News24 as the Tech4Africa was winding down.

He said that it was particularly troubling when governments expressed an interest in media censorship, and even so-called western countries like Australia have some websites blocked.

“Insitutions have a hard time embracing change and organisations are not equipped to deal with us, so we don’t. We can, but they’ve become irrelevant to us.

“You know after the chaos of the elections (in Kenya) we got huge attention from the international media, but none from the local media.

"About five months afterward, they wrote one tiny column about us. Ridiculous - to us, they were irrelevant,” said Hersman.


He said the reluctance of governments, particularly in Africa, to embrace crowd-sourcing tools was due those who want to retain their positions of power, despite “inefficiencies”.

“Look, I grew up in Kenya; it’s my home, but this is not a rich and poor story anymore, it’s an urban, rural story and as far as internet penetration is concerned, it’s about areas that cut across all areas.

"A great example is mobile payments, people care about money so you have adoption of technology that allows that,” Hersman said.

But he had critical words for humanitarian organisations.

“Businesses make money, and they have a far more positive impact than humanitarian organisations. I’m sure there are a few, but I can’t think of a single humanitarian effort that just works. The technology is a way to overcome inefficiencies,” he said.

Ushahidi (which means "testimony" in Swahili), a web application created to map the reported incidents of violence happening during the post-election crisis in Kenya, and Hersman said that it was great at gathering information, but was ignored by the government.

“Those who fail to embrace change, die,” Hersman said.

He said that the South African market was particularly difficult for innovators.

“The reason why we have more innovation in Kenya than South Africa is that here you have strangling regulations, particularly banking regulations.”

The Tech4Africa conference ended on Friday, and you can follow the News24 Tech4Africa blog here.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

Read more on:    technology

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36

SHARE: publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.