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Techno-optimism or Information Imperialism: Paradoxes in Online Networking, Social Media and Development

Techno-optimism or Information Imperialism: Paradoxes in Online Networking, Social Media and... In recent years, the world of social media and online networking has met with the world of international development, leading to rapid changes in development practice and to the emergence of new fields of study. Proponents of this change argue that the Internet provides the tools for global cooperation and participation. However, the reality is less clear, with critics asserting that much of the Information and Communication Technology and networking discourse and practice is rooted in past approaches to development. This reflects a wider debate about whether ICT provides space for alternative views and social movements, or if it represents a new form of networked “information colonialism.” Drawing on ethnographic research with the online development-oriented network projecthonduras.com, this paper reflects on these debates, and on the wider implications of social media in development practice. An early model of peer-to-peer collaboration in development, projecthonduras.com has over a decade of networking experience and has been the catalyst for many connections and encounters, which have, at times, literally saved lives. However, while research with this network highlights some potential for disintermediated and inclusive networking, it also provides an example of a conventional development approach operating within an online space, and illustrates the impact of digital exclusion and homophily. Using the networking concepts of disintermediation, participation and diversity/homophily, this paper explores the structure and discourse of projecthonduras.com and illustrates the paradoxical nature of ICT and social media in development, providing a cautionary note to those who look to social media to provide answers to contemporary development dilemmas. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Information Technology for Development Taylor & Francis

Techno-optimism or Information Imperialism: Paradoxes in Online Networking, Social Media and Development

Information Technology for Development , Volume 22 (3): 20 – Jul 2, 2016

Techno-optimism or Information Imperialism: Paradoxes in Online Networking, Social Media and Development

Abstract

In recent years, the world of social media and online networking has met with the world of international development, leading to rapid changes in development practice and to the emergence of new fields of study. Proponents of this change argue that the Internet provides the tools for global cooperation and participation. However, the reality is less clear, with critics asserting that much of the Information and Communication Technology and networking discourse and practice is rooted in past...
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Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
© 2015 Commonwealth Secretariat
ISSN
1554-0170
eISSN
0268-1102
DOI
10.1080/02681102.2015.1044490
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

In recent years, the world of social media and online networking has met with the world of international development, leading to rapid changes in development practice and to the emergence of new fields of study. Proponents of this change argue that the Internet provides the tools for global cooperation and participation. However, the reality is less clear, with critics asserting that much of the Information and Communication Technology and networking discourse and practice is rooted in past approaches to development. This reflects a wider debate about whether ICT provides space for alternative views and social movements, or if it represents a new form of networked “information colonialism.” Drawing on ethnographic research with the online development-oriented network projecthonduras.com, this paper reflects on these debates, and on the wider implications of social media in development practice. An early model of peer-to-peer collaboration in development, projecthonduras.com has over a decade of networking experience and has been the catalyst for many connections and encounters, which have, at times, literally saved lives. However, while research with this network highlights some potential for disintermediated and inclusive networking, it also provides an example of a conventional development approach operating within an online space, and illustrates the impact of digital exclusion and homophily. Using the networking concepts of disintermediation, participation and diversity/homophily, this paper explores the structure and discourse of projecthonduras.com and illustrates the paradoxical nature of ICT and social media in development, providing a cautionary note to those who look to social media to provide answers to contemporary development dilemmas.

Journal

Information Technology for DevelopmentTaylor & Francis

Published: Jul 2, 2016

Keywords: development; networks; Honduras; ICT4D; social media; volunteer tourism

References