I don’t usually go personal in this blog, but this is a very special occasion:
On September 8th, 2009, at 18:00h, in Barcelona, I’m doing the defence of my PhD thesis Measuring digital development for policy-making: models, stages, characteristics and causes, which deals about the digital economy and whether governments should help in its development for it might have a positive impact on the real economy and on the society at large (say “aye” to everything).
Scholar orthodoxy does not allow me (yet) to upload here the original manuscript, though some teasers can be found at my notes on the seminar I did at the Catalan Government Department for the Information Society (Measuring digital development for policy-making: Models, stages, characteristics and causes. The role of the government) and the presentation I did to my colleagues of the i2TIC research group (Measuring digital development for policy-making: Models, stages, characteristics and causes. The role of the government) — same titles: the former with notes, the later with some more information.
Thus, so far there’s only room for waiting… and acknowledgements. This is how my PhD thesis begins:
To the people that pushed, that pulled and that accompanied me on the way:
To my parents, Ismael and Mª del Pilar, for having always stayed behind me and pushing me ahead with the best of gifts ever: education.
To Pere Fabra Abat, for staying in front of me by committing to my project and making out of me a scholar.
To Mercè, for staying besides me by grace of a Benedettian deal; for letting me know, every day, that I could count “con usted / es tan lindo / saber que usted existe / uno se siente vivo”.
My first thoughts in this section necessarily go to Tim Kelly. I will never find the words to thank him for his time, the only thing in the world we (still) cannot buy, and I much regret the fact that I will have little chance to pay him back for all his personal dedication. Of all the things I owe to him, I will just mention confidence, almost blind confidence, when he accepted to supervise my dissertation. Confidence, almost as scarce as time.
This dissertation somehow has its roots planted in 2001, when I first took the path of ICT4D. Hanne Engelstad and Yolanda Franco, Joan Fuster and Carles Esquerré were there to join me in to build an audacious project that made of me a professional. Remei Camps joined shortly afterwards, followed by Mónica Choclán, and Josep Salvatella came in and out with most valuable advice. Thank you so much.
Joan Torrent, Francisco Lupiáñez, and Pilar Ficapal were crucial in the third part of the dissertation – and, personally, at many other stages. They deserve a lot of credit for many of the successes that might be in the quantitative part of the dissertation: I am glad I did follow their advice. Joan gave me extra advice in some formal aspects of the dissertation which I highly highly appreciate.
To Agustí Cerrillo, David Martínez, Miquel Peguera – especially for taking it very personal –, Diana Amigó and my other colleagues at the School of Law and Political Science of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya for endless and friendly support when I needed it most (i.e. throughout the whole process).
I owe big gratitude to the anonymous reviewers that sent feedback with most interesting suggestions about the original manuscript.
I am in debt to Tim Unwin (ICT4D Collective, Royal Holloway University of London) for – amongst other things – trying to build a discipline out of the blue and coming up with the Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium and for his commitment and support for novices in the field. The three editions (so far) of the symposium have been amazing learning places. Besides Tim, thanks go to other faculty that thought the project was interesting enough to take part in it: Erkki Sutinen, Khalid Rabayah, Seugnet Blignaut. A special thought goes to Gudrun Wicander, Florence Nameere Kivunike, Isabella Rega, Marcus Duveskog, Annika Andersson, Mathias Hatakka, Marije Geldof, David Hollow, Peter Rawsthorne, Paolo Brunello, Evelyn Kigozi Kahiigi, Ugo Vallauri, Clint Rogers, Mikko Vesisenaho and all other participants for making it possible and unselfishly sharing their knowledge and warmth.
I have enormous gratitude to John Palfrey, Jonathan Zittrain, Urs Gasser, Marcus Foth, Amar Ashar, Mike Best, Ethan Zuckerman and the rest of the faculty and participants in the Oxford Internet Institute Summer Doctoral Programme 2007, held at the Harvard University’s Berkman Center in July that year. There have been few times when I have worked so hard and even fewer times when it was so worthwhile.
I have a big sense of gratitude to Dennis McCauley (The Economist Intelligence Unit) and Irene Mia (World Economic Forum) for the time they spent with me and the patient answers to my questions on their respective indices.
A special thought goes to Amy K. Mahan. I’d really love it if you could have read these lines. Thank you so much for the information you sent and the warmth with which you sent it.
Justin Smith (Inside Facebook) and Linda Collard (Synovate) sent, respectively, valuable data on Facebook and Social Networking Site: I really appreciated that.
To Ben Compaine (Boston University), Mike Jensen (IT Consultant) and Phillippa Biggs (International Telecommunication Union) and Divakar Goswami (LIRNEasia): thanks for the dialogue.
To María Rosalía Vicente Cuervo (Universidad de Oviedo): thanks for your own dissertation and kindness.
Very very… very special words to Alison Gillwald, Charley Lewis, Christoph Stork, Khaled Fourati, Alex Comninos, Steve Esselaaar and all the people at the LINK Center: your work rocks. Everybody should recognise about its value and, most important, its relevance and the difficulty of doing it in the most challenging continent. You deserve my deepest admiration.
I deeply admire George Sciadas for his work represents a turning point in the debate about e-Readiness and the measuring of the Information Society. I also do want to thank you for writing back after the confusion: that was really kind.
Richard Heeks (Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester) deserves my deepest admiration too for also contributing to build a discipline out of the blue and, indeed, for sharing the making of it online.
Teresa Peters and people behind Bridges.org have my deepest recognition for, in my opinion, having drawn the blueprints of e-Readiness.
Manuel Acevedo, ICT4D Consultant and another brother in arms at the PhD programme, is able to mix cleverness and kindness in unprecedented ways. Thanks for Madrid, Sevilla, Bonn, Gijón and those still to come.
To the Italian cluster: Paolo Massa (Scientific and Technological Research Centre of Bruno Kessler Foundation), Marco Zennaro, Enrique Canessa and Carlo Fonda (Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics): Thanks for just being great.
John Daly (Development Gateway) edited one of the first – if not the first one – ICT4D blogs I ever read, always coming up with interesting news and insights. I am also in debt to other ICT4D and Information Society experts who shared their knowledge through their blogs (and other digital platforms): Christian Kreutz; Mikhail Doroshevich; Florian Sturm, Martin Konzet and all the people at ICT4D.at, Jon Camfield, Ricard Ruiz de Querol, Tryggvi Thayer, Enrique Dans, Jaume Albaigès and Olga Berrios.
Same as above, but at the institutional level: LIRNEasia, i4d journal, TIER, CIS Washington, PEW Internet Project: please do keep on publishing your stuff.
The ivory tower wouldn’t have crashed down without the friendship of the Spanish ICT4D and NPTECH community, to whom I owe the unquestionable honour to be always kept in their minds José Antonio “Tito” Niño (Spanish Red Cross); Agustí Pérez Foguet and Enginyeria Sense Fronteres Catalunya; Yolanda Rueda, Adrien Mangin and the people at Fundación Cibervoluntarios; Paco Prieto, Jimena Pascual, Josema Alonso and the people at Fundación CTIC; Jordi Duran, Ramon Bartomeus & the people at iWith.org; Frederic Cusí, Cesk Gasulla and the people at Fundación Esplai; Xavi Capdevila and Guillermo Rojo at Fundació FIAS; Valentín Villarroel and Ingeniería Sin Fronteras Madrid; Carlota Franco, Mar Vallecillos, Elena Acín, Paloma Ortega, Marta Reina, Marisol García, Paloma Fundación Chandra; Mai Escobar and Fundación Bip-Bip; Àlex Garcia-Albà and Alexandra Haglund-Petitbó at Agència Catalana de Cooperació al Desenvolupament; Rafael Ruipérez Palmero at AECI Colombia; Gemma Xarles at the Escuela Virtual para América Latina y el Caribe.
Robert Guerra (formerly ICANN and TakingITGlobal, now Freedom House) and Michael Trucano (infoDev at The World Bank): thanks for counting me in.
I want to thank Karin Deutsch Karlekar and Sarah Cook for letting me participate in the reviewing of the questionnaire for the first edition of the Freedom on the Net report. That was a thrilling thing to be in from the start.
A thank you, and a big kudos to the organizers and participants of the Web2fordev conference in Rome, for making of it a milestone in several senses.
I owe César Córcoles (School of Computer Science and Multimedia Studies, UOC) an explanation (or an apology) about communicating vessels and non-reciprocity (or imbalance, to be fair) in knowledge exchange. Stop it, so I can pay you back.
Enric Senabre, a brother in arms at the PhD Programme, might be surprised to find himself here. This is the price you pay for humbleness.
Julià Minguillón and Josep Maria Duart, (UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning – the both of them – and RUSC Review of ICTs and Education – the latter), Agustí Cerrillo (Master in e-Administration) and Rosa Borge (Master in e-Governance) have a curious way of helping people out by giving them more work. It’s insane, but it’s fun, especially when it is related to one’s own research interests.
Mercè wants to appear in the acknowledgements section too – despite already appearing in the dedication which I tell her is better –, so here you are.
There is some supporting people that I might have forgotten: exhaustion plays havoc on memory. My humblest apologies to those who consider having earned for themselves being cited amongst these lines.
À Evite A.: “Perdono tutti e a tutti chiedo perdono. Va bene? Non fate troppi pettegolezzi”.
Last May 14th 2009 I imparted a seminar entitled Measuring digital development for policy-making: Models, stages, characteristics and causes. The role of the government in the framework of the Internet, Law and Political science research seminar series that take place at the School of Law and Political Science, Open University of Catalonia (Barcelona, Spain)
Though I had previously presented part of my phd research in public, this is officially the first time that I present final results.
The presentation only shows a brief introduction to Part II (quantitative analysis) and partial highlights from Part III (quantitative/statistical analysis), which makes most slides quite cryptic without a speaker (more cryptic, I mean).
Put short — very short —, after defining a conceptual framework (the 360º digital framework) the research draws 4 stages of digital development (after cluster analysis), the three of which are but different levels of a similar digital development path, and the fourth of them a completely different digital development model: leapfroggers.
These stages of digital development are characterized (a profile for each of them is described), and some determinants (causes) for this digital development (or underdevelopment) are calculated by means of logistic regressions.
The research shows the huge importance of governments in framing and fostering digital development, which is more important and should be more direct the less digitally developed is a specific economy.
It is important to note that government action should be, firstly, focused in framing and give incentives to the real economy, entrepreneurship and innovation; and secondly, to foster the digital economy by means of providing it with an appropriate policy and regulatory framework but also by means of “pull” strategies.
Thus said, the findings show that digital development is compatible with both liberal and Keynesian policies, and that supply-side policies and direct intervention are only worth applying below a minimum threshold of infrastructures. After some infrastructure is installed, policies should especially focus to trigger demand (not to increase the aggregate demand, which is a completely different thing).
This goes against the belief that the government should subsidise computers or content; but it also goes against the belief that the government should just care for the regulatory framework: public policies are a determinant of digital development.
What policies then? Fostering digital services, both private supplied as public e-services, as these services will pull de demand more effectively than other kind of policies.
- Basic development (income, health, education, equality) accompanies any other kind of digital development, which means that it has to be addressed first hand and, indeed, be the target itself where to apply the benefits of digital development.
- Leapfroggers show that another model from the previous one is possible. It is my concern, nevertheless, how a model based in a powerful ICT Sector aimed towards international trade will impact the domestic economy beyond an eminently direct level. In other words, policies fostering a domestic digital development will have both direct and indirect multiplier effects, the latter being the most powerful ones and, maybe, absent in a leapfrogger model.
Citation and downloads
Notes from the IPID ICT4D PG symposium 2008, Mekrijärvi Research Station, Joensuu University, Finland. 8 and 9 September, 2008.
SWOT methodology to analyse the work of an ICT director in a Tanzanian university.
Some of the strengths/weaknesses are based on cultural issue. Sometimes highest (personal) commitment is not liked to the sufficient knowledge to achieve some specific goals. And while strong opportunities seem to be coming in the horizon because of the deployment of ITs and IT training, loss of key staff and the cost of management are threats to be seriously taken into account.
How to motivate IT professionals… and retain skilled ones in the country, avoiding them to get away to more appealing professional opportunities?
Jan Mosander (2008) Pengarna Som Förnsvann. The money that disappeared, abuse of the Swedish aid (SIDA).
- Investment in a local entrepreneur… that will take the production abroad.
- Engage in the restoration of a building without the local community being aware of it
- Telecenter with all facilities provided… but no means to maintain it (not even to pay the electricity)
- Technology adapted to the local needs and possibilities
- Clear business model, sustainable
- Find synergies with other local initiatives (e.g. telecentre + healthcare centre)
Shilpa Sayura telecentres in Sri Lanka:
- Local ownership
- Government support
- Public-Private partnership
- Bottom-up approach
- In depth pre-study
- Partner commitment
- Local skilled coordinator
- Communication strategy
- Iterative monitoring
- Openness and flexibility
Rural communities in developing countries: majority of the population, poor, isolated and based on farming.
Generic ICT4RD model: to increase the impact in rural communities through ICTs, mainly to alleviate poverty and isolation.
- Unintended, innovative use of personal/simpler ICT (mobile)
- Limited or no use of externally motivated ICT (computers, internet)
- Attributed to focus on the supply side, not in quality of life improvement
Need to go back to the roots and perfectly define what is quality of life: subjective, multidimensional:
- Cummins: Subjective Well Being Homeostasis (SWB), quality of life is maintained at a level of stability — Cummins, R.A. (2001). The subjective well-being of people caring for a severely disabled family member at home: A review. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 26, 83-100.
- Amartya Sen: capability approach, development as freedom
Methodology: description — qualitative approach to refine indicators and concepts — quantitative approach to get proper data and perform analysis.
Participatory Action Research combined with Ethnography.
What is a ‘sustainable community’? Existing and future residents meet their needs, are sensitive to the environment and contribute to high quality of life… a ‘western’ definition difficult to apply in developing countries.
Methodology: redefining ‘community’ and ‘sustainability’; understanding the communicative ecology; engaging communities in critical dialogue.
‘New’ definition of sustainability: equal opportunities, standards of living…
‘New’ definition of community: geography, language, culture, social norms and values, collective responsibility, shared leadership…
Communicative ecologies (Tacchi and Slater): the complete range of communication media and information flows in a community.
How to empower faculty in a changing environment, where integration is needed?
The objective of the analysis will be how integration and debate can take place in virtual environments, heavily relying in Habermas in the sense that communication can be improved by avoiding distortions.
Textual and contextual analysis, to see how discourse is constructed — and distorted.
Third Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2008)