This seminar series gathers leading scholars and practitioners to reflect on the influence of new communication technologies on development processes. The seminars will focus on the dramatic changes in citizens’ ability to coordinate and mobilize for political action, on global migration and its relation to digital media, and on how international and national actors are seeking to shape the applications of technology and communication. The series provides a focus point for academics and non-academics in Oxford who are interested in the challenges and opportunities of employing new communication technologies in development contexts.
The series is organized by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy (PCMLP), the Department of International Development (ODID) and the Technology & Management for Development Centre (TMD) at the University of Oxford, and co-convened by Dr Iginio Gagliardone and Dr Mark Graham.
These seminars will take place on Tuesday evenings from 4:30pm to 6:00pm at the Oxford Internet Institute (address above). They will each be followed by a short drinks reception.
27 January, 2015
ICT, Civic Education and Civil Society Capacity Building in Iran
Speaker: Mariam Memarsadeghi Tavaana, Director E-Learning Institute for Iranian Civil Society
Since Tavaana’s launch in 2010, the e-learning institute has safely educated thousands of Iranians about democracy and human rights. Through our live e-classes, documentaries and lectures aired on satellite TV, robust social networks, dissemination of ebooks and more, we are able to teach and inspire civic discourse about highly censored topics such as democratic transition, feminism, Islamic reformation, and LGBT rights. Our materials reach 7-15 million Iranians each week via Facebook alone, and over 15 million Iranians via satellite TV. We’ve learned great lessons from the potential of the Internet in reaching and supporting civil societies in even the most repressive regimes, and about cultivating via overlapping technologies a culture of human rights and liberalism.
3 February, 2015
Dying for an iPhone: The Hidden Struggle of China’s Workers
Speaker: Jenny Chan, University of Oxford
During 2010, 18 workers attempted suicide at Taiwanese-owned Foxconn Technology Group’s Chinese facilities, where Apple and other high profile branded products are produced and assembled. They ranged in age from 17 to 25 – the prime of youth. Fourteen died, while four survived with crippling injuries. What had driven the young Chinese workers to commit the desperate act? What light did they cast on China’s much touted economic transformation in the era of export-oriented growth? The mystery that our investigation seeks to explore is not only the “inside story” of Foxconn; it is also the nature of global capitalism embodying with specific relationship between Foxconn and its buyers, the largest and richest being Apple, as well as that between Foxconn and the Chinese state. These are the relationships that shape conditions on the factory floor and ultimately workers’ lives. An in-depth study of the most powerful electronics contractor and the lives of its 1.4 million workers enable us to draw out the deep contradictions among labor, capital, and the Chinese state in global IT production.
10 February, 2015
Ethical Treatment of Data in New Digital Landscapes – bringing development practitioners and academics together
Speaker: Amy O’Donnell, Oxfam
Data has invaluable applications to ensure organisations like Oxfam are needs driven and responsive, meanwhile there are also huge risks to communities if the related processes are not designed and managed in a responsible manner. Adopting meaningful approaches to data security and ethical methodology is not a new effort within Oxfam and the development community nor is it for academics. What is new, however, is the way that the changing digital landscape is presenting new challenges and opportunities which we must react to and ensure staff have resources and knowledge about how to collect, store, manage, use and even dispose of data responsibly. How can NGOs like Oxfam come together with academics and practitioners alike to tackle emerging privacy and security challenges when it comes to effective management of data? As Oxfam are in the process of applying a Responsible Data Policy, how can we learn from and support one another, particularly when it comes to guidance and what policy means in practice?
24 February, 2015
Combatting Corruption with Mobile Phones
Speaker: Vivek Srinivasan, Stanford University
India’s right to information movement demonstrated the potential to combat corruption through social audits – an exercise to share and verify public records with people. But this process requires a lot of time, skill and organizational effort – thanks to which very few audits are organized in India despite its potential. We hope to change this by creating digital tools for activists, which they can use to organize social audits continuously at low cost, and thus challenge corruption in a sustained manner. The technology involves collecting public records online, disseminating it to people via mobile phones and collecting their feedback so that the activists can redress grievances in a timely manner. I will share the progress of the project so far in this talk.
3 March, 2015
Africa’s Information Revolution: Rhetoric and Reality
Speaker: Padraig Carmody, University of Dublin
Over the past decade there has been a phenomenal growth in mobile phone and internet usage in Africa which has attracted substantial media and academic interest. However questions remain about the economically transformative nature and potential of this diffusion of communication infrastructures and artefacts. Based on over two hundred firm level interviews in Tanzania and South Africa this paper explores the impacts of the “information revolution” on small and medium enterprise development. Contrary to perceptions it finds evidence of thin integration, devaluation and neo, rather than disintermediation. The implications of this for African development are then explored.