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#m4D – The Official Twitter Hashtag for Using Mobile Phones for Development

By Wayan Vota on September 24, 2010

On the Twitter social network, people use hashtags, the “#” symbol followed by letters and numbers or a word to signify a Tweet in relation to a specific subject. For example, the #ICT4D hashtag is employed to represent the use of information and communications technologies for development.

After an exhaustive analysis and multiple interviews with thought leaders, I’ve come to the conclusion that #m4D is the best hashtag to signify Tweets related to the use of mobile phones in the international development of social and economic advancement in the developing world.


Why #m4D?

Organizations can use mobile technology in many ways to promote societal advancement – they can be platforms for the transference of voice, written text, images, data, and who knows what else, over many different types of hardware, software, and protocols. The only real denominator is that its generally usable on a mobile phone-type device – therefore we should incorporate near-ubiquitous lowercase “m”.

Yet mobile technology is a subset of overall information and communication technology (ICT) field. And both mobiles and ICT are subservient to the actual end goal of development – not mobiles for mobiles’ sake, but mobile technology used for development. Therefore we should draw on the “4D” in the existing #ICT4D hashtag.

Which brings us to define #m4D as mobiles for development, which includes the full gamut of mobile technologies – infrastructure, hardware, devices, protocols and apps.

Now as I’ve noted before, #m4D and even #ICT4D do not exist in a vacuum. In fact, they are subgroups of larger communities. And there are even subgroups to #m4D – like #Apps4D, the specific use of mobile applications for development. Before you get confused, let us review the Venn Diagram of the intersection between ICT and development to see where each community resides.

Now here is each category explained, along with its placement in these respective communities:

  • ICT
    Information and communication technologies represent the full array of solutions, from FM radio to cloud computing that the world uses to create and relay information electronically.
  • Mobile
    Mobile technologies, from the mobile phone to the iPad are a subset of ICT that, like the name suggests, are primarily focused on allowing the user to interact with ICT while in motion.
  • Development
    Often called “international development”, its the industry seeking to increase the economic and social development of disadvantaged communities and countries.
  • ICT4D
    Where the use of ICT is for the purpose of developing a community, its referred to as ICT4D (ICT for Development).
  • m4D
    Where mobile technologies are used for development, this is called m4D and is a subset of both mobile and development.
  • Apps4D
    Where software applications interact with mobile technologies, often but not always as software on the mobile device itself, for development, it is Apps4D.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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