IVR System Design and Hosting

Almost a month back I was anxiously looking for IVR hosting solutions and apparently ended up writing a SOS call on this blog. This is a follow up of that call with some information which I could receive. I also want to express my gratitude to someone who saw my call and replied me with his valuable suggestions. However as I set to do so in this post, I would bring back some of the references for a quick refresh. I am currently developing IVR prototypes for a usability testing. This required me to follow up a number of steps, right from finding an application domain to finding an information lag, to creating a script and recording the same. However one of the most crucial of these steps is to finally make everything work. I was suffering so much there.

Anyways, that’s where I had to call for help. Thanks Nalin, co-founder Mayavi Telecommunications, for sending out suggestions regarding the IVR hosting solutions. You introduced me to some of the best ones in this domain like Kookoo, Knowlarity and FreeSwitch, apart from Exotel which I’m finally using. A part of the suggestion was to keep an eye on IVRS world, a blog by Uttam Pegu. Uttam writes extensively about IVR system design and more recently about cloud telephony. It is an interesting blog which attends to a number of questions in the context of Indian Telephony scenario. Other things which I discovered includes an interesting Visual IVR design framework called CallKick. It is launched recently by Mayavi Telecommunications and comes bundled with a ready-to-install android app.
All these mentions form an interesting Pandora box which I wasn’t aware of earlier 🙂

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Please care for the logo as well.

These days I’m faced with a very specific problem. Is is specific to the designs of Dot Com sites for various clients. Assume that every single client who wants to design her website has an expectation of communicating as clearly as possible through her website. This communication can be achieved by bringing better architecture to the website content which suits the users and off course by careful alignment of different attention zones in the entire website. What a clients also expects is to have a wonderful nice looking stunning design to their website content. This is a common process which involves looking at goals, content, information architecture to designing templates at the end. No issues at all, perfect!

Where I find people getting stuck is the point when they have their identities which suits a different media more than the web. For example a bunch of organizations have logos in the orientation of a portrait. Conventionally such a logo suits print media and not the web. You can have a really good portrait oriented logo on a letter head. Not because it looks good on letter head just like that but more because it goes with the length of the paper. The paper bearing its imprint is itself oriented as a portrait. Now come to the web which is essentially more horizontal-landscape a medium than print. Not only a logo with portrait orientation looks out of place, it also compromises on the header space. One needs a wider header to accommodate a log in a portrait format. Eventually it happens at the expense of priorities of other stuff on the website which can be shown without a scroll (above the fold). Well hopefully they will come to understand that logo designs with landscape orientation will suit better the web media. But currently they suspect me as the one convincing them to modify their identities to a landscape format. What to do !

I love this idea of seeing numbers over a timeline. Extremely engaging and interesting work.

ICTs for Development

I’ve entered the ITU data on mobile phone penetration for all countries from 1998-2008 into a Google Docs spreadsheet, and then added the Motion Chart visualiser (the same engine made famous by Hans Rosling and TED, though they use the Gapminder Trendalyzer version).

Unfortunately, WordPress scripting rules mean I can’t post the active chart here. To access the spreadsheet data and Google Motion chart, you need to go to:

http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tUzZsw5SoG_jXRDl6p8tRCg&single=true&gid=0&output=html

Screenshots below give an indicator of how you can visualise the data. The chart offers three main means to visualise (bubble, bar chart, and line graph) via tabs at the top right. You can change the axes and element colouring/size, and highlight individual countries. For bubble and bar, the main point of the chart is that you can click play (bottom left) and show how things change over time. (Note playback speed variation control, and also the ability to drag…

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Elsevier’s Identity

Elsevier's Identity Design

For days I have been going through papers published by Elsevier. It was only by sheer chance that I discovered their identity. What an effort for a print based solution! Not only is it dense and full of details, it also seems to convey Elsevier’s image to its audience.

“Information Theory after Shannon” by Neil Savage

Although I try avoiding pasting links from other blogs unless “commented upon” but here is something which I think we need to read as it is. The post is written at ACM Communications by Neil Savage. In his writing Neil talks about Claude E Shannon’s work at Bell Labs. In Oct 1948 Shannon proposed the Information theory which became backbone for many a cutting edge scientific discoveries to happen later. My personal motivation to revisit Information Theory dates back to two distinct times. First during 1998-2003 when I was pursuing B.E. in Electronics and Telecommunication engineering. And second during master’s in 2005, when Madhusudan Mukherjee, most eloquently, exposed us to the design side of information theory at National Institute of Design.

May be you guys will enjoy this post by Neil Savage as well!

The Lost Sheep of ICT4D Research by Gerard C. Raiti

This article, appeared in 2007, analyzes certain shortcomings of ICT4D Research. The author senses a kind of lack of direction with in ICT4D literature and emphasizes that new models should exist beyond qualitative and quantitative analysis so as to better develop an understanding of the impact, benefits, limitations, risks, and goals of implementing ICTs in developing nations. He identifies that media studies and communication theories can play a vital role in creating ICT literature. The major concerns raised in this article includes:

1. We need multidisciplinary authors to create a multidisciplinary ICT literature.

2. It is important to realize that ICT is not a panacea; it alone can’t lead to social elevation.

3. Who is responsible for the structure of ICT4D literature?

4. Application of Habermas’s public sphere to mobile telephony in sub Saharan Africa to demonstrate how ICT4D could expand upon the theoretical tradition with in media studies.

The author refers to the work by Peter Golding and Graham Murdock (1978) to emphasize the need of new research methods. Both the scholars, along with Annabelle Sreberny (2005) and Colin Sparks (2005), are also critical of the redundancies which occur in the ICT4D literature owing to the use of similar methods yielding similar results. I’m trying to gain access to their work titled Theories of Communication and Theories of Society which currently looks a paid access. However the article seems to be based on Political Economy of Communication and Culture which I shall follow next. The later could lead to more active audience studies and ethnographic research.

One of the limitation of the ICT4D literature is its inability in measuring and quantifying the influence of ICT4D as few data existed before the conducted research but at the same time it has well documented its many successes from aiding rural farmers to increasing literacy and facilitating communal communication.

Pointers:

1.In 2007, the then ICT4D research was investigating areas including telecentres, technological infrastructure, telephone incumbents, VoIP, mobile telephone, digital education and the digital divide. Incumbent is probably meant here for ‘services or products’ which lean on ‘telephony’ for their realization.

2. In 2003 Warschauer in his book ‘Technology and Social Inclusion’ recognized ICT4D as a multidisciplinary field of study.

3. In 2004, Leslie Haddon wrote a book titled ‘Information and Communication Technologies in everyday life’ with an aim to introduce research on ICTs and everyday life.

4. Coming to theory, the author mentions a use of Habermas’s public sphere and diffusion theory. He discusses public sphere along with aspects of democratization and literacy. Probably this is something which I can follow further.

ICT links

MIT International Development Initiative,

ITU: UN agency for ICT

Journal Information Technologies and International Development

The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries

The Ethnos Project for securing local content

Types of arguments

International Development Research Centre

International Institute of Communication and Development