Haiti techie Josny Severe is the founder of an app Lenkop. Last year, he created the hashtag #yontikozesouteknoloji to encourage techies in Haiti and Creole-speaking tech enthusiasts around the world to discuss technological concerns, news and issues in Haitian Creole. In Part I of the interview, he discussed how he got the idea for the hashtags. In this segment, he talks about broader topics in Haiti’s technology sector.
Kreyolicious: When we compare our part of the century to that of others who lived before us, we note that social media has changed, has revolutionized a lot of things over the world. What do you think social media has changed in Haiti?
Here in Haiti, we tend to follow a trend without really understanding its purpose. Social media started back in the days when the web turned from web 1.0 to 2.0…which means before today’s era of the popular social networks, websites were all about serving content for the consumer to just consume. When the web 2.0 hit with possibility for the consumer to participate in the game, we started with the blogs then social networks. Nowadays, in other countries social media goes further then just post[ing] media, interact[ing] [with] media posted by friends and family. We are at a point where employers, before hiring you, go on your social media profiles and check your background. Traditional media uses social networks as sources and publish scoops, and governments identify potential threats to the security of their nation and so on. But in Haiti, [even as we speak] some traditional media don’t use social networks. When news is being spread, there are a few and limited sources you can refer to [verify for] authenticity. Others take advantage [of social media to] create [and amass] popularity…[and do so] by using it [to spread malicious gossip]. Nonetheless, we need to highlight that social media in university is added as a subject in mass communication curriculum and people are being hired as social media specialists in those other countries. Talking about Haiti, there is not too much to say. We use social media on a daily basis for sure, but I don’t think we could say it has changed [anything much]. There [aren’t any] laws [that govern] behavior—good or bad in the country on the internet. We are one of the countries on the planet [who aren’t governed by any established internet laws] which leads people to do whatever they want, whenever they want on social media.
Kreyolicious: Besides taking internet abuse measures, what else would you like to see the tech sector in Haiti do?
Actually, I [think] that we [have this great urgency to] educate our nation about computer science, the use of the internet, and so on. Cause, what we actually know about internet in Haiti is just the edge of the iceberg. Then the community of computer scientist, software developer needs to get together and propose real laws that reflect our culture and morals as a nation in other to move side by side upon the arrival of new technologies. At the end, I think it is very important that the tech sector becomes a real entity as it is for the medical and accounting sector, to name these, where a license is delivered in order for engineers in the field to be recognized accordingly.
Kreyolicious: You created an app as well. How does it fit into everything?
Two years ago, I released Lenkop with the purpose of having a platform for events promotion and helping people interested in events, specially the night life. One year later, I realized I was doing it all wrong since it relies all on me to do everything. So I decided to shut it down for a while, learn some new technologies and actually developing what should be the version 2.0 of Lenkop. In other words, I’ve learned from the mistakes, step back and flexing to make a great and strong come back. Hopefully by this March or early April, I’ll be able to share what the second version of Lenkop looks like in terms of features, and [will be able to expand its] international reach.
Kreyolicious: You said you’ll be concentrating on Lenkop…do you see it tying in somehow with your plans for the hashtag?
They are obviously two different projects with different focus. With TiKozeSouTeknoloji, the purpose is to educate, debate and propose solutions, while Lenkop is here to connect party-goers, assist event planners and create a community for those people where they can really relate. That being said, educating people about technology is the main gate that will empower them to make a proper use of any app or other tools they are interested in.
You can watch a video of Haiti techie Josny Severe having a tech discussion in Haitian Creole below.
CLICK HERE to keep up with the Haiti Techie and his discussions about #Yontikozesouteknoloji!