Reading list for April 2014

Here is the collection of pointers for this month:

  • The paper entitled “ICT4D: A Computer Science Perspective” look at the role computer science (CS) can play in looking at the usage of ICT for development. ICT4D has a long history which so far had little overlap with CS, deploying an ICT solution and looking at its impact from a more social point of view indeed does not require the input of a computer scientist. But the training and interest of CS people lies into the design and the study of computational systems, getting them in the loop during ICT4D projects could lead to computational systems better fit for their target usage than off-the-shelf technologies would be. A perspective that is very well presented in the paper and that will also be one of the core topic of the ICT4D symposium organised at the Vrije Universiteit on May 16.
  • In the blog post entitled “What are the limits of transparency and technology? From three gurus of the openness movement (Eigen, Rajani, McGee)“, three openness gurus express their opinion over transparency as a magic solution. Peter Eigen recalls that transparency data is only a mean to an end which has value only when it meets people’s needs. Rakesh Rajani then rightly points out that “when the authorities choose to ignore the content there isn’t much difference between a wooden suggestion box and a citizen feedback website with analytics”. ICT usage should be tuned to a specific context, be based on human motivation,  and be done keeping in mind that “we are bound to not get it right the first (or second or third) time” – all this relating nicely to the idea of living labs we have been using for the Voices project. Finaly, Rosemary McGee  recalls the lack of evidence showing that transparency does have a positive impact on poor people’s lives. This may be explained by the correlation between being transparent and being accountable as a measure of success.
  • This very interesting article entitled “L’association One Laptop Per Child, de l’utopie à la réalité” echoes nicely with the comments I made about SugarCamp#3 on this blog. It recalls the history of OLPC and the link to its community. With a mitigated output so far and the new direction OLPC has set himself with its tablet there is a lot of things to think about and consider for the future of Sugar.
  • Seeing OLPC achievements, one can wonder “How Can Educational ICT be Relevant to the Poorest of the Poor?” and in fact think about the role ICT has in our lives beyond the school. Developing ICT skills in schools gives a head start to every learner and the teacher that guide them. Besides, introducing computational means into the learning process widens possibility in terms of (automated) assessment and progress tracking (some features Sugar still has to improve on). It also enables customized learning and can potentially help getting everyone to speed in the class room regardless of their differences.

That’s all! See you next month for another reading list 😉


I am a researcher mainly interested in : architectures for publishing, consuming and preserving Linked Open Data in low-resource contexts; complex systems; education; data visualisation; video games

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