Book launch

During the 6th Symposium “Perspectives on ICT4D”, on 23 May 2019 a new book about ICT4D was officially launched by Anna Bon:
Intervention or Collaboration? Rethinking Information and Communication Technologies for Development.

While several textbooks on ICT4D exist (see below),  a comprehensive textbook on how to develop ICTs that serve “unconnected people’s” own operational goals and objectives, was still lacking.

This new book provides practical methods how to “do” ICT4D in a collaborative way. The methods have been designed, developed and tested, in real world contexts in rural areas of West Africa. The case studies in this book are informative and detailed. This can be a source of inspiration for students and practitioners — experienced or new — in the field of ICT4D. The book, which is the results of 10 years field research in a multi-cultural, trans-disciplinary team, shows how socio-technical innovation is a networked process, driven by local agency, diffusing and evolving in a complex world.

Apart from its practical, problem-solving aspects, the book is critical at interventionist development frames, that are part of conventional development paradigms.  The book criticizes mainstream ICT4D policy and projects, showing how top-down interventions and  linear transfer of technologies & knowledge still reign supremely in international development. It proposes trans-disciplinary collaboration as an alternative:

“.. an important lesson I learned during the past ten years is that achievement is more than the sum of individual efforts, and that there is no better way of learning and innovating than through collaboration, commitment and friendship, in a non-formal, non-hierarchical, self-organizing and forward looking team. This is the best way to tackle complex problems and cope with unexpected events. It is how I wish to work. It is the central message of this book.”

A first exemplar of the book was handed over by the author to her colleague Francis Dittoh, who is an ICT4D researcher and lecturer at the University for Development Studies (UDS) in Ghana and at VU. UDS and VU have a long history of collaboration in the field of ICT for rural development, in unconnected regions of the world.

Other textbooks on ICT4D — less practically oriented and less polemical — present social studies of technology and ICT4D policy, from an interpretivist, social constructivist or management information system’s perspective.

[1] Heeks, Richard. Information and communication technology for development (ICT4D). Routledge, 2017;
[2] Unwin, P. T. H. Reclaiming information and communication technologies for development. Oxford University Press. 2017;
[3] Kleine, Dorothea. Technologies of choice?: ICTs, development, and the capabilities approach. MIT Press, 2013.
[4] Unwin, P. T. H., ed. ICT4D: Information and communication technology for development. Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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