Hi everyone! If you don’t remember me from last year, my name is (still) Brian Geyer and I’m now a 3rd year anthropology graduate student here at Michigan State University. My research – which I apparently neglected to discuss last year – involves the intersection of land tenure issues and conservation policies near the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya and how local communities respond to these issues and policies in ways that affect their systems of inequality.
Last year I worked along the CHI Fellows as an unofficial member and learned quite a bit about the basics of mobile website design, Google Spreadsheets scripting tools, and Twitter’s API service. My finished product – Kenya Tweet – is a rather simple-looking mobile website that utilizes these tools and produces real-time mapping of tweets in eastern Africa.
Continuing with my theme last year of developing skills that will be directly applicable to an applied approach as an anthropologist working in rural eastern Africa, this year I am ready to expand my knowledge into more areas of mobile website and application development. I am particularly interested in ways to develop mobile technology that either requires very small amounts of bandwidth, or interacts with mobile phone users in ways that do not rely on internet connections, but which are still hosted online. Such projects will hopefully push me to better understand how the limitations of what can be accessed by users with much slower internet connections than what we are used to here in the United States (and elsewhere) discourage internet participation of rural community members in general.
I am also excited this year to be a part of LEADR, a new joint venture between MSU’s Departments of History and Anthropology. The lab will work with professors from both departments in designing and implementing digital humanities and social science projects within their curricula for undergraduate and graduate courses. Another CHI Fellow and I will likely be posting more about this new venture in the coming months, so keep a lookout for these posts in the near future.