Development and New Media

This week’s readings about development and new media brought up interesting ideas about influence of communication technologies on development, particularly mobile phones. While the papers showed that communication technologies are not necessarily a fix-all solution to development problems and come with drawbacks, it’s undeniable that these technologies have made significantly impacted the way federal agencies, NGOs and other organizations approach development problems. I would argue that for many, new communication technologies have made a positive impact, particularly as they relate to micro financing.

In a nutshell, new media technologies are bridging the gap between the developed world and the developing world, and one way this is happening is through micro financing. Last year, for example, I read a fantastic book called “Half the Sky” about the plights faced by numerous women in the developing world. The authors argued that improved education and economic opportunities could make a huge difference in these women’s lives, and at the end of the book, they listed several websites where you could help finance business loans for women in developing countries. The website, for example, lets you browse through profiles of projects, participate in a “team,” create a profile, etc. It blends the experience of social media with development projects. The site serves as a platform for communication, but it also offers people a way to transmit messages about their values and beliefs through the “teams” option. This type of engagement in development work would never have been possible thirty years ago, but thanks to new media technologies, it’s not only the present, but the way of the future. 

By Kira


1 thought on “Development and New Media

  1. Thanks for writing on ICT4D, Kira! It’s a field I’m just beginning to read more about as a result of our readings that week. I remember in my undergraduate International Negotiations course that our teacher showed us, amazed by how easy it was to complete micro-financing online. A major part of that class was also a negotiation simulation we completed with other classes from around the world – a mock international negotiation where we worked in mixed teams online; come to think of it, the teacher was probably intentionally exposing us to all of these online technologies used for engagement. Anyway, I agree with you that engagement in development work through these new technologies is continuously increasing, and for good reason. Virtual exchanges have an interesting take on this as well – through videoconferencing and chat technologies, students are able to have thorough conversations across the globe. Students from the North who would never travel to the South for safety and financial reasons, and vice versa, are able to engage with these new technologies. This could expand development initiatives as well since problems can now be directly voiced people to people.

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