Contribution of Social Research in
              ICT4D

I Jornadas Internacionales sobre Investigación en TIC para el
    ...
Contents

•   Increased interest in ICT4D
•   Themes arising from social research in ICT4D
•   Perspectives on social rese...
Optimism as to the scope of ICT4D
•   ‘explosion of mobile phone use in the developing world – the ending of
    isolation...
One view of ICT4D and the types
                 of conversation
•   ‘People who both understand grassroots development ne...
A division between development
          expertise and developers?
•    ’ … many development experts seem hesitant to lear...
The trend is perhaps the most important point not the
              specific figures (Source Heeks 2010)
ICT4D has an increasing number of
   specialist journals (source Heeks 2010)
• In short, increasing the scope of technologies to
  include the social implies that we have to
  understand how the soci...
Rethinking the Social …

"We are building toward a web where the default
                    is social,“

       Mark Zuck...
What is the social and the
technical?
(Source Google Images search 2010)
What does existing research tell us?
Certain issues attract research interest:

– Understanding the link between ICTs and
...
• ICT Facilitated Collaboration

  – How to collaborate across cultures and how to
    ensure that a mutual and beneficial...
• Local Adaptation
  – Stresses the need for attentiveness to the specifics
    of local cultures.

  – designers and spon...
• Focusing on the plight of marginalised groups.

• Technologies are seen as only one aspect of a
  complex set of issues ...
• We might say that this way of looking at social
        research takes a God’s eye view of the field




Largely ignorin...
Research as framing social
    contributions – what we find and
         how we can intervene
• A different approach is to...
Transfer and Diffusion Discourse

• ‘mainly concerned with catching up with the
  technologically advanced rich economies
...
ICT as the product of socially
                embedded action

  ‘a locally constituted process of technology
  construct...
A Transformative discourse


• IS innovation is a product of and produces
  change in the social, political and economic
 ...
• This second way of
  classifying IS research shows
  how the social contribution
  to ICT4D is framed by
  different per...
Methods
1.   Should take both ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ together and focus on how both
     come together in the processes of de...
Example: M-PESA

• M-PESA advert

• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEZ30K5dBWU

• M-PESA – DfiD video

• http://www.youtub...
Concluding Comments

• Research on social and ICT4D is increasing and
  mirroring a general increase in interest in ICT4D
...
Implications of understanding the social as
    arising and shaping the processes of ICT4D

• Social and technical are clo...
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Contribuciones de la Investigación en Ciencias Sociales en las TIC para el Desarrollo Humano

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Contribuciones de la Investigación en Ciencias Sociales en las TIC para el Desarrollo Humano

  1. 1. Contribution of Social Research in ICT4D I Jornadas Internacionales sobre Investigación en TIC para el Desarrollo Humano Universidad Rey Juan Carlos 13-14 May 2010 Chris Westrup Centre for Development Informatics and Manchester Business School, University of Manchester.
  2. 2. Contents • Increased interest in ICT4D • Themes arising from social research in ICT4D • Perspectives on social research in ICT4D • Methods arising from social research in ICT4D • Concluding Comments
  3. 3. Optimism as to the scope of ICT4D • ‘explosion of mobile phone use in the developing world – the ending of isolation; • new social network technologies – social/political mobilization and participation; • penetration of open and collaborative content development and delivery models; • focus on the largest but poorest socio-economic group (the "Bottom of the Pyramid") and the new business and non-profit models that target and serve this group; • increasing pressure and need for collective global action on climate change; and • realization from crisis and recession that poverty strikes everywhere, and the economic management and risk mitigation capabilities of most countries need serious strengthening.’ • Source: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/events/2009/09/idrc
  4. 4. One view of ICT4D and the types of conversation • ‘People who both understand grassroots development needs and are proficient in ICT. A very small percentage of online writers fall in this category. These people have the skills to develop tools/ techniques, speak the language of ICT4D, and are able to get exposure for their projects. • Academics who are interested in the field. They are able to develop concepts in ICT4D, and mostly run small research projects to prove/ disprove their hypotheses, build concepts, and make predictions. There is a lot of energy here - perhaps why we saw so many research papers in our web searches. These people explore and predict trends, but are not often in contact with grassroots folks, and rarely implement projects. • Everyone else either comes from the ICT community, and open to designing tools for development/ social projects, or people working in the development sector who need ICT solutions but have relatively low/ no knowledge of ICT. These two sets of people do not usually speak the same language.’ • Source: Global Voices Website, (2010) http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/02/04/who-writes-about-ict4d- online/
  5. 5. A division between development expertise and developers? • ’ … many development experts seem hesitant to learn technical skills and languages. They may want a ICT solutions, but there are numerous obstacles to engagement, including expertise, time, resources, and organizational culture. Hence ICT experts sense that development practitioners are rarely clear about helpful solutions. • Likewise, ICT tool developers may not involve development communities in the need analysis/ development phase, producing many solutions that are top-down, and without user support.’ Source: Global Voices (2010) http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/02/04/who- writes-about-ict4d-online/
  6. 6. The trend is perhaps the most important point not the specific figures (Source Heeks 2010)
  7. 7. ICT4D has an increasing number of specialist journals (source Heeks 2010)
  8. 8. • In short, increasing the scope of technologies to include the social implies that we have to understand how the social is integrated into ICT4D – the contribution of social research to ICT4D.
  9. 9. Rethinking the Social … "We are building toward a web where the default is social,“ Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook April 2010. Source BBC 2010: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8590306.stm
  10. 10. What is the social and the technical? (Source Google Images search 2010)
  11. 11. What does existing research tell us? Certain issues attract research interest: – Understanding the link between ICTs and Development. – ‘[s]ocial influences are crucially important to the trajectory of any technology-based project.’ (Walsham et al. 2007 p322)
  12. 12. • ICT Facilitated Collaboration – How to collaborate across cultures and how to ensure that a mutual and beneficial influence between social and IS processes.
  13. 13. • Local Adaptation – Stresses the need for attentiveness to the specifics of local cultures. – designers and sponsors of technological applications often have ‘an overly simple expectations regarding the role of ICTs in development objectives.’ (ibid p. 322)
  14. 14. • Focusing on the plight of marginalised groups. • Technologies are seen as only one aspect of a complex set of issues and solutions.
  15. 15. • We might say that this way of looking at social research takes a God’s eye view of the field Largely ignoring the processes of research and development Photos (Google Images 2010)
  16. 16. Research as framing social contributions – what we find and how we can intervene • A different approach is to look at different frameworks or discourses of ICT4D research. Chrisanthi Avgerou (2008) suggests there are three …
  17. 17. Transfer and Diffusion Discourse • ‘mainly concerned with catching up with the technologically advanced rich economies through transferring their technologies and emulating their institutions’. (ibid 135)
  18. 18. ICT as the product of socially embedded action ‘a locally constituted process of technology construction and organisational change. Its purpose arises from local problematisations and its course is determined by the way local actors makes sense of it and accommodate it to their lives.’ Avgerou 2008:135 • A ‘micro’ perspective
  19. 19. A Transformative discourse • IS innovation is a product of and produces change in the social, political and economic conditions of developing countries. • A ‘macro’ perspective
  20. 20. • This second way of classifying IS research shows how the social contribution to ICT4D is framed by different perspectives. • How these perspectives are created is not addressed and this is why another view of social contribution to ICT4D focuses on the processes of development practice – on how ICT4D takes place. • (Photos Google Images 2010)
  21. 21. Methods 1. Should take both ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ together and focus on how both come together in the processes of development. 2. Technologies are designed with contexts of use in mind – design seeks to include how the technologies will work. Technologies have plans of the social built into them. 3. These technologies are appropriated and used in sometimes unexpected ways. Implementation can be highly innovative. 4. ICT4D engages in a redistribution of resources and development can be understood as interacting processes of dependence and independence.
  22. 22. Example: M-PESA • M-PESA advert • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEZ30K5dBWU • M-PESA – DfiD video • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNrDv4PQdCc&fea ture=related
  23. 23. Concluding Comments • Research on social and ICT4D is increasing and mirroring a general increase in interest in ICT4D • How we understand the social is important in assessing its implications. – Is it a set of issues? – A series of perspectives? – Issues and perspectives which arise from the processes of ICT4D?
  24. 24. Implications of understanding the social as arising and shaping the processes of ICT4D • Social and technical are closely interlinked • Technologies include views of the social. • Social reshapes technologies in use. • Technologies are not neutral and attention needed on the ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ processes of ICT4D • ICT4D is always innovative and engaged in the (re)distribution of resources.

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