Oscar Night Syndrome in ICT4D

After viewing the video posted for us by Professor Ports and reading my fellow students commentaries on the failures of ICT4D, my question is as follows: who is holding ICT endeavors and technology programs accountable for their failures?  In the Oscar Night Syndrome article by Wayan Vota, the author deliberates on the fact that while technology is constantly evolving and progressing, with less successful products disappearing from the markets as fast as they appear, ICT2D projects rarely document their failures in a tangible way that could allow others to learn from their mistakes.  This “need to always look good”, or “Oscar Night Symdrome” is one of the major elements holding ICT4D back from greater success.  I agree with Vota that the need for monitoring and evaluation is a piece of the puzzle that is, at the moment, missing from the ICT4D formula- without it, progress cannot be achieved.


Vota attached this graphic to the article to show the lack of monitoring and evaluation culture in the current ICT culture.  Although funders with expectations for indicator change may demand some M&E information, there is currently no standard to which all projects are held to present this information to the general public.  It is generally “an afterthought” and lacks any qualitative analysis of a projects impact on the people interacting with it.  Donors want to see results, and thus failures or wasteful measures, which are potential realities of any ICT project, are swept under the rug and rendered useless to the community at large.  The need to document and learn from mistakes in ICT4D is one of the major missing links in the implementation of communication technologies for development- while it is good to celebrate success, it is more important to understand and learn from failure.  Implementing regulated monitoring and evaluation practices that must be observed by the ICT community as a whole will work wonders in curing the “Oscar Night Syndrome” and aid in implementing projects that will be more likely to succeed due to improved information on what constitutes a successful project versus a failed one.

2 responses to “Oscar Night Syndrome in ICT4D

  • rgoode2

    I thought the article was interesting as well. And I would certainly consider a project to be less of a failure if it were able to publish its mistakes and allow other projects to learn from them, thereby preventing the same failure in other programs. Its like scientific research- all throughout an experiment you document, observe, and evaluate, and your results are still viable even if the experiment doesn’t achieve your initial goal. You still “succeed” in the experiment, even when the outcome isn’t what was originally desired, as long as you test your hypothesis, evaluate, and find a conclusion. Why can’t this same approach be used for ICTs?

  • kbruce2016

    I was also really interested in the topic of failure and the inability to acknowledge this failure and come up with solutions to address it. A friend of mine is actually working on a a start up whose goals is to address this exact problem. “Comefail.us” is a new forum for people who have ideas for development projects to post about them and have others who have experience in these fields basically rip them apart. They present all of the potential problems with a person’s idea, and that person is challenged to either come up with solutions to this problems, or to give up. Something cool to check out!

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