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Meet the analyst: Jody Ranck talks GigaOM RoadMap and more

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Jody Ranck, as seen when he's not writing for GigaOM Pro
Jody Ranck, as seen when he's not writing for GigaOM Pro

Each week, GigaOM Pro chats with one of its analysts to find out which technologies they read about, write about and can’t live without. For our inaugural edition, we talk to health care expert Jody Ranck, who will also be speaking at this week’s GigaOM RoadMap conference.

1. Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m a social scientist and health policy guy who has been working mostly in global health for the past 20-plus years in places like Rwanda and Bangladesh. Over the past six to seven years, I’ve been very interested in mobile devices in emerging markets and in OECD contexts. For much of the last 19 months, I led the research and thought leadership work at the mHealth Alliance, and now plan on working with organizations like the Pan American Health Organization as well as writing for GigaOM on mHealth and innovation. I’m going to do some work with Voice of America on mHealth, and am also working with a group of folks to set up a new global mHealth business accelerator that can foster new public-private partnerships. I’m even working on a proposal for a book that would take a look at health IT around the world and how we might actually be able to transform health systems — a lofty dream, if we take some foundational issues seriously.

2. As a GigaOM Pro analyst, what are your areas of focus?

My general area of interest is eHealth/mHealth and I’m working on finishing up an interesting piece on the Internet of Things and health, which is something that has really caught my interest in the last few months.

3. What’s your favorite article you’ve ever written for GigaOM Pro?

For GigaOM Pro, my favorite is the upcoming piece on the Internet of Things because there is not a lot out there yet and this is a very exciting emerging issue with a lot of different facets that are fascinating for a social scientist, like the meaning of health itself and how it is changing or concepts such as privacy and how this will play out in different cultural contexts. I like to take a perspective that moves well beyond Silicon Valley but also engages with what people are saying in the tech clusters.

4. What was the last piece of media (music, video, book, etc.) you paid money for?

I just bought Michael Nielsen’s book Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science, a CD on Afro-Latin jazz from Cotonou and an Israeli film, The Human Resources Manager.

5. What are the first three media outlets (websites, blogs, actual physical publications) you read in the morning?

That’s a tough one — my Google Reader has close to 1,000 feeds! In general, I like Bookforum, my Twitter tech list and the New York Times.

6. You’re stranded on a desert island: What are the five gadgets/devices/services/apps you can’t live without? (Presumably there is electricity and Wi-Fi on this desert island.)

Kindle, Pandora, Google Reader, MacBook Air, Instapaper

7. When you’re not writing for GigaOM Pro, what’s your favorite thing to do?

I’m an amphibian and like to swim and run. Swimming in particular, in fairly cold water for long distances, is my favorite thing next to reading history.

8. What’s your favorite non-tech blog?

There’s a tie between Bookforum, Browser and Arts & Letters Daily. Must have been the liberal arts education.

9. What are you going to be talking about at GigaOM RoadMap? Who are you most excited to see there and why?

I’ll be talking about connected health and the ecosystem of health 2.0, mHealth, and the big picture — what it means to be an inforg, rather than a cyborg, and how we’re going through an algorithmic revolution that is transforming health increasingly towards an IT service. I’m most excited to see Frank Moss, with whom I’ll moderate a chat. He had my dream job as Director of MIT’s Media Lab!