September 27th, 2003

rock shadow

ICT4B project ideas - what do you think?

In the next week, I'm going to have to decide on a project idea for the ICT4B (Info. technology for 4 billion) class. I can either write a paper or implement a system (or proof-of-concept), though I'm currently leaning in the paper-writing direction, if only because I need to think more about if and how my services as a computer scientist and/or user interface designer are actually useful to the non-elite populations of third-world countries. Right now I'm not convinced.

Which topics sound interesting (or not interesting) to you? Which would benefit the computer science and/or human-computer interaction community the most? Which sound most feasible? Do you have any information leads for any of them?

  1. accountability of government, e-government
    • systems to automate government functions, e.g. bill-paying (usage now, possibilities)
    • systems to make the government more transparent (usage now, possibilities)
    • social implications, positive or negative, of such systems

  2. survey of various rules overseas ...
    • intellectual property issues, openness
    • radio spectrum

  3. implications (political/economic) of privatization
  4. survey of trans-national technological companies overseas?
    • compare benefits to local people of something like grameen phone vs. some big corporation that provides jobs but may not benefit local populations as much ...
    • does technology mean increased dependence on imported goods?
    • how can technology be empowering? how HAS it been? (grameen?) how has it not been? (many examples ...)

  5. impact of World Bank/IMF practices on technologization in developing countries
  6. survey of technological relief/charity efforts (focusing on requisites for success)
  7. assumptions of the globalist ideology in technologization (who's it really benefitting? what are the implicit cultural values that are brought into the debate?)
  8. developing new hci techniques for targeting the poor, esp. from other cultures (usefulness, new considerations in conceptual inquiries, etc.)
  9. proposal for new norms (or policies) for openness?
  10. better indicators for development? (right now studies just aren't done in many places, and for others, common indicators like GDP are meaningless, or obscures inequities)

Stay tuned for more ... (I'll just keep putting them in this post, so check back!)

(added 9/27) Here's an added complication - I will also be writing a paper for my Political and Economic Development class, on something related to western interventionalism in the third world. Maybe a study on the effects of outsourcing software would be interesting, or open-source vs. proprietary software, or local tech. firms vs. transnational ...
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