Friday, April 25, 2008

Workshop on ICTs and Development

The international workshop on "ICTs and Development: Experiences from Asia" has just been completed. The workshop was organized by T. T. Sreekumar and Milagros Rivera of the Department of Communication and New Media, National University of Singapore. Around 15 leading scholars from Asia attended, including V. V. Krishna from Jawaharlal Nehru University in India. He is the editor of the journal "Science, Technology and Society," which is a leading journal for science and society in Asia.

Yesterday I presented a paper on "Web 2.0 and Social Networking Websites: Challenges and Potentials for Development in the Thai Context." The idea of the paper was to look at the new phenomenon of web 2.0 where user generated content is emphasized and assessed their potential roles for development as well as the obstacles and challenges. Other papers dealed with the impact and the roles of ICT's in Asian society in one way or another. For example, Anke Schwittay from UC at Berkeley talked about the current project run by Hewlett-Packard at Kuppam, India. Gopalan Ravindran talked about mobile phones and moral panics in India.

There were several others. My impression was that this is an important step toward a fuller understanding of the complex roles that information and communication technologies are having in Asia. Asia is a huge continent and there is a lot of diversity. As a result, a paper dealing with one region in the continent could be widely different from another that deals with another region. The methodologies and the home disciplines of the presenters were different also. While most presenters are communication scholars and theoriests of some kind, V. V. Krishna himself is a scholar in science, technology and society; I myself am a philosopher. This is why the workshop is such a dynamic place.