(Some of the) Ten Myths
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(Some of the) Ten Myths of ICT for International Development. Kentaro Toyama Visiting Scholar University of California, Berkeley CITRIS Research Exchange UC Berkeley – November 10, 2010. Where I used to work. Photo credit: Natalie Linnell. A Project.

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Kentaro Toyama Visiting Scholar University of California, Berkeley CITRIS Research Exchange

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Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

(Some of the) Ten Myths

of ICT for International Development

Kentaro Toyama

Visiting Scholar

University of California, Berkeley

CITRIS Research Exchange

UC Berkeley – November 10, 2010


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

Where I used to work

Photo credit: Natalie Linnell


A project

A Project


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

A “writer” keeping records in a microcredit group meeting

Photo credit: Aishwarya Ratan


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

  • Hand-written records preferred, but

  • error-prone;

  • (2) difficult to digitize.

Transaction record from a microcredit group meeting

Photo credit: Aishwarya Ratan, PRADAN


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

Electronic tablet –

write on paper, digitize with real-time feedback

Photo credit: Microsoft


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

Microfinance self-help group “writer” testing the prototype

Photo credit: Sunandan Chakraborty


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan, Sunandan Chakraborty, Pushkar Chitnis, Kentaro Toyama, Keng Siang Ooi, Matthew Phiong, Mike Koenig.

"Managing Microfinance with Paper, Pen and Digital Slate.”

To be presented at International Conference on Information Technology and Communication and Development, London, Dec. 13-16, 2010.

Faster,

Rs. 985  Rs. 946

(US$21.89) (US$21.02)

Cheaper,

More

Accurate!


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

Paper-and-Digital Forms

Microfinance & Technology

IT and Microentrepreneurs

Microfinance

PC + mobile

Qualitative studies

Business analysis

Research only

Microenterprise

PC + mobile

Mixed-method study

Research only

For NGOs

PC + scanner

HCI

Research only

Information ecology of very small businesses

Potential of technology to support microfinance

Easily digitized paper forms

Kelsa+

Simultaneous Shared Access

Featherweight Multimedia

Information access

PC

Qualitative study

Usage analysis

Pilot

Primary education

PC

HCI

User studies

Commercialization

General education

Electronics

HCI

User studies

Ongoing research

Free access PCs for low-income office staff

Multi-user systems for educational

Paper and cheap electronics

for low-cost multimedia

Text-Free UI

Warana Unwired

Digital Green

Info systems

Mobile

Intervention

Rural kiosks

Pilot

AgricultureVideo

Intervention

Control trials

NGO spin-off

User interfaces

PC

Design

User studies

Guidelines

Substitution of mobile phones

for rural PC kiosks

Video and mediated instruction

for agriculture extension

Text-free user interfaces for

non-literate users


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

“Kids in the developing world need the newest technology…”

“There is a pressing need to employ information technology for rural healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa.”

“Can the cellphone help endglobal poverty?”

“The Internet should be a human rightin and of itself.”

Sources: Negroponte, N. 2005, Friedman, E. 2008, New York Times, 2008; Best, M. L., 2004.


The myths

The Myths


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

You and a poor rural farmer are each given a single e-mail account and asked to raise as much money for the charity of your choice.

Who would be able to raise more money?


Ict undoes rich getting richer

“The Internet democratizes…”

“The world is flat…”

Technology magnifies capacity,

it doesn’t substitute for it.

Tichenor et al., 1970

Agre, 2002

Warschauer, 2008

Myth 6

ICT undoes “rich getting richer.”

Photo credit: Rikin Gandhi. References: Tichenor, P.J., Donohue, G.A., & Olien, C.N. (1970). Mass media and the differential growth in knowledge. Public Opinion Quarterly, 34, 158-70. Agre, P. (2002) Real-Time Politics. The Information Society, 2002. Warschauer, M., M. Knobel, L. Stone. Technology and Equity in Schooling: Deconstructing the Digital Divide. Educational Policy, 18(4): 562-588.


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

Are you as rich as you’d like to be?

Are you as educated as you’d like to be?

Are you as compassionate as you’d like to be?

Sources: http://www.google.com/search?q=how+to+be+rich

http://ocw.mit.edu

http://zenhabits.net/2007/06/a-guide-to-cultivating-compassion-in-your-life-with-7-practices/


Information is the bottleneck

Information is just one of many deficiencies in developing world.

Other deficiencies:

human capacity

economics

infrastructure

institutional capacity

political clout

Information ≠ education

Communication ≠ commerce

Social networks ≠ community

Technology magnifies intent.

Myth 10

Information is the bottleneck.

Photo credit: Kentaro Toyama


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

If you had 20% of your annual income to spare right now, and had to spend it on one of the following, which would you spend it on…?

  • A part-time personal assistant

  • Travel and tourism

  • iPad or other gadget

(*) Or, use your expected financial status as a working adult, if you’re a student.


Needs are more pressing than desires

Needs are relative.

Need ≠ demand

“Needs assessments” say people need …

Better healthcare

Better education

Better income opportunities

But people spend lavishly on…

Ring tones

Music and movies

Weddings and funerals

Customized photos

Technology magnifies intent,

but intent is hard to gauge.

Myth 3

Needs are more pressing than desires.

Photo Credit: Udai Singh Pawar

Sources: Udai Singh Pawar, Nimmi Rangaswamy, Thomas Smyth, Etc.


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

Should members of the army have guns?

Should police officers have guns?

Should ordinary civilians have guns?

Should 5-year-old children have guns?

Should convicted serial murderers have guns?


Technology s impact is only positive

Myth 12

Technology’s impact is only positive.

Widespread technologies also have negative impacts…

  • TV: violence, political propaganda, material envy, Jersey Shore

  • Internet: illegal content, piracy, terrorism, political oppression, cat videos

  • Mobile phone: corruption, (ship) piracy, gender politics, consumption displacement

    Technology magnifies positive and negative intent.

Photo credit: Thomas Smyth


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

“… X has never been used to its full capacity in support of economic development. It may be financially impossible to use it in this way. But still the possibility is tantalizing: What is the full power and vividness of X teaching were to be used to help the schools develop a country’s new educational pattern? What if the full persuasive and instructional power of X were to be used in support of community development and the modernization of farming? Where would the break-even point come? Where would the saving in rate of change catch up with the increased cost?”

X = “television”

Source: Schramm, Wilbur. (1964) Mass Media and National Development:

The Role of Information in the Developing Countries. Pp. 231


Technology x will save the world

Wasn’t true for X = radio, TV, or landline phone, despite initial expectations and significant penetration.

Doesn’t seem true for X = PC.

How about X = mobile phone?

Technology magnifies intent and capacity.

Myth 1

Technology X will save the world.

Photo credit: Tom Pirelli


Obvious right

Obvious, right?


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

“Kids in the developing world need the newest technology…”

“There is a pressing need to employ information technology for rural healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa.”

“Can the cellphone help end global poverty?”

“The Internet should be a human right in and of itself.”

Sources: Negroponte, N. 2005, Friedman, E. 2008, New York Times, 2008; Best, M. L., 2004.


Agricultural systems

Agricultural Systems?

Credit card

Low literacy in local lang

expert

farmer

No bank account

Poor roads

Market

No unique ID

Volume

buyers

Poor quality

control

Expensive credit

Device and connectivity not enough!


E commerce

E-commerce?

Credit card

Parcel service

Low literacy in local lang

buyer

seller

No bank account

Poor roads

ongoing

business

opportunity

Ill health

No unique ID

Small scale production/ quality diff

Expensive credit

Device and connectivity not enough!

HH consumption pressures


Rural telemedicine

Rural Telemedicine?

Credit card

Trust absent

without healthworker

Low literacy in local lang

doctor

patient

No bank account

Poor roads

Poor access to drugs

No unique ID

Medicine

Expensive credit

Device and connectivity not enough!


Rural telemedicine with new device

Rural Telemedicine with new device?

Credit card

Trust absent

without healthworker

Low literacy in local lang

doctor

patient

No bank account

Poor roads

Poor access to drugs

No unique ID

Medicine

Expensive credit

Device and connectivity not enough?


Successes exist

Successes Exist

PCs for NGO / MFI back ends

  • Unsung success

    Grameen Village Phone

  • Mobile killer app: voice!

    M-PESA

  • Money transfer ($160M in first year)

    Same-language subtitling for literacy

  • Better literacy for 200M+ people

    Long-distance WiFi for eye care

  • Enabled 50,000+ consultations

Photo credit: Indrani Medhi


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

Technology is Just One Part

Physical

building,

goods,

transport,

roads

Human

education,

computer literacy,

motivation,

awareness

Social

institutions,

norms,

political support

Financial

operational costs,

maintenance,

training

Digital

hardware,

software,

connectivity,

content


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

In the Developed World…

(includes wealthier segments of developing countries)

Digital

hardware,

software,

connectivity,

content

Physical

building,

goods,

transport,

roads

Human

education,

computer literacy,

motivation,

awareness

Social

institutions,

norms,

political support

Financial

operational costs,

maintenance,

training


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

In the DevelopingWorld…

Digital

hardware,

software,

connectivity,

content


What to do

What to do?


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

Technology magnifies human intent and capacity.

Technology itself requires support from well-intentioned, capable people or institutions.

For best results, use technology to augment institutions already having positive impact.


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

A competent non-profit (PRADAN) and a self-help group

make the technology work.

Photo credit: Aishwarya Ratan


Why the myths persist

Why the Myths Persist


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

“Kids in the developing world need the newest technology…”

“There is a pressing need to employ information technology for rural healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa.”

“Can the cellphone help end global poverty?”

“The Internet should be a human right in and of itself.”

Sources: Negroponte, N. 2005, Friedman, E. 2008, New York Times, 2008; Best, M. L., 2004.


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

“Twitter is changing the way we live.”

“The Internet democratizes access to information.”

“Social networking will transform learning”

“Each of us is simultaneously an individual person and a global publisher.”

“The Internet changes everything.”

Sources: Time Magazine, Nonprofit Technology Conference, The Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, Cybermedia.


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

Google

ARPANET

Cellphone

Microsoft

iPhone

WWW

PC

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Wikipedia


Summary

Summary

Myths of ICT4D

  • ICT undoes “rich getting richer.”

  • Information is the bottleneck.

  • Needs are more pressing than desires.

  • Technology’s impact is only positive.

  • Technology X will save the world.

    Conclusion

  • Technology is a magnifier of human/institutional intent and capacity.

    Recommendation for ICT4D interventions:

  • Augment institutions already having positive development impact.


Kentaro toyama visiting scholar university of california berkeley citris research exchange

Thanks!

[email protected]://www.kentarotoyama.org

Boston Review article: http://www.bostonreview.net

Photo credit: http://visionhelp.wordpress.com


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