Introducing Manu Kabahizi!
Manu is our loveable lead tech strategist who has been working over the past several months, in collaboration with our dev team at ThoughtWorks, to create the code and implementation strategy for /Crowdring.
Here, he shares some thoughts about coding life and social responsibility.
How did you get started in coding?
Like many people, I just stumbled upon coding. Having grown up in Rwanda, Namibia and South Africa where one official language is a foreign concept, at first I was really puzzled by the idea of languages not spoken and only written for computers. As I learned more, what really intrigued me about coding and computer languages was the infinite potential in processing and transmitting arithmetic, text, images, sounds and videos. Beyond function, coding can also be creative and fun.
What is the most rewarding experience you've had as a coder?
Creating something that gets used in real life is the ultimate goal of coding. However, I would say the biggest reward comes when other developers take interest in your work. I am mostly self-trained and having had my work featured by organizations such as Ushahidi and Occupy is really rewarding. I've also been lucky to work with awesome developers at Axis, Purpose and ThoughtWorks.
What has been the biggest challenge developing /Crowdring?
We are doing something that has never been attempted at this scale. Each country has a unique telecom infrastructure and regulations that we need to understand and navigate. Mapping the infrastructural terrain as we wrap our heads around the needs of campaigners working in diverse cultural and political contexts has been a big challenge.
What do you think is the biggest potential impact /Crowdring could have?
There are now 6 billion mobile phone subscribers in the world. Using /Crowdring, just one mobile phone could become a 6-billion-person megaphone. It would be wonderful if the same tool that allows us to keep in touch with our loved ones can become the most inclusive platform for thoughtful discussions and political change.
Are mobile phones best friends with democracy?
Mobiles can also become surveillance tools. It's really when people take leadership in innovating applications that they become platforms for democracy. Fortunately, governments aren't as creative as all of us combined.