Upcoming conference: ICT for Development (ICT4D) in China

On 3-4 October we will organize a conference on ICT4D in cooperation with the Institute of Journalism and Communication, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be important tools for empowerment and development as they enable citizens to access information, discuss social issues, engage in economic affairs and participate in politics. However, there is also a great risk that ICTs actually may widen social and economic inequalities within and between societies, and thus exclude some individuals from their right to development in the information society. Digital divides are not merely to be understood in terms of access and Internet penetration rates, but also in terms of types of equipment used, skills among users, time and opportunities to use ICTs, as well as purposes and impact of use. This all influence whether connectivity in the digital age leads to empowerment or not, for which groups, and in which spheres (the personal, economic, or political).

The strand of thought and research that emphasize ICTs role for social change and development has come to be known as ICT for development, ICT4D. ICT4D is a dynamic research field that studies how structural constraints and inequalities shape access to and use of ICTs among different groups of people, and explores how ICTs can be applied for social and economic development.

This conference will address issues of access, use, and significance of ICTs for social, political, economic, and legal empowerment and development among individuals, different social groups and civil society organizations (CSOs) in China. It pays particular attention to the strategies that these different actors use to bridge divides and appropriate ICTs for empowerment and development. The conference participants include representatives from Sida and the Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions (Spider) who will discuss their work on ICT4D more generally, and scholars from China, the US, Italy, and Sweden who will address the situation and debates in China.

Those interested to attend need to register by 17 September. For information about registration and the program see here.

For those interested in research and practical work on ICT4D the following websites and blogs can be recommended:

Manchester’s Centre for Development Informatics ICT4D Blog.

Tim Unwin, a leading expert on ICT4D, has an informative blog.

The ICT4D Collective and Multidisciplinary Centre website.

Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development website.

The new initiative and network Making all voices count

The World Bank’s work on ICT and development and its blog on the topic.

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