Technology innovation vs real interventions

First to say that its good to be blogging here, and lets hope this blog comes together as an interesting group of diverse opinions on ICT, development and anything related.

As Richard mentioned in the inaugural post, ICT4D is no longer a new, novelty area, it has a history of success and failures which influence what will happen in the future. On one hand, there continues to be the constant push of new technologies and approaches into the development space, with the almost daily appearance of a new development solution or philanthropic efforts relying on innovative ICT’s. However, on the other hand many of the largest ICT4D actions are still building on models that were refined many years ago. Look at the Indian and Brazilian flagship mass telecentre programs, or the range of similar e-government schemes still being rolled out as examples.

Does this indicate a dual problem? Firstly a resistance to building adaptive ICT4D solutions that fit in with existing technologies or schemes. Whilst its simple to criticise setups like the telecentre, given that these are often already present, innovation might look to move towards a more intergrationist approaches. Equally it is rare to see ICT4D solutions which exploit older technologies like TV or (until recently) solutions using voice through telephones.

I’ve also heard the other side of the story. NGO’s or organisations do not know how to bring new technology into their working projects. A model solution has been built, and new technology or uses are seen as a risk that might jeopodise accepted solutions or be more costly.

So this post is really an ongoing thought, to flag this duality as a ongoing problem. How can we break away from the purely innovation focus of many new ICT4D ideas, and how do we build more adaptive and open understanding within adopted solutions in the South?


Welcome to ICT4DBlog

Welcome to the ICT4DBlog.  We are inaugurating this to coincide with the foundation of the University of Manchester’s Centre for Development Informatics.  But it is also well timed in ICT4D terms – we have had roughly ten years of ICT4D (though the use of information and communication technologies in international development dates back to at least the 1950s).  So now is a good moment to reflect on ICT4D to date, and to look ahead to what its future may bring.