Improving ICT Efficacy with the Arts

In every IDEV course I’ve taken thus far, we’ve discussed that the definition of development is not universal. This has posed a myriad of issues in terms of what exactly needs to be done and how. Our ICT4D textbook by Tim Unwin also brings up this problem and discusses how this inconsistency in what development is affects information communication technologies. Personally, I have a problem with the top-down approach of development ICTs: bringing information from those who know (the developed countries) to those who don’t, the ignorant (the underdeveloped countries). There is a great flaw with this patronizing perspective, because the transfer of information cannot go one way and neither side can be thought of as “ignorant.” Development organizations, nonprofits and countries need to implement ICTs that allow for a mutual transfer of information and they must not assume to be all-knowing of the needs of the underdeveloped populations. The lines of communication must be both open and effective. Together, developed and underdeveloped nations have all the information necessary for sustainable, successful development. Efficacy is a matter of working together, which means that there needs to be a sense of community. Unwin discussed how implementing ICTs into development work is not a new idea and cannot be treated as such. More technologies cannot be thrown at underdeveloped nations, but instead the type of information being shared needs to improve. In chapter 4, Unwin brought up incorporating theatre, dance and music media into development ICTs, and how these in particular have been successful in creating a sense of community and in helping come up with local solutions rather than relying on external “expert” advice. Personally, I believe the arts are extremely influential in bringing people together, and it is a concept that has been studied for years and widely supported. Conversely, a shared perspective between development organizations and the stakeholders is essential for success. Therefore, a more widespread integration of the arts into development ICTs is vital for maximum success of development ICTs.


2 responses to “Improving ICT Efficacy with the Arts

  • dthunell

    I completely agree with the points you bring up here. I have always believed that art (and sports) have the power to bring people together to make connections and build relationships. In another blog post this week, I commented that I believed that too often people from the developed world who try to help think that people from the undeveloped world may be too dumb or ignorant to figure out solutions for their problems. And so I agree with you that information needs and does flow between both sides and that this is the best way to create change and help developing countries.

    In a previous IDEV class, I learned about that Wajukuu Art Project in a slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Basically the idea is that art had the ability to bring people together and help them overcome extreme poverty. The project helped raise money for their community and I believe they used some of the proceeds from selling the art to provide for clean water in the community. While this is not necessarily integrated into ICDs, the concept and connection is the same.

  • briannasteinmetz

    While I agree with the aforementioned points about involving all stakeholders, especially the target population, I am interested and a little skeptical of how the arts can be integrated with ICTs to help further improve ICTs and development in foreign nations. In order to increase chances of avoiding failure the developed and underdeveloped nations must follow the “people-centered” model and work with the target population using existing technology, rather than forcing new technologies on them. But how will using the arts prevent this all too common mistake? While I do believe art can be useful in development projects, as evidenced by the Wajukuu Art Project talked about above, I do not see how the arts can be tied in with ICTs to improve development. If anything, I think the combination of arts with ICTs will create a broad project, encompassing too many aspects, leading to another failed ICT project.

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