ICT4D’s Forgotten Factors

In class discussion we have been noting that we cannot always take data or opinions for face value. We  have to delve deeper to see what fallbacks, flaws, or gaps are in the information presented. Most data is presented on a very broad scale, largely paying attention to region or country. This is understandable considering the noted difficulty in acquiring information and specific data from so many countries with different measurement standards, languages, and capabilities. What this leads to is a lack of full understanding of the issues at hand and what specific groups may have more difficulty accessing ICT. In Alampay’s article “Beyond Access to ICTs” we find subgroups such as gender and age that have an important role in understanding the digital divide. I believe this is very important in understanding the full scope of a nations digital atmosphere. These particular factors make portions of the population more challenged than our general understanding of the ICT capabilities of a country. If we do not examine these factors in a case-by-case manor, we may apply the same solutions to countries with similar rankings while we don’t understand the root issues on a micro level.

We discussed the challenges gender and age have in our own Western, primarily American, technology culture. These revolved around whether women are less skilled or just less exposed to technology, whether age is a absolute factor affecting access and skill. If these are so rampant in our own society, what makes us believe that these aren’t even more challenging in developing countries? By addressing these shortcomings we can better modify our approach to closing the digital divide.

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One response to “ICT4D’s Forgotten Factors

  • rgoode2

    Hey Caroline, I agree, and what was discussed in class has made me really question how there can possibly be an effective solution to the vast differences in data collection, but even more so than that, in the basic socio-cultural differences that you begin to describe. Collecting data is one obstacle, but another, larger obstacle in my opinion is factoring in the many root differences that define and organize societies. I feel like since America is the champion of producing academic theories related to society, race, gender etc, that define our own nation, the rest of the world begins to see their own societies within those definitions as well (probably thanks to capitalism and advertising from corporations like Coca-Cola). Which may be fine in some cases but certainly doesn’t make sense in societies where gender may not be constructed the way we believe it to be. How do you count how many “white” people there are in a region where race is not defined the way we know it, where “white” perhaps doesn’t even exist? How do you count the number of families who are on-line when our idea of a family is not even close to that of the society we are looking at? Its a form of symbolic violence, where the reigning anthropological thinktank (us) has contrasting models of things like race and gender relations compared to the much of the developing world. So how do we fix it? I have no clue, but your post certainly made me think about it.

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