Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Insofar as thinking and acting are seen as two departments, two worlds, two states of being, their combination seems difficult. Insofar as they are thought of as one seamless process, one world, one way of being, their interdependency becomes clearer.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
The problem with contemporary information systems for the public sector is that they rely on older models of "new public management" that rose around the turn of the century.
New public management was a field where the affordances of technology were combined with the objectives of public administration.
Two concerns follow from this theoretical combination: First, how has the distribution, production and consumption of new media and information technology systems evolved since the year 2000? Second, how are public values translated into technology rules?
The challenge of contemporary information systems for the public sector lies in these two concerns.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Friday, May 11, 2012
Amartya Sen  outlines five critical functions of the media in society:
- To enable direction contribution from the public;
- To enable information to be disseminated to the public;
- To protect public voice;
- To facilitate the formation of public value; and
- To enable public reasoning.
Even here, however, we need to check ourselves. Let us consider an example of a "truly" participatory approach. In this case, is it possible to envision systems of communication where factors such as agenda-setting, management, technical-knowhow, etc. are perfectly available in the public sphere? Habermasian  derivations of the Public Sphere define three characteristics:
- All participants have equal access to the sphere;
- All participants have the right to question activities and discussions in the sphere;
- All participants have a right to suggest modifications to activites and discussions.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Yet, we leave development practice in the abstract. We stop short at revised theory, and consult with practice initiators who attempt to materialize the abstract. Even there, we treat attempts as cases, and recriticize to align with still revised theory.
It's time the field of communication for development confessed its efforts to change market-based activities. It's also time that it confessed that power in the market is strong, and at most times, stronger than the power of discourse.
Instead, the field of communication for development should hold strong to the assumptions that structuralist development practice has not worked. That's that. Why go further to assume that a new theory is needed, or what a new theory would mean for people's quality of life? Some of this is readily documented in market research on the use of mobile phones, radio broadcast interaction, broadband usage, etc.
The pursuit of how communication helps development becomes much simpler with just one assumption. From there, a world of activities come into view. And yes, while these activities are mixed - some are formal businesses, some are public initiatives, some are in between and some are mysteriously everywhere and nowhere - they are embedded in culture.
The pursuit for participatory, community-based approaches to communication for development encourages this as well - to seek culture as a means to understand modes and structures of communication. But it tends to revolve around conceptual arguments made by an academic community, not the community using and engaging with the communication system.