“Young” Researchers’ Workshop at ICTD2009

Friday 17 April 2009 in conjunction with 3rd IEEE/ACM International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD2009) 17 – 19 April 2009 Doha, Qatar http://www.ictd2009.org

This document includes the 12 papers for the morning session together with a short introduction of each presenter.

Presenters: Yaw Anokwa [yanokwa@gmail.com] Paolo Brunello [pbrunello@gmail.com] Brian DeRenzi [bderenzi@gmail.com] Kathleen Diga [kathleen.diga@gmail.com] Fanni Francesca [francesca.fanni@lu.unisi.ch] Scot Frank [scot@mit.edu] Marije Geldof [M.Geldof@rhul.ac.uk] Sokol Haxhiu [shaxhiu@yahoo.com] Aditi Sharma [asharma1@csir.co.za] Thomas Smyth [thomas.smyth@gatech.edu] Dhanaraj Thakur [dthakur@gatech.edu] Ugo Vallauri [U.Vallauri@rhul.ac.uk]


Yaw Anokwa [yanokwa@gmail.com]
What is your name? yaw anokwa Where do you currently live? seattle, washington What institution(s) are you associated with? university of washington, google What is the basic domain/field/department you associate yourself with? computer science In which countries/states have you worked on project(s)? rwanda, tanzania, uganda Describe your current project(s) in less than 10 words each. a suite of open source data collection tools Name one thing you have learned about yourself through field experience in less than 10 words. optimistic workaholic with dictatorial tendencies Attach one photo that represents you, something you like, your work, your field experience, or your thoughts about ICTD, etc. Describe it in less than 10 words. this child has seen something deeply terrifying. any guesses what? What are you looking forward to getting out of this workshop, in less than 10 words (or a few more)?a sense of what others feel are the big challenges ************************************************************************ A Young Researcher's Thoughts on ICTD Research Yaw Anokwa, Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington yanokwa@cs.washington.edu 1 Introduction Despite having lived abroad most of my life, my child-hood memories of Ghana instilled a sense of responsibility for those whom I witnessed struggling with poverty, education, and health. For me, ICTD is a way to bring the transformative power of technology to bear on these problems. 2 Research Experience My ICTD research began during a six month stay in rural Rwanda deploying OpenMRS [1], an open source, electronic medical record system. I was responsible for implementing features, managing data entry, and upgrading infrastructure. The deployed system serves a catchment area of 425k people and is a model for a national medical record system. O_- shoots of this work include SMS-based tools for checking the accuracy of dosing data, research on how to optimize high latency links using o_ the shelf hardware [3], and work on how virtual machines can simplify deployment of complex systems. I am now working on a mobile data collection called UReport [2]. The most recent deployment of UReport gathered 600+ surveys from Ugandan farmers about a number of SMS-based services. UReport is built entirely on Google infrastructure as an exploration of the future of scalable data collection systems. The client runs on an Android G1 phone and submits text, image and location data to an GoogleApp Engine server.


3 Research Challenges To do great research, one must spend much more than a quarter, a semester or a summer in the field. This time is needed to understand the context of the problem, and academia does not support (… and otherwise) such long timescales. If context gained through time really is necessary, we need to discover which models of research can be mirrored to accomplish these goals. Once a problem is identified, solving it is often more than building technology. The skills needed in ICTD can range from training the illiterate to negotiating with governments. In computer science, we are generally only rewarded for a small subset of those skills {while we may spend 10% of our time doing `real' computer science, 100% of our reward is based on that 10%. Is this balance fair, and if not, how do we realign those rewards? Finally, the evaluation metrics for the projects we work on vary across various stakeholders. What then is ICTD research success? Is it a transferable conclusion? Is it a proof of concept? Is it a sustainable product? More importantly, how do we really know we are making a difference? 4 Conclusion As an ICTD researcher, my goals are to better understand what tradeo_s developing societies must make when presented with a technology. While the challenges described above are often difficult to resolve, the assumption I operate under is that technology, when used thoughtfully, can help. References [1] Y. Anokwa et al., Deploying a Medical Record System in Rural Rwanda, HCI4CID, 2008 [2] Y. Anokwa et al., A New Generation of Open Source Data Collection Tools, ICTD, 2009 [3] Y. Anokwa et al., Optimizing Links in the Developing World, WINS-DR, 2008


Paolo Brunello
pbrunello@gmail.com Ph.D. candidate in Geography at Royal Holloway University of London To you all I say a big Hello! My name is Paolo Brunello I'm Italian and I'm thirty three Since 2004 I live in Booroondee. I currently work for the Belgian Cooperation and supposedly study for my RHUL dissertation. I'm a psychologist at the core but it's the Interent that I adore so I'm setting up PC labs and training geeks around Burundian technical high schools being my playground. What I learnt is that you must have some fun if you want serious things to get properly done and find the balance between work, love and play it's a lesson to be learnt each and every day. As a researcher model, I find Willy Coyote del.icio.us: tenacious, ingenious, courageous, and... fictitious Out of this workshop what I hope to get? A colorful snapshot of everyone's mindsèt! *********************************************************************** Position paper: Contextual analysis and social networking mapping ICTs being so transversal and so pervasive in almost all domains of human activity, they call for a widely interdisciplinary approach, even beyond the three-legged model ICT4D 2.0 advocated by Richard Heeks (Heeks, 2008, p. 83): computer science, information systems and development studies are not enough to address the complex issues ICTs arise, especially in the so-called developing countries. What is missing then? At least 2 things, in my opinion: 1. a wider and more thorough contextual analysis;

2. a closer look at the relationships among the individual actors involved in such projects. I believe that way too often both these aspects are disregarded or underestimated, while they are crucial in determining the success or failure of any ICT4D project. It is no news to say that every researcher is naturally and inevitably « biased » in the way s/he frames the phenomenon under study by her/his background and disciplinary culture. But, as Popper said: “We are not students of subject matters, but students of problems” (Popper, 1963). So the big challenge in any interdisciplinary research endeavor is precisely to be able to zoom out and shift the perspective in order to embrace others' views and mindsets. Roughly said, with all the limits of any generalization, computer scientists tend to be focusing too much on technology, information systems stress information flows and dynamics neglecting other important layers of interaction, and development studies tend to uncover the power dynamics underlying any development project, ICT4Ds included, in an often nomothetic manner. Rarely, to my knowledge, the researcher pushes her/himself to the finer analysis of the interpersonal relationships linking the actors involved. And yet


these relationships are often the key factor in determining whether a certain ICT4D project will succeed or not. Why is it so? Well, I believe one plausible reason is that such relationships are hard to see, hard to grasp, hard to visualize, hard to classify, hard to treat « scientifically ». The more we push an idiographic approach further, the less it is generalizable and therefore informative and useful for the future endeavors. This might be a common researcher's 'fear' when you come from a discipline with a strong objectivist tradition and neopositivist epistemology, like computer science and information systems. It is humanly hard to successfully grow as a researcher in such a « theoretically charged environment » and yet develop a constructionist approach, an epistemology based on « volatile things » such as the negotiation of meanings, interpretations, the social construction of reality. Similarly, it is also difficult and rare to build one's own scholar identity within a theoretical environment supportive of such a constructionist epistemology and then accept to deal with such things as hard facts, 0s and 1s, mechanistic causes and effects. I'm a psychologist by formal education, so I've been dealing with this epistemological tension all the way up to my degree, and I still do. One of the brightest professor I had, once jokingly defined psychologists as engineers who don't like machines. I've found in human geography a similar tension, the same that is common in many other social sciences (sociology, pedagogy, etc.).Be careful though, I am not sliding into the old quantitative vs qualitative debate: in fact, I endorse Michael Crotty's position when he says: « What store are we asking people to set by our research findings? After all we may be presenting our findings as objectives truths, claiming validity, perhaps generalisability, on their behalf. In that case, we are calling upon people to accept our finding as established fact or at least as close to established fact as our research has enabled us to reach. On the other hand, we may be offering our findings as interpretation. It is a certain spin we have put on the data. In that case we are inviting people to weigh our interpretation, judge whether it has been soundly arrived at and is plausible (convincing, even?) and decide whether it has application to their interests and concerns. In other words, we may be presenting our research in positivist terms on non-positivist terms. Let us say it again: it is a matter of positivism vs non-positivism, not a matter of quantitative vs qualitative. It is possible for a quantitative piece of work to be offered in a non-positivist form. On the other hand there is plenty of scope for qualitative research to be understood positivistically or situated in an overall positivist setting, and therefore, for even self-professed qualitative researchers to be quite positivist in orientation and purpose. » (Crotty, 1998: p. 41 – bold mine) I stressed the word «presenting» because it marks a shift in the focus from the research itself towards the relationship between the researcher and its audience, and the degree of


persuasiveness that this presentation aims to reach. Coherently with the tradition of social studies of science, from Kuhn (1967) to Latour and Woolgar (1971), and with the ethnomethodological school (Coulon, 1987; Garfinkel et al. 1981), the researcher then becomes a self-aware member of a specific human community – the scientific metacommunity – by the rules of which s/he has to play in order to be credible and have her/his bit contribute to nourish the ongoing conversation in the smoky, noisy and exclusive club of science. Clearly, once you adopt this epistemological stance you are shifting the focus of your lens one layer up, from « reality » to the collective social interaction that constructs it. I think this is good exercise, if not even a strongly recommendable one when it comes to ICT4D. In fact, ICT4D is a research frontier where these 2 traditions, the posivitst and non-positivist, inevitably meet, and often clash, sometimes leading to ICT4D project failures. Nowadays, I suspect that the neopositivist tradition is still dominant (reading the titles of the selected papers for this conference is enough to prove it, I think), but hopefully social sciences are increasingly participating in the investigation of this fascinating field of research. When working in the field, this kind of zooming out would be most beneficial, as it will allow to target the whole communicative ecosystem as the research « object ». In fact, according to Bateson, there is a hierarchy which is hardly escapable, which is that context drives the relationships in it and the relationships drive the content, say the actions that are carried out. In other words, what you say and do, depends on whom are you talking to, and whom you are talking to, depends on what game you are in (Watzlawick et al., 1967). Ignoring this hierarchy while impelmenting ICT4D projects is risking to struggle in vain. I call upon researchers to be the ones who point out this hierarchy and make it visible to the practitioners in the field, helping them to zoom out. How then? A useful tool that I've used and I would like to present in this workshop is a social network analysis kit called Net-map (http://netmap.wordpress.com). This technique allows to visualize in a very effective way the stakeholders, their relationships, their respective influence and their respective agendas, both public and hidden, allowing people to build a shared understanding of their ecosystem, and consequently intervene in the critical points. This can be applied to any development project, but turns out to be particularly appropriate when dealing with ICT4D projects, as it helps preventing to narrow down the scope of the analysis to the technological aspects, neglecting the social dynamics they inevitably perturb.


Bibliography Coulon, A. (1987) L'ethnométhodologie, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris Crotty, M. (1998) The Foundations of Social Research, Sage, London. Garfinkel, H., Lynch, M., Livingston E. (1981) The Work of a Discovering Science Construed With Materials From the Optically Discovered Pulsar. Philosophy of the social sciences 11:131-158. Latour, B., Woolgar, S. (1979) Laboratory Life: the construction of scientific facts, Sage, Beverly Hills. Kuhn, T.S. (1962) The structure of scientific revolutions, 2ndd Ed. International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, vol. 2, n. 2, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press. Popper, K. R. (1963) Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, Routledge, London and New York. Watzlawick, P., Beavin, J.H., Jackson, D.D. (1967) Pragmatics of human communication, Norton, New York Short Bio October 2008 - Project leader for the AESTP project (Belgian Technical Cooperation) installing 12 PC labs in Burundian public secondary schools, and training the local teachers to administer them. September 2008 Enrollment as a Ph.D. candidate at Royal Holloway University of London September 2007 – May 2008 System Administration and ICT trainer at the French School in Bujumbura, Burundi. VSAT installer and OpenSky sales representative in East Africa. 2004 - August 2007 WITAR's Project Leader in Burundi, manager of the e-learning program between the Italian A. Rossi Technical Institute and the Lycée Technique A. Rossi de Ngozi, Burundi 2005 Post-graduate online course “E-learning and integrated training” on e-learning management - University of Padova Participation to the WSIS in Tunis, where I presented our project at the Italian Pavillion and at the “Past Present and Future of Research in the Information Society” international conference 2002 Post-graduate course on International Cooperation and Development - University of Padova 2001 Laurea (≈Masters Degree) in Work and Organization Psychology, University of Padova. 1999-2000 Scholarship at the University of California, San Diego. Internship in a San Diego translation agency. This setting was used in my ethnographic thesis “To Collaborate Without Seeing Each Other: Telework in a Transnational Virtual Organization”


Brian DeRenzi
bderenzi@gmail.com Brian DeRenzi Computer Science and Engineering University of Washington Seattle, WA 98195 USA +255 786 618782 bderenzi@cs.washington.edu What is your name? Brian DeRenzi Where do you currently live? Kigamboni, Tanzania What institution(s) are you associated with? University of Washington, D-Tree International What is the basic domain/field/department you associate yourself with? Computer Science (and maybe a little public health) In which countries/states have you worked on project(s)? Uganda & Tanzania Describe your current project(s) in less than 10 words each. Mobile phone based support tool for community health workers Name one thing you have learned about yourself through field experience in less than 10 words. Just because you're a computer scientist doesn't mean you have to work in an office. Attach one photo that represents you, something you like, your work, your field experience, or your thoughts about ICTD, etc. Describe it in less than 10 words. :) <-- my picture. i'm optimistic and have limited bandwidth What are you looking forward to getting out of this workshop, in less than 10 words (or a few more)? Hear stories from others in the field, exchange ideas about how we can all help. ************************************************************************

Thoughts on Challenges in ICTD for Young Researchers
1. INTRODUCTION As a science, computer science is an indisputably young discipline. Within computer science, ICTD is a young and emerging field. Blending international development with the computer science and ICT, researchers in the field develop and study technologybased interventions to improve the human condition, including basic health care and livelihood. Having spent only two years working in this field and thinking about its problems, I have barely started to scratch the surface of the challenges and my proposed solutions. However, my limited experience has taught me the importance of fieldwork and developing end-to-end solutions from the bottom up, as some of the key challenges the field faces. In this paper, I describe my experience with ICTD and briefly discuss my position on some of the challenges facing the field today.


2. FIELD EXPERIENCE In June 2006, immediately after completing my undergraduate degree in computer engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, I had my first experience working in the field of a low-income region. I spent one month volunteering with a group in northern Tanzania traveling between remote villages where we would visit households for three to four days to deliver public health information, then hold one-day clinic to assess sick people in the community and distribute medications.1 While the first trip was not completely related to ICTD, it introduced me to healthcare in low-income regions and set the stage for future projects in ICTD. After returning from Tanzania I started my first year in a computer science graduate program at the University of Washington (UW). I began to synthesize my interests and started working with a group at the UW in the ICTD space. Primarily based on my experience in Tanzania, we produced a publication on the potential for using mobile phones for data collection in disconnected environments [1]. In June 2007, I returned to Tanzania for three months to work on a project called e-IMCI. We were testing an application written for Windows Mobile PDAs to help guide health workers in southern Tanzania through the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) protocol. We found that the clinicians we worked with were significantly more likely (p<0.01) to follow the protocol exactly when using e-IMCI than their standard practice. All medical evaluation and drug distribution was done under the supervision of a licensed medical doctor. The work spawned other ideas and talks [3, 4] around building mobile tools for healthcare workers. Though I have lessened my involvement with e-IMCI, the work has continued and is now in the process of undergoing more rigorous study across 4 districts in Tanzania. As I moved on from the e-IMCI work, I started to get involved with a new project, called CommCare, which aims to support community health workers on home visits. The software, which runs on a mobile phone, allows for faster and more detailed data and better supervision among other things. In June 2008, I spent three months in Uganda working on the project. At the time of writing I have been in Tanzania working on CommCare since November 2008 and plan to remain until late 2009 at least. 3. CHALLENGES IN ICTD ICTD is a young field and there are a number of challenges facing young researches within the community including: developing and merging evaluation frameworks, the breadth of previous work in a multi-disciplinary environment, and determining how to shape one’s work as a Ph.D. thesis in his/her respective field. However, I believe that common to all projects in ICTD is the need to spend time in the field and work from the ground up. 3.1 Working in the Field Spending time in the field is necessary to allow a young ICTD researcher to gain context and truly understand the problem being addressed. During this time, the researcher will get critical insight into the cultural differences and values of the target user population.


Without time spent in the field, we run the risk of building tools that are not deployable or practical; we run the risk of working on ICTD problems as a purely academic exercise. Despite this, working in the field is by no means a solved challenge. In addition to the obvious challenges of working in resourcelimited regions, I believe that the need for fieldwork in ICTD presents a unique challenge for computer science that other subdisciplines do not. Traditional computer science does not involve the use of human subjects, much less the use of subjects located in (potentially) foreign countries. We need to borrow from other disciplines—such as anthropology—which rely on fieldwork for the majority of a student’s thesis work, in order to provide a framework for fitting a young computer scientist’s fieldwork into the natural process of completing a thesis. 3.2 Building from the Ground Up In addition to working in the field, I believe it is necessary to build solutions using a bottom-up approach. My projects have thus far taken the approach of starting fieldwork with relatively few assumptions and premade tools. Instead, I have used the time in the field to define the requirements and develop the solution in parallel. This approach is contrasted by another approach where students spend a relatively short period of time in the field to define requirements, return to their host institutions to develop a solution and come back to the field to deploy and test the solution. Differing culture and context, complexity of the problems and the need to understand the end-to-end solution make it difficult to ensure that requirements are correctly established in the initial visit. Additionally, leaving the field jeopardizes the human relationships that have been established with local partners. In the top-down approach, students run the risk of missing the requirements and again developing a solution that cannot be deployed or does not address the real problem. 4. CONCLUSION The challenges facing ICTD today are many and the discussions about these problems are too great to enumerate in a short paper like this. I have expressed my support for bottomup solutions and the importance of fieldwork. It is my belief that these greater challenges can only be addressed over time by positive examples and discussion from within the community. I look forward to being part of this discussion and continuing to work on these and other challenges.
5. REFERENCES [1] DeRenzi, B., Anokwa, Y., Parikh, T.S., and Borriello, G. Reliable Data Collection in Highly Disconnected Environments Using Mobile Phones. ACM SIGCOMM Workshop on Networked Systems for Developing Regions (NSDR 2007). [2] DeRenzi, B., Lesh, N., Parikh, T.S., Sims, C., Mitchell, M., Maokola, W., Chemba, M., Hamisi, Y., Schellenberg, D., and Borriello, G. e-IMCI: Improving Pediatric Health Care in LowIncome Countries. ACM Conference on Computer- Human Interaction (CHI ‘08), (Florence, Italy, April 5-10, 2008). [3] DeRenzi, B., Gajos, K., Parikh, T.S., and Borriello, G. Opportunities for Intelligent Interfaces Aiding Healthcare in Low-Income Regions, IUI Workshop on Intelligent User Interfaces for Developing Regions (IUI4DR 2008). [4] DeRenzi, B. Mobile Tools for Health Care in Low-Income Countries, DOHCS at SCALE, (February 8, 2008. Los Angeles, CA).


Kathleen Diga
kathleen.diga@gmail.com Kathleen Diga (MDev) International Development Research Centre kdiga@idrc.or.ke What is your name? Kathleen Diga Where do you currently live? Johannesburg, South Africa What institution(s) are you associated with? International Development Research Centre What is the basic domain/field/department you associate yourself with? Acacia Initiative – (Communities and the Information Society in Africa) In which countries/states have you worked on project(s)? Uganda, Ghana, Kenya Describe your current project(s) in less than 10 words each. Re-thinking Acute Emergency Response Through Communication Technology in peri-rural Africa. Name one thing you have learned about yourself through field experience in less than 10 words. Have care and compassion for yourself. Attach one photo that represents you, something you like, your work, your field experience, or your thoughts about ICTD, etc. Describe it in less than 10 words. TigerFM in Nabweru Uganda: the best activists are artists. What are you looking forward to getting out of this workshop, in less than 10 words (or a few more)? Concrete suggestions to improve young scholar research collaboration in Africa. ************************************************************************ Experiences & Challenges of ICTD research in Africa As a young researcher living in Africa and specializing in African economic development through ICTs, I have invariably seen great enthusiasm for multi-disciplinary ICTD research. However, such eagerness has occasionally been obscured by major obstacles, such as weak capacity, gender inequality and research isolationism. Nevertheless, the exponential growth of the usage of newly available information and communication devices, applications and processes in Africa, enables computer science professors and economists to converge on fascinating studies in unwritten terrain. The space and opportunities for such trans-disciplinary interaction by young researchers are vital for the future of ICTD work, as is the concerted effort towards gender equality and the advocacy for improved funding for secondary and tertiary education for Africans. The above interventions have allowed me to be involved with a diverse group of African research colleagues investigating the economic and social implications of technologies on the continent’s society. In the last two years, I have focused upon addressing poverty effects through technology by measuring indicators in two areas: 1) substitutions made for mobile phone ownership and 2) the reaction to and cost of vulnerable situations with regards access to emergency hotline systems. Despite the limitation of resources and expertise in Africa, the measurement of poverty through adoption of ICTs has emerged as


an alternative African perspective of development, with more than willing academics and practitioners converging upon this rapidly evolving field of study. I finally figured that the field of behavioural economics could be my niche research area, as little previous exploration has been done within the African context. My interest was piqued after reading Research ICT! Africa’s 2003 e-usage survey which stated that Africans were spending 10 % of their expenditure budget on ICT expenses while the rest of the world was spending an average of 2-3 % in the same area (Gillwald, 2005: 13). I was drawn to research which examines how this high spending could be possible for the poor and what African citizens were willing to substitute in order to gain access to mobile phone services. My recent Ugandan case study (Diga, 2007) revealed household substitutions for low income families were uneven. Low-income household respondents with property in their asset portfolio substituted store-bought food with food grown in their gardens. On the other hand, landless apartment-block tenants were going without food on certain days in order to ensure some airtime credit remained on their phone. Ultimately, daily spending decisions and weighing out household strategies for a service or goods are negotiated in hopes of deriving the greatest value in the long-run. Mobile phones, and in some cases internet access, have ensured a future healthy debate as to what we can identify as true developmental needs in the context of rural communities. While my dissertation work is still a small piece of the puzzle that is poised to reveal the exorbitant costs of communications in Africa for low income households, much more rigorous research and effort is required to influence policy change calling for universal affordable communication access. Since my Uganda case study, a more recent 2007-08 survey of 17 African countries (23,000 households), found that households’ monthly mobile telephony expenditure as a share of their income was between 7.1 % (in Ethiopia) to 16.7 % (in Kenya) (RIA! 2008). Another forthcoming study in East Africa will also review panel data over an 18 month period as to how ICTs have changed the poverty levels for poor households in urban and rural communities (PICTURE Africa, 2006). Active dialogue and trust building between researchers, policy makers, telecommunication regulators and the media are most necessary to build a platform for debate on research recommendations. Only evidence combined with other strategies will help change-makers convince policy-makers to drive regulation for affordable access. Besides evidence to affordable access, my new area of study is the cost effectiveness of technology in assisting the disadvantaged to alleviate vulnerability and risk. I looked at how existing emergency hotline (911) systems have gained perceptions of ineffectiveness to rural communities. Such systems are designed to provide citizens with immediate access to and assistance from the police, fire or ambulance services if an accident or acute emergency occurs. In my recent 2008 Ghana study, initial findings reveal perceptions of a highly inefficient and ineffective emergency hotline system. Respondents stated uncertainty as to the correct number for emergency services. Others would call the emergency number but only experience busy signals when trying to reach the operator. During a visit to the local fire station, one senior respondent stated that nearly 30 prank or false calls are received daily at the station. Further rigorous research on the effective implementation and of policy surrounding emergency hotlines would help to provide improved policy choices for more effective systems. While having this opportunity to do the above research with a funding institution based in an African regional office, I have also had the privilege to encounter the many challenges


of ICTD research, including capacity building of young ICTD African researchers, breaking isolationism of research, and gender discrepancy. When senior researchers are squeezing in as many activities as possible into normally limited donor funded projects, particularly during this financial crisis, one can see programs overlooking the need to train younger African academics in this new multidisciplinary field. Many over-worked and sought after African academics have not had opportunities to transfer their knowledge to younger students, which would thus alleviate the burden of over-subscribed researchers in the ICTD area. The history of development for tertiary institutions has not helped the causes of these professors. During the time when international agencies concentrated efforts on the top priority areas of health and primary school education programs, little money filtered through to secondary and tertiary institutions. African university professors saw their infrastructure deteriorate as well as the quality of graduated secondary students. At this point, we see a worst case scenario when finding poor quality students arriving into the university system and trying to build an appropriate resource-intensive training program, which will eventually see them undertake major ICTD projects. Secondly, the art of breaking from the isolated silos of one’s institution (and department!), and starting to engage and work together with respected colleagues in Africa can be a challenge. There is a perception of an extremely fierce environment of limited resources among and within tertiary education institutions which can be the cause of jealousy of highly contentious and resourced departments. This resentfulness can most definitely build a non-collaborative “empire-building” environment. The attempt in developing a multi-disciplinary environment may also not always fit into the university environment. Such a change in university culture may not be accepted, to the point of resistance for innovation that “does not fit into the box”. Thus the gains to reach student and department collaboration can be an uphill battle. This environment of isolated offices will be difficult to breach, particularly for younger researchers who are more open to idea exchange and diversity. Gender discrepancy in Africa also finds fewer women than men in this field. This imbalance may feed from the poor mentorship continuum mentioned above. How then does one ensure that significant intervention effectively guarantees that ICTD does not become a male-dominated field in Africa? As progressive academics examining the area of development using new technologies, are we in fact strengthening particular groups for the marginalized to become worse off. A reversal of the status quo of capacity building for whoever just happens to be available is required, and I would like to see targeted ICTD training programs for the most vulnerable groups including women, the disabled and the elderly. Allowing due course to take place no longer makes gender justice sense in this case. These three major challenges of gender justice, research isolationism and capacity deficiency are threatening the successful collegiality and collaboration that I earlier identified in the field of ICTD research. Given the historical context of development in Africa, we are left in a resource-limited environment, which results in low capacity development and even less cross-disciplinary collaboration to build research in the most innovative fashion. The challenges are daunting in the mix of social science and technology research. I am caught between several disciplines where recognition building is a constant battle, as is proving the rigour of our ICTD research. How do you develop a


collaborative environment at the student level with so many factors running against it? The question remains as to how one can build support for capacity building given the difficulties of finding quality students to engage in this new area of research. In conclusion, from the last four field studies I have conducted in Uganda, Kenya and Ghana, I gained an appreciation for sharing and exploring the ideas of ICTD: from what their households are sacrificing in order to have use of mobile phone services to how mobile phones and technological services like 911 are affecting their everyday lives and during emergency situations. However, drawing up multi-disciplinary teams are rare, encouraging young people to do ICTD can be tiresome, and improving female participation in perceived male-dominated technology fields makes equality feel like a long way down the road. However, the progress made on ICTD research analysis and discussion is already too rich here in Africa for there to be turning back to the old conventions. Instead, resources must concentrate on making those baby steps to influence policy on education at the national level as well as to develop the passion of young academics to explore development through ICTs. How do we ensure that our own work in this field then harmonizes with the major efforts conducted by strategic partners in advocating for high-quality high schools and university infrastructure, women’s rights and building research collaboration? Lastly, only my own way of giving back in the small efforts of face-to-face meetings with prospective ICTD researchers, as well as pro-active informal and formal activities with our existing young African researchers, will be the conduit to recruit and promote ICTD’s future research. References: Diga, K. 2007. “Mobile Cell Phones and Poverty Reduction: Technology Spending Patterns and Poverty Level Change among Households in Uganda. University of KwaZulu- Natal Dissertation paper http://ecologize.org/Diga_2007.aspx Gillwald, A. (ed.). 2005. “Towards an Africa e-Index: Household and individual ICT Access and Usage across 10 Africa countries.” The LINK Centre. School of Public and Development Management. University of the Witwatersrand. http://www.researchictafrica.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&s id=504 Downloaded February 25, 2009. PICTURE Africa. 2006. “Poverty and ICTs in Urban and Rural Eastern Africa: Final Proposal.” Unpublished. Submitted to International Development Research Centre.


Fanni Francesca
francesca.fanni@lu.unisi.ch Phd Student NewMinE Lab (www.neminelab.org) Università della Svizzera italiana 6900 Lugano Switzerland What is your name? Francesca Fanni Where do you currently live? My headquarter is in Lugano, Switzerland, but now I'm in Cape Town, South Africa, for 5 months What institution(s) are you associated with? University of Lugano What is the basic domain/field/department you associate yourself with? ICT in Education In which countries/states have you worked on project(s)? Brazil and South Africa Describe your current project(s) in less than 10 words each. MELISSA - Measuring Elearning Impact in primary School in South African desadvantaged areas BET K-12 - Brazilian Elearning Teacher training in k-12 Name one thing you have learned about yourself through field experience in less than 10 words. Not afraid to face my weakness Attach one photo that represents you, something you like, your work, your field experience, or your thoughts about ICTD, etc. Describe it in less than 10 words. Community school in Brazil - detail :-) What are you looking forward to getting out of this workshop, in less than 10 words (or a few more)? Know more about the use of ICT in schools and their impact

Prior research I collaborate at the BET K-12 (Brazilian Elearning Teacher training in K-12) project that aims at studying the impact of eLearning in Primary School Teacher Training in Brazil, assessing its possible applications and advantages, as well as success conditions and shortcomings. This research involves three main areas: 1. The issue of access to ICTs: it involves technical, economic, sociological and psychological factors influencing persons’ opportunities to use the technologies. 2. The issue of quality: how is it possible to implement an effective and efficient eLearning program for primary teachers in disadvantaged Brazilian areas (State of Bahia)? 3. The issue of impact: the readiness of Brazilian primary teachers to use eLearning in their training, and their adoption patterns. The project, begun in September 2005, will last until March 2009 and it is structured in two main phases:


1. Phase A aims at understanding different models of teachers training programs involving ICTs in Brazil and their quality; in order to seek and suggest innovative eLearning models, which can allow effective and efficient learning practices. 2. Phase B focuses on understanding how primary school teachers in a disadvantaged Brazilian area react to their first eLearning experience, along three different dimensions: · The impact on their way of teaching and learning; · The impact on other fields of their life (snowball effect); · The impact on the transmission of the potentialities of ICTs to their community. Teachers’ first eLearning experience proposed by BET K-12 project is composed by three modules concerning ICTs. In particular, the first one is a face-to-face Digital Literacy course; the second one regards the ICTs in educational context and the last one gives the bases of the communication theories. Three groups of 35 primary schools teachers have been the three case studies of this phase. In order to evaluate and measure that impact of technologies in teachers’ life and work, Self-efficacy and Locus of Control constructs have been applied to the case studies. With the term Self-efficacy Bandura means “people’s judgment of their capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to attain designated types of performances”(Bandura, 1995). Bandura identifies four sources of influence of the Self-efficacy: mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, social persuasion and emotional states. Mastery experiences are the most effective way to create a great sense of Self-efficacy as it is in fact the memory of past successful situations which people can cling to face future ones. Positive mastery experiences enforce Self-Efficacy, while negative mastery experiences weaken it. Vicarious experiences instead come from the observation of models: seeing people similar to oneself who earnest overcome difficult situations persuades the watcher to have the same skills too, whereas seeing someone who fails despite any efforts weakens one’s sense of Self-efficacy. Besides it is possible to improve self-efficacy every time people are verbally persuaded to have good skills to achieve, this is the case of social persuasion. Though with less intensity than with the mastery experiences, the way we are judged can exerts a strong influence on our self-belief. The fourth source of Self-efficacy is represented by the emotional states. People consider very often that one’s skills are strictly related to the way they feel in a particular moment, so that a state of stress or tension is considered as a harbinger of failure. People with a high sense of Self-efficacy use these kinds of emotional states to improve their performance, whereas people with a low sense of Self-efficacy consider them restrictive and debilitating for the activities they are engaged in (Bandura, 1977). The BET K-12 project applies this concept to two specific contexts: use of technologies and teaching activity. For this reason, the concept of Self-efficacy is split into Computer Self-efficacy and Teacher Self-efficacy of teachers attending the curriculum. According to Compeau & Higgins (1995), Computer Self-efficacy represents “an individual perception of his or her ability to use computers in the accomplishment of a task”. A Teacher’s Self-efficacy belief, instead, “is a judgment of his or her capabilities to bring about desired outcomes of student engagement and learning, even among those students who may be difficult or unmotivated” (Bandura, 1977).


Locus of Control refers to one’s belief in his or her abilities to control life events (Rotter, 1966). This concept is related to the Social Learning Theory (Rotter, 1954), which explains how reinforcements can impact human behaviors. According to this theory behavior is guided by reinforcement, both positive and negative, and through this it is possible to modify one’s belief of what controls life’s events. Individuals with an internal Locus of Control believe that the events of their life are largely controlled and caused by his/her personal behavior. Conversely, individuals with external Locus of control believe that luck or fate are responsible for events of their lives. In order to measure quantitatively the abovementioned impact, a questionnaire has been designed that include the Computer Self-efficacy, Teacher Self-efficacy and Locus of Control methodologies. The Computer Self-Efficacy part has been based on the one proposed by Compeau and Higgins (1995), with some changes. The questionnaire contains 10 items that refer to the use of a piece of software in a given educational context; for each item a Likert scale (1 to 10 points) is provided, where 1 is “not at all confident” and 10 is “totally confident”. The 10 items will be repeated for all the technologies presented in the curriculum. For the Teacher Self-efficacy, the Teacher’s Sense of Efficacy Scale proposed by TschannenMoran and Wolfolk Hoy (2001) has been adopted. In this scale, 12 items (divided into 3 categories with 4 items each: “student engagement”, “instructional strategies” and “classroom management”) refer to different aspects of the teaching activity; for each question a Likert scale (1 to 9 points) is provided, where 1 is “nothing” and 9 is “a great deal”. Teachers will be required to answer these questions by indicating how much they feel able to accomplish given teaching activities. Rotter’s Locus of Control Scale (1954) has been adopted. This scale is composed by 29 pairs of statements. Teachers have to choose one statement in each pair: as a result, the position (internal or external) of the teachers’ Locus of Control is defined.

PhD Research My PhD research study focuses on the impact of ICT on teacher training in disadvantaged South African primary school. The research is strictly linked to a Joint Research Project between Switzerland and South Africa called MELISSA (Measuring ELearning Impact in primary Schools in South African disadvantaged areas). This project is funded by the Swiss Secretariat of Education and involved the Università della Svizzera italiana, the University of Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology for a duration of 36 month starting from November, 2008. My research is devoted to investigate the impact that the exposure to ICTs has on teachers attending an ICT learning experiences. Impact is investigated according to two dimensions: (1) how teachers’ own perception as effective teachers changes as much as they become ICTs confident (2) how the possibility to master ICTs enables teachers to acquire more self-esteem and to become active social players in their working contexts. Measuring the impact of initiatives envisioning the integration of ICTs in school activities is a crucial area of research. In fact, while there is a general belief that ICTs usage in disadvantaged communities and in their schools can be helpful (e.g. the OLPC, One Laptop per Child project, as well as the


telecentres movement), there is a need to more scientific grounded measures and guidelines, which can help in evaluating and designing effective, efficient and sustainable educational experiences. Moreover, also the beneficial impact of ICTs in schools has been recently questioned (e.g.: Cuban, 2001). The research focuses on teachers, first of all for their key role as mediators between ICTs and their pupils; second, because teacher training is a crucial aspect for increasing education perspectives and quality in developing countries (UNESCO 2001). References Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Towards a Unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, (84)2, 191-215. Bandura, A. (1995). Self-efficacy in changing societies. New York: Cambridge University Press. Compeau, D.R., & Higgins, C.A. (1995). Computer self-efficacy: Development of a measure and initial test. MIS Quarterly, 192, 189-211. Cuban, L. (2001) Oversold & underused computers in the classroom. Harvard University Press. Rotter J. B., (1954). Social learning and clinical psychology. New York: Prentice-Hall. Tschannen-Moran, M. & Wolfolk Hoy, A. (2001). Teacher efficacy. Capturing and elusive construct. Teaching and Teacher Education. (17), 783-805. UNESCO (2001) Teacher Education Through Distance Learning – Technology, Curriculum, Cost, Evaluation. Paris: UNESCO


Scot Frank

Digital Cultural Preservation in Western China During fall 2007 I conducted a training workshop for students in China on methods and techniques for digital cultural preservation. The training workshop lasted three weeks, though activities and progress continue to this day. This paper outlines the premise for the project to enable local cultural preservation, undertaken in western China during fall 2007, along with challenges and key insights gained from the work. While the content and focus of this paper is project specific, I hope the insights, recommendations, and unaddressed questions may be relevant to a wider domain of discussion within ICTD research, and to other geographic regions as well. This project is one part of four years of involvement within the Himalayan region, with two and a half years of on-the-ground fieldwork in areas including water and sanitation, rural energy generation, and biomass fuel use monitoring. Though this is the earliest ICTD-related project I was involved in within this geographic area, my efforts in this region have expanded and grown from the experiences that are described below. Particularly, this work benefited current communications-oriented projects I am currently working on in the areas of: water quality and sanitation mapping, reporting, and assessment using simple and portable test kits coupled with cell phone surveys; rural fuel use database tracking for environmental and health impact and outcomes, in addition to real-time energy project monitoring; and, price transparency in agricultural markets for rural farmers. Through previous work in 2006 that took me to Qinghai province, western China, I learned of the need within minority groups home to the region to document and preserve traditions of life that were becoming lost to abrupt changes in lifestyle through economic, environmental, and other external pressures. Students attending Qinghai Normal University (QNU) in the provincial capital, Xining, voiced this situation. At the time, there were two efforts underway in response to their request: 1) a music preservation project that taught students the basics of audio recording, which allowed them to return home over holidays to collect songs, poems, and other artifacts; and 2) a photo documentation project with similar goals and mechanics. Still, many students were interested in the medium of video, and using it to capture and portray a more full-sensory account of themes ranging from daily life, to wedding ceremonies, to celebrations during the New Year. At that time, there was no institutional knowledge within the area about either ethnographic work or the technical process of producing a movie, editing, and distributing it.


In response to the requests of these students I found and received grant and fellowship funding to return to the area. Though not formally trained in anthropological research, I did prepare technical instructions and workflows that would help partially address the needs as voiced by these students at QNU. To re-state a sampling of representative requests, I include the following quotes: "When I was young my family used to husk corn for two days at the end of harvest time. We would sing the corn-husking-song that one time each year. Now, we have machines to husk the corn and since I never learned the song from my grandmother, I never hear it when I go home today. Living in the city for three years I do not even remember what the song sounds like. Nearby my home, the other villages stopped growing corn." "I tried taking pictures of our New Year's celebrations but they just do not look the same as when I was there taking the pictures." "Some people in my village now have TVs. They enjoy watching music videos after dark. They like to see the colors and people, not just listen to them sing. Video is also a good way for me to tell my children the story of what their grandparents' life was like, so they can see it for themselves and know where they come from." Indeed, today, music and storytelling are two ways in which traditional knowledge and customs are passed down through generations. As activities and lifestyles change (e.g. the introduction of TVs, in front of which people in some areas now spend their time relaxing; or, the change from a nomadic to resettled life) there is the chance that with a transition over to other forms of media, prior elements of culture will be lost if the content does not follow that "medium" the same. In places where this has already started to happen, families will eat dinner around the TV while watching a VCD. It was the idea of the students with whom I worked that their self-produced documentaries could soon play center stage as a form of home entertainment and if this does not happen now they were certain it would be of interest to their children when they themselves start families. Students who participated in the training workshop had access to video cameras, which they at a previous time used to record daily life, festivals, and interviews in their home areas during holidays from school. These cameras were either borrowed from professors or lent by other development workers in the area. The training workshops were conducted for three hours per day, three days a week for three weeks. During these training sessions, students would work in pairs on a computer, following demonstrations and exercises. These thematic lesson sets covered a range of topics, including: video format and compression methods, editing, adding subtitles, narration, and distribution. Through question-and-answer periods and individual consultation, students had the opportunity to clarify instructions or confusing concepts. Between lesson days, students worked individually at applying techniques to their own footage.


At the end of the three-week period, three 30-minute documentaries were completed, and since that time another four documentaries were produced stemming from work begun during the training period. Henceforth, several student participants have gone on to graduate school where they are studying sustainable development and continuing to edit footage taken from their home areas, while others have returned to their villages to teach English and continue recording video. Many of these videos have been shown publicly inside and outside the country, while others are now archived and available to view online. Beyond the core student group, 12 younger students expressed interest in learning website design. Many of these students were participants in either the music or photography cultural preservation projects, and had desire to show their work to the world and find a home for it that will be accessible in the future. Having a website would allow these students to self-publish their work, regardless of their involvement in these more formally organized project efforts after they graduate. In addition to video-related training, lessons in basic website design was held for two hours over five sessions. Out of these students, two have continued on to directly apply these skills in implementing websites. Growing from this student group was interest from five recent alumnae of QNU who have started NGOs or are participating in other locally run development efforts. Similar instruction was provided to them over subsequent trips to the region, while support and assistance continues remotely over email and through phone conversations. From these activities, several challenges were realized or problems arose which are outlined below: • Internet and computer access. Although this project took place in a city where internet and computer access was readily available through internet cafes or could be obtained in a few select private residences of professors or foreigners working on development efforts, internet connections were inaccessible around the home areas of the participants. In considering ICTD projects, this limited access hinders work started in a computeravailable region for participants who are from or return to a computer-unavailable area. In particular, once students graduated from school they no longer had opportunities to maintain their skills or build upon work started earlier. Furthermore, many tasks that require certain software, such as for video editing or graphic design, were no longer available if the student did not have access to a private computer. • Speed and space. Hard drive and memory sizes along with computer performance were debilitating factors for students trying to edit videos. The rarity of such capable computers also limited the number of students who could participate and prevented flexible hours of use to meet their schedules. Often, the demands on computer hardware were too great to be met by the technology available to the students through friends, professors, or a school library.


• Computers vs. life. While the students participating in this project had above-average experience with and knowledge about computers compared to their peers or the general population in the area, many of the concepts and technologies were still very unfamiliar to the students. This proved an additional challenge above what can be expected in a more computer-rich environment where both experience and time spent on the computer is greater, providing intuition to aid the learning process. • Keeping time. Including limited access to a computer to practice lessons or develop their own projects, students were additionally victim to the demands of other coursework or activities. Though they had great interest in learning computer skills, the students' first priority was, necessarily, other work. • Technical disconnects. Although these students often used a computer in recent years and all had email addresses, with many able to touch-type, computer use and accessibility was very foreign to the village life from which they came to school. As a result, students did not feel comfort and confidence with outside technology in general, and particularly they did not feel any ownership in the field. This situation creates a barrier to an individual's future progress, with the challenge heightened after they return home to their families and traditional ways of life, further away from technology and even electricity in most cases. • Language barrier. All of the students were fluent in at least three languages several in five to seven though the specialized vocabulary and jargon commonly used to explain techniques or methods for using a computer were unfamiliar and proved a difficult obstacle to overcome. Among these specific challenges encountered, several more general concerns about and needs for research and practice in the field are raised below: • Simpler training materials are needed for computer technologies, concepts, and programs. From students to NGO workers, people in developing areas who may have familiarity with computers are likely unfamiliar with the jargon or terminology often used in typical educational materials available today. Especially with learners for whom English is a second language, words like "click", "mouse", "scroll", "exit-out", "rightclick", and others found in textbooks, online tutorials, or training videos prove especially difficult. In addition to the terminology used, the speed at which instructions are given in video training is often too fast. To note: participants involved in this project preferred this medium for learning, despite their trouble in understanding the video instructor. If instead these materials were provided in a clearly articulated and well illustrated manner, these materials could also be localized for increased reach. • Task-based training materials are needed for fundamental work commonly performed on the computer. Development workers are in need of specific knowledge on how to create a budget sheet, layout a document, re-size a photo, or send a file via email. With respect to the considerations addressed in the previous bullet point, simple goal-oriented training materials would increase productivity and capabilities of many small-scale nonprofit organizations whose workers usually come from a familiar yet weak background in computer use (often only with experience in web browsing and sending emails not the


tasks needed to run an organization or document a project). As Microsoft Windows XP is an OS commonly used (at least in China and India as per experience), one set of learning materials could be applicable for a wide-ranging audience. • Localization for context, lifestyle, and language. In addition to providing a translated interface or instruction set, many educational tools and materials or ways of explaining concepts are likely unfamiliar to people in societies where computer use is not prevalent, and common analogies are not relevant. Technology must be localized for context and lifestyle, in addition to language to receive successful adoption and a functional outcome. • Today's technology may have a bigger impact on tomorrow's e-waste. In addition to community and user buy-in of a technology, important measures must be taken to ensure clear mechanisms for monitoring of a project, and support must be available to provide maintenance in the case that the technology does fail after the provider (be it the government, a donor, or other) leaves. If expectations and hopes are raised during a technology's introductory stage, any failure to meet either the needs or promises made could result in a cataclysmic response to future development aid or technology adoption attempts. • Design for a need. When creating or adapting a technology, it is necessary for the developer to have an intimate understanding of the cultural context and problem to be addressed. These and other factors may be even more important than the technology itself though this can be hard to realize for a technologist, the person developing the technology, or for someone in Cambridge, MA, USA or Bangalore, India sitting in a desk chair that is a long-shot (on many levels) from the target community. Need-based, participatory and human-centric parameters should top the list of design constraints during project planning and assessment phases. • A simple and easy to use website CMS would greatly benefit many people and organizations in need of a web presence. After having worked locally and remotely with dozens of individuals who need a website to publish project reports, seek donations, or raise awareness, I find there is a demand to bridge a technology and accessibility gap similar to the one recently crossed in other areas of the world where writing a personal blog or using a social networking site is now an every-day habit. This is not to say these solutions will address those needs of students or aid workers in developing countries, however, appropriate and simple solutions are still lacking for this group. My findings suggest a great need for ICTD-related projects in western China (and similarly other areas) that focus on education of technology in a simple and appropriate way that empowers local people to accomplish goals independent of future outside help and become technologically self-sufficient. While developing technology instruction materials may be considered menial by many people knowledgeable in these areas, I believe there is potential to have a great impact on the ability of people and organizations to position themselves advantageously within the global technology community, and above that with a means for communication and collaboration previously out of reach.


Through my recent involvement in projects with citizen science at the core focus, I believe there are many approaches taken in other disciplines that can serve as models to adapt for ICTD research. In particular, a needs-based assessment, including participatory community involvement in the planning, design, and execution stages is critical to stress. The challenges within communications technologies, due to the use scenarios and assumptions upon which they build and the un-pedestrian work involved, fall victim to failure particularly when great technology disparities exist between the implementer and target community. However, as democratization of innovation continues, and communities have opportunity to develop their own technologies as opposed to falling into a feeling of sudden-poverty, this situation will improve and we will all benefit through a more level technology exchange through collaboration.


Marije Geldof
M.Geldof@rhul.ac.uk Department of Geography Royal Holloway, University of London Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX, UK What is your name? Marije Geldof Where do you currently live? Egham, United Kingdom What institution(s) are you associated with? Royal Holloway, University of London What is the basic domain/field/department you associate yourself with? All In which countries/states have you worked on project(s)? Ethiopia and Malawi Describe your current project(s) in less than 10 words each. The role of ICT in the lives of low-literate youth in Ethiopia and Malawi Name one thing you have learned about yourself through field experience in less than 10 words. There is no ‘right’ way Attach one photo that represents you, something you like, your work, your field experience, or your thoughts about ICTD, etc. Describe it in less than 10 words. ICTs have many lives in Malawi What are you looking forward to getting out of this workshop, in less than 10 words (or a few more)? Sharing ideas with others ************************************************************************

ICT4D: a disciplinary hotchpotch?
ABSTRACT This position paper addresses the disciplinary nature of ICT4D. It discusses disciplinary challenges and argues for a move towards transdisciplinarity. 1. INTRODUCTION The field of Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) brings together different disciplinary worldviews. Although this makes ICT4D an exciting field, it also brings great challenges in terms of marrying these different worldviews. As the term ICT4D is a composition of the broad terms ICT and development, it is open to different interpretations and consequently different disciplines. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) cover a wide range from more traditional technologies such as radio and television to more modern one such as computers and mobile phones. There tends to be more emphasis on the latter ones, which grants an important role for a discipline such as computer science and information systems (see for example Heeks, 2008), whereas the more traditional technologies call for involvement of disciplines such as media studies. The D for development also has room for different interpretations, such as the development of disadvantaged communities in general or more specifically of poor and marginalized communities in developing countries. The latter means an important role for disciplines related to development studies. Heeks (2008), who referred to ICT4D as Information and Communication Technologies for International Development, might have explicitly changed his interpretation of the D to indicate this specific focus on development studies. Although ICT4D is the term most widely used, acquainted variations of the term circulate, such as 25

Information Technology for Development (IT4D/ITD), Information and Communications for Development (IC4D/ICD) and Information and Communication Technology and Development (ICTD). A possible criticism to the latter term is that it leaves room for technological determinism with ICT as an end in itself, whereas for in the other terms implies ICT as a means to a development end. Thus, although many different disciplines can find shelter under the umbrella of ICT4D, for reasons of simplicity, this paper focuses on the three key disciplines that Heeks (2008) identified: computer science, information systems and development studies. 2. DISCIPLINARY CHALLENGES Disciplines are socially constructed and develop within a certain cultural environment. They are products of a particular culture and way of understanding the world and therefore subordinate to that culture and worldview (Sardar, 1999). Without their culture of origin, their reason for existence and meaning would diminish. Sardar (1999) for example argued that the disciplinary structure of modern knowledge is a direct reflection of the Western worldview and therefore does not have real meaning in non-Western cultures. ICT4D also runs a risk of mainly reflecting the Western worldview and therefore lacking meaning in the cultures it aims to support. Power relations exist both within and across these disciplinary cultures and they define for example who has authority to speak or how one learns to do the work of the discipline. Schoenberger (2001) identified the following products of disciplinary cultures: objects and methods of study, recognized practitioners of the discipline, values and ways of valuing, and identities. As a consequence disciplines have different forms of knowledge production and different epistemological commitments. This sometimes leads to conflicting views, which is most evident from tensions between qualitative, phenomenological approaches and quantitative, positivist traditions (Ramadier, 2004). Furthermore, as these disciplinary cultures and associated epistemological commitments shape our thinking about the world and understanding of ourselves, the resulting disciplinary identities are susceptive for something that is known as ‘occupational psychosis’ (Schoenberger, 2001, borrowing from Dewey) or ‘disciplinary orthodoxy’ (Suchman, 2007). This suggests that any disciplinary culture produces biased perceptions and blindness in the individual and therefore a tendency to understand everything within the intellectual concerns of one’s own disciplinary viewpoint. As (Dourish, 2001: 20) recognized ‘translating ideas between different intellectual domains can be both exceptionally valuable and unexpectedly difficult. One reason is that the ideas need to be understood within the intellectual frames that give them meaning, and we need to be sensitive to the problems of translation between these frames’. With different disciplines coming together, this is another challenge ICT4D faces. 3. DISCIPLINARITIES To indicate the collaboration between different disciplines the following terms are often used interchangeably, also in the ICT4D literature: multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity. However, although the boundaries between them are blurred, there are subtle differences between them. In multidisciplinarity different disciplines work together maintaining their disciplinary approaches and perspectives. As the prefix indicates interdisciplinarity means areas of overlap or intersection between disciplines are examined by specialists from different areas. Finally transdisciplinarity is meant to simultaneously combine the other two and rise above them by transgressing and


transcending disciplinary boundaries (Russell, 2008). Transdisciplinarity is meant to be more than the sum of its disciplinary components and focuses on how different forms of knowledge can be articulated together (Ramadier, 2008). It appreciates multiple levels of reality and is therefore based on ideas such as paradox, contradiction and coherence. As Ramadier (2008: 434) argued: ‘the objective is to preserve the different realities and confront them. Transdisciplinarity is based on a controlled conflict generated by paradoxes. The goal is not the search for consensus, but rather for coherence’. Consequently transdisciplinarity requires researchers to forget their entrenched disciplinary positions and baggage and distance themselves from the methods and points of view of their own discipline. This is easier said than done, as Winograd and Flores (1987:8) recognized: ‘it takes a careful selfawareness to turn the same gaze on our own lives and ‘unconceal’ our own tradition - to bring into conscious observation that which invisibly gives shape to our thought’. As the website of the ICTD conference series indicates, ICT4D has been moving from multidisciplinarity, the term used on the ICTD2006 and ICT2007 websites, towards interdisciplinarity, as the current ICTD2009 conference website indicates. The next challenge from here will be to move beyond that towards transdisciplinarity. 4. TOWARDS TRANSDISCIPLINARITY Heeks (2008) made a step in the direction of transdisciplinarity by identifying the need for ICT4D champions who are ‘tribids’, which means they have a reasonable and balanced understanding of the three key disciplines. Although these ‘tribids’ are still defined in terms of disciplinary boundaries, at the same time they incorporate going beyond and transgressing boundaries of disciplines. In addition, Heeks (2008) identified key contributions for each of the three disciplines: computer science provides insight about what is possible, information systems about what is feasible and development studies about what is desirable.

Figure 1: Interaction of disciplinary foci


How these different foci interact in practice is graphically represented in Figure 1. What is technically feasible is a subset of what is technically possible, whereas what is desirable intersects with those two. The different quadrangles are not meant to represent the different disciplinary boundaries, but rather the outcomes of their different foci, which can go beyond disciplinary boundaries. Furthermore, the quadrangles are by no means static, but rather fluid. They vary with each context and for example what is technically possible is subject to rapid change. Ideally ICT4D and therefore the tribids focus and keep up with the shaded area by adapting to the changes. For example a project that was desirable and feasible last year, might not be desirable anymore as a consequence of new technological possibilities. However, in reality the disciplinary puzzle is much more complex than just these three disciplines and their foci, with more paradoxes and contradictions that can be confronted through a transdisciplinary approach. 5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This work was supported by Microsoft Research through its European PhD Scholarship Programme 6. REFERENCES
Dourish, P. (2004) What we talk about when we talk about context. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 8(1), 19-30. Heeks, R. (2008) ICT4D 2.0: The Next Phase of Applying ICT for International Development. Computer, 41(6), 26-33. Ramadier, T. (2004) Transdisciplinarity and its challenges: the case of urban studies. Futures, 36(4), 423-439. Russell, A. W., Wickson, F. and Carew, A. L. (2008) Transdisciplinarity: context, contradictions and capacity. Futures, 40(5), 460-472. Sardar, Z. (1999) Development and the Locations of Eurocentrism. In Critical Development Theory: Contributions to a New Paradigm. London, Zed, 44-62. Schoenberger, E. (2001) Interdisciplinarity and social power. Progress in Human Geography, 25(3), 365-382. Suchman, L. A. (2007) Human-Machine Reconfigurations - Plans and Situated Actions 2nd Edition. New York, Cambridge University Press. Winograd, T. and Flores, F. (1987) Understanding Computer and Cognition. Reading, MA, Addison-Wesley.


Sokol Haxhiu

My Involvement in ICTD Research I have been involved in research in ICTD since my graduate studies, starting with a research paper on Internet Based Videoconference or H.323 protocol, continuing on by co-authoring a research study titled “Greece-Marketing Report, VSAT Receive-only Television” that presented the situation in Greece with regard to development for VSAT Receive-only Television and with the trends of development in that country. Also, I have participated in the role of expert in several research projects funded from the European Union's Sixth Framework Programme such as the SWEB Project that deals with secure, interoperable, cross border m-services contributing towards a trustful European cooperation with the non-EU member Western Balkan countries and the Score Project stands for Strengthening the Strategic Cooperation between the EU and Western Balkan Region in the field of Information and Communication Technologies Research. The SCORE Project also is financed from the European Union's Sixth Framework Programme. I have prepared and presented for ICANN Conference in Poland in 2006, a research on the state of telecommunications in Albania by focusing on the Domain Name System. The legal framework in Albania was analyzed and presented by concluded that “while a regulatory authority formally exists, its capacity to implement and enforce the modern framework is severely constrained by absence of the necessary secondary legislation” and also that “the pattern for developing the legal and regulatory framework should follow that of the European Union countries since the Government of Albania has committed itself in approximating its overall legislation with that of EU.” The latest research work that I have been involved has been the role of ICT in the educational system in Albania. In that paper, where I was one of the authors, we analyzed the current educational system in Albania and the problems that derive from having a static, non-interactive and non-collaborative educational system in the country. My work was primarily focused on analyzing the success and failure cases of introducing ICT in the educational system in several other countries of the world and based on results make recommendations of the best approach of introducing ICT in education in Albania. I will present below the challenges of participating in the Education Research Project. Challenges of Research Project in Education


The first challenge of this project was the number of researchers involved; all together we were four (4) researchers. This was the first time that I had to work in a research project with four (4) other researchers, where with two (2) of them I didn’t have any prior cooperation or association. In my opinion, in order to have a very effective team work and produce qualitative outputs, it takes a cohesive team where researchers know eachother, are aware of each-others advantages and disadvantages, and have had prior experiences in working together. In this particular case, first there was not a strong cohesion of the team and second there was no sufficient time in order to create the necessary cohesion. The process of division of work, tasks, and assignments took some time since we were not aware of other’s expertise and second as it will be explained below, there was no one in the leadership position among researchers. The recruitment of us as researchers was done by an NGO that was the direct beneficiary of this research. The lack of sufficient time for creating the necessary cohesion brings up another issue faced during our research. This issue has to do with limitations that are set to us as researchers by the beneficiary of the research. In our case, the beneficiary and at the same time the sponsor of this research was an NGO in Albania. The NGO, even before launching the research, had fixed dates about delivery the research and presenting it. Meanwhile, in my view, the team of researchers had to be approached and asked with regard to the possible timeframe for carrying out this research activity. Because in case of a limited timeframe set by the interested party, as it was in this case, we were faced with issue of doing considerable and time-consuming research in a shortest possible time by risking to compromise the quality of the research and the very results of this research. In my view, the institution that orders the research, that in our case was an NGO, should be careful to include the researchers in each and every step, otherwise the chances are that people not familiar with a research activity will have to make decision for researchers. The financing of this research was another issue. The funds offered from the NGO for this research were very limited and definitely not sufficient in order to carry a full-fledge research activity involving four different researchers. The financing of this research was presented by the NGO more as another activity that they needed to carry out in order to spend a certain amount of money available. Another problem was the absence of the technology capacities inside Albania that can support the collaboration and partnership for this research. For example the educational and research institutions are not connected to broadband infrastructure and there is a lack of information flow from and between institutions. Hence, it was quite a challenging task to secure the necessary information for the research. Securing of important information and data necessary for research resembled a job of continuously knocking in different doors and obtaining fragmented information and then sitting down and putting all the pieces together in order to make sense of that information.


As explained above, we were four different researchers involved in this particular research without any prior experience in working together and we all were considered equal and no one was appointed in the role of the group leader. With passing of time, I also found out that none of us wanted to assume the role of the group leader. The absence of a leader, in my view, caused some unnecessary delays during the decisionmaking process. Often, the work of everybody is the work of nobody and this is true even in a research activity. There were many odd situations where decisions had to be taken and tasks had to be assigned and we simple made every effort to cooperate with each-other and try to take decisions together in our common interest without hurting anybody’s feelings. In the end of this research activity, our team had to come with clear recommendations regarding the steps that the Government of Albania needs to take in order to secure a sustainable process of introducing ICTs in education system. Those recommendations, of course, had to derive from analysis of facts and data presented in the paper and as a result all four of us had different ideas of what recommendations are most needed at this time and what the order of importance had to be. Logically, each one of us was involved in different part of research and during the time of activity, we developed a closer association to our part of research and as the result we felt the recommendations from our part were more important than others. As a consequence, we had to brainstorm a lot and discuss among each-other by making the case for each of our recommendations. This was not necessarily a negative process, since caused constructive debate that brought out some very important finding of our common work. In the final stage of our research, we organized a round-table meeting with several stakeholders from the educational and technological field where we presented our finding and stimulated a discussion among each-other. The outcomes of discussions were inserted in the final research report. The problem with this stage was that the participants often would deviate from the focus of meeting and start up discussions or topics for issues or problems that were not the objective of our research. We organized two different meetings within an interval of two weeks. As such, the moderation of such meetings became a very important aspect in order to keep the meetings focused and within the framework of our research activity. On the positive side, this research was presented to the Albanian Ministry of Education with the idea of presenting the finding to the Albanian Government and also assisting the Government in understanding the importance of ICT in education and knowing the right path to go for successful introduction of ICT in this very important field.


Aditi Sharma Grover
asharma1@csir.co.za Human Language Technologies Group Meraka Institute, Council for Industrial & Scientific Research P. O. Box 395 Pretoria,South Africa What is your name? Aditi Sharma Grover Where do you currently live? Pretoria, South Africa What institution(s) are you associated with? Meraka Institute, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South Africa University of Pretoria What is the basic domain/field/department you associate yourself with? Human language technologies Technology Management In which countries/states have you worked on project(s)? Botswana, South Africa Describe your current project(s) in less than 10 words each. A Setswana spoken dialogue system for providing health information to caregivers of HIV+ children A spoken dialogue system for community development workers in South Africa. Name one thing you have learned about yourself through field experience in less than 10 words.Unless you get out there, you'll never REALLY know how the systems you design will get used ! Attach one photo that represents you, something you like, your work, your field experience, or your thoughts about ICTD, etc. Describe it in less than 10 words. "What have you got for ME ?" What are you looking forward to getting out of this workshop, in less than 10 words (or a few more)? Meet and learn from other ICTD researchers experiences in different developing world regions. ************************************************************************ I. RESEARCH INTERESTS My research interests lie in employing speech technologies in useful and innovative ways to serve developing regions. My current focus is on multilingual information access through spoken dialogue systems (SDS) for low and semi literate users in developing regions. II. CURRENT ICTD WORK My experience with ICTD has been through the Openphone project, a pilot HIV/Aids community oriented SDS service that makes use of language technologies to address the informational needs of caregivers of HIV positive children in Botswana. A caregiver is any individual who takes care of an HIV positive child; it may be the child’s parents (who themselves might be HIV positive), other family members or an unrelated community member. Openphone started off with the establishment of a partnership with Baylor, a specialised paediatric institute in Gaborone, Botswana who provides medical treatment to over 2100 children infected with HIV. Baylor also provides free lectures for caregivers three times a week, where many aspects of HIV/Aids, antiretroviral (ARV) medication are explained and advice is given on how to live with the condition.


Our initial investigations started with interviews and discussions with Baylor doctors, nurses, a social workers and caregivers themselves. This revealed that there were several challenges in educating caregivers about taking care of a child with HIV. We found that caregivers often struggle to recall material covered in the lecture sessions, and they often have often have questions regarding general health information (topics beyond Baylor lecture coverage), for example, nutritional needs of the child, hygiene requirements for living with HIV. Most caregivers were from semi- and low literate populations thus written material could not be used for reinforcement and support of Baylor’s lectures. Also majority of the caregivers are uncomfortable with English, thus Baylor lectures and all interactions with caregivers are in the local language Setswana. Lastly, travelling to Baylor for health information queries is prohibitive due to transportation and time costs and although caregivers are encouraged to call Baylor with their questions, most are reluctant (and unable) due to the high costs of mobile phone calls. These issues formed the basis for the design of a health information SDS. We assembled the content of the SDS from a variety of sources; Baylor’s own lecture materials, staff interviews, and medical handbooks. We held focus group sessions with caregivers to ensure that the content was locally relevant. We found that the topics in our content were mostly inline with what caregivers proposed in the focus groups. However, the topics’ ranking done by the caregivers varied from ours, for example, they ranked Hygiene & Cleanliness as most important which we had thought was secondary to ARV medication. Our experience in employing multiple data-gathering techniques in the design process (interviews and discussions, observations, field visits, and focus groups) better equipped us in trying to comprehend the needs of our users. The interviews and discussions helped us establish a rapport with our users and stakeholders (Baylor staff), whilst also providing the flexibility of follow-up questioning and recalibration of interviewer terminology when needed. Observations on the other hand helped to further reveal the issues that users are unable or unwilling to articulate or express. Field work allowed us to pick up on the cultural nuances and socialeconomic context of the users and enabled us to gain a deeper understanding of the sensitive environment (HIV/health) we were working in. Finally, through focus groups we were able to observe the interaction amongst caregivers and most importantly it enabled us to obtain specific targeted design information in a group setting and correct our earlier assumptions on the ranking of SDS health topics. The content creation process for the project was a learning experience, in that it was not a simple matter of identifying relevant sources, but involved many weeks of filtering the volumes of content sources to come up with the right subset suitable for the local context and a SDS and then crafting this primarily text-based health content into spoken speech and simple language. For instance, words like “lower cranium” will have little meaning for semi & low literate users; such references were translated into more accessible language, using terminology and metaphors used by Baylor staff in their lecture sessions. For example, the white blood cells are the ‘soldiers’ of the body, and ARV medication is the´‘ammunition’ for these soldiers. Since user interaction with an SDS is based on audio modality, the system persona plays a crucial role. With our target audience we felt that this was an essential element in not only making the users feel comfortable in their interactions with the system but also make the user experience trustable. Thus, we drew out our ideal persona; a female mother-


tongue Setswana speaker, who sounds like a caring nurse willing to answer questions, has a full, mature, well-articulated voice which instils a sense of confidence and trust. We were fortunate to recruit a well-regarded local soap celebrity, which meant her voice would be familiar to many of the target users. This decision was rewarded in our pilot usability tests, with all our users responding that the ‘doctor’ or ‘nurse’ really “explained very well nicely” or “she spoke very patiently and clearly” We experienced that SDS design for smaller local languages introduces challenges in prompting and persona (this could also extend to other ICTD projects where there is local language content creation). The prompts and content of a SDS application will typically be translated from a language such as English to the local language. Thus, great care has to taken in the prompt writing phase (or content development phase of an ICTD project) to ensure that the intended meaning of the original prompt (English) is still preserved in the translated prompt (local language) and conveyed in the simplest and shortest way possible. Often, a concept described by a single word in English has no direct translation in another language. For instance, whereas a keyword in the English version of our SDS was “Safe food”, it became the phrase, “Dijo tse di siameng” after translation, in order to adequately describe the concept. Our pilot usability study revealed that many of our users were able to navigate the SDS but this was not without difficulty. They were a few cases of users not fully realising that the system was automated. For example, at the end of one call, a user proceeded to ask the ‘nurse’ (system persona) a question when prompted by the system to leave a comment (and waited for the answer). Another user repeatedly acknowledged what the ‘nurse’ was saying by responding with “Yes, yes” or “I agree with you”. But beyond these difficulties with the technology usage itself, we realised that standard HCI methods will inadvertently have to be adapted for developing regions if we want accurate feedback for evaluating ICTD projects. For instance, we found that the scores from our post study questionnaire based on Likert scales, were unreliable. Despite efforts to elicit honest, critical feedback to the system (for example, we had a different local facilitator in a separate room orally conduct the post-study evaluations), all caregivers gave the system the highest marks possible across all categories and were hesitant to provide any criticism. Similarly, the common usability studies’ practice of providing monetary/nonmonetary incentives in the developed world, may bias reliability of user feedback in ICTD projects, since users may try to please researchers inadvertently, upon learning that there is something being offered. This poses a dilemma for the researcher, who may need the incentive to actually entice users to take part in the study or may actually be providing an incentive as token of appreciation for the user’s time. We also faced the issue of task ambiguity as noted by other ICTD researchers [1], whereby our target users cannot completely relate to the standard usability practice of creating an artificial scenario and performing a task based on the scenario. To a large extent, we found that using the combination of a full-context video [1] and the Bollywood method to describe tasks [2] greatly assisted in solving this problem but a few users were still unsure about this make-believe scenario based on which they had to get information through the SDS or ended up imitating the task shown in the full-context video.


III. CHALLENGES IN ICT4D Challenges in ICTD research have been highlighted many a number of times; they are numerous and range from technical, environmental, cultural and social. Below are a few that I think are crucial to the success of ICTD projects. Although, the question of sustainability and scalability has been, explored in previous research, but there is a need for further work in ingraining these principles in ICTD. Sustainability and scalability should become a priority in planning for ICTD projects rather than a secondary issue. In some ways, we as ICTD researchers can view sustainability as an ethical standard for our research. In this light, whilst trying to obtain buy-in from our target communities we must be careful to set realistic expectations and be cognizant of the impact our proposed interventions may have. In the same vein, it would be nice to see more research in evaluating the long term impacts of ICTD projects, the methodologies thereof and the results of planning ICTD projects for impact as opposed to an attempt to bridge the digital divide. ICTD projects constantly refer to ‘low literacy’ users; however there is much room for interpretation in the term literacy (is it just the ability to read/write) as defined by standard measures. Thus, we may need to look beyond just correlating literacy with the ability to use technology and explore other factors that may affect the ability of a community to make use of a technological intervention. For example, one such factor that is often mentioned in ICTD speech interfaces’ research is ‘oral culture’ [3] whereby information is primarily passed on through verbal means rather than in written form and thus might be a reason why ICTD users have difficulty in visualising abstract notions such as menus. As a parting shot, one may notice in the call for papers from the previous ICTD conferences, the field is multidisciplinary and to do successful research in this field we need to be less technology centric and more human centric. Having a technical background myself, after my first few field visits I realised the importance of the development angle or ‘D’ as it has come to be referred in ICTD circles, that technology is “a means to an end” – a demand driven end. Thus at times technologists may need to acknowledge that the latest and greatest technology e.g. internet connectivity, may not be the ideal solution to the community’s needs but rather a simple solution that uses wellestablished technologies such as radio or television. Also, technologists, social scientists and development practitioners in ICTD projects need to be aware that they each form a crucial piece in solving the ICTD puzzle, without any one of these the puzzle would be incomplete. Thus our ICTD teams need to be multidisciplinary with enough synergy between the disciplines such that the multiple perspectives involved in ICTD are adequately catered for. REFERENCES [1] I. Medhi and K. Toyama, “Full-Context Videos for First-Time, Non-Literate PC Users” ”, in Proc. IEEE International Conference on Information and Communications Technologies and Development ‘07, Bangalore, India, Dec. 2007. [2] A. Chavan. 2007. Around the World with 14 Methods. Available at: http://humanfactors.com/downloads/whitepapers.asp (last accessed in April 2008) [3] E. Barnard, L. Cloete, and H. Patel. “Language and Technology Literacy Barriers to Accessing Government Services,” Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol. 2739, pp. 3742, 2003.


Thomas Smyth
thomas.smyth@gatech.edu What is your name? Thomas Smyth Where do you currently live? Atlanta, Georgia What institution(s) are you associated with? Technologies and International Development Lab, GVU Center, Georgia Institute of Technology What is the basic domain/field/department you associate yourself with? Computer Science, HCI In which countries/states have you worked on project(s)? Liberia, Ghana, Uganda Describe your current project(s) in less than 10 words each. Mobile video-sharing technology for post-conflict reconciliation in Liberia. Name one thing you have learned about yourself through field experience in less than 10 words. I know almost nothing about anything. Attach one photo that represents you, something you like, your work, your field experience, or your thoughts about ICTD, etc. Describe it in less than 10 words. Fetch hither la fromage de la belle France! Mmmmm! What are you looking forward to getting out of this workshop, in less than 10 words (or a few more)? A better idea of my/our place in international development. ************************************************************************ Statement of Position I am Thomas Smyth, a 2nd year Ph.D student at Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing, and a founding member of its Technologies and International Development Lab. My interest in ICTD has followed a tortuous path. Perhaps owing to a longstanding interest in travel and foreign cultures, I wound up as a CUSO volunteer in Ghana (a long way from my native Newfoundland) immediately following my bachelor’s degree in computer science. Beginning in the fall of 2003, I spent six months developing a software system for that country’s judicial service, thereby getting my first tastes of life in a developing country, the international aid apparatus, and fufu, among other things. It was an unforgettable experience. From Ghana I moved to SFU in Vancouver, BC in 2004 to start a master’s degree with a focus on HCI. While my African experience sparked some early interest in cross-cultural HCI, various circumstances steered my work at SFU toward haptic interfaces, which is about as far removed from international development as one could imagine (unless one counts the vibrate mode on the much celebrated mobile telephone). Sadly, at this point I knew nothing of the field of HCI4D, which was then just starting to emerge. Keen to remain in the cocoon of academia, I shuttled off to Georgia Tech to start a Ph.D, thinking this time information visualization would be my bread and butter. Wrong again. I quickly became bored and started looking for alternatives. I joined Michael Best’s group and began contributing to a project in Liberia.


That project, which still occupies the bulk of my attention, is investigating the role of new media technologies in the post-conflict reconciliation process in Liberia. We have designed a mobile video-sharing kiosk, shown above, which enables Liberians to record video messages, and to browse and watch messages recorded by others. We are conducting several studies investigating the design and impact of this technology. In summer of 2008, I was involved with a USAID project in Uganda, the goal of which was to create a digital surveillance and reporting infrastructure for that country’s veterinary service. Ideally, this would result in the use of computers and mobile phones to support better data gathering and dissemination, leading to fewer disease outbreaks in livestock populations. Unfortunately, the project was mired in bureaucracy, poor planning, and a problematic divison of labour, from the start. Very little was accomplished. Also in 2008, I participated in the HCI4D workshop at the CHI conference, which was one of an ongoing series of such workshops on that topic. At that event I met many ICTD researchers, many of whom I expect to see in Doha. I learned a tremendous amount about the field. Following that workshop, a subgroup of its attendees formed a group devoted to the sharing of field experiences in HCI4D. We organized semi-monthly phone calls, invited guest speakers, and co-authored a paper exhibiting stories from the field (currently under review). The group has grown considerably in size since then. My experiences with the projects discussed above, as well as my discussions with colleagues over the past year, have exposed several challenges for the field of ICTD that I consider to be central. The first is the task of building local capacity in ICT production and maintenance. So many of the challenges of building sustainable ICT systems in developing regions arise from the fact that the technology is developed by outsiders. This is a well-recognized and oft-repeated fact. The only way to fully avoid this is to develop the interests of local enthusiasts and entrepreneurs (and they are many) into full competence. Naturally, this has to start at the level of education. How ICTs can themselves support this process is an open and interesting question. The second challenge is a consequence of the fact that a staggering number of people in Africa can’t read, making most ICTs inaccesible to them. But this needn’t be the case. ICTs still have enormous potential for real utility even without reliance on print literacy. But current design practices are founded on a convenient, though unnecessary, assumption of literacy. This must change (and has begun to). Finally, I am intrigued by the potential meta-role that ICTs can play in making the very apparatus of international aid itself more effective and efficient. Scholars such as Bill Easterly and organizations such as Charity Navigator have commented on the problems with international aid. How can technology help to fix the misaligned incentives that produce such inefficiencies?


Dhanaraj Thakur
dthakur@gatech.edu Ph.D. Student School of Public Policy Georgia Institute of Technology What is your name? Dhanaraj Thakur Where do you currently live? Atlanta, USA What institution(s) are you associated with? School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA. What is the basic domain/field/department you associate yourself with? ICT policy In which countries/states have you worked on project(s)? Jamaica, Liberia, Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan, Canada Describe your current project(s) in less than 10 words each.Online deliberation among NGOs in the Caribbean Name one thing you have learned about yourself through field experience in less than 10 words. still learning... Attach one photo that represents you, something you like, your work, your field experience, or your thoughts about ICTD, etc. :) What are you looking forward to getting out of this workshop, in less than 10 words (or a few more)? learning about other aspects of ICTD outside my work ************************************************************************ Perspectives on ICTD Research Background My previous research revolves around my various interests in ICTD. These includes: • the role of developing countries in global internet governance regimes – focused on the South Asian group of countries. • telecoms policy reform in developing countries including how a bilateral development agency (USAID) supported telecoms policy development in Nigeria. • Telecoms policy processes in post conflict states – case study of Liberia • Telecenter development strategies – survey of users in Kyrgyzstan. • The distributional consequences of open source software – using cases from Mozambique, Costa Rica and Argentina • Differential socio-economic benefits from mobile phones in Jamaica. • My dissertation looks at factors influencing online deliberation among NGOs in the Caribbean The Challenges of doing research in ICTD For purposes of discussion at the workshop I want to briefly discuss two issues which I think are fundamental to carrying out research in this area but which also bring up several challenges: the interdisciplinary nature of ICTD and some inherent problems of studying development (or international development as it is referred to in the US). Neither of these is new but I want to share some of my thoughts on these. Doing research in any interdisciplinary field is difficult not because of all the social scientists running around speaking different scientific languages but because some tend


to gloss over the line between a scientific discipline and a phenomenon for study. ICTD is a phenomenon that we study; it is not a discipline. That is we will have economists, political scientists, anthropologist, and so on who are all interested in ICTD. They will use the tools and more importantly the underlying epistemology of their respective fields in their research. Thus there is an anthropological way to view the world while there is no corresponding ICTD viewpoint. Ultimately I think this issue is linked to a question of identity. Here we are at this ICTD conference, but are you here as a researcher (sociologist/whatever) studying ICTD or an ICTD researcher? While this might appear obvious to some, we should think about what this means for our work. For example as with other interdisciplinary fields there seems to be a constant worry that the research coming out of ICTD is too atheoretical. That is many of us ask and pursue research questions that do not necessarily stem from a body of theory probably because we are not a sociologist studying ICTD we are an ICTD researcher. That said interdisciplinary researchers and those who have varied scientific backgrounds can refer to theories from specific disciplines. This in fact would be the ideal, but I think by drifting into a category of ICTD researcher one finds it harder to define one’s theoretical home. Not impossible just harder. Nevertheless I feel there are many benefits to interdisciplinary research such as ICTD, the least of which is to bring many different eyes to bear on the problem. While this is welcome it has implications for how we should educate those interested in ICTD. For example, we could have people going along in their separate disciplines and then possibly run into each other in the field or at a conference. Alternatively, we could have departments that focus on ICTD which could possibly teach a mix of classes from various disciplines. The right option depends on one’s chosen identity as a researcher; but like all “young researchers” the question of identity is perhaps really difficult to answer the earlier we are in our education (not to mention career). Thus I think the concomitant question is at what point should interdisciplinary education begin – at the masters, PhD or even post-doctoral level? The other challenge that I want to discuss is the concept of development. I feel that a lot of ICTD research leaves out the D in ICTD. Again another old refrain but I think this is important. The purpose of all ICTD research is to improve the conditions of development for the country(s) in question. But I think we do not fully appreciate this at least in terms of what development means. There is in fact a vast literature on development that can help inform our work and move us beyond simple references to the HDI and GDP of a country to concepts of empowerment, capability, freedom, self-efficacy, inequality, culture, power and discourse among others. However, it could well be that one result of an interdisciplinary field is that we sometimes have to resort to the lowest common denominator to define development. In that case indicators such as the HDI, GDP, etc. are the easiest to use. I would argue that this is not enough however. We have to tap into the rich tradition of work that has improved our understanding of the whole notion of development. There are in fact papers at this conference which do just that. But this is something that we should all endeavor to do. For example, do we simply label our work as ICTD just because it’s dealing with a developing country? Suppose we ask the question how do people use mobile phones in the villages of Qatar? If we replaced Qatar with Norway then we can


simply substitute for contextual factors without touching the issue of development. Now suppose we ask in what ways can mobile phone use in Qatari villages improve trade related income? If we substitute for Norway we are still asking a development related question. Thus to go back to my initial question, I don’t think that by simply studying ICTs in a developing country you are researching ICTD. Finally, although I have not defined development (which by the way is central to another interdisciplinary field: development studies or international development!) I wanted to mention a quote that I have seen before and is perhaps known. I think this is an ideal of development that we should strive for as scientists who are trying to understand the world and ultimately ourselves. This quote might sound a little nebulous but I think we are what we do… An Australian Aborigine described one possible set of connections between the rich and poor in this way: If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.


Ugo Vallauri
U.Vallauri@rhul.ac.uk PhD Student, ICT4D Collective Royal Holloway, University of London ICT and Grassroots Rural Development in Kenya Both the beauty and the curse of the ICT4D (or ICTD) sector lies in its multi disciplinarity. If it were not for the problematic, yet necessary, complexity of fields and perspectives surrounding the study, development and implementation of Information and Communication Technologies for development, I would most likely not be in this area of research. I will start by explaining how I ended up working in this sector, because I believe it is very relevant to the challenges and the opportunities that lie within ICT4D. My previous academic background is in Communications and Media Studies, with a focus on New Media and their impact on traditional forms of journalism discourse. My first direct impact with issues of development dates back to 2003, when I began working for a non-profit organization concentrating on the use of communication to promote sustainable farming communities in remote regions of the world. At the time I was already relying tremendously on the Internet and on contemporary communication tools to conduct my job. And yet the very subjects of my work – remote, marginalized farming communities – were traditionally disconnected from computers, Internet or mobile phones. Reflecting on my experience, I began to realize the paramount importance of access and presence in the emerging online global public sphere, especially for marginalized communities worldwide, as a source for cooperation opportunities which would otherwise be missed. Nonetheless, I fully realize these words can today sound provocative – especially in the light of the debate on access vs. effective use of ICT. As a response to this reflection, in 2006 I began working in Nairobi in Research & Development for Computer Aid International, a charity whose main focus had until then been the distribution of affordable refurbished PCs to educational and non-profit organizations across Africa and Latin America. Initially, my role was primarily to investigate new opportunities for assisting rural communities to gain access to computers and the Internet by analyzing pioneering initiatives that have been successful (or claim to be successful) in applying renewable energy and wireless networks for connectivity in remote areas. Numerous visits to rural ICT initiatives across SubSaharan Africa provided me with the opportunity to start a critical analysis of the relationship between ICT and rural grassroots development, the analysis currently at the heart of my PhD. Challenges (and Opportunities) of ICT4D Research In my experience, all of the difficulties of conducting research in ICT4D are interconnected together. They should not be seen as limiting obstacles, but instead as opportunities to further evolve the sector and to develop new multidisciplinary synthesis between technological and developmental perspectives. The issues below are all central to my work.


Rural ICT There are countless reports on the importance of rural development and on the role of ICT in contributing to the creation of development opportunities. However, evidence of the actual impact of ICT in poverty reduction in rural, marginalized communities as a whole is not yet so compelling. The literature is rich of individual case studies pointing to anecdotal evidence of the impact of a technology (or service) on the life of a specific target user groups, but it is rear to find studies analyzing the relationship between the introduction of a range of ICT and the overall poverty reduction in a particular rural developing region or community. Most reports and action plans focus on the implementation of necessary infrastructure and on the importance of the “enabling environment”. The missing links are studies documenting actual changes (or lack thereof) in the functioning and dynamics of rural marginalized communities following widespread adoption of multiple ICT solutions at all levels. This is clearly an opportunity for researchers, but it demands long-term initiatives with a focus on macro level and less attention to individual success stories. Technological Hype Due to the multidisciplinary nature of ICT4D, tensions often arise between researchers coming from different backgrounds, for example between experts in development studies and computer science. Even more importantly, the ICT4D sector as a whole seems quite permeable to cycles of technological “hype”. After the cycle dedicated to the OLPC project and its ideology of the “$100 laptop”, we are now in a phase of extreme attention for anything mobile, and ICT4D is quickly replaced by M4D in the mind of researchers, funders and development agencies alike. This tendency to polarize the ICT4D discourse over specific tools and products is problematic because with each new technological wave there is a tendency to disregard whatever had been achieved in previous technological “seasons”. The less fashionable alternative is to consider new tools and technologies in the context of an overall communication ecology, where new technologies and services interact with existing ones, modifying their roles but rarely rendering them irrelevant. In addition to this, the hype surrounding new technological advances poses delicate ethical questions for researchers: how can one deny the attractiveness of the M4D sub-sector of ICT4D, especially given the mix of urgency and growing availability of funding for research involving mobile phones? What Development? The ICT4D sector rarely focuses on the “D” to question and investigate the kind of development promoted by the introduction of new ICT tools and services. The mainstream assumption is still for the introduction of ICT to be a vehicle transforming a marginalized community into a “developed” one, merely equating development with economic growth. Not only this is a popular view among ICT4D experts, but it is also often undisputed by government officials of the countries actually implementing ICT4D programs. As a result, ICT4D tends to reinforce the existing neoliberal, market-driven agenda and to little challenge the status quo. Such trends are for example visible in initiatives studying the role of ICT in developing the agricultural sector of a specific


region, taking for granted that an increase in agricultural outputs of cash crops will result in a steady export, a reliable source of income and an improved livelihood for the community at large. While the role of ICT as a catalyst for economic growth cannot be underestimated, research in ICT4D needs to become more courageous in systematically studying the opportunities for alternative models of development. Focusing on the range of diverse and unique opportunities that ICT can provide for marginalized communities to collectively design and implement their own development, ICT4D can gain further ground and credibility, repositioning itself truly on the side of the poorest of the poor.


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