10 February, 2006

ICT4D and Blogs in Academia

These are just two of the many efforts afoot to make information "freer". The first one, ICT4D, or Internet and Communication Technologies for Development, is a field of research that aims to do just what it claims. So far I've only read a few articles from the UN ICT Task Force. Many are written by economists, and some by political scientists. One of the last ones I got around to reading was by a consultant, which makes for funny (not necessarily "ha ha") reading. Anyway, I'm starting to get my feet wet in this stuff and thought I'd share some links. The first link is to the UN site where you can find a good number of articles on the subject. You can find that link here. Another site you can check out, for a pretty neat project on ICT4D's behalf, is this one. Of course, this last one belies something about the state of ICT4D, namely that it's a nascent, but apparently thriving field of research. Some of the topics ("solutions") that often come up are technologies that facilitate long-distance learning, wireless networking, focus on low-maintenance "light clients", private and government investment/management in rural areas (or how to avoid special interests getting in the way by moving away from over reliance on gov funding/management), and, most importantly, galvanizing community interest by catering to local needs and ensuring long-term community involvement. These topics represent standards and solutions that should be met and implemented in order for ICT4D projects to be sustainable and useful to the communities they serve. Anyway, all very interesting and meaningful stuff if you asked me. Read up on it if you're interested (I posted on ICT4D in Chile here. I've also posted on the "One Laptop per Child" program on various occasions.). I should be posting on ICT4D in Mexico soon.

The second part of this post concerns what I'll call "Blogging in Academia." Lots of interesting question here, about the Ivory Tower and the public good, information democratization, etc, etc. Perked? Go here for more on these issues. Check out this discussion over ideas that might help make blogging more appealing to academics, as well as making academic blogging more available to the general internet public. Manan over at Chapati Mytery posted on the topic recently.

Update: How could I forget?! For those interested in the subject of "Blogging in Academia," (BIA) don't forget to google "Ivan Tribble." Ivan Tribble is the pseudonym of a small-college professor who's made a name for himself thanks to his critical stance on BIA. He wrote two articles on the subject for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Here is one, and here is the other. BTW, I know I was a bit general on the "interesting questions" I mentioned concerning BIA, but suffice to say I am all about it. Not only does it make academics accountable to a larger audience, it allows for more open inter-disciplinary dialogue and, *gasp*, might even make someone's work more "relevant." Of course, the possibilities may be endless. On the other hand, maybe we just need to be careful about what we say and don't say in the public sphere. But then again we bloggers should already be acutely aware of the public nature of our endeavors.

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