GSoC 2008

D. R. Newman d.r.newman at
Fri Mar 28 16:42:45 CET 2008

Michael 'Mickey' Lauer wrote:
> Hi guys,
> as you may have already noticed, Openmoko Inc. has been accepted
> as a mentoring organization for the Google Summer of Code 2008.

> Please note that the list of ideas found on the wiki page is by no means
> comprehensive, it's rather a bunch of things we think would be cool. If
> you come up with even cooler stuff, be our guest :)

I have a proposal that I put in for funding from a research council in 
the UK. It was turned down by them, but might make an interesting 
project for the Google Summer of Code.

The challenge is: "Can we customise and internationalise the OpenMoko 
interface so that it can be used by farmers in villages in Bangladesh?".

What they need from a mobile 'phone is not the same as urban businessmen 
and teenagers want. Yet at present you cannot even send SMS messages in 
Bengali in Bangladesh. All the handsets require you to write in English 
(or at least Latin characters).

Imagine a 'phone that can easily be switched between character sets 
(using the GTK internationalisation tools), and also has icons and 
interaction modes that make sense to semi-literate farmers whose homes 
look nothing like a conventional home icon.

I have a Ph.D. student coming back from fieldwork in Bangladesh next 
month. He has been studying how groups of farmers use mobile 'phones 
(e.g. do they do it to find pricing information, cutting out middlemen) 
and what difficulties they are having learning to use to devices. So he 
will be able to set the practical requirements.

The technical context is of internationalisation, and usability design.

Dr. David R. Newman, Queen's University Belfast, School of Management
and Economics, BELFAST BT7 1NN, Northern Ireland (UK)
Tel. +44 28 9097 3643  mailto:d.r.newman at

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