HCT4D Workshop Overview

The day started with short presentations interspersed with Q&A. Lone Dirckinck-Holmfeld spoke about methods to handle cultural diversity and support collaborative networking. She also mentioned future workshops, the dramatic curve and user expectation management. Niall Winters described work with Yishay Mor towards M20 - mobile access to participatory media. Dorothea Kleine from the UNESCO centre for ICT4D described lessons learnt through interdisciplinary teamwork on the Fair Tracing project. Graham Johnson described NCR work to understand rural communities (and potential banking service users) in India and China. Niall then challenged attendees to work out how to open an OLPC over lunch.

Following some lunch time chat and networking Riad Saba described some of the practical difficulties of designing educational technology for use in Lebanon (e.g. limited technical infrastructure, cost of access, etc). He wondered how well Second Life would run on the OLPC. Hui Deng & Yinjuan Shao described studies of informal and spontaneous learning using QQ in China. We wondered whether QQ communities might be a way of learning about rural groups in China? Roger Tucker described the differences in his experience of participatory design in the UK and Kenya describing the role of intermediaries (in this case agricultural extension officers) in facilitating participation of rural groups. Niall Winters discussed the notion of 'fluid design' (described as a perhaps not altogether favourably as a funky concept by one participant) in the context of the 70-year-old Zimbabwe bush pump. Riad Saba added that fluids take the shape of their container, which fits the notion of a design fitting seamlessly into its community (be water my friend). Finally, Dorothy Rachovides raised some important ethical concerns about what researchers' overall aims are in ICT4D projects. Projects need evaluation when they are finished, she said. She also suggested looking at the expectations of participants. If not material benefits, what about hope? An important related concern is "follow-up", which she suggested can replace the notion of sustainability, in order to maintain the motivation of local participants.

Dorothea Kleine then facilitated small group discussion of 3 emerging themes identified by participants (see Context, top-down/bottom-up, value of research on the ground). In our closing discussion groups working in related areas were mentioned, user-centred and stakeholder design and top-down and bottom-up approaches were contrasted, the difficulties of PD at a distance were discussed and there was a call for more publication of project failures, or at least alternatives, changes or lessons learnt. Finally, we returned to "follow-up", we discussed what happens after this, do we want to form an hct4d/ucd4d/hci4d community? How should this relate to the ICT4D community? How should this be formed and supported? (see The Future).