<p>In my opinion, there are many important lessons in ICT4D. Technology is becoming increasingly important not only for the globalizing world, but also for developing countries. It is important to note that because we are increasingly connected, countries in the early stages of development need to work with technology to develop in a way that allows them to compete in the globalizing world. One important lesson that seems to be often times overlooked in ICT4D is the importance of sustainability. Thousands of projects that include telecenters and old/not durable technology have failed because they do not take into account the environment and the needs of the people. Programs need to be able to be measurable and compatible with the environment to be sustainable and help the area develop in the long run. There must be a way to measure success to know if these type of projects will help millions of other people.</p><p>This brings me to another point, the needs-based approach lesson of ICT4D. Projects like One Laptop Per Child are not sustainable or helpful because they are not compatible with the skills, resources and technological understanding of the people the project was aimed to help. ICT4D projects need to focus on the capabilities of the people and how to best meet their needs with projects, whether it is the technology used or catering the training sessions/applications to the people who will be using the tools. I think that this important lesson I learned will be extremely helpful in my future. Although I am not planning to focus on ICT4D, the needs-based approach is vital in all aspects of development. Projects and tools need to be catered to the specific population being targeted. Even if I just focus on one successful method of social entrepreneurship, that method needs to be compatible with the people and the environment in which it will be used.</p><p>In the future, it would be really interesting to study more case studies. Specifically, how technology has freely come into areas without ICT4D projects being implemented. Similar to the case study about the fishermen using cell phones in India to increase their income. I think it is really important to study these topics to learn about how technology can benefit certain populations and how to create ICT4D projects from these occurrences.</p>
Tag Archives: technology
Overall, prior to ICT4D I never really thought of technology as an integral aspect to development. In my mind I pictured the merging of the two concepts similar to One Laptop Per Child. I envisioned people giving technology to poverty stricken people who were uneducated about the devices and therefore never used them. In general, I assumed it would simply be a waste of development resources. Like we’ve learned in class this is often the case. However there is another side to the story, a side where technology (if appropriately used and implemented) can drastically help areas of development (i.e. radio in rural/agricultural areas).
Specifically, I enjoyed learning about different sectors. I found the participatory radio campaigns particularly interesting because I had never heard of the concept. Not only is it integrating technology into education but it also deals with capacity building. Both are extremely important in terms of development. When I think of technology I immediately think of the iPhone or other new devices. However using what we would consider “old” technology in a smarter way can be more innovative than the newest gadget. If a community does not have a need for a device, the device is useless no matter how high-tech it is.
A great resource for ICT news particularly relating to the Caribbean is the blog ICTPulse, “ICT issues from a Caribbean Perspective.” In an article posted on the website earlier this month discusses one method of deterring hackers and payment fraud through use of the “Bitcoin.” As blog writer mmarius describes in this post “Can Bitcoins solve the e-payment challenges in the Caribbean?” there are many challenges and risks associated with online payments. However, in an ever-globalizing economy, a solution to making this process more secure is becoming more and more necessary. Here’s a breakdown of what the Bitcoin is exactly. This short video especially does a great job of describing and illustrating the how and why the Bitcoin is an effective ICT for secure online payments.
“Launched in 2009, Bitcoin (BTC) is a digital currency that has no central management authority, and uses instead peer-to-peer technology to issue Bitcoins and manage transactions. Although some vendors have created and issued Bitcoin notes and coins, its true value exists electronically, where:
- No Centralized Bank/Controlling Agent
- Currency Value is based on supply & demand
- Individuals directly control holdings and transactions
- All Bitcoin accounts and transactions are private”
The Bitcoin is a generally a recent development and since it is based on supply and demand, will take some time before “developing a critical mass.” As more customers and vendors put faith in using and accepting Bitcoins, their value will stabilize and become more widely accepted. However, just like any other online payment method, this article also discusses how the Bitcoin is still susceptible to some forms of cyber threats. Although the Bitcoin online database itself is said to be secure, network breaches and compromised accounts are still a possibility. A final issue lies in Bitcoin’s individualistic approach. In the event of a theft or account breach, there is no protection for users. This method may save cost and keep account information private however this in itself causes the system to be vulnerable.
Personally, I feel that the use of Bitcoins could cause illegal transactions to easily fly under the radar. With no protections and little oversight, this could cause the black market to flourish. In fact, a more recent article from Forbes.com “Bitcoin Combines Ph.D-Level Computer Science With Sub-Kindergarten-Level Monetary Understanding” referred to this alternative form of currency as “garbage.” What it did highlight however was its creativity approach to innovating the field of computer science. Although its purpose is a good one, I’m not sure if this ICT4D tool would be the most effective.
“Anca Mosoiu’s vision for a world of accessible technology tools compelled her to create the Tech Liminal principles and workshop. After graduating from MIT with a computer science degree, she returned to her hometown of Oakland at the right time to participate in the Silicon Valley high-tech boom”
ICT4D is often something we consider only in the sense of uplifting and empowering small villages in the most remote of locations however ICT4D is happening constantly at all levels and regions of society. In the past, tech developer, Anca Mosoiu has devoted a vast amount of effort to developing technology in the city of Oakland, California.
Tech Liminal is a company dedicated to improving tech assistance among other businesses by operating a technology hotspot & salon based in Oakland, the heart of the Silicon Valley. Her work is credited with assisting in the development of the Silicon Valley as the technology hub it is today.
Philosophy of Optimism
Anca’s work has always been driven by an inner sense of optimism.
“ ‘To me the information age is like being at the beginning of the industrial age’ so much opportunity. But opportunity is restricted to those who have knowledge and resources. By putting the pieces together explaining Twitter, for example ‘you start leveling the playing field.’ ”
In addition to “leveling the playing field,” Anca’s work helps small, local businesses gain the technology skills necessary to make their work more efficient and as a result save money and expand their capacities. Although this is not the type of development work that we typically consider, the major tech giants and leaders that emerge from such efforts have begun to make large strides in development abroad as well. Unfortunately, the progress of development is heavily reliant on funding available which often times comes from the non-profit sector. As the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) field grows, more opportunities to begin and manage development programs and opportunities will develop as well. Sometimes ICT4$ is a necessary step before ICT4D can take place.
Another example of development working with a similar philosophy is Google plus’ Community Leaders Program. This program trains people to assist small businesses and local leaders with basic technical skills that can help them further their horizons. New Orleans has a program dedicated specifically to technology development within the city if anyone is interested in getting involved.
When discussing Gender and ICT4D, the biggest theme is of course, the “gender digital divide.” In many regions of the world where women don’t necessary have the same social mobility or financial independence as men, breaking into the field of technology can be quite the challenge. In fact, it’s an issue we still face at home in the U.S. and other “Global North” countries as well. However, with all this in mind, I wanted to focus my post today on one particular woman who has been successful in the tech field. According to eLearning Africa’s 5/29/12 article “For girls, it is possible to dream big,” native Kenyan Juliana Rotich started out as a “lonely, young ‘geek’ with oversized glasses at school. Today she is a highly successful tech entrepreneur who is a co-founder and Executive Director of Ushahidi, a homegrown non-profit tech company that has taken the world by storm.” This e-Learning Africa interview with Juliana is helpful not only because she serves as a positive role model for other girls and women to look up to but she can also provide an insider scoop on what techniques and social barriers exist for women interested in breaking into ICT.
Juliana started off by focusing on her childhood inspirations. She remembered first learning about Mae Jemison and her journey to the moon. Clearly, the emphasis here is placed on dreaming big. Young people often underestimate their potential by thinking they’re not good enough or need to reach some magical age before they can start pursuing certain interests, but Juliana argues ardently against that. Especially for young women to break into the technology which is still considered a “man’s world” is even more difficult.
In terms of the benefits of ICTs for women, of course there are the well-known links to economic growth and financial independence but additionally, Juliana talks about reaching a social and cultural standing of equality. “There is a friend who thinks a good brain is a good brain, either way. Whether it is a male brain or a female brain…” This is the type of change in mentality that needs to happen, not only in Africa but world-wide. Finally, she speaks on the African notion of chama, which is “a group of women who come together, and they put in a pool of money to help each other. Now if we had a scientist within that mix, or a techie within that mix, they could create software to help that chama.” Women, being the social, integrative type that we are, have a huge advantage in acting as instruments of change within communities. Overall, I hope this post can serve as a reminder that women are rapidly expanding and entering the ICT field. Hopefully more examples like Juliana can change the mentality that Technology is strictly a “man’s world.”
Resources: E-Learning Africa
The Internet is a rich resource. In the past decade, information design, the practice of presenting information in a way that fosters efficient and effective understanding of it and access to it, in the United States has progressed to a point where anyone with access to the Internet can immerse themselves in an educational rich dimension. However, the effectiveness in this progression is dependent on the information actually reaching the user. This past week in class, we read the International Telecommunication Union’s annual report that measured the information societies in 155 different countries across countries currently classified as developed, developing, and undeveloped. The report used three variables to create an index for ICT development: ICT use, ICT access, and ICT skills. Prior to reading this report, I had narrowly considered the impediments to ICT access to be solely physical, political, and economic- mainly what ICT use and ICT access encompass. However, having ICT skills as the third variable, allowed me to think about how important other, more social factors, like education is in the equation of ICT and development.
In reading the report, I was unimpressed by the United State’s ranking as 15th on the ICT Development Index (p. 21). The importance of lessening the digital divide here in the United States, especially here in New Orleans, has a greater implication now that I have taken education into account when thinking of ICT and development. The report holds that education is an important factor in a country’s ICT development, and consequently that ICT development and education is an important factor in the overall development of a country. That is why the intersection of ICT access and education is so significant.
There is a wealth of information available to the web user. Over the past decade, there has been a shift in the field of information design to create user interfaces that are simple and accessible, alleviating barriers to knowledge that have existed in the past. Web sites like TED talks and Khan Academy provide entry into a world of expert knowledge that would not have been commonly accessible to the majority of the population in years past. You no longer have to be accepted into ultra exclusive and expensive universities to have access to the quality of information that their students are exposed to. Models like Academic Earth and Stamford U allow classes from the world’s most prestigious colleges like Columbia, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Dartmouth, Harvard, NYU, Oxford, Princeton, Rice, UC Berkeley, and Yale to be accessed by anyone with Internet. In my opinion, the importance of providing such access to these academic resources, in way of ICT development, is greater today because of the growing amount of information that is now available through the Internet. These resources have the potential to enhance the quality of education available to the American person, contributing to a better-educated population and therefore, contributing to the development of the country it self.
As Unwin discusses at the beginning of ICT4D, NGO’s have the potential to greatly impact a country’s implementation and spread of ICT usage among citizens. With the background and intimate knowledge they gather over the years about a specific region’s culture, traditions and religion among other factors, NGOs build up the necessary expertise to understand which methods are best suited for certain environments. Through their work and depending on how long an NGO has worked in a certain community, they’re able to form trusting relationships of respect with locals.
Following in this train of thought, an article was recently released about how NGOs in Sri Lanka are being connected by an ICT focused non-profit called “Sarvodaya-Fusion.” Their aim in this project is to unify Sri Lankan NGOs by arming them with the power of ICTs, making their work more effective and efficient. Whether they are focusing on rural economic development or environmental conservation, all NGOs can benefit through the advancement of their ICT knowledge. In fact, Sarvodaya-Fusion plans on dividing attending organizations into focus groups based on their individual missions.
A secondary benefit of Fusion’s project is how it will indirectly serve as a network through which over 50 Sri Lankan NGOs can unify themselves. All different types of NGO work are vital to improving any country, but their impact can be held back by unnecessary repetition of work and a general lack of communication across organizations. “As the nation’s leading ICT4D organization,” Sarvodaya-Fusion has the right ICT knowledge to lead Sri Lanka’s next tech era. Last year, their organizing brought together 40 NGOs and hopefully many more will join this year, especially because of the support they will be receiving by a tech team from Microsoft’s Sri Lanka division. Judging by their stellar track record, looks like Sarvodaya-Fusion will be starting off 2013 on the right note and forging the path for Sri Lanka’s future in ICT4D.
For more information, please refer to the ITPro article linked below:
Reference Link: “Connecting Sri Lanka’s NGOs with ICT”