Intervention or Collaboration ? Rethinking modes of knowledge production in ICT4D

Over the past decades information system developers and knowledge engineers in ICT projects in wealthy regions of the world have come to realize that technical work can only be successful when situated in a broader organizational context. However, for low-resource environments (such as for example rural Africa), where contextual embedding is even more demanding given the complexity of these environments, practical, context-oriented methodologies how to “do” information systems engineering are still lacking. This book presents a new and comprehensive set of methods that covers the complete lifecycle of information systems engineering, with emphasis on context analysis, needs assessment and use case and requirements analysis. This book can be used as a practical guide to designing, building and deploying information and communication technologies for development. It can be used by students and practitioners (in the development sector or in ICT business). It can inform policymakers and people interested in international development and technology. It gives a basic but thorough insight in how to develop information systems and services for people in low resource environments, from a socio-technical, information systems engineering perspective.

This book has inspired students and practitioners — experienced or new — in the field of ICT4D.  It provides practical methods on how to develop information and communication technologies for people in low resource environments. The methods have been designed, developed and deployed (as can be found largely on this website) in real world contexts and are illustrated with case studies from field research in rural areas of West Africa. Yet, technical development does not go without critical reflection. The reflective technology developer and practitioner has many questions. What are the underlying objectives of the action? Who are the beneficiaries and what are their goals? What are the guiding principles to do this work? We investigate which assumptions – often tacitly taken for granted – affect the way technologies are implemented in poor, low-resource environments.

Based on extensive field research, this book shows that socio-technical innovation is not a linear transfer of technologies (as often assumed), but a networked process, driven by local agency, diffusing and evolving in a complex world.

Intervention or Collaboration – Rethinking Information and Communication Technologies for Development