Fostering the Information Society for Development in the Web 2.0 framework: from push to pull strategies — the case of Spain


When framing all the impact of ICTs in society — and not only at the economic level — it is unavoidable to speak of Manuel Castells’s work, maybe the most acknowledged scholar in this field. Summing up and focusing on what is of interest here, Castells presents a society structured in three layers — relationships of production, experience and power — that by acting over matter (i.e. nature) — the former — and establishing relationships amongst them three layers, end up shaping a culture in a specific configuration of time and space. As technology plays and important role in both the relationships amongst layers and in the creation of culture, Castells theorizes on how ICTs are actually shaping nowadays culture in a very broad sense. His thesis is that the Informational Paradigm leads to a globalized Network Society that pervades each and every aspect of human life. Besides the effect on the Economy, it affects all the way the society shaped, thus the way we work, how culture and communication take place, a redefinition of politics, and even the concepts of time and space.

We can summarize the preceding ideas in the following figure, which presents the three layered society structure in a drastically simplified way:

Concerning development, Welzel et al. (2003) describe in their work a framework that, to our appeal, is very interesting as it goes beyond economic development, overcoming the usual focus on infrastructures.

Their three tier approach is based on the three main trends in development studies. The first one is socioeconomic development, mainly based in Economy issues (translated into indicators) plus some others mainly measuring Health or Education. Socioeconomic development ends up measuring the resources the individual actually has, thus enhancing his objective means of choice. The second one is value change shifting to emancipative values. In this case, what is enhanced is not the objective but the subjective ability towards human choice. The third one is democratization that, if accompanied – as it would be expected – by an increase of freedom rights, would actually make possible the objective and subjective power of choice that the two former development trends explained.

Again, next figure tries and pictures these ideas:

If we add both frameworks, on one hand Castells’s Network Society and on the other Welzel et al.’s, we come up with the following figure, a figure that I have already presented here:

The case of Spain

If we take Ferran Sabaté’s work (2007a, 2007b) after the World Economic Forum’s Networking Readiness Index 2006 for Spain, we clearly see that infrastructures are not the problem (they are undoubtedly and still a problem, but they are far from being the problem). As it it put clear in his two articles, as a quite e-developed country, Spain has reached a certain satisfactory degree of e-readiness based on a deep and wide development of infrastructures. What is lacking, and impedes a further e-development, is everything else that should accompany the deployment of infrastructures, namely a proper political strategy, digital literacy and, above all, a strong demand driven by private (mainly individual, but also corporate) interest — it is my opinion that, at the state we are in, lack of interest and digital illiteracy are almost the same thing and can be generalized as lack of e-Awareness.

What to do about it?

Let’s take the previous figure, let’s only keep the central column and let’s put two layers on top of it: first layer is how the web (we could actually speak of ICTs in general) has developed, from 1.0 — based on infrastructures and one-way information — to 2.0 — based on content and services and participation. Second layer is about two kinds of policies, one based on push strategies (wire cities, subsidize computer acquisition), the other one based on pull strategies (make people aware of their needs and how computers can help fulfill them, empower Administrations so citizens know they can ask for more public e-Services).

It is my opinion that Spain — as many other (almost) e-developed countries — is just at the hinge between an Information Society based on infrastructures and the creation of a strong ICT sector, and another one based on highly digitally literate people that demand high quality digital content and services in an adequate regulation framework (adequate not for incumbent carriers, but for digital content and services provision: privacy, intellectual property rights, cyberlaw, etc.).

Not to stay forever at that hinge, the transition from 1.0 to 2.0 must be boosted. And it is my believe that, after a successful push strategies to set up the basements of a first phase of the Information Society, what is needed is pull strategies so that the growth, both in depth and width, of the Information Society is made socially sustainable according to citizens’ needs and, at the same time, economically sustainable according to customers’ will to pay.

More about this

I have kindly been invited to speak about this at the conference Difundir las TIC en la época 2.0: nuevos formatos, nuevos interrogantes y nuevas perspectivas [ICT diffusion in 2.0 times: new formats, new questions and new perspectives] (the event on Facebook).

Update: slides for the presentation


Update: video of the presentation

More info


Universities and Telecenters: perfect partners

Royal D. Colle wrote in 2005 an article that I now recovered: Building ICT4D capacity in and by African universities and that reminds me of my last experience with telecenters.

Colle’s thesis is quite simple, which does not mean that it is hence less true: reflection and practice, practice and reflection, must go hand in hand. Colle states that telecenters can function in at least three ways for universities:

  • A means for reaching beyond their “ivory tower” to extend their knowledge and learning resources
  • A laboratory for faculty and researchers
  • A learning environment for students

The first point is interestingly ambiguous: on one hand, it means that universities should open their output, content, knowledge outside of their academic environments and revert or bring back the investment that society makes in universities. On the other hand, it also means that faculty should open their minds and realize there’s a real world outside and not just statistics and survey reports.

Reversely, telecenters could benefit from universities in many ways:

  • Research about ICTs and information needs
  • Local and relevant content, especially tailored for telecenters’ users
  • Training and Learning resources — obvious
  • ICT skilled human resources

Again, the corollary for the University is that it should (once more) get out of the ivory tower, disclose its practices and, over all, open its outputs, in the line of what open access, open science, open content initiatives promote.

My own conclusion is twofold: engage in the conversation, in the projects and in reality and, to do so, open and disclose your procedures, your findings, your networks to the limit.

Straightforward? Not really. In a world of web 2.0 philosophy and applications, it took 13 pages to David Beer and Roger Burrows to state (demostrate?) that you have to run your own blog, or have 100 friends in Facebook, to be able to write — with grounded arguments and evidence — about blogging or social networks. And I wonder if they succeeded in convincing anyone but the already convinced.


Conferences 2.0: Scientists and Web 2.0

First of my three seminars imparted at the he Rich-Media Webcasting Technologies for Science Dissemination Workshop, organized by the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics Science Dissemination Unit.

Main aspects
  • Introduction to the Web 2.0, stressing the fact that the web is the platform, that putting up content to the web has been made quite easy — caveat: provided you have access to a computer and good bandwidth —, the power of RSS, the challenge of filtering and content quality.
  • Conferences are one dimensional: content delivered at one time and one place
  • Conferences should shift from information exchange to knowledge exchange
  • Before conferences: data and information sharing through websites, blogs, social networks
  • During conferences: knowledge sharing through instant messaging, browsing, blogging and nanoblogging, social bookmarking, shared list of resources/bibliographies, multimedia files, presentations, paper repositories, etc.
  • During conferences: interaction fostered by wikis, blogging (comments)
  • After conferences: strengthening the network using social software, blogrolls, keeping the track of conference “official” tags, feedreading, etc.
  • Opennes, a must
  • Going digital, or how to create huge (infinite?) economies of scale
  • The web is the platform, the way to overcome space (and time) barriers
  • Link, link, link, or how to contribute to reputation and filtering
Live recording of the session

Using the EyA System — thanks to Carlo Fonda for making it possible!


Click here to download, or watch them on Slideshare:


Rich-Media Webcasting Technologies for Science Dissemination Workshop

Next December 3, 4 and 5 I’ll be in Trieste at the Rich-Media Webcasting Technologies for Science Dissemination Workshop, organized by the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics Science Dissemination Unit.

The whole set of names is quite eerie — for a social scientist like me — but once read you realize this is a very interesting workshop on scientific diffusion in developing countries, being ICT4D a deepest commitment of the organizers.

As you can see in the programme, I’ll be teaching three seminars, namely:

I have to sincerely thank Marco Zennaro for insisting that the Conferences 2.0: Scientists and Web 2.0 speech became the keynote/opening session speech, which really, really, really honors me so much. As I’ve been asked to provide a summary to publicize the speech, I wonder whether this session will be open to anyone. Hence, here comes the outline:

Conferences 2.0: Scientists and Web 2.0

Information and Communication Technologies, the Internet, and most especially, the so called Web 2.0 have radically changed – at least potentially – the way scholarly diffusion is or can be made.

On one hand, the traditional constrains of space, time, publishing costs, etc. have almost completely disappeared or have entered huge economies of scale. Diffusion is – or, again, could be considered – easier and cheaper than ever.

On the other hand, and partly due to the former aspects, we are beginning to see an increasing demand for more accountability and transparency of research and researchers, resulting in both a claim for a deeper and wider popularization of science and a call for better and denser research networks.

The seminar “Conferences 2.0: Scientists and Web 2.0” will be split into three parts.

First part, Web 2.0, will point out the main characteristics of the Web 2.0 – a part that can be overridden depending on the knowledge on the issue by the attendees.

Second part, What’s a Conference 2.0, will to summarize how things have changed in the field of scholarly diffusion in the last years or, more specifically, since the advent of the Internet, the web browser and Web 2.0 applications.

Las part, the bulk of the seminar, will draw the “perfect” conference – and/or scientific diffusion strategy – by revisiting some good practices and some interesting applications existing around.

Anyhow, the focus and the stress will be put in both the change of paradigm in scholarly communication and the creation of a showcase of real practices and tools that are setting up this new path.


A Reader on Education 2.0

When preparing my speech about The Web 2.0 and the role of the University for the UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning Fourth International Seminar: Web 2.0 and Education, I gathered a good bunch of references to prepare what I wanted to say. You can find all the references I used — and some more, added after — after this words. But as this is an evolving selection, the up-to-date version of this list can always be consulted here: A Reader on Web 2.0 and Education. Feel free to write back to me with proposals for inclusion in the list and/or corrections for found errors.

The collection is far more than just “Education” or “University” or “Web 2.0” but pretends to give a framework comprehensive enough to approach the Education 2.0 phenomenon. I personally think that a good approach to Education 2.0 should include:

  • digital capacity building, including the zilliion different digital literacies: technological, informational, media, e-awareness…
  • team working
  • digital identity, presence on the Net, e-Portfolios
  • creation and importance of social networks and connectivism
  • the digital natives concept
  • long life learning and student-centered learning
  • open educational resources

To which I would add Business 2.0:

  • creation based on gift economies
  • distributed creation and the wisdom of crowds
  • entering the conversation with the consumers… and the prosumers

And a longest etcaetera of concepts, hypes, buzzwords and so — easy to see this is just a superficial reflection, not a deep analysis of the concept. Of course, the categories are arbitrary and just a means not to have 47 references one after the other without a break:


Benkler, Y. (2002). “Coase’s Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm”. In The Yale Law Journal, 112(3), 369–446. New Haven: The Yale Law Journal Company. Retrieved June 12, 2007 from
Benkler, Y. (2006). The Wealth of Networks. Lecture presented on April 18, 2006 at Harvard Law School. Cambridge: Harvard Law School. Retrieved December 21, 2006 from

Digital Literacy & Digital Media

Ittelson, J. (2001). “Building an E-dentity for Each Student”. In Educause Quarterly, 4, 43-45. Boulder: Educause. Retrieved April 12, 2007 from
Kalz, M. (2005). Building Eclectic Personal Learning Landscapes with Open Source Tools. Conference proceedings for the Open Source for Education in Europe, Research & Practise conference. Heerlen: Open University of the Netherlands. Retrieved April 14, 2007 from
Marquès Graells, P. (2000). Competencias básicas y alfabetización digital. Roles de los estudiantes hoy. Barcelona: UAB. Retrieved March 01, 2007 from
Prensky, M. (2001). “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants”. In On the Horizon, October 2001, 9(5) NCB University Press.
Prensky, M. (2001). “Do They Really Think Differently?”. In On the Horizon, December 2001, 9(6) NCB University Press.


Lorenzo, G. & Ittelson, J. (2005). An Overview of E-Portfolios. ELI Paper 1: 2005. Boulder: Educause Learning Initiative. Retrieved July 26, 2005 from
Prensky, M. (2005). “Engage Me or Enrage Me. What Today’s Learners Demand”. In Educause Review, September-October 2005, 40(5), 60-65. Boulder: Educause Review. Retrieved August 22, 2007 from

Open Access & Open Educational Resources

What is the Web 2.0

Fumero, A. & Roca, G. (2007). Web 2.0. Madrid: Fundación Orange. Retrieved April 25, 2007 from

Education 2.0 & e-Learning 2.0

Alexander, B. (2006). “Web 2.0: A New Wave of Innovation for Teaching and Learning?”. In Educause Review, March/April 2006, vol. 41(2), 32–44. Boulder: Educause. Retrieved September 08, 2006 from
Anderson, P. (2007). What is Web 2.0? Ideas, technologies and implications for education. JISC Technology and Standards Watch, Feb. 2007. Bristol: JISC. Retrieved June 19, 2007 from
Attwell, G. (2007). “Personal Learning Environments – the future of eLearning?”. In eLearning Papers, 2(1). Barcelona: P.A.U. Education, S.L.. Retrieved February 06, 2007 from
Cobo Romaní, C. (2007). “Aprendizaje colaborativo. Nuevos modelos para usos educativos.”. In Cobo Romaní, C. & Pardo Kuklinski, H., Planeta Web 2.0. Inteligencia colectiva o medios fast food. Barcelona / México DF: Grup de Recerca d’Interaccions Digitals, Universitat de Vic.
Downes, S. (2004). “Educational Blogging”. In Educause Review, September/October 2004, vol. 39(5), 14–26. Boulder: Educause. Retrieved April 25, 2005 from
Downes, S. (2005). “e-Learning 2.0”. In eLearn Magazine, 10/17/05. New York: Association for Computing Machinery. Retrieved June 25, 2007 from
Downes, S. (2006). Learning Networks and Connective Knowledge. Discussion Paper #92. [online document]: Instructional Technology Forum. Retrieved April 26, 2007 from
Lara, T. (2005). “Blogs para educar. Usos de los blogs en una pedagogía constructivista”. In TELOS, Octubre-Diciembre 2005, (65 Segunda Época). Madrid: Fundación Telefónica. Retrieved October 24, 2007 from
Leslie, S. (2003). “Some Uses of Blogs in Education”. In EdTechPost, October 8th, 2003. Retrieved April 03, 2005 from