Focus: HCI, ICTD, information systems supporting microfinance, smallholder agriculture and public health
Tapan Parikh is an assistant professor at UC Berkeley. His research focuses on the use of computing to support sustainable economic development across the World. His interests include microfinance, agriculture, public health, human-computer interaction, mobile computing, and distributed information systems.
What is the best thing about working at the I School? or What brought you to the I School?
For me, it was the broad expertise of the faculty and students. I am a chronic intellectual wanderer — I drift between disciplines in search of important and intellectually satisfying ideas that are personally motivating. The multi-disciplinary nature of the school allows me to interact with diverse people and ideas on a daily basis.
What Information issues interest you most?
I am most concerned with the role of information in creating a fair, equitable, and free society that can best support individual creativity and expression.
Your current research focuses on focuses on human-computer interaction applications that have a socio-economic impact. How did you become interested in this area? What do you see as the greatest challenge to the successful implementation of technology in developing societies?
I became interested in this area through my direct experiences working with non-profit and community-based organizations in rural India. It was apparent to me that improved access to information, and the ability to turn that information into actionable knowledge, could provide immediate dividends for many development activities, anywhere from the household to the national scale.
However, the greatest difficulty in achieving this objective is that the limited education, capacity, and resources of poor rural individuals (and the organizations that serve them) make conventional approaches to IT inaccessible, from a user interface, software engineering, and organizational perspective. We need a re-contextualized approach to information systems design and implementation that takes these constraints into account, which can spur a new revolution in the accessibility of digital systems.
Something few people know about you?
As a teenager, I used to surf and ride a skateboard.
What keeps you up at night?
My 4-month old son Ravin, and the Earth that he will inherit.