The Kingdom of Thailand has experienced 18 coups in the past century. Since 2006, the government has changed hands roughly half a dozen times, with Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts taking turns occupying the airports, the capital city, and the Government House. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has played an inscrutable role in the political turmoil, seeming to quietly favor the yellow-shirted, urban, establishment middle class, yet retaining wide support and popularity among all Thais, including the poorer, rural, working class of the country who tend to fall, politically, in the red-shirted camp of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. A populist billionaire media kingpin, Thaskin was chased from the Prime Minister’s office by the military in 2006, and yet has remained a potent force in Thai politics, and it was his followers who were killed by the dozens in the streets of Bangkok last April as they protested their repeated disenfranchisement at the hands of the establishment– the military, the middle class, the media, and, perhaps, the monarchy. Today, Thailand and Cambodia are shelling each other over ownership of 1.8 square miles of land that happens to contain an 11th century hindu temple.
THAT is where I’ll be moving next month to support the work of Dimagi, a Boston-based technology company that takes on healthcare challenges in (mostly) the developing world. I’ll be helping to roll out an SMS communications platform that will allow people enrolled in a vaccine trial for Dengue Fever to keep in better touch with those administering the trial. I won’t be based in Bangkok but in Kamphaeng Phet (four hours north), and working also in Cebu City, Philippines. I will likely be eating very well.
This next step is building on the work I’ve done at NDN over the past two years, analyzing and reporting on the impact of mobile phones, social media, and other new technology on democracy, civil society and global development. The Global Mobile brand that you’ve come to know and trust (or perhaps not) has migrated to this site, as has a selection of my best bloggery from the past few years. In the coming months, I hope to have new writing find its way into a variety of outlets, but you’ll be able to follow everything here. I had a good run in Washington, and now it’s time to get my hands dirty and get a little closer to the phenomena I’ve been writing about– so I’m off to Thailand.