2010 Poster Sessions : Voice-based Social Media for Rural Developing Regions

Student Name : Neil Patel
Advisor : Scott Klemmer
Research Areas: Graphics/HCI
Social media has revolutionized how people learn and collaborate. However, tools such as blogs, wikis, forums, and social networks are out of reach for a significant portion of the world's population. In remote communities in rural India, for example, the requisite computing technologies are unfamiliar and/or unaffordable. Mobile phones, on the other hand, have achieved remarkable penetration in rural developing regions, and thus are a promising platform for disseminating on-demand, locally relevant content related to health, agriculture, governance, and even entertainment.

This work explores the use of a voice-based social media application, Avaaj Otalo (literally, "voice stoop") for farmers in rural Gujarat, India to access and share agricultural information over the phone. Callers dial Avaaj Otalo through a regular phone number and navigate automated prompts to access (among other features) a voice forum where farmers can record questions, listen to questions and answers of other farmers, and answer questions themselves. This poster presents key findings from a 7-month pilot deployment of Avaaj Otalo, with implications for future work.

Neil Patel is a PhD student in Computer Science at Stanford University, where he works in the HCI group. He received a BA in Computer Science and BA in Business Administration from UC Berkeley. His research explores the usage and design of voice-based social media in underserved communities such as rural India. He is advised by Scott Klemmer, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, and Tapan Parikh, Assistant Professor at the UC Berkeley School of Information.