Technology: Scary or Empowering

In class we have been discussing different technologies and how important it is to give the developing world access to all these technologies that make our lives better. This refers to the digital divide, the technological gap between countries that have fully exploited ICT and those that have not. We spoke about why these gaps existed and broke the reasons up into groups: access, skill, policy and motivation. We discussed how access could mean whether or not the hardware existed anywhere near you, and how skill refers to the technological skill level of the user, and if they had access if they would be able to figure it out.  Policy is another aspect because there are countries that do not have an enabling environment. The last aspect of the digital divide, motivation, was the most interesting to me. This aspect covers people’s desire for new technologies. In many cases residents have no interest in new technologies and are content in the way they have been living.

While reading and discussing the motivation aspect of the digital divide, I wondered if forcing new technologies on people who found them irrelevant or had no motivation to use them was that important. I wondered if that was the case in most developing countries. Were we bombarding these people and their cultures? In this Microsoft blog , the author talks about a study done by Microsoft where they surveyed over 10,000 internet users in 10 nations. In the majority of the countries, developing countries included, the people saw the use of personal technology as a type of empowerment. India believes that technology is even improving health care, and education. Brazil, as well, embraces new technologies and believes it has impacted both art and culture. These countries, for the most part, agree that technology especially personal technology is improving their quality of lives as well as empowering them. Though this does not cover all developing countries, or the different opinions of rural versus non-rural places, it is reassuring that a lot of people want, and embrace new technologies.

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3 responses to “Technology: Scary or Empowering

  • jboleky

    A question for discussion that i have always wondered about. Lets say a developing country does not necessarily want something even though it would help it in a positive way, lets say for example uncensored internet. Should other countries or organizations pressure the country, or launch campaigns to influence the people into wanting it? Or is that a violation of national sovereignty or perhaps negatively influencing a culture? I wonder if there will be any interesting responses, i personally feel that it is NOT a bad thing to try and pressure a country into accepting something it doesnt want at the moment.

  • kbruce2016

    I think you both pose very tough questions, and in reality there is no easy answer. Often times when one country is looking for a solution to a big development issue, other countries will push certain technologies on that country that they think will be beneficial. In this sense, encouraging a country to use a certain technology is not inherently wrong. However, culture plays such a huge role in the use of technology that if these technologies are forced upon a country that doesn’t want to use them, they will be unsuccessful. New technologies must be implemented in a country within the cultural context of that country. For this to work, implementation must be lead by people native to that country and not by foreign parties.

  • veggiemunster

    I agree with K, there is no “scary” aspect to pushing ICT, because ultimately if the country is not ready, or does not want the ICT, it will not be used. We talked in class about the difference between access and usage as factors for ICT4D. ICT can only be empowering in my opinion.

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