ICTlogy.net: 10th anniversary

If it’s October 21st, then it’s ICTlogy.net anniversary. And if this is 2013, then it’s the tenth anniversary. Happy birthday, ICTlogy.net.

As usual, first some figures and then some comments.

The first obligatory remark that needs being made is that I forgot celebrating the 9th anniversary. It is a surprising thing to acknowledge as I cannot remember being specially hectic at that time. Maybe the novelty of the site having been somewhat recently renewed contributed to forget the date.

On the other hand, Twitter has become so central in daily, quick news, that the whole dynamics of the site — and not only sharing special dates — have been affected by it. Thus, now many of the things that I do are not publicly announced on the website as they used to, but are just shared on Twitter once the corresponding file has been created in the personal repository. Now, the news section features only very remarkable milestones, mostly publications, leaving other stuff (speeches, for instance) fall directly into the personal repository and then shared on Twitter.

The second big, huge, change has been the creation of the second blog, SociedadRed in Spanish and about Spanish politics and policy — with some bias, of course, towards the Information Society. Yes, the blog has already been up for almost 4 years so far. But its activity has grown quite a bit in the last two, especially in the comments section: in less than four years, the blog has more than four times the comments of the main academic blog. In terms of comments per post, while the ICT4D blog has 1.16 comments/post, SociedadRed has 16.37 comments/post. That is a difference.

I am glad to ackowledge, though, that even if the second blog is not an academic one, a series of posts on the Spanish “Second Transition” has already been the seed to the paper Intención de voto en España 1978-2013. ¿Una Segunda Transición hacia una política extra-representativa? which I recently presented at an academic congress on political science. So, despite it not being an academic blog, I am glad to see that I am quite able to keep some rigour in my non-academic reflections.

By the way, both blogs have now the possibility to navigate through their archives in a much more comfortable way than before. Check that yourself visiting the ICT4D Blog Archives and the SociedadRed Blog Archives.

This year also saw the discontinuation of Google Reader, which took away my Blogroll, which was feed by Google Reader shared folders. Feedly is proving to be a good substitute, but it does not have this feature yet.

I cannot help by ending this reflection with a couple of negative notes.

The first one, of course, is about how increasingly difficult is to do research in Spain. Budget cuts in research and education in general (and especially in higher education) are making things very complicated. Just as an example, two of my academic communications in academic conferences required that I looked for an extra gig (a keynote in Granada and a workshop in Seville) to pay for my travel expenses. Not that I did not enjoy those gigs (on the contrary), but the point is that funding for research is really an issue — and, comparing with many of my colleagues, I cannot complain very much.

The second one is how the academy is increasingly locked in its own ivory tower. Research and policy are becoming so far away one from the other one that it will soon become difficult to make informed and evidence-based decisions. Scholars do not “waste their time” on policy papers, and decision-makers do not make the effort of digging into scholarly research. Many of the works that I did during 2013 are useless in academic terms. A complete, utter, sheer waste of time. An issue that raises an important dilemma: should the researcher focus only on “what matters” in academic terms? or should the researcher risk the academic career and try to make an impact even if it is outside of the scholarly track? or should the researcher — as I am myself struggling to do — try and play a role in both worlds? The latter is very satisfying, but a little bit stressing (and resources consuming). Any comments on that?


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4 Comments to “ICTlogy.net: 10th anniversary” »

  1. Hi Ismael,
    as I told you on twitter I remember being a bachelor student starting to work on digital divide and ICT4D back in 2003.. and there were just a few things about these issues online! Nothing really comparable with the amount of stuff you can find today. :)
    Well, I remember finding your blog at that time – though quite ironically this is the very first time I’m commenting!
    Your thoughts here are very significant to me, as the question “am i doing enough?” has always been recurrent in my professional life – hence my struggle of keeping one foot in academia and one outside of it. I think that the best works I did were unpublishable – for many reasons, and obviously from a career perspective this didn’t pay off well (plus, in Italy for example there are a few places awarding interdisciplinarity over the siloed approach you mentioned).

    One possible way forward could be the establishment of satelite research/practice think/do-tank through which leverage resources in and outside academia and at multiple funding tables. There are various problems with this approach, but I don’t really see major alternative opportunities as long as there is not a structural change in academic policies…

    In any case, keep up your great work! I’m sure there will be still many Bachelor students mining resources out of ICTlogy in the future :)

    • Caro Simone,

      Thank you so much for your words… and for stepping forward and commenting :)))

      About your suggestion on keeping one feet in the academia and another one outside of it… that is precisely what I am working on just right now. Yes, there are various problems, mainly trade-offs between making an impact in the world and making an impact in an indexed publication (I am simplifying here, but not that much), but I’ll try and find the optimal equilibrium.

      More news in the weeks to come ;)

      All the best,


  2. Congratulations, Isma, on this really special day!

    ICTlogy (and its offspring blog ‘Sociedad Red’) has become quite a reference and trusted resource, thanks, squarely, to you alone – quite an achievement (and I´m sure a lot of work). A big, big THANKS!

    About your last point/question. I agree that ivorytowerism is not doing much to thrust research, nor for that matter to make it interesting for policy makers or practitioners. I myself am struggling to format some of my recent research into a package that could go in an academic journal. Not that I question such type of pubs: on the contrary, I think they’re essential.

    But I do believe there should be complementary tracks for sharing useful new knowledge on ICT4D. And, alongside that, there should be other ways to estimate ‘impact’ which would have value, whether for academic, field, policy use, etc. BTW, given the quality of your work and postings, I’m glad you too used much of your time in ‘useless’ work from an academic perspective :-) If it serves any consolation, I get more valuable knowledge from such ‘useless’ posts and articles for my real-life work than from academic papers on a 10:1 ratio (and I´m probably being conservative…).

    I like Simone’s proposal for some space through which to attract research-oriented funding (a demand-side approach). The supply-side approach, CfP and the like, have become a pain in the ass.

    Also, collective blogs/space would be a good place in which to publish short or even longer pieces. The ratings given by the members would give good indications as to the quality of the work submitted. And it’d educational for the individual publishing her/his stuff.

    I know that one has to pay attention to what brings food to the table. But if that is seriously in conflict with ‘researching what matters in academic terms’, then we´re in trouble. I know I couldn´t do that for long. And we know that supporting development research is not imposible – heck, Canada’s IDRC has done it for years with highly significant results at times (both in big and small projects) * **. What would it take to convince other development agencies to do likewise…?

    * http://www.info25.org/en/idrc-approach

    ** http://www.info25.org/en/article/idrc%E2%80%99s-work-ict4d-lac-importance-research
    its mi

    • Gracias Manuel,

      I really heartily welcome your warm comments :)))

      And yes, I think it’s time to rethink how to bridge the academia and the practitioners. There’s plenty of room and opportunities for that. Let’s hope we’re clever enough to see how to do it.

      All the best,


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