Niall Winters’ response to Erik Hersman

Erik Hersman’s “The Subtle Condescension of ICT4D” makes many controversial points. Niall Winters’ blog seeks to answer some of his rhetorically phrased questions.

  1. Hersman questioned whether an ICT4D project in America would still be considered “4D.” Winter argues that “development” applies more to a region then a specific country. There is more emphasis on the socio-economic and cultural aspects then location.
  2. Winter agrees with Hersman’s point that Africa is ready to be treated like a business in the sense of encouraging African innovation and expertise.
  3. Although Hersman’s point regarding the lack of sustainability is valid, Winter states that no project’s initial intent is to be unsustainable.
  4. In terms of classifying ICT4D projects as such, Winters claims we must look to those who are being targeted. If the group is marginalized, and the project seeks to lessen this marginalization, then it is ICT4D. On the other hand, an innovative app or technology in a developing country does not automatically qualify as ICT4D.
  5. I think Winter’s best point comes when she is answering: “Is ICT4D basically branding for emerging market tech?” ICT4D deals with much more then just the technological innovation side. ICT4D is the implementation of these technologies to a broader cultural, economic and political context.

Although originally I thought Hersman made some good, albeit slightly controversial points, I also enjoyed reading Winters’ critique. She raised many interesting points especially regarding terminology. For example, ICT4$ really is just the same thing as any other ICT start up. Both Hersman and Winter’s articles point to the need for a more congruent classification system for ICT4D projects. These new definitions/classifications would need to attempt to be as “large-canvasing” as possible in order to avoid being condescending. I’d definitely recommend people check out Winters’ blog, especially if they are interested by how education can be improved through the use of technologies (more specifically in Africa). I liked her critical stance on how Apple could be doing so much more as far as education innovation is concerned. Also, in another post, she attempts to further define ICT4D by exploring the meaning of “4.”


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