Author Archives: jdywest7

ICT Lessons: The Power of Radio

Reflecting back on my ICT4D experience I initially did not know what to expect when I came into class. I never would have thought that ICT was such an integral part to our daily livelihoods. Although I knew that ICT could be integrated into development I never thought about its success when applied to the digital divide. Looking back at the class the one concept I will take with me is the power of radio.

In another class I took this semester I had to create a radio program. Before I learned about ICT and radio use I didn’t care for the radio much, however after producing the radio program and learning about the functions of radio abroad, I realized how important radio is. Although its such a simple device to work, its use and functions are endless and beyond innovative for mankind. As I learned in class, the radio is the most widely used form of technology worldwide. Although I hardly use the radio anymore, its use is essential for millions of other individuals. Not only is it cheap, but it has helped bridge the digital divide. It connects rural areas to urban, it’s a form of communication, it provides economic, educational, and women empowerment opportunities through its programs. These programs allow for marginalized as well as privileged populations to further build on a skill or gain knowledge in an area that will further help them maximize their potential to improve their livelihood. It is also beneficial for disaster relief and family reunification.

I am very passionate about education and next year I will be teaching elementary school. After my gained experience with radio, I really want to implement radio use into my class, and create a program that my students will benefit and take from. No matter what country you live in or your socioeconomic status, I think that its very imperative that everyone has a radio and understands its capabilities. It has the power to bridge divides, provide opportunities, and serve as a tool for disaster relief. With the world population growing everyday, radio is among the few technologies that can serve and help these individuals progress equally. For future ICT4D classes, I think it would be great if students had to create a radio program that caters to a specific ICT sector.

Does Anonymous Pose a Threat to Cybersecurity?

This week’s topic of discussion was one of my favorites by far- Cybersecurity and hacking. Before reading the two articles discussed in class, and listening to our guest lecturer Ralph Russo, professor at Tulane University in the Homeland Security Program, I was not fully educated on cybersecurity and its threat to human individuals. When thinking about ICT4D I never thought cybersecrurity and hacking would apply as greatly as it really does. What really intrigued me about Professor Russo’s talk was when he mentioned the use of applications on mobile phones, and if they are a means to promote a cyber attack. This really got me thinking, everything is run by technology: every means of transportation, food stands, banking, water industries, etc.  In connection to developing countries, not having a cybersecurity plan can be detrimental to that countries success and can lead to further impoverishment. However can hacking also be beneficial to social welfare of individuals?   In regards to hacking and cybersecurity, I recently read an Article by Dave Smith in reference to the hacktivist group  Anonymous. To learn more  about Anonymous  please read brookekania  post  Internet Hackers: Anonymous.

In brief, Anonymous  is known for hacking an array of targets such as from the internet company  GoDaddy to religious organizations to government websites,the Pentagon, and most recently Bank of America and the controversial Steubenville High School Rape Case. This year Anonymous hacked into Bank of America,  releasing up  to 16 gigabytes of information related to  Bank of America, Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters and others. This group articulated that Bank of America had employed security firms to “spy and collect information on private citizens  (Smith, 2013)”, it also was spying on social activist groups, Anonymous being one of them.  The  group also released the salaries of  top CEO’s from around the world. Although many officials say that this was a hack, Anonymous denied this accusation by having one of their subgroup representatives  identifying itself as Par:AnoIA speak in a press release stating:

“The source of this release has confirmed that the data was not acquired by a hack but because it was stored on a misconfigured server and basically open for grabs,” Par:AnoIA said. “Looking at the data it becomes clear that Bank of America, TEKSystems and others (see origins of reports) gathered information on Anonymous and other activists’ movement on various social media platforms and public Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels (Adams, 2013).”

Additionally, the group found even more disturbing information, they discovered that the data was retrieved from an Israeli server in Tel Aviv. What is BofA’s connection with Isreal? The aim of releasing this information  was not to induce a cyber security threat on BofA. It was to inform the American people about  how corporations may be wrongfully spying on online activism that does not pose any threat impeding on individuals freedom. They also wanted to shed light on the questionable ways that BofA and other powerful corporations are funding these actions. Anonymous spokesperson stated: “We release the received files in full to raise awareness to this issue and to send a signal to corporations and Governments that this is unacceptable.” Although their actions were intended for the welfare of Americans, hacking into a bank poses serious cyber security threats to the country and its partners. Were Anonymous acts justified?

Anonymous was also in the news about their actions in the Steubenville High School Rape, where social media was used to perpetuate rape culture but also to bring light and justice to  sickening and graphic details about this controversial event. The case centered around two star high school football players and their involvement in raping an intoxicated unconscious teenage girl at a party. During the party pictures and videos  were taken of both the unconscious and the two teammates talking about their actions towards the girl. According to AlterNets’ writer  Kristen Gwynne, for months, only Alexandria Goddard of reported on the rape, where she stated that their was social media evidence (twitter, facebook, instagram) that could be linked to the perpetrators of this crime(Gwynne,2013). Her reporting drew in Anonymous and they were able to hack into these media sites where they released a disturbing video of the teenagers who performed this inhuman rape act. Through their hacking, Anonymous was able to bring justice to the victim’s family, and draw national attention to a crime that could have been easily thrown under the rocks. Although this event was not a threat to cybersecurity, it does pose a question about the privacy of the web and its monitoring. Should  social networks be monitored more heavily to prevent heinous crimes like this, and how could this be beneficial for developing countries?  From a capabilities approach, are the actions of Anonymous justified and can this hacktivist group be a catalyst for ICT4D?

ICT Failures in Tanzania

Why are ICT development projects failing in Africa
This week in class we questioned the success of ICT projects and their strengths and weaknesses and I immediately thought about projects that have been implemented in certain regions in Africa and the longevity of them. As I was browsing the internet I came across an article titled “Africa: Failed ICT Development Projects- Sweeting It Under the Carpet and Moving On?” The article starts off by stating the positive effects of ICT and how they have the potential to improve projects making them more sustainable. It also speaks on why governments and communities push to have projects that are geared toward health, education, agriculture, employment, female empowerment etc. However Inka Barnett, author of the article outlined specific failures of of an ICT project conducted in Tanznia by Daraja (NGO).  The failures were presented by Ben Taylor  who was the leader of the  project, which was called the Maji Matone program.  The aim of the project  was to

Encourage citizens to put pressure on their local authorities to maintain and repair broken-down water pumps by using mobile phones. Using a simple SMS-message local communities were asked to report on the state of their water supply to the authorities. Local radio stations were simultaneously informed and followed-up the action the local water authorities would take in response to the text message (Barnett,

Before the implementation  of the project the community was thrilled about the potential of the program. Maji Matone  received positive feedback both internationally and nationally. Unfortunately the project failed because the NGO projected to receive 3,000 texts but only received 53 (Barnett,    The project failed due gender discrimination, political issues and trust, digital divide. The project goal was too ambitious especially due to the lack of resources many Tanzania have.


Katrina:The Exploitation of African Americans and Their Bodies

This week our class discussed social media. Additionally, we had a speaker discuss social medias role in natural disasters, specifically she spoke about how social media helped residents stay informed about details regarding hurricane Sandy. This talk made me think of Hurricane Katrina, and a previous class discussion I had in my African American Politics class with Professor Melissa Harris -Perry. The discussion entailed how social media can be used as a tool to exploit and perpetuate racism among African Americans . The use of social media can be both beneficial as well as harmful to the public sphere. When used in negative ways, it is the most detrimental to marginalized and oppressed communities due to their lack of representation and resources.

The detrimental storm of Hurricane Katrina occurred in August of 2005, killing 1,800 people. While it enacted enormous physical and fiscal damage to most Gulf cities, it also had profound political consequences for New Orleans. Social media played a keen role in the coverage of this storm, where it exploited the New Orleans African American population. In Melissa Harris-Perry’s book Sister Citizen, she discusses how Katrina was also a “catastrophe of misrecognition (136)”, in which the real-time media footage of the disaster unfolding allowed the whole nation to witness and interpret what was happening in New Orleans. She quotes survey data illuminating the “wide perceptual gulf (136)” that existed between how white and black Americans perceived the disaster, with black Americans significantly more likely to view racial inequality as an important lesson of the governmental failure and to hold the belief that response would have been faster if most disaster victims had been white.

The  front cover of the Economist newspaper stirred up controversy and received critical backlash. That weeks issue featured  a nameless, middle aged African American Women wearing a yellow New Orleans tee shirt with emotions of distraught with the headline  “The Shaming of America” covering the entire front page. The picture and headline further added to the exploitation of Female African Americans and their bodies, portraying them as vulnerable and helpless. –metapsychology review of  Sister Citizen, features Melissa Harris –Perry’s view how the Economist manipulated and exploited the nameless black woman on the cover. The review states: “Her agonized visage is exploited as a bridge to public understanding of the ordeal faced by her and other black women. Through her face the world witnesses both the humiliation of the personal and the political in the delayed response to help her (, 2012)”.

Perry, Melissa V.. Sister citizen: shame, stereotypes, and Black women in America. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011. Print.

S. African govt awards radio station for empowering women

S. African govt awards radio station for empowering womenIn 2002, Cape Town, south Africa’s Radio 786 got awarded with a certificate of excellence for incorporating practices in women’s empowerment, which is helping the city in developing mechanisms to further advance it understanding of gender equity. The initiatives of Radio 178 to promote gender equality was decided at the gender conference in . Women’s rights are slowly being recognized globally and are especially being incorporate in the daily livelihoods of women and men in developing countries. One of the biggest issues for women is the feminism of poverty and how that is impacting there equality. South Africa’s Western Cape Department of Social Services awarded Cape Town’s Radio 786 with a Certificate of Excellence for “developing a best practice intervention for women’s empowerment and gender equality” in its programmers (, 2002). According to the article ” The latest award adds to a number of accolades this thriving radio station, with a listenership of 134,000, has already received (, 2002).

It is very impressive to have a radio station that is invested in women’s empowerment. Radio use for developing countries is a very impertinent topic in class because it further empowers women to access resources inside and outside their community. Additionally, it allows them to have a voice, and articulate their interests in topics that they may not have been allowed to converse about. Radio use for women also allows them to be better equipped with the use of radio technology, enhancing their education and technology.

Can Video games enhance learning?

This week in class we discussed how technology can be used as a tool to promote learning in the classroom, especially in regards to computer use. Can video games be used as a tool for education as well? The nyt article Learning by Playing: Video Games in the Classroom by Sarah Corbett, explores how a New York City school called Quest to Learn incorporates video game use in daily lesson plans designed for their students. Quest to Learn celebrated its two year anniversary in 2010. The school  was designed to ensure that learning is fun and interactive.
This is being done by applying knowledge learned in the class into real life through the action of playing and  creating games. The vision of Quest to Learn was created mainly by Katie Salen a professional game designer and Robert Torres, a learning scientist who is a former school principal. Katie spent two years planning Quest to Learn. Katie’s plan was funded by a research grant from the MacArthur Foundation, which is “pouring $50 million into exploring the possibilities of digital media and learning in a variety of settings nationwide (Corbett,2010). ”

The school’s curriculum has similar features of other schools such as daily homework assignments, reading and writing exercises that do not involve electronics. However there are other elements that make the school specifically unique, like students engage in recording podcasts, blog, film and they edit videos, and play video games of course. Students also spend much time creating their own games that range from board to computer games.
Learning should be designed around the wants and needs of students. According to Corbett “ Quest to Learn is organized specifically around the idea that digital games are central to the lives of today’s children and also increasingly, as their speed and capability grow, powerful tools for intellectual exploration (Corbett, 2010).”

India’s National ICT Resources

India’s New Telecom Policy 1999
Last Updated: 11 Nov, 2003
Published By: Ministry of Communications & Information Technology
Language: English & Hindi

National Telecom Policy – 2012
Published By: Ministry of Communications & Information Technology
Language: English & Hindi
Last Updated: 2004

Broadband Policy 2004
Last Updated: 13 December 2004
Language: English & Hindi
Published By: Ministry of Communications & Information Technology

ICT For Disaster Risk Reduction

Published By: Ministry of Home Affairs, National Disaster Management Division Government of India

Last Updated: 31 December 2004

Language: English

Non gov:
ICT Policy 2011: The Big Indian IT Dream
Published By: e-Gov magazine
Language: English
Last Updated: Nov 2011

** Note: This article provides in depth information about the new proposed and accepted ICT draft plan for India.

New Telecom Policy, 1999
Last Updated: Aug 17, 2012
Published By: The Centre for Internet & Society
Language(s); English & Hindi

It was rather difficult to find an ICT policy for India, especially a recent one because India’s cabinet has recently approved a national ICT policy draft. There are numerous ICT plans that address specific elements, therefore I have included both old ICT resources and the proposed new ICT draft.