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Readings/Resources

A collection of readings and web resources focused on various aspects of C4G.

Some material refers frequently to  ICT4D – Information and Communications Technology for Development – that emphasizes C4G work in developing countries.

For copyright material (such as articles in ACM and IEEE publications), a link is given to the abstract in the appropriate digital library. GT faculty and students can obtain the actual document through the GT Library’s subscription.

General Material

  • Kentaro Toyama, “Can Technology End Poverty?” The Boston Review, November/December 2010, http://www.bostonreview.net/BR35.6/toyama.php (Recommended by Michael Best) A very thoughtful discussion of how attempts to use ICT to end poverty can go astray, by an MSR researcher who went to India to help start a lab there. Includes a forum (http://www.bostonreview.net/BR35.6/ndf_technology.php) of commentary by Negroponte and others, sometimes taking issue with Toyama, sometimes agreeing – and then a ‘rebuttal’ article by Toyama pulling together threads from his article and the commentary.  Very engaging!
  • Michael Best, “Understanding our Knowledge Gaps: Or, Do we have an ICT4D field? And do we want one?” Publius Project, February 2010, http://publius.cc Short (3 pages) piece asks whether ICT4D is a research field, suggests how it can be one, and suggests four ‘challenge’ domains for research: post-conflict computing, HCI4D, appliances, and ICT4D project sustainability.
  • Michal Best and Rajendra Kumar, “Sustainability Failures of Rural Telecenters: Challenges from the Sustainable Access in Rural India (SARI) Project,” Information Technologies and International Development, Fall/Winter 2008, pp 31-45. The Sustainable Access in Rural India (SARI) project enjoyed many successes, including palpable—albeit localized—social and economic development impacts as well as the incubation of an—albeit inconsistently—celebrated ICT for development start-up company (n-Logue Communications Pvt. Ltd.). Ultimately, however, the SARI project did not sustain itself. In the particular outcomes reported here, we follow the prospects of 36 private telecenters which were opened at various times between November 2001 and February 2004. By May 2005, 32 of these 36 telecenters had closed. However, in the same time period, most of 42 telecenters in the same area that were opened and run by a local NGO continued to function. We provide a comparative analysis between these two groups of facilities. We find that the best explanation for variation in a kiosk lifespan was their level of satisfaction with n-Logue Communications. Moreover, those sites that did express satisfaction with their institutional and technical support were in service for, on average, an additional year compared with dissatisfied sites. In addition, we find that the lack of long-term financial viability was a major reason for the closure of the private telecenters. Financial sustainability was not realized by many centers; indeed, 85% of the operators interviewed cited finances as a major cause for their closure. Finally, telecenters that were owned by individuals with prior training in computers, or that had a separate trained operator, remained operational for a longer period.
  • Michael Best and Colin Maclay, “Community Internet Access in Rural Areas: Solving the Economic Sustainability Puzzle,” In “The Global Information Technology Report: Readiness for The Networked World. G. S. Kirkman, Cornelius, P.K., Sachs, J.D. & Schwab, K. New York, Oxford University Press: 76-88. Economic self-sustainability for the Internet in rural areas is key if we want to avoid common development failures associated with donor initiatives, empower local communities, use the market to vet demand and interest, and ultimately link to real and legitimate development objectives. Our research has suggested that there are a handful of crucial issues determining the economic viability of the Internet in rural areas: costs,
    revenues, networks, business models, policy, and capacity. Business, government, and nonprofit institutions have different roles and capabilities in pushing these drivers, and while they may have occasionally competing interests, they have an overriding and common goal in economically sustainable access to ICT in rural areas.
  • Sarah Underwood, “Challenging Poverty,” Communications of the ACM, August 2008. A three-pager that describes some of the challenges of ICT4D in third-world countries and several projects in Africa, India and Pakistan.
  • Richard Heeks, “ICT4D 2.0: The Next Phase of Applying ICT for International Development,” IEEE Computer, June 2008, IEEE Digital Library link:  http://www.computer.org/portal/web/csdl/doi/10.1109/MC.2008.192    Use of information and communication technologies for international development is moving to its next phase. This will require new technologies, new approaches to innovation, new intellectual integration, and, above all, a new view of the world’s poor.
  • Randy Spence with Matthew Smith, “Information and Communication Technologies, Human Development, Growth and Poverty Reduction: A Background Paper,” Berkman Center (Harvard) Publius Project, http://publius.cc/dialogue_icts_human_development_growth_and_poverty_reduction/091109. Introduction: In September 2003, IDRC organized A Dialogue on ICTs and Poverty: The Harvard Forum. The current paper has been drafted as background for a second Harvard Forum – A Dialogue on ICTs, Human Development, Growth and Poverty Reduction, September 2009. Six years later, much has changed. Trends highlighted at the Harvard Forum and elsewhere have progressed and many have accelerated. ICT regulation and policies have improved in many countries, often in response to good research and advocacy. There has been explosive growth in mobile phone access and use in all regions, with both private and non-profit operations servicing the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ (BoP) with very low-margin, high-volume business models.
  • Engineering for Change, an organization sponsored by American Society for Mechanical Engineers, Engineers Without Borders-USA, and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; www.engineeringforchange.org. This is a generalization of C4G, working in all areas of technology including computing.

Descriptions of Specific Projects

  • Christopher A. Le Dantec, Robert G. Farrell, Jim E. Christensen, Mark Bailey, Jason B. Ellis,Wendy A. Kellogg, W. Keith Edwards, “Publics in Practice: Ubiquitous Computing at a Shelter for Homeless Mothers,” Proceedings CHI 2011 Abstract: Today, commodity technologies like mobile phones—once symbols of status and wealth—have become deeply woven into social and economic participation in Western society. Despite the pervasiveness of these technologies, there remain groups who may not have extensive access to them but who are nonetheless deeply affected by their presence in everyday life. In light of this, we designed, built, and deployed a ubiquitous computing system for one such overlooked group: the staff and residents at a shelter for homeless mothers. Our system connects mobile phones, a shared display, and a Web application to help staff and residents stay connected. We report on the adoption and use of this system over the course of a 30 week deployment, discussing the substantial impact our system had on shelter life and the broader implications for such socio-technical systems that sit at the juncture of social action and organizational coordination. ACM Digital Library Link: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1978942.1979189&coll=DL&dl=GUIDE&CFID=38930283&CFTOKEN=80560634
  • Tapan Karikh, “Engineering Rural Development,” Communications of the ACM, January 2009, pp 54-63. An Assistant Prof at UCBerkeley reporting on work he has done building IT support for NGOs and CBOs. Gives overview of what these organizations are and what they need in developing countries, then describes two systems he and his students have developed – one to support micro-finance in rural India, the other to provide organic product certifications for farmers in Mexico and Guatemala. Advocates ICT as a tool to help NGOs and CBOs be more effective and accountable. ACM Digital Library Link: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1435433&CFID=38930283&CFTOKEN=80560634
  • Richard Heeks, “ICT4D 2.0: The Next Phase of Applying ICT for International Development,” IEEE Computer, June 2008, pp. 26-33. Abstract: Use of information and communication technologies for international development is moving to its next phase. This will require new technologies, new approaches to innovation, new intellectual integration, and, above all, a new view of the world’s poor. IEEE Digital Library Link: http://www.computer.org/portal/web/csdl/doi/10.1109/MC.2008.192
  • Jill Palzkill Woelfer and David G. Hendry, “Homeless Young People and Living with Personal Digital Artifacts,” Proceedings CHI 2011, pp. 1697-1706. Abstract: This paper reports on an investigation of how homeless
    young people hold themselves in relation to personal digital artifacts. Twelve participants, aged 19-29, took part in semi-structured interviews. Participants answered questions about the acquisition and disposition of personal artifacts, digital and non-digital, including mobile phones, music players, and wallets. The analysis of the interview transcripts reveals that young people often part with their digital artifacts in order to meet immediate needs, including the need to create and reciprocate goodwill. This contingent holding of personal artifacts illuminates both the ordinary and extraordinary circumstances of homelessness. The paper concludes with a discussion of constraints and implications for the design of information systems for improving the welfare of homeless young people. ACM Digital Library Link: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1979190
One Comment leave one →
  1. March 11, 2012 11:30 pm

    Hello i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anyplace, when i read this post i thought i could also make comment due to
    this brilliant paragraph.

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