UCT CS Research Document Archive

A revolution in ICT, the last hope for African Rural Communities' technology appropriation

Kapuire, Gereon Koch, Heike Winschiers Theophilus, Shilumbe Chivuno Kuria, Nicola J Bidwell and Edwin Blake (2010) A revolution in ICT, the last hope for African Rural Communities' technology appropriation. In Proceedings International Development Informatics Association Conference (IDIA2010), Cape Town, South Africa .

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In this paper we present a methodological perspective on the challenge of designing products suited to rural practices and conceptualizations in Southern Africa. To create a framework compatible with rural customs of information transfer and supportive of rural priorities, we are sensitive to the way power relations between the rural and urban practises affect development and design methods. This paper argues within a theoretical perspective of Development Informatics on designing for the oral and performed knowledge that people routinely share, informally, and facetoface. Such knowledge inherently differs from those knowledge forms that Information communication Technology (ICT) explicates and codifies and is illserved by knowledge representation and retrieval mechanisms (e.g. hierarchical structures, textbased search, technical ontologies). Uncovering the incompatibility of existing technologies with the representation of African Indigenous Knowledge systems reveals our own conceptual limitations in finding new answers without falling back on familiar ICT patterns, be they technological or methodological. Adopting a dialogical and participatory action research approach to ICT design and development is core not only to preserving culture and identity locally but nourishing local invention of ICT more generally. Thus, our discussion explores how the processes and methods, through which we understand users and their activities, can shape design and development concepts and paradigms.

EPrint Type:Conference Paper
Keywords:ICT4D, African Indigenous Knowledge systems
K Computing Milieux: K.4 COMPUTERS AND SOCIETY
ID Code:640
Deposited By:Blake, Edwin H
Deposited On:29 November 2010