Sunday, January 07, 2007

Seven sites in seven days 1-7 Jan 07

Best of my week's bookmarking on e-learning, social networking, web, and techie stuff. This week I focus on ICT for the developing world; the field of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D).

Actually, I bookmarked some of these links at other times, but hey, you're not paying for this service are you?
  1. May as well kick off with a biggie, The United Nations development Programme's Information and Communications Technology For Development.

  2. Bridges.org's "Real Access criteria are used to frame the analysis of all issues surrounding ICT access and use, including the 'soft' aspects that are often overlooked. They are designed to anticipate or detect the reasons that ICT development initiatives, government e-strategies, or grassroots projects fail to achieve their goals or highlight how and why these projects succeed.

    There are twelve inter-related Real Access criteria that can be used to improve the way that ICT-based development policies and initiatives are planned, researched, monitored and evaluated. Each criterion is set out below, with a short description and a set of example questions that can help frame thinking about how to apply it to ICT projects and policies."

    These criteria are:

    • Appropriateness of technology
    • Affordability of technology and technology use
    • Human capacity and training
    • Locally relevant content, applications, and services
    • Integration into daily routines
    • Socio-cultural factors
    • Trust in technology
    • Local economic environment
    • Macro-economic environment
    • Legal and regulatory framework
    • Political will and public support

    Besides looking in depth at these criteria, I also recommend checking out the 12 Habits of Highly Effective ICT-Enabled Development Initiatives.

  3. I notice that here and here that Bridges.org has also done some consultancy for my home city, Cape Town. In fact, further browsing reveals that they are based in Cape Town and Kampala.


    Indicative of some of the scale of the South African problem: Shanty town on fire, Langa, Cape Town. Image Victor Geere, CC licence here.


  4. Still on the Cape Town connection, the University of the Western Cape is well set on open source software for technological infrastructure UWC has developed KEWL.NextGen, an open source LMS. I look forward to the UWC moving to brower based PLEs to complement KEWL!

    This
    appears to be the umbrella FOSS site at UWC, and there is a related FOSS product kGroups as indicated here:
    "This collaborative workspace (also known as KGroups) is an implementation of the KINKY application framework that was developed to build KEWL.NextGen. KINKY, kGroups and KEWL.NextGen are Free Software (Open Source) and available under the GNU General Public License."

  5. Anyone interested in ICT4D will ponder the role of communications in ICT solutions. UWC's Centre of Excellence for IP and Internet Computing has a Broadband Applications and Networks Group (see via the sidebar menu) that takes an interesting approach of semi-synchronous communications. They write:

    "We work with multi-modal semi-synchronous communications. Multi-modal means that communication consists of multiple modalities, e.g. text, voice and video. Semi-synchronous means that communication occurs in real-time (synchronous), store-and-forward (asynchronous) or anywhere in between (semi-synchronous). Instant Messaging is a good example of an application that has many of these features. |

    We are interested in all these forms of communication because they appear ideally suited to bridging digital divide gaps where there is a large variation amongst power provision, networks, end-user equipment, communication and temporal modalities, and human computer interfaces BANG research explores how to build communication infrastructure that enables, and even automates, communication across such a wide variety of issues."


    Bridges.org has done some work with students in BANG, here.

  6. I found an interesting tool for those interested in Africa here, one that uses a novel user interface to access large amounts of information. Choose a country in the right-hand sidebar, and a theme such as national ICT strategies, or telecommunications in the left-hand sidebar, and be presented with a well selected list of links and short descriptions sorted by area, e.g. analysis, legislation, presentations. The link above is for Kenyan telecommunications.

  7. I'm not sure about the One Laptop Per Child initiative, considering the infrastructural issues, or the amount of work needed to remove infrastructural issues. Nonetheless, I think that the project will at the very least push forward the boundaries considerably, and I hope that Negroponte and colleagues succeed in every way. Here's a piece on the current state of the prototype. Interesting hardware. I want to see a similar One Handheld Per Child initiative one of these days.

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