At first glance, international development is vague. Everyone wants to make the world a better place and fight poverty, and it seems easy to identify the most pressing problems and identify hypothetical solutions. However, putting ideas into practice requires huge amounts of coordination and generally results in many setbacks. Anyone pursuing a project in the field of ICT4D should understand the intricate steps to implementing a solution. It is truly a detailed process, but most changemakers are too quick to want save the world without considering the implications of every detail. A great example of this is One Laptop Per Child. Of course giving a laptop to a child in a developing country will promote knowledge, but is it really a substitute for education? Is it financially sustainable? What if the hardware fails? ICT4D solutions can, in fact, make an impact, but all possible scenarios must be considered and planned for.
This semester I’ve learned that technology is not an enemy for development. At the start of the course, I felt that there wasn’t a need for a technological revolution in the developing world because it would be too complicated and couldn’t address the true core of a problem. However, I’ve come to understand that ICT4D is hugely helpful in transforming a country. Additionally, ICT doesn’t have to mean something as complicated as Internet communication for social change, like the Zapatista Effect. ICT can mean tangible technology, like Dr. Laura Murphy’s presentation on mobiles in rural Kenya. Technology is vital for change; it should not be disregarded.
The most useful framework that can be used to think about and implement ICT4D is the concept of the Knowledge Society. Information can provide a backbone for growth, but the ultimate goal of ICT is to promote knowledge and intelligence. Information is raw data, which should never be ignored, but knowledge is the use of data. Knowledge bring everything into a broader context and should mean improved access for everyone. Knowledge Society is ICT in context, in consideration of humans as emotional, individual beings, not as another statistical group.
I would like to explore social media in the developing world. It is a worldwide phenomenon that is changing the way all societies interact, and I am quite curious to understand its implications on development.