Designing Innovation Economics


Why Creator Spaces is innovation economics


I liked this when I came across it “Thinking is a kind of making, and making is a kind of thinking” says Jessie Shefrin former Provost of The Rhode Island School of Design and past Dean of Graduate Studies of The Rhode Island School of Design.

I like this too, alot ‘design thinking … is the expression of communication – the form itself…’ that is the response I got when I asked John Maeda, at a talk at MIT this year what design thinking is — Is it the form, is it the way it is presented .. and how does it impact international affairs? His response has got me mulling on innovation economics – and a very 21st century focus. The innovation economics idea was introduced to me by Professor William Fisher of Harvard Law School, Wilmer Hale Professor of Intellectual Property. And so Professor Fisher I take the liberty to propel this idea to designing innovation economics in the 21st century. So here I am positing Creator Spaces as innovation economics in action. And yes, Prof Fisher, Intellectual Property is important and as you say, only and only if it creatively engages with culture. So I take the creative engaging with the culture of a people, the culture of counties … to a culture of creation. So, I am building and creating and designing too. Is this Ronald Dworkin`s chain novel theory playing itself out – a step by step building of things.

In particular I focus on Creator and Maker spaces which I call Creator Spaces. It is a movement rapidly gaining traction – and pioneering new pedagogies – tinkering, creator and playful learning pedagogies. No doubt this is influencing and will continue to improve a whole new wave – tinkering, playful learning and learning through play and exploration heralding novel creations as well as iterations in the new edu- tech era.

This is innovation economics birthed. A world of tinkering, software and hardware creation including an immersive engagement with technology and with materials –that is what empowers us to be courageous and creative. To make, to create – the art of playful learning and innovator spirit is boldly borne.

In seeing what we create – both online with immersive engaging of technology to building with our minds and hands to creating with materials to embracing the realm of possibilities and yes frameworks ( the lawyer in me screams legal frameworks as much computational thinking calls for system frameworks ). That is the power of Creator Space. They energise, motivate, uplift and propel growth in ones own sense of self, in creativity, in making, in building, in designing and cognition and critical thinking. And this is why it makes sense – it is innovation economics in both the digital and physical – a new form of a connected world – a world of immersive technology made simple – a world of creative making and a world of design and designing new things – software, new hardware, new things and while the search for new hardware forms and hardware materials is increasingly opening up new possibilities in materials…. Creator Spaces are about working with what is available as well making new from afresh and in that process new forms are birthed – New software creation is Creator Space and open source learning and remixing also lend impetus to this. See what amazing creations Scratch, an open source computer programme inspiring community learning and inspiring kids to create stories, animations and games – initiated at the MIT Media Lab Lifelong Kindergarden Group – is doing for kids globally here

Designing Creator Spaces is about inspiring people to take charge of their minds and ideas. I marvelled at watching the excitement and agility of the kids at MIT `s Scratch Day this May. Boundless enthusiasm and fun creations – and such confidence.

A new creator pedagogy in the making – yes – but maybe not so new in Africa and emerging economies where creator crafts and tinkering necessities were birthed. It is this staple that will take the shift to tinkering and artful play in emerging economies to levels unparalleled and a boon for innovation economics. Now that is design thinking innovation economics.  Creator Spaces is innovation economics. And yes, Intellectual Property matters.

Ayesha Dawood is a lawyer, writer and artist and educator. She is a Harvard and South African educated lawyer (@ConsultAyesha) She has an LL.M from Harvard Law School and is a recent Fellow of the Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs, Harvard University. 

Open Innovation and Open Education Promote Women in ICTs

There is global recognition that our digital world must address the needs of all people but the digital gender gap remains a fundamental challenge.

To promote women’s equal participation in the creation and use of innovative technologies and digital media, we need to ensure that they have the necessary access, knowledge and support to ensure new technologies serve the needs of both men and women.

There are hundreds of initiatives around the world that promote women’s access to ICTs and that aim to create technologies for women, by women. But what is particularly promising in the field, is the work to integrate innovative policies – specifically in Intellectual Property (IP) law and open innovation – with women’s digital entrepreneurship, as well as open education programs that transform technologies through community-led initiatives.

IP Law and Open Innovation

Creators who invent new technologies require knowledge about IP laws to both protect and enable innovations. While always fully respecting IP rights, open innovation offers opportunities to bridge the global digital divide for women. New trends in open innovation provide a space for women to build their creative capacities as leaders and makers.

My experience seeing Harvard’s Innovation Lab and MIT Media Lab in action and attending its open invite workshops and events provided rich insight drawing focus to the fact that the arts and sciences including technology, engineering and math – STEAM movement – are enabled IP law. As more women move into the foray of technology production, their understanding of IP laws is an especially important component to ensure their innovations are encouraged and protected.

Innovations in Open Education

Few women are involved in designing and building the online applications that have become the new engine driving education, information, science, engineering, art, entertainment and commerce. A few novel ideas developed by young women seek to change that, some based on the principles of open innovation, others inspired by open education:

Rails Girls project is a volunteer-based coding workshop that enables for young women to take part in the digital revolution. Global Chapters, including the first Johannesburg chapter that I helped to organize in 2014, empower young women to become confident about making career choices in the new digital space.

Ruby on Rails introduces young women to creating applications and websites. Though only introductory, the participants enjoy hands-on training under the supervision of local coaches. The success of the programme, now in over 150 countries worldwide, demonstrates young women’s desire to gain ICTs skills and knowledge.

Another example, Chibitronics, co-founded by an MIT Media Lab PHD candidate, makes building circuits and electronics easy through building and creation. This is yet another example of leveraging open learning to encourage innovation.

There is abundant enthusiasm by women and girls to take part in the digital transformation of their societies. We need to inspire them to overcome obstacles and traditional barriers of entry in the digital space so they can strive to make meaningful contributions to the world of tech. We need to ensure that policy frameworks are in place in order to provide an enabling environment for women’s innovations in ICTs.

Note from ITU: The Annual GEM-TECH Awards recognize innovative solutions to bridge the digital gender gap. The GEM-TECH Awards have become a global showcase for policies and projects that promote women in ICT. Nominations are now open until August 15, 2016.

Ayesha Dawood is a South African and Harvard educated digital media and technology lawyer. She has an LL. M. from Harvard Law school and was a recent 2016 Fellow at the Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs, Harvard. She is also is an artist and the author of Little Monks Africa Adventure.

Blog in  ITU Blog



THE 2 IPs: Internet Protocol and Intellectual Property –

Lets talk Mobile , Internet and Connected Devices as we explore borderless chats. And yes: Who owns your chats and who gets regulated? And: Advertisers – are we thinking of them in the regulatory landscape.

No more pigeons as carriers, but mobile messaging apps like Facebook’s and their instant messaging services and others like Whats App, WeChat, Snapchat, Viber, Line, Kakao Talk and Tencent are on the radar. They have fast outpaced mobile carriers SMS.

As we chat, we connect and we buy…. that is what advertisers want. More so, it is what companies want – both virtual and real time companies. Entrepreneurial fervour is driving more and more advancement and technology is aiding this spiral. Technology is also changing innovation in itself. Technology is allowing more and more communication and interactivity and inventions on scales small and large. Technology combined with creativity is driving innovation as business and the operations of the world are being digitised.

Mobile messaging carriers pay hefty licence fees but internet messaging applications are largely unregulated – Is this the new war – who pays and who is regulated? But should that be the war – is the question rather: with connectivity , access and communication are enhanced and the issue is one for greater connectivity and Internet access. The internet is a powerful force – an as the UN Broadband Commission spotlight: The Internet is Evolving from Connected Things to Connected Everything.

It is access and connectivity that need to be on the radar not asymmetric regulation, as mobile makes money and dual regulation discussions aid not abet minimal mobile fee discussions.

Mobile and Internet based messenger apps those that access mobile with internet and those that do not – are a reality in as much as Facebook’s is offering an alternative attempt to equalise digital access. So, Internet Protocol – IP networks are now connecting billions of physical devices, while this accelerating volume of data is driven by four major trends:

IP is fast becoming the common

language for most data

communication, especially

proprietary industrial networks.

Billions more people, things,

places, processes and devices

will come online over the next five


Existing physically stored

information is being digitized

in order to record and share

previously analogue material. For

example, the digital share of the

world’s stored information has

increased from 25% to over 98%

over the last decade38.

The introduction of Internet

Protocol version 6 (IPv6) now

removes the technical limit on the

number of devices connected to

the Internet, allowing for trillions of

trillions (i.e. 1038) of devices. – UN BROADBAND COMMISSION 2014

Mobile Internet commerce has got advertisers in a digital frenzy vying for virtual mobile users as much as getting them to part with their monies. According the recent UN Broadband Commission Report 2014 Report , the ITU predicts that the number of networked devices could reach 25 billion by 2020.

Now that is a lot of networked devices. Much more than simply mobile connectivity and IP ( Internet Protocol) trillion connectivity has the potential to transform to trillions in capital and ROI as connectivity of everything. That is the digital enabler.

The debate is on: Mobile operators are regulated. Internet service based messaging whether on mobile or otherwise are not. That is the digital revolution making inroads into what was traditionally mobile revenue. Internet service based messaging has revolutionised affordable communications. Competition is good So, lets leave this unregulated. It is a communications enabler especially in countries where mobile and telephony communications are expensive and digital access uneven. Mobile needs to up its game on affordable communications. More instant messaging applications offer a sales incentive for smart mobile purchases.

Advertisers in terms of specific communications regulatory fees are not regulated. They use infrastructure bandwidth and vicariously user’s data bandwidth . Yes they pay – but to whom and that is what should be borne in mind. Should they be? They negotiate commercial agreements and ad funded revenue model to maximise their revenue. So, why not regulate them. Yes, we have regulations and in country standards. That is not the point, the global advertisers leverage revenue as much the chats are borderless. So, lets bring them in the financial regulatory model too.

Virtual mobile messaging systems in the digital world are on the path to changing intellectual property rules. But what are the new rules in play? Are we asking the right question and to whom?

So, who owns your chats? You do, its your IP – Intellectual Property ( product of the intellect – your words, your phrases, your rhymes) but always check the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy including for escape clauses. Be mindful of jurisdiction clauses as litigation in a foreign country is expensive and sever location founds jurisdiction.

And IP – Internet Protocol and its processing power is enabling those chats to be as connected as they are borderless.

Happy chatting.

Ayesha Dawood

Published in Business Day Business Law and Tax Review February 2016

DOT IT – Online Safety – sample contracts for parents and children

Dot It –  to make sure you have a reminder of how you as a parent or child interact safe and smart online –  sign a contract, yes a contract is a good idea

Dot it Kids! Hold yourself and your parents accountable: 

You must absolutely be safe online.

Remember the mantra is Have Fun, Be Creative and BE SAFE!

A nick- name online is a wise idea, keep those passwords very private. Always check with your parents before downloading programmes and talk to them about the apps and programs you use or wish to use.

Get approval before you download or access.  Also, do not give away personal information – your real name, your location, your address, your school, your age, and your parents personal details or bank details or yours.  Do not share personal information about your family online.

Mind your manners and language online. Remember too, that online people sometimes pretend to be someone they are not – so check check with mom and/or dad.  Get mom and/or dad to approve e-mail and Instant Message requests.  Do tell tales to mom and /or dad about unpleasant and bad stuff you may come across online and also when someone sends them to you!

Do not ever send stuff by post to anyone you meet online unless you tell mom and  or dad. If someone sends you something by post – this is a problem –  as they have your personal information!  Go tell mom and /or  dad. Go now. Tell them.

Do not do anything online that makes you feel uncomfortable especially if you know mom and/ or dad will not approve.  Do not meet, call or post anything to someone you have met online.  Only meet someone you have met online if your parents approve and are with you.

Accept that mom and /or dad will supervise the time you spend online and set limits.

And kids, teach your parents about the Internet too.  Believe me you know a lot. Sometimes more than they do.

Here is an example of your contract. Go on, Print a copy and take to mom and/ dad to sign it.

This contract is attributable  and courtesy of the ITU.

Child’s Contract

I know that the Internet can be a wonderful place to visit. I also know that it is important for me to follow rules that will keep me safe on my visits. I agree to the following rules:

  1. Wherever possible I will choose a safe and sensible screen name for myself that will not broadcast any personal information about my family or me.
  2. I will keep all of my passwords private.
  3. I will discuss with my parents all of the different programmes and applications I use on my computer and on the internet, and talk to them about the sites I visit. Before 
I download or load a new programme or join a new site I will check with my parents firs to make sure they approve.
  4. When considering signing up to a new online service I will avoid those which demand too much personal information and try to opt for those which ask for less.
  5. I will always take steps to find out what personal information about me will be published
by the service by default in my profile and will always opt for the maximum degree of privacy.
  6. I will not share my personal information, or that of my parents or any other family member, in any way, shape or form, online or with someone I meet online. This includes, but is not limited to name, address, telephone number, age or school name.
  7. I will treat others the way I want to be treated.
  8. I will use good manners when I’m online, including good language and respect. I will not pick fights or use threatening or mean words.
  9. I will make my own personal safety my priority, since I know there are some people who might be online and pretend to be someone they’re not.
  10. I will be honest with my parents about people I meet online and will tell them, with- out always being asked, about these people. I won’t answer any e-mails or instant messages from anyone my parents have not approved.
  11. If I see or read things that are bad, icky or mean, I will log off and tell my parents so they can try to make sure it never happens again.
  12. I will tell my parents if I receive pictures, links to bad sites, e-mail or instant messages with bad language or if I’m in a chat room where people are using swear words or mean and hateful language.
  13. I will not send anything in the post to anyone I’ve met online, without my parents’ okay. If I get something in the post from someone I’ve met online, I’ll tell my parents immediately (because that means they have my private information).
  14. I will not do anything online that someone asks me to if it makes me feel uncomfortable, especially if I know it’s something my parents would not be happy about or approve of.
  15. I will not call, write a snail mail or meet in person anyone who I’ve met online without my parents’ approval or without a trusted adult coming with me.
  16. I understand my parents will supervise my time online and may use software to monitor or limit where I go online. They’re doing this because they love me and want to protect me.
  17. I will teach my parents more about the Internet so we can have fun together and learn cool new things.

I agree to the above.

Child signature                                                                    Date

I promise to protect my child’s safety online by making sure these rules are followed. If my child encounters unsafe situations and tells me, I will handle each situation with maturity and good sense, without blaming anyone, and will calmly work through it with my child to ensure their safer Internet experiences in the future.

Parent signature(s)                                                             Date

Dot it Mom and/ Dad:

You have to get involved – get to know the sites, set some rules and talk about them. You also have to be calm about the “bad “ that your kid finds online. Get to know those online friends, each and every one of them – and do not hesitate to take charge, as you do and go the authorities if you come across suspicious and / illegal activities.  And – you should advise and make a list recommended sites for your kids.  Remember to check sites your kid visit too. Check those filtering options and block the bad. In addition – do not do not disclose location!

Parent Contract

I know that the Internet can be a wonderful place for my kids to visit. I also know that I must do my part to help keep them safe on their visits. Understanding that my kids can help me, I agree to follow these rules:

  1. I will get to know the services and websites my child uses.
  2. I will set reasonable rules and guidelines for computer use by my children and I will discuss these rules and post them near the computer as a reminder.
  3. I will not overreact if my child tells me about something “bad” he or she finds or does on the Internet.
  4. I will try to get to know my child’s “online friends” and Buddy List contacts just as I try to get to know his or her other friends.
  5. I will try to provide close sup- port and supervision of my younger children’s use of the Internet, for example by trying to keep their computer in a family area.
  6. I will report suspicious and illegal activity and sites to the proper authorities.
  7. I will make or find a list of recommended sites for children.
  8. I will frequently check to see where my kids have visited on the Internet.
  9. I will seek options for filtering and blocking inappropriate Internet material from my children.
  10. I will talk to my kids about their online explorations and take online adventures with them as often as I can.

I agree to the above.

Parent signature(s)                                                             Date

I understand that my parents have agreed to live by these rules and I agree to help my parents explore the Internet with me.

Child signature                                                                    Date



The sample contracts are attributed to

Inequality of digital access must be overcome

DIGITAL AFRICA : A networked and democratic Africa is about Digitising countries

Mobility and Interactivity are becoming entrenched throughout the African continent


The migration to digital devices brings about fundamental changes in communication, connecting people to each other and to sources of information in a manner that deeply affects society. We connect and interact instantly through short messages and we hold video conferences with people around the world without any participant leaving her home/office. Text books in classrooms are being discarded as children clamber into the online world which opens the doors to education, gaming, video-on-demand, streaming, shopping and banking, telemedicine – and a dark underworld of child abuse.


Borders are falling as e-commerce writes new rules, and hacking and security are multi-million dollar enterprises in the developed and developing world. Mobility and interactivity of communications devices are moulding new lifestyles and businesses.


Within this context, the continued protection of free speech and privacy in the online world appear to co-exist precariously as governments look to blocking content distribution and communications networks. Both free speech and privacy are essential rights in democracies, more so among the developing and under-developed nations.


In Africa, the digitization of communications and the migration to mobile devices assist communities especially rural communities and who would otherwise be isolated. Mobility and interactivity are becoming entrenched throughout the continent. The question is: at what cost?


The model throughout most of Africa is for governments to license spectrum to mobile operators whose objective is to make profit. As they roll out their networks and as device manufacturers bring new products to market, the question is whether the fundamental structural inequities are in any way altered for the benefit of the majority of economically disadvantaged people.


Apart from the ability to communicate and access small amounts of information through mobile devices, affordability determines the level of access to the mobile network.


A related issue is whether a model licensing may be structured so that economically disadvantaged people may benefit.


In television the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting makes the point forcefully. Within digitization in television, much spectrum is freed up and a dual national benefit takes effect.


  1. The first advantage of the freeing up of spectrum is that new mobile operators may be licensed. Of importance, is the licensing model that will serve to entrench a diversity of operators who must meet roll out and other socially useful obligations if they are to keep their licences.
  2. The second advantage is that with digitisation many more television owners may be licensed. Licensing of a diversity of owners with obligations to keep open the airwaves for a diversity of voices and different communities have implications for free speech.


Providing access to communications networks and investments in the roll out-out of these networks into under-developed areas as well as models of spectrum licensing have the potential to fundamentally alter the nature of society.


The November ITU 2014, Measuring the Information Society Report spotlights the concept of ICT as a development enabler in correctly stating that  “the recognition that ICTs can be a development enabler, if applied and used appropriately, is critical to countries that are moving towards information or knowledge-based societies, and is central to the ICT  Developemement Index’s conceptual framework.


Getting digitized is a democratic enabler. That is a corollary to development enablement. How this may be possible through digitisation is what Africa and other least connected countries and regions should be focusing on.


Digital business models make business sense and market opportunities for licences, infrastructure, content and access enables democracy and development as well as access to capital markets and trade. Transformative business models are a significant part of the digital revolution.


So, lets move Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia Pacific out of the inequality conundrum by shining the spotlight on digital networks and inviting competition on more operators, broadcast and internet networks. In the process lets aim for universalising broadband,making it affordable and connecting homes and people online. Digitisation may just be the regenerative tool.


Published in Business Day,  Business Law and Tax Review, March 2015.


This was astounding. Walking into ThoughtWorks, Johannesburg and seeing coaches clean, mop, vacuum and organise desks for the first Rails Girls Johannesburg -was humbling and I was awestruck…

That is the spirit that set the tone for Rails Girls Johannesburg’s first presence in SA.   The organisers, coaches, ThoughtWorks personnel and volunteer Gary Segal including a 10 year old volunteer, Zaakirah Sader all pitched in to ensure that the Rails Girls got their first best Ruby on Rails coding experience.

The SWAG, a little red gift bag, with a Code of Conduct, a toolkit for online safety and a ThoughtWorks mug, were sleek and minimal and every Rails Girl got a T- Shirt – It was a proud moment. Then we improvised – Eskom’s epic load shedding tried to foil us – so we presented without slides on Day 1 to introduce our Rails Girls to the Rails Girls programme. Amidst identity game and descriptions of themselves they Rails Girls Johannesburg, found their coding spirt and each other. That in itself should have been enough. Then Orville Khangale stepped in and saved the day getting us connected with personal hotspots.

It was not – they were blown away by Vuyisile Sisulu’s wifi spoon presentation and showed us a few tricks. Then Ridhwana Khan took them through the Rails exercise like the pro – she is and they look to it with a lot of enthusiasm. Bentobox and theory and boxes and logic, style, design and infrastructure were demystified with Mariana Bravo – I loved that part and was delighted to act as scribe as these amazing young girls popped answers out with shocking clarity. I was blown away.

The sessions for coding were intense and labelling the girls into groups – ranging from Ruby Onxy, Crystal, Tanzanite, Platinum, Pearls, Jade, Emeralds, was a hit – these Rails Girls Johannesburg shone like jewels in their sessions. They worked hard, really hard for a long stretch of coding and came up with apps for books and fashion. Girls with brains and style is what I call them. The future coders glowed and regardless of their fatigue – after the marathon coding session. They were so well supported by these incredible coaches Liandra, Senovia, Faris, Bukiwe, Simba and Charles.   Ridhwana, Mariana and Vuyisile were there with them as they coded too! Big up to these incredible community spirited coaches.

We had some moments, too much Pizza, who thought we could ever have had too much pizza! Too little marshmallows – this I will remedy joyfully next time.

The Rails Girls were invited to come to ThoughtWorks by Brain Keke, Head of Technology for Pan Africa when he spent some time talking to them .. that was gracious and a real plug in opportunity for the Rails Girls. The highlight for the coders – their time, effort, and perseverance was honoured by the Deputy Minister of Education, Mr Enver Surty – who acknowledged the digital space for young women – and inspired them to embrace the digital world with full pride. This was indeed a coding moment for these first ever Rails Girls of Johannesburg and an emerging digital space for young women. They received their Certificates of Participation from the Deputy Minister of Basic Education and shone more brightly than the jewels they proved themselves to be. Theirs was a glow of pride, recognition and accomplishment. All sparks and curiosity.

Thank you, Rails Girls Johannesburg! Thank you all for the community. Thank you for the amazing sparks and curiosity.

Its success has ensured that the Finnish inspired community spirited Rails Girls movement is likely to roll out nationally in 2015 in the major cities of South Africa.


Digital citizenship comes with responsibility – have fun, be creative and be safe


EVERY person who uses the internet is a digital citizen. This status brings onerous responsibilities which we cannot shirk if we are to continue to enjoy the internet. The virtual world, you could say, is now as important as the real one.

But the enormous benefits of digital technology are matched by shadowy criminals who steal, bully and harass using sophisticated programs to conceal their identities. By far the most dangerous acts are directed against children. Sexual predators prey on their innocence, grooming them into traps they should have been warned about.

The latest report by the International Telecommunications Unions and the United Nations Children’s Fund and partners of the Child Online Protection Initiative, is a timely reminder of the inappropriate and dangerous environment that criminals have created within the internet.

This report, released on September 5, 2014, attracted hardly a whiff of media interest in the country. It’s a pity, because the media has done an excellent job in exposing online bullying among children and of disclosing the dangers of sexually deviant criminals monitoring chat rooms.

This is an extensive report that gives practical advice and formulates rules which will invariably contribute to the safety of children online. To suggest that the report is only about children would be incorrect. Adults would do well to read this simple written advice. Many adults would be surprised at the information that could help them and their children. While the report is for children, it remains the obligation of adults, parents and caregivers — all digital citizens — to absorb the contents of the report and to explain the safety rules to their children.

Digital citizenship is a lively and vibrant concept and we need to know more about it in order to take our place in the digital world. It is part of the safety theme calling for accountability from you, me, children and service providers, including developers. I would also add from caregivers and the government.

We all have an important role to play. We have to inspire, nurture and protect, as well as educate children and young people as they enthusiastically claim their space in the digital online space. Everyone must hold our digital citizenship consciously and carefully.

Digital citizenship is a state of mind to which all internet users must aspire if we are to hold the virtual space for effectively disseminating education, information and entertainment.

Explaining the concept of digital citizens the report says:

“The introduction of new technologies always carries the need to understand how to use it appropriately. We, including children and young people, can demand that the producers and providers build in as many safety features as possible, enabling us to make informed choices on matters, like for instance, revealing private information.”

“However, it is up to children and young people to carry the main responsibility of acting appropriately and respectfully online. Increasingly the term of digital citizenship is being used. Digital citizenship isn’t just about recognising and dealing with online hazards. It’s about building safe spaces and communities, understanding how to manage personal information, and about being internet savvy — using your online presence to grow and shape your world in a safe, creative way and inspiring others to do the same.”

It is about calling for safety features that require affirmative assent from parents before important personal and geolocation information are clicked through. It is about recognising online risks. It is about creating safe spaces as you claim your place in the digital world.

How to use the online social networks respectfully is also important. The mantra should be: Have fun, be creative and be safe!


Published in Business Day Live, 14 September 2014

Online Safety – TOOLKIT – SMART rules for smart kids

SMART rules for smart kids

Set your limits

Meeting online friends offline

Accepting invitations/friendships


Tell someone about your concerns


Using the Internet is Fun. Enjoy it by keep yourself safe.

Set Your Limits

  1. Do not let strangers in. You would not talk to a stranger in the real world, now would you? Be smart, responsible and safe online as well in real life.
  2. You have the right to use the Internet safely.
  3. Take care of your privacy. Surf wisely – stay away from sites that ask you for personal information.
  4. Use the privacy settings to protect your online profile so only your friends can see it.
  5. Best to use a nick name your friends can recognize. Consider skipping the photograph of yourself. Use an avatar or other image.
  6. Think twice before you post images online. Other people may use it. You can never know where it can end up.
  7. Do not accept harassment or bullying. Laws and decent behaviour are valid online too!
  8. You have the right to use the Internet safely and to set your own limits.
  9. Be smart, responsible and safe online as well as in real life!

Meeting online friends

  1. Think twice before meeting online friend/ request in real life.
  2. Tell your parent about such a request.
  3. If you do, take a trusted adult with you.

Accepting Invites/ Friendships

  1.  Most requests are from friends.
  2. You can also be connected to friends of friends.
  3. Be wary of accepting requests from strangers.
  4. If you do not actually know someone yourself, do you really want to share with them the same information you share with your friends?


  1. Do not knowingly access sites that are upsetting or distressing. If you see something that bothers you tell your parents or someone you trust.
  2. Ignore bad behaviour and block rude aggressive people.
  3. Block anyone approaching you using rude, threatening or intruding language. Save the message and show your parents or a trusted adult.
  4. Be alert if someone, especially a stranger wants to talk to you about sex. You can never be sure of the true identity or intentions of the person. This is a serious cause for concern. Tell your parents or a trusted adult so they can report it.
  5. If you have been lured or tricked into engaging in sexual activities or sending sexual images of yourself always tell a trusted adult to receive advice and help. No person has a right to things of that particular nature from a child or young person.

Tell someone your concerns

  1. If you have concerns or problems online, you need to tell someone you trust.
  2. Your parents or trusted adult can help and give you good advice on what to do.
  3. There are no problems too big to be solved!
  4. You can also call a child helpline in your country.
  5. Report harmful or inappropriate content or activities on sites to the site itself. Look for “Report abuse”  Button.
  6. Report illegal content to an Internet Hotline or police.
  7. Report illegal or possibly illegal activities to the police.
  8. In addition to taking good care if yourself, take care of your computer or mobile device.


  1.  You can disable tools that allow for friend requests on kids’ own devices.
  2.  Monitor kids’ devices often and let them know why. Safety first.
  3.  Check Privacy settings.
  4.  Do not geolocate.
  5. Talk to your kids often about online safety. Make them aware of the pitfalls.
  6. Get actively involved in their digital world as you do in their physical world.                                                                             



Mobile broadband is waiting for the release of digital dividend

Mobile broadband is the wave of the future. In Africa the lack of cable infrastructure continues to inhibit connectivity, often affecting development. But the mobile smartphone is changing the way people are communicating and solving the problem of rolling out cable networks into the rural and remote areas.

According to the 2014 International Telecommunications Union Broadband Commission report ­­­­­­­­­­­­­“there will be 630 million mobile subscriptions in Africa by the end of 2014, 27% of which will be broadband”.

The report goes further and states that “Africa is an archetypal example where next-generation broadband and cloud-based ICT services have been gaining momentum steadily. All these digital innovations are empowered by Intellectual Property, which plays a central role in the development of broadband infrastructures”.

Through mobile phones the gap between the connected and the unconnected is being bridged every day. The possibility of broadband access to the majority grows stronger each year. Following the rest of the world, mobility in Africa is the principal means of communication. However, unlike the rest of the world, Africa, and South Africa in particular, face enormous challenges in rolling out mobile broadband.

In South Africa the continuing and abysmal broadband policy misadventure hamstrings connectivity and broadband opportunities. One of the key components of a broadband policy must include the framework for the management of the release of the digital dividend which will create a whole new world of broadband communication possibilities.

The digital dividend is the spectrum that will become available after the migration of broadcast signals from analogue to digital television. From about 2005, South Africans have been promised a new and better television signal. The tired excuses for the failure of digital television migration is not only frustrating but also delays the roll-out of true mobile broadband which can only happen when the spectrum formerly used by TV is made available for mobile communication.

And when will the digital dividend happen? It’s anyone’s guess. Even government has no clue about how to deal with policy relating to the digital dividend. As a matter of fact, the Department of Communications is still grappling with understanding the meaning of policy. The “SA: Policy Connect” – the country’s feeble attempt to posit a national broadband policy – is nothing short of disastrous: the absence of broadband policy from the policy document borders on administrative negligence.

Any policy about broadband mobile connectivity must include policy about the use and allocation of the digital dividend. A fundamental consideration is whether, when the policy is finally spelt out, ordinary South Africans will benefit by low-cost communications services or whether corporates will succeed in lobbying government to create high-profit business opportunities for themselves through the use of the publically-owned frequencies.

The freeing up of more spectrum will boost broadband mobile communications, as it is doing in countries where digital television migration has already occurred.

But South Africa should take heed of the warning in the 2014 Broadband Report which says:

“Asymmetric regulation has resulted in an uneven competitive landscape for services. Governments and policy-makers need to review and update their regulatory frameworks to take into account evolving models of regulation. It is vital that every country prioritises broadband policy to shape its future social and economic development and prosperity, emphasising both the supply and demand sides of the market.”

Since 2012 the ITU has annually published broadband reports that reflect what is happening around the world. The lessons from other countries and the general advice in these reports go a long way to assist in the formulation of broadband policy. No country needs to re-invent every aspect of broadband policy. Of course, domestic circumstances and the needs and aspirations of countries differ. That is inevitable. By the same token, no country needs to re-invent a fundamentally and radically novel policy. Mobile broadband roll-out is neither an engineering challenge, nor a complex policy dilemma.

It should also not be industry-led. Industry-led solutions are never in the public interest. The Department of Communications must guard against appointing so-called “policy-experts” who do business or have interests in the communications industry. Their involvement will necessarily impact negatively on the roll-out of mobile broadband connectivity at a time when communications is the epitome of a new world culture.

The turn to digital communications has brought benefits of low cost and widespread connectivity to many countries. Why should we in SA not also enjoy the benefits of low-cost mobile broadband connectivity? To get South Africa truly connected and into the modern world of communication, the freeing up of spectrum through the digital dividend is absolutely necessary. In the meantime, while the Department of Communciations dithers, the country is continuing to anguish over services that have become commonplace in many other countries.



Published in Business Day live 14 November 2014.


Coding for young women: Apply to Rails Girls Johannesburg

Taking part in building the Internet may seem like a dark mystery to most people. But Rail Girls is changing all that. If all you have is curiosity and a willingness to learn, you can join a unique group of women, and some young men, who will walk into the new world of technology.

In a first for South Africa, Rails Girls Johannesburg is scheduled to begin early in December. Born in Finland, Rails Girls is a global, non-profit volunteer community that aims to launch women into the world of digital technology., in association with Rails Girls, is organising a unique experience that will contribute to making technology accessible and friendly. Making technology approachable is the objective of this unique project that has spread to 232 cities, including Mozambique and Uganda.

Our aim is to give tools and a community for women to understand technology and to build their ideas. Rails Girls does this by providing a great experience on building things and by making technology more approachable.

Our aim is to give tools for women to understand technology. The Rails Girls events do this by providing a great first experience on building the Internet.

“Rails Girls was founded in end of 2010 in Helsinki. Originally intended as a onetime event, we never thought we’d see so many local chapters all around the world.”

Participants learn sketching, prototyping, basic programming and get introduced to the world of technology.

As Rails Girls is entirely a non-profit, participants don’t pay and coaches, organisers and speakers don’t charge. Thanks to willing sponsors who want to promote the benefits of “open technology”, the traction of the two-day events around the world are surprising even the founders.

Participants don’t need any previous knowledge about programming and there are no age-limitations. A hands-on approach to learning the basics of Ruby on Rails, participants need no previous experience about programming. Although there are no age limits, Rails Girls Johannesburg wants to aim the first event at young people between 15 and 18 years of age.

The workshop will be informal. No panel discussions or lectures, just one coach for three or four participants. At the end of the workshop, participants will feel confident and inspired about programming and web design.

The event will take place at:

Thoughtworks office Address


South Point Central

2nd Floor

17 Melle Street




Parking Address

Arbour Square Building,

c/o Juta & Melle Streets,




Parking will be provided. A ticket will stamped at the Thoughtworks office.


Light refreshments and snacks will be available. The workshop starts on Saturday 6 December 2014 and continues on Sunday 7 December 2014.

You need to submit your application by or before 20 November 2014 and, if you are selected, we will contact you by or before 26 November 2014.


  • Curiosity about the Internet
  • A laptop
  • Transport to and from the venue
  • Completion of application form

All you need is a laptop and some curiosity. Show sparks!


 Go to www.  to submit your online application