Best presentation award for UCT group

02 August 2004

(From left) Russell Webber, Prof Dewald Roode and Michael Pollock. (Absent: Hilary Speight.)

A foursome from the information systems department recently won a best presentation award for their paper: It's not the Digital Divide - it's the Socio-Techno Divide!, delivered at the 12th European Conference on Information Systems in Turku, Finland. Professor Dewald Roode and three master's students, Hilary Speight, Michael Pollock and Russell Webber, co-authored the paper that contributes to the debate about the much-vaunted digital divide. The paper teases out typical approaches to the development of people through and by information and communication technologies (ICT). The abstract reads: "In contrast to governmental, political and technological attempts that focus almost exclusively on providing access to digital communication technologies, expecting 'development' to flow from that. We argue for a focus on 'development' which is based on our notion of sustainable socio-economic development. We refer to 'technocentric approaches' when the approaches propose and pursue technological interventions and show little regard for the actual needs of the people involved. At the other end of the scale, where the focus is on people and their developmental needs, we will speak of 'sociocentric approaches'. This presents us with a different divide, which we refer to as the 'socio-techno divide'. We argue that it is this divide that has to be addressed - not the digital divide - and then present and analysis of the socio-techno divide. This illuminates the issues that need our attention and indicates an agenda for constructive engagement about the use of ICT for development in Third and Fourth Worlds."

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