The importance of Media and Communication for Human Development: Debating different perspectives and approaches
Poveda Villalba, Sammia Cristina (2016). 'The importance of Media and Communication for Human Development: Debating different perspectives and approaches' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.
Information and knowledge have been essential characteristics of human development, even before the existence of any kind of media and/or technology. Technologies as simple as paper and pencils, together with the written language, allowed information to be shared beyond the oral form, enabling communication among individuals to occur at different locations, and at different times. This was followed by other technologies and media, such as the printing press, radio, television, and more recently, mobiles, tablets, the internet, and many more. The importance of these technologies is not on themselves, but on their functionalities to access, produce, consume and share data, information and ultimately, to support knowledge.
Within the Human Development and Capability Association (HDCA), the Technology, Innovation and Design Thematic Group (TID-TG), focuses on the nexus of human capabilities, technology, design and social innovation, exploring themes such as governance, individual versus collective choice, participation, power, ideology, culture, values and norms, cognitive frames, economy, and ecosystems, which may enhance or constrain the benefits that the use of technology and media may bring to human development. Yet, considering these technologies are not used only by individuals, but are also integrated in social practices in sectors such as education and health, there is a need for studying how ICT are being used as much as how these bring about structural changes in different sectors, as the ones mentioned above. The challenge, however, is that the spread of new technologies, has been so rapid, that these are becoming ubiquitous, meaning that even research that used not to consider these technologies, are starting to see them become part of their settings, i.e. using the internet for education or social media for political activism, which indeed may provide an interesting opportunity if acknowledged.
For this reason, embracing the theme of this years HDCA conference, ‘Diversity’, this Roundtable session aims to welcome different guest speakers, coming from different areas dealing with information and communication, to come together and share their understanding of the value of information, communication and knowledge for human development, their different philosophical and ethical approaches to their work, and the implications these may represent to the capability approach. This Roundtable session aims to be a stimulating opportunity for researchers, academics, practitioners and/or stakeholders to discuss and reflect about different ways to approach the role of information and communication for human development, in a world that is rapidly changing and where new technologies are being introduce each day, altering the ways we access, produce, consume and share data, information.
Speaker will be asked to reflect and respond to one or more of the following questions (under construction):
What is the importance of data, information and communication for human development?
Does the value of agency get enough emphasis in ICT4D practice, or is the emphasis too much on well-being – with the risk of paternalism? Or is this a false contrast?
Discussion on ICT4D and the capability approach took off in the mid-2000s, with pioneers arguing for the added value of the latter approach. Have we seen actual examples of this potential added value? Is the sector still in need of a critical perspective like the CA?
Data, information and communication can be used to manipulate as well as to promote development. How can individuals/collectives help themselves to know what data, information or communication will aid their development?
Is there too much emphasis in ICT4D on new technologies and developments, like big data, at the expense of traditional technologies like radio?
New technologies are becoming ubiquitous, is it not time that ICT4D disappears as a separate discipline? Only when diving deeply in the particularities of sectors like education or health care can we hope to understand the interaction between ICTs and human capabilities.
The Roundtable Session will occur as follows:
Introduction – Chair
Guest speakers will respond to one of the questions above
Open debate with the plenary
Summary from the chair & explanation of second half
Discussion in pairs before pairs combine into fours
Small groups report back to the plenary
Plenary discussion & conclusions
The debate will be moderated by the Chair of the session. Our goals are:
to be inclusive of all perspectives being presented, leaving room for others as well
to use participatory workshop process that will allow voices from the plenary to also express their views
to facilitate exchange of ideas between different fields and learning opportunities for all the participants
to provide an space for the exploration of possible collaboration
This session will definitely cause debate around which approach is the most adequate, but most of all, it will allow different perspectives and their values to be shared and possibilities for collaboration to be explored, which ultimately will improve everyone’s efforts to promote human development and social justice. In order to be inclusive, questions will reflect the multidisciplinarity and diversity of participants, considering different sectors, private and public initiatives, as well as different regions of the world. Panelists' experience and organisers' research focuses will help to avoid concentrating the discussions only on specific territories, practices, media or technologies.
Initially guest speakers are:
- Dr Stella-Monica N. Mpande (Confirmed), Speaker from Johns Hopkins University, working on media and communication
- Dr Sammia Poveda (Confirmed), Speaker specialized on ICT4D (TID-TG)
- Speaker specialized on Design from the Technology, Innovation and Design Thematic Group (TID-TG) (TBC)
- Speaker specialized on Social Innovation (TID-TG) (Rafael Ziegler or someone from his team, TBC)
- Speaker from the Indigenous Peoples Thematic Group (IP-TG) (hopefully Krushil Watene - TBC), working on media and communication.
- Speaker from the Foundational Issues Thematic Group (FI-TG) (TBC working on media and communication.