Third Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (I). Tim Unwin: ICT4D – where next?

Notes from the IPID ICT4D PG symposium 2008, Mekrijärvi Research Station, Joensuu University, Finland. 8 and 9 September, 2008.

Keynote speech
Tim Unwin: ICT4D – where next?

Tim Unwin
Tim Unwin

Thoughts on a framework for reflecting on ICT4D

The importance of the D in ICT4D. Predominance of development as “economic growth” and “poverty elimination”. Development definitions should be put in context.

What’s empowerment? Empowerment cannot be exogenous. Habermas’s critical theory as a guide: theory of knowledge constitutive interests. The role of the researcher as the psychoanalyst of the society, to make people (e.g. leaders) think and reflect.

Three main drivers of (new) research:

  • From individual focused approaches to communal focused ones
  • Avoid technologically driven research interests, and try to think about the most appropriate technology for each context… and this includes going back before the “new” technologies (e.g. electrical power)
  • Integrated approach

Towards a critical ICT4D

A focus on needs, avoiding supply led and top down ICT4D projects. Supply and demand need be fitted and put together. And then rely on local institutions, already working, with large tradition, to leverage their legitimacy.

Sustainability has to be put into the equation from the start, not when failure occurs. The goal to be pursued is to find some sustainable project that matches both the interest of the rich (the investors, the international companies) and the poor.

Hence, some good research on needs should be done before engaging in research about the solutions.

Enhance sustainability by taking accessibility into account.

Reflections on research practices

The challenge of multidisciplinary approaches meeting in ICT4D.

Is an empowering agenda compatible with doing (traditional) research / publishing in peer reviewed papers / following “academic” rules?


Third Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2008)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2008) “Third Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (I). Tim Unwin: ICT4D – where next?” In ICTlogy, #60, September 2008. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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