January 17, 2013
The West shouldn’t create solutions to problems we don’t understand using fashionable mobile technologies
Favorite Ken Banks on the truth about disruptive development in Stanford Social Innovation Review, as he looks back at 10 years of contributing to mobile technology.
... I’ve been thinking for some time about the future of m4d (mobile for development), and how far we’ve come over the past decade. I’ve written frequently about the opportunities mobile technology offers the development community and my fears that we may end up missing a golden opportunity. I’ve long been a champion of platforms and of understanding how we might build tools for people to take and deploy on their own terms. Yes, we should provide local entrepreneurs and grassroots nonprofits with tools—and where appropriate and requested, expertise—but we shouldn’t develop solutions to problems we don’t understand. We shouldn’t take ownership of a problem that isn’t ours, and we certainly shouldn’t build “solutions” from thousands of miles away and then jump on a plane in search of a home for them.
But this is still, on the whole, what seems to be happening. And this, I’m beginning to believe, is rapidly becoming ICT4D’s (information communication technologies for development) inconvenient truth.
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