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Different approaches to mobile communication research

screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-3-53-20-pmIn the course of reviewing Jonathan Donner’s After Access: Inclusion, Development, and a More Mobile Internet (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2015), I realized why we always had trouble fitting in at most ICT for Development conferences and perhaps why our papers (and those of RIA) had trouble getting accepted. It was because were not doing conventional ICTD interventions (the first described below) but were removing barriers or roadblocks (the subtitle of our first book).

One form of intervention, privileged in this book, is initiated by an external actor who knows what effective use is, for the benefit of the subjects who do not. The other form seeks to remove barriers to innovation by users of ICT and by those who seek to supply ICT goods and services to such users. This generally takes the form of legal or policy reform to enable certain actions (e.g., market entry) or constrain others (e.g., anti-competitive practices). The decentralized innovation that emerges once the barriers have been removed may appear chaotic at a point of time to a well-meaning ICT4D researcher or practitioner. But over time, robust outcomes emerge that have more impact than hundreds of ICT4D projects (e.g., Jensen, 2009).

The book review is here.

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