I’d like to discuss the implications of The One Laptop Per Child advertisement we saw in class on Tuesday. We discussed as a class how it was not only uninformative but also infuriatingly transparent. It targets the kind of “activists” that click buttons and make Facebook statuses about humanitarian causes after hearing strategically worded sentences similar to the ones mentioned in the first fifteen seconds of the commercial. It made me think back to an article I read recently which delineates what is commonly known as “the white savior complex,” and how often times, people that might mean well end up doing more harm than good because they have no idea what they’re doing. This One Laptop Per Child campaign could fit under this category because as we have seen in class, there have been no significant improvement in education after the implementation of the program. Since the laptops are given to the governments to distribute to the children, corrupt leaders may not go through with the distributions at all, and the technology fuels their corrupt activities instead. After taking a class about writing grants last semester, I have an understanding of how difficult it can be to receive funding for a particular project. All the bases need to be covered and every possible pitfall must be considered. This campaign does not seem to have considered all the implications and is feeding only on people’s emotions and consciences. The concept is great, but the implementation needs serious work to be effective and not detrimental.
Tag Archives: corruption
Transparency International and
Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) have
collaborated to organize Hackathons that are aimed to challenge
anti-corruption and technology experts to work together and create
innovative solutions to corruption challenges. Corruption is an
impatient to the development process, therefore initiatives are needed
to make governments more accountable and less corrupt. This is there
ICT4D comes in. Both Transparency International and Random Hacks of
Kindness believe that technology can serves as a tool in the worldwide
fight against corruption. The hackathon relies on ‘problem statements’
from Transparency International chapters, and members of the public,
while Random Hacks of Kindness mobilizes their base of technological
These are the questions that they try to tackle together:
- How can mobile technologies help us in monitoring elections across the world?
- How can we visualise and structure our research data to engage more people?
- How can we analyse public data through smart engines, or link
- databases to shed light on the misuse of public funds?
- How can we make e-solutions to prove the competitiveness of ethical
- business behaviour?
Participants include hackers, coders, programmers, designers,
do-gooders, politicians, NGOs, political theorists and everyone else
ready to make a practical contribution to stopping corruption. The
Hackathon is live-streamed over the internet to over 8 countries who
have participants working together to find innovative ways to use
technology to fight corruption.
On example of such a Hackaton was headed by Transparencia Colombia who
with RHoK in Bogota, Telefonica, Movistar, Wayra Colombia, Microsoft
and Public, developed a web and mobile citizen tool to report
electoral advertising for 2014 elections called Participa. They also
were able to developed an online platform for tracking citizen
corruption allegations on their way through Guatemalan public offices,
illustrating that the power technology has in the efforts to fight
When I was working at an NGO last summer, I would often ask my supervisors about their experiences working in the field. They shared many of the joys and hazards of field work with me, and, when speaking of the latter, focused on one in particular: burning out. They told me that they could spend years on a project that, even after being implemented successfully, would be undone by conflict or government corruption. They spoke of projects that had to be halted or failed entirely because of political instability. And they spoke of the helpless feeling that, for all their hard work, what they did was simply a “drop in the ocean”–something helpful that did nothing to change the larger environment in which they worked.
Every day, thousands of development projects take place around the world. But how can these projects come together to promote wider stability and peace? A new project, eLearning for Peace, seeks to answer this question. Organized by representatives from a number of post-Soviet countries in concert with African researchers, the conference has two main goals. First, it seeks to examine the relationship between eLearning and peace-building. To this end, it does not focus on broad-based conflicts, like the Sudan-South Sudan oil dispute or Ethiopia’s border conflicts with Eritrea. Rather, it takes a grass-roots approach to conflict resolution, targeting small-scale rural conflicts, such as disagreements over cattle or land. To this end, it asks how eLearning can empower mediators to help opposing parties reconcile more effectively. Second, it researches the potential of eLearning to aid development in a variety of sectors, such as agriculture, governance, and business practices.
The project will begin with a workshop, taking place in Benin, during eLearning Africa 2012. It does not end there, however–eLearning for Peace intends to serve as an online community and forum in which theories on eLearning can be debated and like-minded researchers can connect with one another to develop projects of their own. What really intrigues me about eLearning for Peace is its attempt to tap into ICT4D’s potential in a sector ICT4D seems to generally ignore: conflict resolution. Indeed, this blog doesn’t even include conflict resolution as a category. I think this is a mistake. There is no reason to think that, with a little creativity, ICT4D, which has so much potential in so many areas, cannot be used to help resolve the small-scale conflicts that drag down living conditions for millions of rural Africans. By emphasizing conflict resolution, this new project seems to me to be something of a pioneer. While it may not prove effective methodologically, I think it’s innovative focus on conflict resolution is inherently valuable.