Richard Heeks' paper is certainly a useful analysis and in the academic
tradition, an equally useful corrective/debunking of some of the ICT hype.
What I don't find in the paper (except briefly at the end) is the other
side of the argument, that is where and in what circumstances ICT's can be
useful and more importantly how they can be made to be useful in
appropriate contexts with an appropriate application of resources.
A few observations/reminders which may be unnecessary for this group:
* ICT's are in the process of transforming the commercial patterns
of the major economies of the world and many of the internal
administrative, educational and management systems with which these are
* unprecedented amounts of money, energy, creativity and attention
are being applied to technical, commercial, educational/training,
publishing/information handling, and other aspects/applications of ICTs.
* a bi-product of this overwhelming attention/resource application
have been attempts to determine whether ICT's might be of use in
development contexts including (but not exclusively) those in Less
Developed Countries (LDCs)
* these "experiments" are still underway and the initial results
of intial applications have only just started to be gathered. This is the
beginning of a very long road...
* very preliminary findings in less developed regions of developed
countries indicate that access to the Net can be of substantial benefit to
some people/communities under some circumstances. Similar anecdotal
evidence exists that benefits can be found for applications within Less
Developed Countries as well.
Rather than focussing on the de-bunking side of the paper, I would look to
focus on the constructive suggestions with which the paper concludes and
suggest that we should be exploring how ICT's in fact can be made to
achieve the kinds of benefits and transformations which they appear to
bringing about in developed economies. The cost of accepting the negative
and "debunking" position is to allow the LDC's to find themselves
falling even further behind technologically and economically.
In this context I would draw your attention to "A Community Informatics
Approach to Health Care for Rural Africa"
<http://ccen.uccb.ns.ca/articles/africa.html>. This is a very preliminary
attempt by a colleague and myself to develop some overall approaches (a
model) for how ICT's might in fact be made to be useful in a developmental
For further discussions on how ICT's are and can be of benefit in a
developmental context (in a lagging region of a leading economy) I would
draw your attention to the other papers at
Comments and criticisms of the approaches presented would be gratefully
** NOTE ** New E-Mail as of Sept. 1, 1999 [log in to unmask]
Michael Gurstein, Ph.D.
ECBC/NSERC/SSHRC Associate Chair in the Management of Technological Change
Director: Centre for Community and Enterprise Networking (C\CEN)
University College of Cape Breton, POBox 5300, Sydney, NS, CANADA B1P 6L2
Tel. 902-563-1369 (o) 902-562-1055 (h) 902-562-0119 (fax)
[log in to unmask] http://ccen.uccb.ns.ca ICQ: 7388855
On Wed, 14 Jul 1999, Don Richardson wrote:
>This is the best academic paper I have seen on ICTs and development - a MUST
>read. In fact, the entire series of reports and the accompanying educators'
>guides are top notch:
>A new online paper is available from the Institute for Development Policy
>and Management, University of Manchester:
>"ICTs, Poverty and Development"
>It is the latest in a (small) series of reports on Development Informatics,
>all of which are available from: