The project interrogates three concepts: “communities”, “technology” and “participation” by looking at two projects – the School Information Management System developed by Servelots as an open source tool where teachers can participate in using the technology without depending on the expert and through use, teachers can also contribute to the development of the system; and the introduction of tele-centres in parts of Karnataka state for providing services to rural citizens in a streamlined manner and enhancing their interaction with the state through an intermediary, in this case the tele-centre operator and the private parties who established and continue to run the tele-centres. Such interrogation and analyses are critical to understand how communities are configured and reconfigured through implementation of technology and around the use and development of both ICTs and digital technologies. We believe that this work will also inform future interventions which intend to use ICTs for developmental purposes and for existing communities that have shaped around ideologies and projects such as free software, Wikipedia, open source, among others. The project also looks at the case of open source technologies to examine the capabilities that allow communities to take ownership of the technology and modify the technology as well as the nature and manner in which participation takes place from time to time. In the process of looking at these questions, issues and objects, the project seeks to address the problem of ‘extent of participation’ in different circumstances and what do more or less participation tell us about the technologies themselves and the processes accompanying the introduction of ICTs as well as the social and historical context of communities. Read about the methodologies here
The research examines two projects namely the School Information Management System and the Nemmadi tele-centre project in Karnataka. The research uses the case study approach, interviews with important individuals and actors in the fields of education, open source technologies and ICTs, textual analyses, literature review, ethnography and participant observation. These methods will aid in understanding specific circumstances as well as in situating and questioning the specificities in larger, overall contexts. It will also contribute towards re-conceptualization of the concepts of ‘communities’, ‘participation’ and ‘technologies’ in the context of imagination and deployment of ICTs.
Currently, we have blogs where we have documented the interviews conducted under the school information management component. Please find the links below.
Interview with Ms. Irshat Sultana – Practice of Schools
Interview with Mr. Raju – Understanding Information Managment
Discussions with Gautam, Pantoto Approach – This is a Live document and is incomplete.
Discussions with Siskhana- This is also live and incomplete, because we had to meet Mr. Subbu from Sikshana who has been doing Ubuntu training with schools in Kanankpura and we wanted to combine his insights with this. That meeting is pending yet.
A discussion with Kiran Jonalagadda on his views on Open Source Economics is summarized here. In this context there has been some work around rating Ubuntu packages based on dependencies. The next step would be to find out who contribute to the top packages and what drives them.
We are also in the process of developing a blog to document some of the ethnographies and findings of the component on communities and ICTs. Further, a monograph on communities and technology is being worked on. We will shortly turn in an independent report, which will be woven into the final report, on the issue of costs of developing technologies and its impact on outreach, usability, standardization and localization.