Assessment of the social factors in information and communication technology access and use

ABSTRACT: There is evidence to suggest that use of information and communication technology (ICT) can play an important role in the growth of small businesses and their communities, countries, and regions. In this sense, ICT can be employed to bring about increased competitiveness if it enables businesses to create new jobs and increase productivity and sales through access to new markets and administrative efficiencies. These outcomes can be achieved through measurable improvements in the lives of people living with limited resources to sustain themselves. It is often the access to ICTs that enables broader development objectives to be realized. In particular, social development objectives, which concern the provision of services such as education and healthcare, can be realized through judicious application of ICTs. It is often the ways in which ICTs are used that can potentially enable people to lead better lives. However, these gains are not always realized, nor are they within the reach of those who need them the most. The papers in this issue recognize an important fact: ICT implementations are influenced by social processes that determine the outcomes and often have political ramifications. Although diverse in their methods and analyses, these papers all provide unique insight into well known yet not always well understood social factors in ICT access and use.

Keywords: Microfinance Sector, E-Commerce, Information and Communication Technologies, socio-economic development, International Telecommunications Union, social capital

In the Age of Popular Uprisings, what is the Role of Public Access Computing and Social Media on Development?

ABSTRACT: Civic engagement has long been touted as a key to enabling people to participate in their collective destiny and take control of their collective good. Recent events in Egypt have shown us that the will of the people is powerful, even though people's opinions, preferences, and political affiliations diverge. The role of social media in enabling coalitions to form, congregate in large numbers, and overthrow the governments they oppose appears to have become prominent. It appears that with these uprisings, social media are transforming the ways in which people choose to take control of their collective lives, that of their communities and societies. Social media and public access to the Internet serve as platforms supporting the creation of social coalitions and civic engagement, for better or for worse, bring about new ways people can quest for better livelihoods. The concept of development is emerging with these changes from being primarily supported through institutions to one in which these very institutions are part of the change that could lead to their destruction. For example, the heavy-handed nature of a military government's interventions could cause greater upheaval that in turn limits its legitimacy and remit for action unless they are aligned with the will of their people. While at the same time, government support, community acceptance, and valuable social activity in the relevant social groups are important in the creation of institutions of development supported by information and communication technologies (ICTs) as evidenced in studies reported by Madon, Reinhard, Roode, and Walsham (2009).

Keywords: Human development, Information and Communication Technologies, Healthcare, ICT-enabled service, social capital

Perspectives on development: why does studying information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) matter?

ABSTRACT: The concept of development has been used by scholars and practitioners to demonstrate changes for the better in the lives of individuals, communities, nations and regions. Historically, the practice of development has been associated with interventions and categorizations that have had the opposite effect in countries and regions deemed to be developing. Current notions of development predicated on respect for individual rights, human freedoms, environmental sustainability, health and well-being and education have been more successful in achieving improvements in the lives of people. Yet, historic notions of development persist and continue to drive failing projects. This editorial explores the historical notions of development that persist to this day and offers a view of contemporary perspectives on development. As a growing set of development interventions and papers in this issue involve Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), the question of why Information and Communication Technology for Development matters? is addressed in the light of development perspectives.

Keywords: Human capital, Information and Communication Technologies, socio-economic development, World Economic Forum, social capital, Gender Development Index, Communication Technology for Development