[open-development] Openness in ICT4D: Critical Reflections on Future Directions

Matthew Smith msmith at idrc.ca
Tue Sep 24 15:16:05 UTC 2013

Hi open dev folks,

The IFIP working group 9.4 Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries 2015 Conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka has chosen "Openness in ICT4D: Critical Reflections on Future Directions" as their central theme - http://www.ifipwg94.org/colomboconference. This is one of the oldest (if not the oldest) ICT4D specific conference (note the title of the conference - it was started before the acronym ICT was widely used!) I was pretty excited to see the theme chosen - although a bit surprised as I had proposed a track on essentially that topic for the last conference and we only received 2 paper submissions! I'm hoping the full conference focus will produce better results!

Conference Theme - Openness in ICT4D: Critical Reflections on Future Directions
The Working Group 9.4 of the International Federation for Information Processing gathers scholars and practitioners that deal with the issue on how ICT affects social development. In the last three decades this issue has been attracting scholars from information systems and a variety of other areas such as development studies, political science, political economy, social anthropology, and sociology.
The theme of the conference is: Openness in ICT4D: Critical reflections on future directions. Various discourses around "openness" are present in the domain of ICT and development studies. An initial discourse in this area related to open source software and open standards, and how these can strengthen public information systems in developing countries. In recent times, we read about "open data" which involve governments placing relevant data in the public domain, and which may or may not require to be supported by open software. Open development is a more overarching theme being positioned as a theory of development, focusing on understanding how information-networked activities are carried out, in what circumstances and to what benefit. This openness discourse continues to unfold in a political-technical environment of increasingly centralized computing (cloud), cyber-crime, cyber-terrorism and increasingly comprehensive surveillance. The conference theme of "Openness in ICT4D: Critical reflections on future directions" will seek to critically discuss different facets of open and openness, whether they represent a hype or reality, what promises they hold for creating a better world, and what are the challenges we face in achieving the promised potential. To do this we welcome contributions from a wide range of perspectives, discussing for example potential tensions between open source and open data, the role of actors like the open society initiative in promoting openness as a value, and positive and negative freedoms.

Be well!


Matthew L. Smith, Ph.D.
Senior Program Officer | Administrateur de programme principal
Science and Innovation | Science et innovation
International Development Research Centre | Centre de recherches pour le développement international
+1 613 696 2303 | Fax/Téléc. : +1 613 567 7748
msmith at idrc.ca |msmith at crdi.ca | www.idrc.ca<http://www.idrc.ca/> | www.crdi.ca

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