I never really knew the meaning of the term lo-fi technology until we were in the middle of deploying a telephony based radio platform (Citizen Radio) in Lebanon this month. Most would assume that the 8Kbps phone-to-phone communication infrastructure that we are so used to being ubiquitous is a stable platform on which to build. How wrong we were. Dealing with dropping calls, crossed lines and laggy controls got me thinking about resource constrained media environments as a whole. Although there has been a push in HCI4D to approach contexts and domains which are outside of our normal assumptions about availability of technology, I feel that the opportunities for media in these resource constrained contexts has been overlooked.
I feel proud that we brought maternal healthcare information to Syrian refugees who would otherwise not have been reached and engaged in a rich way, with opportunity to share stories and ask specific questions.
And we did all of this through a glorified conference call.
From engaging with these communities I’m excited by the opportunities for how to develop tools and technologies for resource constrained media markets. How we can design platforms which empower local people to deliver the content they want in a way that suits them, without the presumptions of main-stream top-down broadcast media. Should we be trying to get everyone internet so that they can get YouTube, or should be be working with the infrastructures and technology limitations that they have learnt to work with already to deliver new media-rich experiences, commissioned and delivered by the people who need them the most.
There are so many ways we are exploring media in the hi-fi context of the western world, but maybe we can learn a lot from removing some of our assumptions.