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Digital Entrepreneurship in Africa: How a Continent Is Escaping from Silicon Valley’s Long Shadow

Monday, May 20th, 2019

May 22, 2019, room 408, 12:00-1:00PM

Digital entrepreneurship is widely believed to be an engine for Africa’s development in the 21st century. From Mark Zuckerberg to Emmanuel Macron and Paul Kagame, technologists and policymakers have proposed that digital technologies are enabling Africa to “leapfrog” and experience ground-breaking economic progress. Yet, in any imaginable measure for digital economies, Africa does far worse than any other continent, and global divides seem to be widening. In this book, we grapple with the large gap between boundless ambition and sobering statistics. We draw on a five-year empirical research project, including fieldwork in 11 African cities. We show that the average African digital enterprise is unable to grow exponentially, scale internationally, attract venture capital, or disrupt cumbersome analog value chains. Instead, we see entrepreneurs who are creatively and productively applying and adapting digital business models to their local contexts. This has many of the wished-for positive socio-economic effects, just not at the rate and scale that the widespread narratives suggest. Our book thus builds a nuanced review of what the digital revolution means in, and to, the world’s economically most marginal places.

nicolas friederici

Dr. Nicolas Friederici studies how economic development happens in the digital age, and how the opportunities of digital technologies unfold unevenly in different places and for different actors. He holds a dual appointment as Research Group Lead Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) in Berlin and as Postdoctoral Researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII). At HIIG, Nicolas leads projects on inequality in the global digital economy, platform entrepreneurship in Europe, and the digitization of German small and medium-sized enterprises (Mittelstand). At the OII, he studies digital entrepreneurship and innovation hubs in Africa. He was a visitor at SCANCOR in Stanford, a Clarendon Scholar, and grantee of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. Earlier, Nicolas worked for the Mobile Innovation for Development program at infoDev (World Bank). He was a Fulbright scholar at Michigan State University, where he did his MA in Telecommunications, Information Studies and Media. Nicolas also holds a Diplom in Media Management from the University of Cologne. He continues to be active as a consultant: recently, he helped the World Bank assess digital entrepreneurship ecosystems in Bangladesh and the Caribbean and contributed to UNCTAD’s 2019 Information Economy Report.

Online: If you are not able to join in person, please join online via Zoom, https://zoom.us/, Meeting ID: 663 036 200.

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Taming and Nurturing the Wild Child: Government and Corporate Policies for Social Media

Monday, May 20th, 2019

May 24, 2019, 8:30AM-5:00PM, Washington DC

Please join us for an ICA workshop sponsored by The Institute for Information Policy at Penn State, The Quello Center at Michigan State, and the Journal of Information Policy. The workshop will take place at Washington Hilton at 1919 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC from 8:30 AM- 5:00 PM.

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Merit 2019 Innovation Award

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

The Quello Center was honored with the Merit 2019 Innovation Award for original contributions to the Michigan Moonshot project.

The Quello Team, led by Co-PIs Johannes Bauer, Laleah Fernandez, and Keith Hampton, developed a multi faceted approach to increase our understanding of the quality of broadband connectivity and its effects on school performance. This is the first study to combine crowd-sourced network data with survey data, administered initially in 202 classrooms in three intermediate school districts across Michigan. Based on the lessons from the pilot phase, the team, working with Merit Network and MLab, plans to scale the project across the state and beyond.

Merit Award

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Quello Center Roundtable: Alwin Mahler: Diffusion of Digital Innovation: Digital Transformation of Industries and National Agenda Setting

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Thursday, May 16, 4:30-5:30 PM, Quello Center, Room 405.

Abstract: Dr. Alwin Mahler will talk about the diffusion of digital innovations, a research area he has pursued since his time as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Michigan State in 1997-1998. He will reflect on two decades of experiences in business development, regulatory, and executive roles in various European companies in IT and telecommunications, including the digital transformation of key industries, such as retailing or the news industry. In addition, he will explore key determinants of the diffusion of digital innovation and agenda setting on a national level, illustrated with Germany’s digital agenda setting.

Alwin MahlerBio: Dr. Alwin Mahler is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Communication. For the past 20 years, he has worked in various executive roles in the telecommunications and information industries.

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Jeffery Boase – Network Complexity and Mobile Texting: A Triangulation of Digital Trace, Survey, and Interview Data

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

Jeffrey Boase

April 25, 2019 @ 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm in room 184 CAS.

Social complexity is thought to be a hallmark of modern life. Individuals now maintain complex personal networks of local and distant friends, family, and workmates. Nevertheless, the frequent exchange of mobile text messages has been shown to strengthen and reinforce existing social bonds, which is at odds with the general trend towards social complexity. Using 3.1 million texting and calling events, along with survey and interview data collected from five sources, I will provide nuanced discussion of mobile texting practices with friend, family, school, and work ties.

Jeffrey Boase is an Associate Professor in the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology and the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on the relationship between communication technology and personal networks. He is particularly interested in how emerging technologies such as smartphones and social media platforms may enable or hinder the transfer of information and support within personal networks.

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Note from Deborah Taylor Tate

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017


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Note from Michael J. Copps

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017


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Note to Dan Inouye

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017


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Note from Ted Stevens

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017


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The 50-Year Telecommunications Explosion

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017


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