Reflections on the young researchers’ workshop at ICTD2009, Doha

Suq smallSitting in the young researchers’ workshop here in Doha, amidst the splendour of the new Carnegie Mellon University campus, brings together a random series of unconnected thoughts about ICT4D:

  • much academic discourse plays to the tunes of conductors who are not necessarily particularly interested in the needs of the poorest and most marginalised
  • we need to break free from the shackles of traditional disciplinary frameworks
  • please let’s not try to create a single ICT4D ‘discipline’ – the exciting things happen at the edges, where we bring together contrasting ideas and arguments!
  • a huge amount of literature has already been published on ICT4D – let’s stop trying to reinvent the intellectual wheel.  Let’s engage with the really exciting ideas and arguments that are already there – and take them forward.  Let’s bring theory and practice together in innovative ways.  Let’s try to make a difference!
  • as I get older, the more I realise how little I know.  Academic ICT4D could do with a huge dose of humility!
  • there really is a difference between ICT4D and ICTD – which is why I believe so passionately in the ‘4’
  • we need to work much harder at learning each other’s languages – both culturally and academically
  • I am reminded about the line in Michael Moore’s film SiCKO, which commented that America is about ‘me’ whereas Europe is about ‘we’.  I think there is an important truth somewhere in this, although certainly Europe is becoming more about ‘me’ than ‘we’, and there are huge dangers in essentialist arguments such as this!  If ICT4D is to move forward, we do need to do it collaboratively – hence why I believe so strongly in the importance of our work being part of a Collective adventure
  • there is a real contrast between sitting here in the plush air-conditioned lecture theatre, and the harsh reality of life for out of school youth on the streets of Addis Ababa or the amputees in camps in Sierra Leone – how can ICTs be used to support these people in their life aspirations?


Filed under ICT4D

2 responses to “Reflections on the young researchers’ workshop at ICTD2009, Doha

  1. khalid Fares

    Great stuff, we need to teach teachers and ask them to practice theories of development and change. In Middle East, teachers (K12 or universities) are technically oriented resting on single discipline), lack basic philosophical concepts (power, emancipation, democracy, communication, language, mind, etc…). Philosophy to them is only linked to politics and since we lack democratic systems as social systems, we tend to let philosophy fall apart. The second challenges, linked to the first, excessive focus empirical studies (i.e.. increasing our level of experience but not our understandings), but the agenda of the empirical studies is set by the commercial sector: who can finance and pay, commercialization.
    CMU prevented 10’s of elites and focused groups from attending the conf. Does that mean CMU follow pure commercial model, even for ICT4D, use the shift key in the keyboard it become ICT$D?.


  2. Pingback: Wandering the World… » Ask Anything: A session with Prof Tim Unwin, UNESCO Chair in ICT4D

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