Accelerating development using the Web


George Sadowsky’s new edited book entitled “Accelerating development using the Web: empowering poor and marginalised populations” has just been launched at the WSIS Forum in Geneva.  This contains some really excellent material, and is an important resource for those interested in exploring ways through which the Web can be used by some of the world’s poorest and most marginalised people to enhance their lives. Generously supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, and produced in partnership with the World Wide Web Foundation and the UNDP, this book is designed as “a compendium of articles by recognized experts describing the real and potential effects of the World Wide Web in all major aspects of economic and  social development”.  Many of the authors combine academic and practical experience, and so this book is much more than just an arid digest of academic thinking on the subject.  It also challenges many of the taken for granted assumptions about the Web, and examines the structural conditions that limit its use by the poorest of the world’s people.  Chapters cover the following main themes:

  • Chapter 1 – Introduction (George Sadowsky)
  • Chapter 2 – Fundamental Access Issues (Michael Jensen)
  • Chapter 3 – Technical Access Issues (Alan Greenberg)
  • Chapter 4 – Policy Access Issues (Cynthia Waddell)
  • Chapter 5 – Governance (Raúl Zambrano)
  • Chapter 6 – Agriculture (Shalini Kala)
  • Chapter 7 – Health (Najib Al-Shorbaji)
  • Chapter 8 – Education (Tim Unwin)
  • Chapter 9 – Commerce and Trade (Torbjörn Fredriksson)
  • Chapter 10 – Finance (Richard Duncombe)
  • Chapter 11 – Gender (Nancy Hafkin)
  • Chapter 12 – Language and Content (Daniel Pimienta)
  • Chapter 13 – Culture (Nnenna Nwakanma)
  • Chapter 14 – Conclusion

It was great fun working with George and the team on this project, and I do hope that those who read it will find a sense of our commitment, enthusiasm and, at times, outrage.  The Web is in danger of becoming a vehicle through which greater divides are created in our societies.  We have to take specific actions if the enormous benefits that it can provide are to be made available to all of the world’s people.  This is most definitely not the same as saying that access to the Web should be a human right – something that I  most profoundly disagree with.  However, it is most certainly to suggest that we cannot simply take it for granted that providing Internet access will without question benefit the poor. If the poor and the marginalised are indeed to benefit from the Web, there have to be clear mechanisms that enable them to use it to deliver on their needs and aspirations.

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1 Comment

Filed under Development, ICT4D

One response to “Accelerating development using the Web

  1. Thao

    Excellent book! This really resonates “However, content is probably the least valuable thing that a university has. What matters most is the intellectual capacity of its researchers, their ability to inspire new generations of learners, and the ways in which they debate
    and engage with students”. It’s not uncommon to hear instructional designers of elearning say: “Content is king” – you rightly pointed out that content isn’t particularly useful on its own without context. I really like the clear 5 points that you laid out at the beginning of the chapter too. I’m inspired that you find time to contribute to this book given your crazy schedule.

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