Posted by KatrinVerclas on Aug 27, 2012

Things are changing at MobileActive. When we started in 2005 at a legendary event that we hosted in Toronto, Canada, there were few practitioners and few projects but many ideas on how to use mobile tech in development.  We had identified about 100 people worldwide who were actively using mobiles in their social change and social development work and brought 40 together. Since then, the field has exploded and there are now thousands of projects and tens of thousands of people who are actively integrating and using mobile phones in some way or another in their projects.  

The field has matured and there is considerably more expertise, more sophisticated tech, buy-in from telcos, and big donor money.  There are also many more interest groups and communities of practice.  There is the mHealth Alliance, the Mobiles for Education Alliance, the m-agriculture people, the mobile operators organized in the GSMA with its Development Fund and the Mobile Intelligence project, and many more. 

There are blogs and twitter tags and failfairesresearch groups, and too many conferences.  In other words, when I co-started MobileActive with my colleague Marty Kearns, we were pioneers.  Now we are but a tiny part of a healthy, vibrant, maturing, and increasingly smarter field that has different needs than when we started.  We were and are thrilled to be part of this #m4dev field and declare unilateral success in helping create it and tell its stories. 

But it's time to move on. I, as the driving force behind MobileActive, have decided to, for the first time in a very long time, join an established organization. I will be working at the National Democratic Institute at a senior level on pushing tech innovation in the field I grew up in and have always cared the most about: Building vibrant representative democracies with good governance. NDI works in some 63 countries and is focused on areas such as meaningful citizen participation, open parliaments, strong political parties, and fair and equitable elections.  The organization pioneered the use of SMS in election monitoring, a field I have written (and ranted) much about. In fact, my now-boss was in Toronto in 2005 and with the leadership of my dear friend Ian Schuler, then also at NDI, invented SMS election data collection. I am delighted to be part of this pioneering group, the NDITech team, to take tech innovation in democracy to the next level.  

What does this mean for MobileActive?  Inevitably (and for those of you who are keen observers this is already obvious) there will be much less activity here.  In fact, eventually, this site will go away, having served its purpose and raison d'ĂȘtre. For now, it'll stay up for its resources, even as those will and are dating fast. Certainly, if there is another group that would like to take on the site, please be in touch. Some of the projects we hosted will find new homes or will be repurposed. There will be appropriate announcements about that in the near future.  The discussion group where people exchange ides, answer each others questions, and post jobs will stay where it is - it seems useful and still needed. 

In the meantime, you will see more of me over at Demworks, NDITech's blog, and under the hashtag #tech4dem on Twitter. It's been an exhilarating, sometimes crazy, often risky, and never boring ride in the last seven years here. Thank you for the amazing community that you are.

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