Digital Discourses: An Essay on ICT in Development
by Steffen Dalsgaard
"..It is widely recognized that there is a huge difference in the world of today between rich and poor, those who have freedom of speech and movement etc., and those who are in those ways restricted....
"So far the most common way of introducing ICT in Third World countries has been by the way of telecentres...This essay aims to do a review of the implementation of ICT in rural areas of developing countries mainly via telecentres, the possibilities ICT may bring along for development, and finally to discuss some of the difficulties that may be involved in the transfer of this new technology.
"...How is this ‘New Technology' - ICT - being understood by the different people involved? How is the information brought about by ICT being understood by these people? What are (some of) the social and cultural implications of implementing ICT and/or building telecentres? It is my thesis that not only the tool itself, the technology, the machines, are understood differently in different social and cultural contexts, but that also the information gathered via the new technology, and here I think especially about webpages, is exposed to various (re- and/or mis-) interpretations. From that follows the question of who gains what from using ICT. What do the different people involved get out of it? The tools and the information in itself are neutral, but can be, and always are, perceived through lenses of anything but neutrality. Furthermore I will argue that a telecentre can be used as a very strong means of power in a rural community, especially if the control of it comes to rest with one local faction of power only. Lastly I intend to discuss some of the other implications of ICT in development, such as the relationship development professionals has to ICT, and what is involved in relation to democracy and market-access.
"This critique does not aim to reject...