A better C4D: assessing the potential for new media, ICT and development

  In my posts so far, I have offered skepticism about the larger claims made on behalf of new media and ICT in development. I have suggested that old media (especially face to face communication) still plays a dominant role, and that there is little evidence that new media can be used to deliberately shift social norms. In gauging the impact of new media, we might be better off looking at …

An Armchair Activist or an Army of Activists?

In the last post, the important point was made that we should be realistic when discussing the effectiveness of new media: not getting caught up in the hyperbole of its capacity but also acknowledging the advances and improvements it has brought to campaigns. For example, this blog has shown how journalists are using social networking platforms to fight the current censorship, repression and upheaval in Ethiopia. Whereas, it has also been …

ICT for whose development?

ICTs are used by developing countries to facilitate development. In her paper explaining the link between ICT4D and Modernization theory, Kunst (2015), argue that ICT4D brought about the revival of Modernization Theory in the 1990s. Is there a link between ICT4D and Modernization Theory? Some authors argue that there is. Nederveen Pieterse (2010) noted that, western development efforts after 1945 were aimed to bring economic development. Similarly, development efforts in Ethiopia since 1991 are …

What Lies Behind: The power of the technology enabling access to new media

On this blog, I have expressed skepticism about overblown claims as to the power of new media (and about its robustness as an analytical frame). Claims of the sort implied by Parmelee and Bichard’s title, ‘Politics and the Twitter Revolution’ (2012), warrant suspicion, if not quite the vitriol offered by Morozov (2013).* Yet for all the silliness of describing events in Egypt as ‘caused by Twitter’ (as more than one excitable …

How I run my Ushahidi project while staying in a refugee camp

You may be wondering what Ushahidi is. Ushahidi (meaning ‘testimony’ in Swahili), is an open source tool which allows users to crowdsource crisis information via a web form, mobile phone, or Twitter. It also uses news sources to document and verify incidents. It was created by an African tech company specializing in data collection and visualization. It was originally developed to map incidents of violence during the Kenyan elections in 2008. Now …

Shifting norms, or just talking about doing so?

A good blog post should start with a hook; some catchy, identifiable single incident, used to spark a wider discussion. To individualize in that way can be vital. But this is not a post about a single story. Rather, it is a post about groups, scale, mass and humanity at large. The World Health Organisation estimates that 35% of women experience sexual or other violence over the course of their lives. …

The role of new media in fostering social change

The flowers decorating the front entrances of homes in Europe, the coffee sipped daily by millions, H&M’s cotton clothes all come from Ethiopia which is a thoroughly agrarian society. While “sustainable development” may be more of a slogan in other parts of the world, the phrase can inspire a real sense of hope or great disappointment. Ethiopia is one such part of the world where there is ongoing disappointment, and hope is shattered. For the …