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Internet Studies Group Launch: 22 July

Dr Iginio Gagliardone has, with colleagues, initiated a new research group at Wits, focussed on Internet Studies.

Internet Studies is a broad multi-disciplinary field. At Wits there is currently relevant work being conducted across the University from the Business School to Electrical Engineering. Some of this work concerns infrastructure, regulation and policy. Other work concerns effects of the Internet on productivity or on disruption of existing industries. Some is focused on the role of new technologies in development, on politics and society. The new Wits Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct is launching later this year which is an important University initiative aimed at encouraging tech innovation and collaboration between University researchers, students and the private, public and civil society sectors in Johannesburg. There is significant value in bringing researchers together a few times a year - both academic staff and graduate students - to share and discuss work.

The first meeting will take place on Friday 22 July and will focus on the role and effects of new technologies in African social and economic development. Iginio Gagliardone will lead a discussion on Big Data and Development. Indra de lanerolle will present recent research on how civil society organisations in South Africa and Kenya choose digital technologies. We will also have a short informal discussion on further seminars and will welcome input and any proposals for contributions.

Big data for development: Which data? Whose development? Iginio Gagliardone, Media Studies

As access to digital technologies increases and people living at the margins also become connected, the amount of data available to understand human behavior and design more effective and targeted social policies also grows. Many institutions, including the UN High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, have highlighted the potential of big data for development, but behind the apparent promise and hype, it is yet not clear which kind of data could be the most useful, how it should be acquired, and who should process it. To date, most "digital born data" remains in the hands of private actors and, despite some pioneering collaborations, few attempts have been made to experiment using them for the public good.

Sometimes it is about the tech: choosing or building mobile and Internet technologies in governance and development, Network Society Lab, Journalism and Media Programme

ICT for Development (ICTD) is a field that is more than three decades old. A common theme in the ICTD literature points to a gap between the possible (and positive) effects and impacts of Internet based and related technologies on development and the (poor) results of attempts to do so. In looking for answers as to why this gap exists, much research has focused on the social contexts into which new technologies are introduced. This focus can be summarised in the common trope that "it's not about the tech." Its an appealing idea that speaks to the need to put people first and to consider their agency. Our study - conducted in Kenya and South Africa - takes a contrarian approach and focuses on the specific technology choices made by organisations. We suggest that the way in which these technologies are chosen and tested may provide an important part of the answer as to why so many introductions of new technologies have failed to live up to their promise.

Venue and time

Date: Friday 22nd July, 2016

Time: 2pm - 4pm

Venue: Drum Room, Wits Journalism, 10th Floor University Corner

RSVP or further information contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

University Corner can be accessed from a ramp on your left just before the Wits Theatre Jorissen Street exit or from Jorissen Street at the corner of Bertha (Jan Smuts).

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