I think what Allen is speaking of here can be generalized:

IMHO, ICT is a tool (or more accurately, a very large suite of tools)
that can be used to achieve a wide array of goals. It is not more, and
it is not less. Tools have been around for thousands of years, and
though the implementation of ICT tools can sometimes be on the cutting
edge, we have collectively accrued a large body of wisdom to help us
understand how to use tools, and the opportuntities and limitations they
present to us. Two of my favorite pieces of wisdom about tools:

* It is a poor workman who blames his tools.
* If you're only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

Broadband connectivity, telecenters, PC recycling, etc. all have their
place, but they are in the end only tools. We do a disservice -- to
ourselves and the people we hope to help -- if we attempt to provide an
ICT service or capability without a very clear understanding of the
underlying needs we are trying to meet. A very clear understanding of
the end goals, and the priority of these goals, is critical to choosing
the correct tools.


What we must strive for in the future, and what I think we will see, is
an increasing understanding that we must carefully select the tools we
use based on the problems we are trying to solve. Moreover, we must
recognize that in almost all cases ICT tools alone will not be
sufficient. We need to do a better job integrating ICT into the rest of
our activities as a valuable component, but not as an end itself.

John Mullinax


Al Hammond wrote:

> I agree strongly with Simon Woodside's answers--experimentation, more
> modern technology, and broadband. But I was also struck by what another
> contributor said, e.g. "Find successful and sustainable activities.
> Replicate. Get constraints out of the way. Get funding on the right
> basis. Let the demand pull what is wanted." I think the aid community
> should continue experimentation, but also be willing to fund scale-ups
> of apparently successful models--yes, that would include those that have
> a business model--even to the point of making equity investments or
> funding additional training and social networking that leverage a
> private sector enterprise and its network.  There are beginning to be
> some successful models, many of them driven by the private sector, and
> some not aimed primarily at connectivity, but at an agricultural
> solution or a microfinance solution or a health solution. Nonetheless,
> they will spread access perhaps more rapidly. See our case studies at
> <www.digitaldividend.org>.



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