Author Archives: azeutziu

What ICT4D Has Taught Me

I really enjoyed learning about ICT4D this semester. Before our class, I had no idea what ICT even stood for. As a graduating senior, it was a pleasant surprise to be learning some completely new concepts. After college, I hope to go to graduate school for a Masters of Public Policy, and eventually work in policy making and analysis. Reflecting back on this semester, I think many of the things we learned will be useful for a career in public policy.

I have a lot of areas of passion when it comes to public policy, including education reform, foreign policy, national security policy, and even social policy. I think that this class will be useful to me in many of these areas, since most of them involve ICT in some way or another. My ideal job right now would be to work in intelligence, a field where knowledge of ICT is a necessary skill. I hope that I can take more classes to further study computer science and ICT to use in a professional setting. I really enjoyed the two guest speaker days where several ICT4D professionals came and spoke about their work with technology. They showed me how many different types of jobs there are in IDEV that involve a high level of technological knowledge. I hope that after graduate school I can find a job that plays to my skills in IDEV and passion for ICT development.

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Chile ICT4D Resources

National ICT Policy:

Agenda Digital Imagina Chile, 2013-2020
Language: Spanish
Published By: Executive Secretary of Digital Development
Date: May 17, 2013
Notes: provides a detailed description of Chile’s national ICT development strategy for 2013 to 2020, not yet available in English

Digital Development Strategy, 2007-2012
Language: English
Published By: Ministry of Economics, Committee of Ministers for Digital Development
Date: December 2007
Notes: provides a detailed description of Chile’s national ICT development strategy for 2007 to 2012, program before Imagina Chile

 

Government Websites:

Ministry of Economy – Government website for the Chilean Ministry of the Economy, Development, and Tourism (Spanish)
Executive Secretary of Digital Development – Government website for the Executive Secretary of Digital Development and the Sub-Secretary of Telecommunications; includes section about Chile’s digital development and ICT strategies (Spanish)
Digital Development Documents Center – Direct link to the Document Center on the Executive Secretary of Digital Development’s website; archives and categorizes documents produced by the government and NGOs pertaining to ICT development and national policy/strategy (Site in Spanish, most documents in Spanish but several in English)

 

Case Study:

Enlaces, Center of Education and Technology
Agency: Ministry of Education
Time Frame: 1990’s to present

ICT in Education Policy and Practice in Chile: Does it Correlate?
Authors: Mario Brun and J. Enrique Hinostroza
Agency: Institute for ICT in Education, University of La Frontera
Date Published: 2008

 

External Resources:

Digital Agenda Chile 2013-2020 Summary
Language: English
Organization: Pais Digital Foundation
Notes: provides a brief outline of each section in the Agenda Digital Imagina Chile report and the stated strategies, lines of action, initiatives, indicators, current data, and specific goals

 

The Digital Development Strategy published by the Chilean government is extremely detailed and available in English. However, this only covers the country’s strategy for 2008 to 2012. The government has created a new ICT development program to begin where the Digital Development Strategy ends, titled Digital Agenda Imagine Chile. This report is also extremely long and detailed, however, it is not available anywhere in English yet (as far as I can tell). I would have preferred to use the new Imagine Chile report to analyze the country’s current strategies for 2013-2020 but I do not have the skills to translate the entire document. I was able to find a PDF published by the Pais Digital Foundation which provides a brief summary in English of the Imagine Chile report. Hopefully, the government will soon publish an English version of the report.


Is Social Media a New Foreign Policy Tool?

Last week the Associated Press published findings about a now defunct social media platform, called ZunZuneo, designed to undermine the Cuban government. ZunZuneo was created by two private contractors: Creative Associates International (CAI) from Washington DC and the Denver-based company Mobile Accord. Both companies have a prior history of undertaking contracts for U.S. government democracy initiatives in developing countries. The AP reporters also uncovered details showing that funding for ZunZuneo was provided by USAID. 

The USAID has vehemently defended the program. The head of USAID told Congress,  “Working on creating platforms to improve communication in Cuba and in many other parts of the world is a core part of what USAID has done for some time and continues to do.” However, the AP article quotes USAID documents that specifically say ZunZuneo was created to “push (Cuba) out of a stalemate through tactical and temporary initiatives, and get the transition process going again.”

Supporters of the project noted the important role that social media has played in politics across the world, explaining how “text messaging had mobilized smart mobs and political uprisings in Moldova and the Philippines, among others.” The AP article also mentioned Iran and the fact that “USAID noted social media’s role following the disputed election of then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009 — and saw it as an important foreign policy tool.” As more and more of the world’s population is connecting to social media everyday, its not surprising to see it being used by governments and organizations to instigate and support political change.


Government-funded Laptop Project Faces Opposition… From Parents

This week in class we studied the One Laptop Per Child organization and had a lengthy discussion about its obvious flaws. As IDEV students, we often find ourselves criticizing the various projects and organizations we study; its rare, however, that we see the beneficiaries of these projects condemning them as well. This article from the Associated Press in July 2013 discussed why a group of Kenyan parens voiced their opposition to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s $615 million plan to give laptops to 1.2 million school children. Parents felt that the money for the computers should be put towards raising teachers’ salaries and feeding impoverished students.

As one member of the Kenya National Association of Parents explained, “the program is bound to fail in a country that lacks enough teachers and where others strike regularly for better pay”. In 2013, Kenya faced a shortfall of 40,000 teachers. Additionally, more than 200,000 teachers in public schools across the country went on strike to protest unpaid allowances that the government had promised 16 years earlier. These parents felt that current teachers did not have the capacity to implement laptops into the classroom due to lack of training and a government-developed curriculum for the project. Additionally, a previous incident where 70 million textbooks in a public primary-school went missing added to worries that many laptops would be lost, stolen, or sold for food money.

One government spokesman defended the laptop project, saying it was crucial to Kenya’s goal of training a digital-savvy workforce. The Consumer Federation of Kenya, on the other hand, said the project had noble intentions but was “not well thought out and was politicized beyond redemption.” Many parents also felt there were better alternatives to how the government’s money should be spent when it comes to public education. In order to meet the population’s education demands, Kenya needs 42,000 classrooms. The money used for the laptops could be put towards building more schools to expand the country’s education system. Alternatively, some of the money would be better used to fund more children in the nation-wide school food program, meant to help poor children to stay in school, improve their health, and encourage nutrition.


Social Media Use in Developing Countries

Our class discussion this week made me nostalgic for the simple, old technology we grew up with. It seemed like we grew up in a time when technology was developing at lightning speed. It made me wonder if technology around the world is moving as fast. This article from LiveScience.com talks about social media use in developing countries versus the US. The data shows that while the US has the highest population percentage that uses the internet, 17 developing countries outrank the U.S. in the proportion of internet users who log on to social sites. In both the U.S. and Brazil, 73% of Internet users regularly access social networking sites. Egypt, Russia, the Philippines, Tunisia, Indonesia, Jordan, Venezuela, Nigeria, Turkey, Ghana, Mexico, Chile, Malaysia, Kenya, Argentina, El Salvador and Senegal all report social media use greater than 73% of Internet users. I thought this was very interesting because it seems like our society is obsessed with social media but apparently we aren’t the only ones.

The article also mentions that cellphone use is increasingly widespread outside of the US. Unlike us, however, most cellphone users don’t have smart phones. In China, for example, 95% of people have a cell phone but only 37% of those have a smart phone. In Pakistan, 53% of people have cellphones and only 3% use smartphones. Nearly every person I know in the US has an iPhone, so its interesting to see that not every society is obsessed with having the newest technology out there.


Modernization vs Globalization

When I was doing this weeks reading, one statement made by Erwin Alampay in his paper “Beyond access to ICTs: Measuring capabilities in the information society” really caught my eye.

“The idea of the ‘information society’ can be linked to the ideas of modernization and globalization. The ideology of modernization explains how societal development must go through a series of stages, with each phase having a different technological base of production. In an information society that base would be information technology. Furthermore, in the process of increased globalization, economies of the world have become more integrated whereby information technology plays a major role in it.  As such, in both perspectives, information technologies play a part in development: with modernization, it can be seen as a potential means to close the gap among nations; with globalization, it is viewed as an important component for nations to participate in the economic process.”

These ideas are not new to me, since they are at the foundation of what this class is all about. However, this is the first time I had thought of ICT as having two different roles.

If I were to expand on these different views, I would say that modernization is the evolution and development of technology in a society, while globalization involves the spread of technology and its growing use/importance in global relations. When we examine ICT in developing countries, the modernization of technology comes before the globalization. Countries at higher levels of development have more advanced technology but as the process of modernization continues, new innovations in technology fuel the process of globalization. In my view, modernization is a process that has already been in action since the industrial age. As manufacturing technology developed, so did transportation, communication, and other innovations that laid the groundwork for the advanced technologies we have today. Globalization, on the other hand, is a new process that is transforming these technologies into important tools used in the economic process. Globalization has opened up national markets to international trade and created a new global economy. With the future of technology seeming bright, a focus on increasing modernization in developing countries will lead them to an even more globalized economy.


Can Technology Help Brain Development?

In class this week we had a discussion about the differences in how each generation uses and understands technology. I made a point about younger people being raised around technology and the effect that could have had on brain development or why we understand technology more. I thought this was an interesting idea and I wanted to know more, so I decided to do some research. I found many articles on the negative impacts that technology has on developing children. Most of these articles look fairly similar to this article from Huffington Post. The author explains, “diagnoses of ADHD, autism, coordination disorder, developmental delays, unintelligible speech, learning difficulties, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders are associated with technology overuse, and are increasing at an alarming rate.”

While I understand that technology overuse can have troubling consequences on developing minds and bodies, I felt there had to be an article somewhere that pointed to the benefits of technology. Then I came across this article about research being conducted at UCLA’s Memory and Aging Research Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. The article refers to a “brain gap” between young “digital natives” and older “digital immigrants”. Dr. Gary Small, director of the Memory and Aging Research Center, explains that “’digital natives’ — young people born into a world of laptops and cell phones, text messaging and twittering — spend an average of 8 1/2 hours each day exposed to digital technology. This exposure is rewiring their brain’s neural circuitry, heightening skills like multi-tasking, complex reasoning and decision-making.” As a consequence, however, the overuse of technology takes away from time that could be spent developing people skills. Digital immigrants, on the other hand, were born into a world without the Internet and must work harder to navigate technology “without the already-developed brain form and function”. Luckily, the brain is an amazing phenomena that is still trainable at any age. Dr. Small pointed to a recent study that examined the effects of Internet searching on brain activity in subjects between the ages of 55 and 76, with only half of them being experienced in Internet searching. Using MRI technology to scan the subjects’ brains while googling, “researchers found that the brains of the Web-savvy group reflected about twice as much activity compared to the brains of those who were not Web-savvy”. Dr. Small believes that technology could be extremely useful in helping aging brains stay sharp and maintain vital functions. As technology continues to weave into all facets of daily life, research like this could be extremely useful in helping us to understand and harness the benefits of technology.