Fifth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (VI). Online Communities

Notes from the Fifth IPID ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium 2010, held at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain, on September 9-10th, 2010. More notes on this event: ipid2010.

RE-ACT: Social REpresentations of Community Multimedia Centres and ACTion for Improvement
Sara Vannini

Telecentres should fulfil the communication and information needs of the communities where they are located.

Some research states that sometimes telecentres do not work, but there’s increasing evidence that the reason might be of a cultural or social nature, thus not directly related with the telecentre and the technology it provides, but its usage, the context.

Social representation: social psychological phenomena can only be understood if they are seen as being embedded in the socio-cultural context. The function of a social representation is to establish how people interpret their world, and to enable people to communicate with the other members of the community.

Actions for improvement:

  • The use of mobile phones as an instrument of empowerment.
  • The use of ICTs to develop cultural content that reflect the nature and the vision of local communities.
  • Make this content available for visitors, offering chances for cultural exchange and understanding.


Matti Tedre raises the point of telecentre vs. Internet café, and public/universal access vs. profit and sustainability. I would like to bring back a previous writing of mine: Public Internet Access Points: impact vs. sustainability.

Citizens’ Understanding and Definitions of Democracy during Internet Campaigns
Amara Thiha

Authoritarian states usually moraliza and define democracy in their own particular way. Why moralized? Intentions to practice and implement democracy collide with some interpretations of the third way of democratization / of liberal democracy. How do authoritarian states take up the web 2.0 and politics 2.0?

The research consists on the comparison of three authoritarian states: Myanmar (dictatorship), Iran (multy-party authoritarian state) and China (single party authoritarian state). A case is developed analysing the political blogosphere.

Web crawling analysis provided data to perform both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Ethnography also provided a good qualitative insight.


Matti Tedre: is the blogging community representative of the whole population?

Mazhar Ali: how do you define an authoritarian regime? A: there are objective/established definitions that take into account the number of parties, the political freedom and citizen rights, etc.

Vanessa Frías: how are data extracted? A: some blogs are read, all of them are treated with text analysis tools. Vanessa Frías: natural language processing is a methodology.

Ismael Peña-López: did you include in your sample pro-government (i.e. hired by the government) bloggers? A: yes, definitely.

Online networking for Development: an exploration of
Sharon Mc Lennan aims at gathering Honduras available human capital by means of ICTs, aims at harnessing resources and knowledges across international boundaries. provides space for introductions, encouragement, coordination, sharing, teaching and learning… It is done through Yahoo! Groups, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

But online activity is clearly low. Why is it so? Difficulties of physical access, design of the website, attempted migrations to Facebook, language issues, lack of digital skills, lack of interest and/or time, organizations and individuals up skill, philosophical issues…

And nevertheless people keep saying that the site is interesting/important.

One of the reasons is that has three layers: the website, the network and the community. The last one, enhanced by the former two, is invisible, private and unmediated, so difficult to measure but where outcome happens. This layer will be the target of this research.


Ugo Vallauri: has the analysis been done online or offline? A: both of them.

Ismael Peña-López: could it be that — like Pippa Norris or Howard Rheinghold say — that people gather around actions and not principles/projects, and that would explain the short term relationsihps or the online diaspora? A: what is really happening is that people neither gather around principles/projects nor actions: they just get in touch personally, offline, at the “invisible” level to get things done. They do not bother going online or going “visible” unless their needs require asking for collective wisdom.


Fifth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2010)

Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (II). Governance and Nation Building

Notes from the Fourth IPID ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium 2009, held in the Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, United Kingdom, on September 11-12th, 2009. More notes on this event: ict4d_symposium_2009.

eGovernment: Understanding the dynamics between adoption, social inequality and empowerment
Mishra Gaurav

Most of the eGovernment debate nowadays is, surprisingly, more focused on data than on citizenship, the citizenry or empowerment. Indeed, research has focused in impact assessment, sustainability or the digital divide.

Research gaps? Impact assessment in terms of development, understanding adoption and usage in developing country perspective; coordination and transformation process; quality and efficiency of services; empowerment related issues of disadvantaged groups. In general, eGovernment has been focussing in itself rather than in impact.


  • Factors influencing adoption and use of eGovernment services by rural people: how do SES, type of government, etc. determine eGovernment adoption
  • How eGovernment addresses the issue of social inequality, how does eGovernment affect social inequality
  • To examine the role of eGovernment in empowering people: what type of eGovernment fosters empowerment

Theoretical framework:

  • Unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT) Venkatesh et al. (2003)
  • Capabilities framework-motivated from Sen (1999)

More information

V. Venkatesh, M. G. Morris, G. B. Davis, and F. D. Davis, User acceptance of information technology: Toward a unified view MIS Quarterly, vol. 27, pp. 425-478, 2003

eRebellion: The role of ICT on changing government policies and regimes
Amara Thiha

The web 2.0 has enabled several new ways for information to circulate and citizens to state their opinions publicly. But it also has enabled amplification of propaganda issued by extremist and minority groups that just seldom represent e.g. the people inside a country (Myanmar case). We don’t have to take for granted that “2.0 agencies” are more neutral than traditional news agencies.

Research questions

  • What is the boundary between Democratic and Undemocratic with self amplified information and news?
  • How to control this participation which lead to undemocratic situation in democratic manners
  • What is this process and what is the common model of this participation in web 2.0

Towards Open Government in Morocco
Asmae El Mahdi

There has been a rapid expansion of ICTs in Morocco, but they have still to hugely impact both the Administration and the citizens. Indeed, research has been done about enabling the shift from manual to automated service delivery of public services, dealing with issues like labor intensive and paper-based back offices, the integration of back-office and front-office, the provision of citizen-friendly instant service delivery, etc.

A second kind of research was focussing in the adaptation of the electronic front-office to illiterate end-users.

Open ICT4D is the use of new ICTs to engage in “open ” processes to achieve developement goals, IDRC.

A third research, eFES, focused on the impact of these new technologies applied to the Administration, on assessing ICT influence on development, while shifting towards open government:

  • Fez Municipality: shift away from telecom operators towards city-wide wireless open spectrum: joining up
  • Local Public Administration: shift away from mere comsumption to prosumption: user-driven innovation
  • Civil Servants: shift away from closer practices to encouraging open practices: self-service touch-screen kiosks
  • ICT4D team: shift away from proprietary software to free software: per-poor model of development

Results: efficiency gains evidenced in several indicators. Indeed the scheme has been replicated so far in 50% of the administration offices.

Challenges: institutional weaknesses, severe deficit in capacities; policy matters: human choices weakening innovation systems.



Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2009)