Social Media and Development

By Crysta Highfield

Social media, defined by its interactive nature and user-generated content, has largely been a tool and a toy for the wealthy and bored.  Blogs, photo sharing sites, and online social networking sites have allowed peers (and increasingly organizations and companies) to share thoughts, messages, information, images, and videos.
Development agencies have been utilizing social media for years, using blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms to publicize their vision, purpose, and activities; spread news; build support; attract volunteers and donors; and engage with interested segments of the population.  Of humanitarian agencies, UNICEF is the most ‘liked’ on Facebook (1.2  million+) and the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, is the most ‘followed’ on Twitter (1.2 million+) with the American Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, and the World Food Program among others also having substantial social media followings.

ICTD and Behavioral Economics


By Seema Hari

I really enjoyed writing my last blog post about the intersection of ICTD and the Lean Startup model and combining the learnings from the two classes that I am taking at UC Berkeley. Continuing with that theme, I decided to explore the synergies between ICTD and Behavioral Economics

Aadhar Cards - Good Idea, Failed Execution


By Ruchita Rathi

The government of India initiated Aadhar card (UID project to uniquely & digitally identify people with the prime motive of tracking the social security of an individual. The project is inspired by the Social Security Number (SSN) issued in the USA. The goal of Aadhar project was to disseminate education, health, employment to all the stratas of Indian society.

What is Development?

By Sidee Dlamini

After a year of taking graduate level classes in development, I still have not found the answer to what development is. This is not disappointing to me, but it is rather encouraging. The fact that there is no straight answer to this question confirms that we actually do not know what development is and because we do not know we will keep searching. On the other hand, we could say development is not one simple thing and therefore there are many definitions for it. The latter response also implies that individuals will choose what development means to them and resort to approaching development that way. I will admit that I am not too fond of the second option because it takes away the need to keep learning and exploring alternative definitions.

Designing for Participation

By Eric Zan

Smith et al. in anOpen Development: A New Theory for ICT4D explore the potential of openness for the developing world1. Taking their inspiration from the ethos of the free and open source movement, openness refers to the free access and modification ofinformation inan environment of participation. The growing excitement behind the movement and the proliferation of its enabling technologies, dubbed Web 2.0, have given rise to what this could mean for the development agenda. The idea is that when networked activities are enabled, transformative results can occur through the participation and collaboration of a more inclusive community. But how does this actually happen and how can it be improved?

Private companies and public interest: an oxymoron?

By Antonin Milza

With this blog post, I want to speak not only about ICT4D but more generally about development. The notion of development has interested me for several years. It can be very difficult to give an exact definition of what development is. For me, when I think about “development”, I refer to the development of societies and of all nations in the world. I don’t have a different mental image for “development” whether it is for southern or northern countries. In my mind development is above all else the process that able a Nation to develop itself in order to improve its economy and the living conditions of its citizens. In the northern countries, it was the industrial revolutions in the XVIII and XIX centuries that enabled these Nations - by a better understanding of how scientific knowledge can be transformed into real applications that improve the economy – to increase their GDP, more than in the 1800 previous years. For several reasons, including colonization and decolonization, other Nations in the world, especially in Africa and Asia, didn’t be able to use this phenomenon of industrialization to develop themselves. Today, several countries in Asia, like India and China are catching up with northern countries. Tomorrow, I am sure it will be the same for African countries. The world has changed a lot since the XIX century, and today the solutions and the methods available for a Nation in order to develop itself are thus very different.

An ICT approach to filling the informal employment gap in India

By Priya Iyer

It all started in Fall 2013 when second year Masters students at the School of Information, UC Berkeley had to submit proposals for their final projects, that they would be working on in the last semester before graduating. My classmates and I had been brainstorming a lot on projects that we could potentially work on but did not have a particular problem in mind. The only thing we knew, for sure, was that we wanted to work in the ICTD space. We started out at a macro level to understand the kind of problems that we wanted to target. We were particularly interested in the problems of food insecurity in India. We researched to find out the root of this problem through literature reviews, YouTube videos and anecdotes from our professional and social networks. The most glaring cause that came to the forefront was the problem of unemployment in the informal labor market in India.

There’s an app for that..

By Laurent Arribe

Mobile banking has become all the rage. Over 110 money mobile systems have been created across the globe with more than 40 million users. Ever since the technology’s introduction in the mid-2000s, its take-up rate has soared as lower income populations gained access to a banking savings system.

The expected benefits from mobile distribution and banking include lower costs and greater privacy. Especially in resource poor settings, low transaction amounts for informal money transfer were over 30 percent less expensive than informal money transfer options. They also drastically increased savings rates and even reduced the risks robbing. As apparent benefits accrued, development practitioners took notice and new applications began taking place.

Paid Crowdsourcing: Solution for Un(der)employment or Digital Sweatshop?


The outsourcing of in-house business operations has existed long before the advent of globalization in the 19th century, but the more recent offshore outsourcing stories are the ones we remember today: cultural imperialism in Indian call centers, garment sweatshop still prevalent all over the world and suicide after suicide at Foxconn in Shenzhen. But within today’s Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry, knowledge, legal and particularly information technology-based business outsourcing have taken center stage. Not surprisingly, high and growing technology penetration rates in the Global South have not gone unnoticed among socially minded enterprises and the international development sector—which brings us to the ICT4D version of BPO: Impact Sourcing or “microwork.”