I’m Michael Downey, and I’m the director of community for the Digital Impact Alliance at the United Nations Foundation, an group of technology and international development experts that believes that when we achieve a digital society that serves everyone, we have the potential to improve the lives of millions of vulnerable people around the world.
My introduction to computer technology came back in 1987, when my parents purchased a Tandy 1000 EX. Since then, I’ve been actively involved in computers and online technology. I was a system operator (sysop) for the Indianapolis-based Traders’ Connection (TCON) bulletin board system (BBS), in some ways a predecessor to the Internet as we know it today. TCON eventually became one of the first dial-up internet services providers in the region.
I received two undergraduate degrees from Purdue University, majoring in electrical engineering technology and computer engineering technology. In 2000, I started a career in IT, working for not only Fortune 500 and Global 500 corporations, but also as an industry consultant for small and large projects.
As a PhD student at Indiana University School of Informatics studying human-computer interaction, my research focused on user-centered design and testing, usability of open source software, three-dimensional visualization of file systems, and ICT4D. My research examined cross-cultural computer-supported cooperative work. I was a key member of the MountainView research team and was co-principal investigator for FOSSUL – Indiana’s Free and Open Source Software Usability Laboratory.
In the late 2000’s, I started getting involved in work on the nexus of technology and international development, and launched a consulting business now known as ICTD Inc. to assist people and projects in leveraging technology to improve lives in resource-constrained settings. As community manager for OpenMRS, I’m given the unique opportunity to collaborate with smart people on every continent to help build software that’s helping to save the world. I also stay connected as a member of various industry groups including the Free Software Foundation (FSF), Open Source Initiative (OSI), Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Internet Society, Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), IEEE Computer Society, and a charter member of the Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA).
This current version of Downey.net is hosted by Media Temple using open source tools: MySQL, WordPress, and the Apache HTTP Server. The site is based on the On Topic theme from WooThemes. Type is set in Futura PT and Adobe Garamond Pro, served via TypeKit by Adobe. The logo is a scalable vector graphic (SVG) set in Deming EP and Futura. Unless otherwise specified, all content copyright Michael Downey and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) license.