Behind the Algorithms + Mobile Phones in the Transformation of the Informal Economy

Associate professor Jakob Svensson has just started new research project, funded by Vetenskapsrådet, about algorithms and how they influence our media flow.  The project will explore the cultural and social aspects that enclose the algorithms. Read more at 

Jakob is also the cowriter to the newly published article Mobile phones in the transformation of the informal economy: stories from market women in Kampala, Uganda in Journal of Eastern Africa Studies.

This research project is situated within the area mobile technologies for development (M4D), i.e. that mobile communication technologies play a vital role in the livelihood of people in developing regions. Out of a larger explorative study of how market women in Kampala use their mobile phone(s), this article focuses on the transformation of the so-called informal economy, here in the form of Kampala street markets. Departing from stories of the women themselves, the article discusses the role of mobile telephony in this transformation. The street markets today have become hybridized as mobile money allows for non-street transactions. The appropriation of the mobile phone into these micro enterprises, we argue, has the potential to produce new regulatory spaces, considering that mobile services, located in the formal sector, are deeply embedded in Kampala’s informal economic practices. To make sense of these results, we turn to science, technology and society studies (STS). STS helps us understand the mutual co-production of mobile phone practices and the transformation of the street markets. The mobile phone represents a force for change in the market women’s economic activities, at once challenging and reinforcing the informality of the Kampala markets.


Material Driven Design – Student Exhibition

During February Product Design students (2nd year) are showing their projects from the course Material Driven Design at Form/Design Center in Malmö. 

The work has been divided into three main groups:

DIY, Do-It-Yourself: this group has explored new uses for textile residues that had otherwise ended up in landfills in the Global South.

CIY, Cook-It-Yourself: this group has focused on producing plastics/biopolymers from renewable raw materials found in most kitchens.

GIY, Grow-It-Yourself: in order to find new areas of application, this group has cultivated and developed scoby, a yeast and bacterial culture normally used to produce kombucha.


Skånska dagbladet visited and wrote about the inauguration. 

The exhibition is open until February 25th. 


Reflecting on design, sustainability and social change

Malmö University DESIS Lab and MEDEA are producing a series of short interviews with design practitioners and researchers to explore if and how design can contribute to sustainability and social change in different contexts.

The first interview is with Sreejata Roy and Mrityunjay Chatterje, a two member team of an artist and a media practitioner based in New Delhi.  Their practices with regard to urban space are generally twofold. Through the projects, using and combining different media, they document the changes in the city and study how these changes affect peoples’ lives. They also explore, adapt and create spaces for public interactions and collective intellectual and creative practices.

Shakespeare as Graphic Design

Graphic Design students (year two) have been assigned to work with Shakespeare and book covers, a series of three. During autumn, the students had a crash course about Shakespeare by Magnus Nilsson, professor in literature, and Sara Bjärstorp, head of department and senior lecturer in English Literature. Magnus and Sara gave the students three quotes for inspiration:

And thus I clothe my naked villany 
With old odd ends stolen out of holy writ; 
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil. 

Richard III, Act I, scene 3

Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit, and lost without deserving.

Iago in Othello, Act II, scene 3

But manhood is melted into curtsies, valor into S
compliment, and men are only turned into tongue,
and trim ones, too. He is now as valiant as Hercules that only tells a lie and swears it. I cannot be a man with wishing; therefore I will die a woman with grieving.

Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, Act IV, scene 1

This week the students presented their work in the form of a book fair. Magnus and Sara were invited again to see the result and give feedback to the students’ work.