From studying development for almost three years now, I have learned the importance of understanding the context of information given to me. Information, including data and analysis, differs depending on the definitions of terms/indicators, the source, presenter/author, and much more.
Before beginning the book for our class, ICT4D, I decided to google the author, Tim Unwin.
It turns out he has a blog himself. First, I looked at his “About Me”. His accomplishments were lengthy and his experience was understatedly impressive. As I started scrolling through his blog posts, I found one called “On “cyber” and the dangers of elision.” The post explained the true definition of “cyber” and all of the misunderstandings surrounding the word, especially when used in relation to development. This is a common occurrence in development work and it’s important to bring attention to the fact when it happens like Unwin did in his post.
Misunderstandings and misconceptions about information/terminology has been a main topic of discussion in our last few classes. For example, even the most basic regions may be defined differently from report to report. It becomes even more confusing once you start considering “happiness” indicators.
The moral of the story: When reading a paper about development, one can never make assumptions about parameters/indicators without looking at the way they were defined.