Full Seminar Details

Professor Hans Akkermans

The Network Institute, Web alliance for Regreening in Africa (W4RA, www.w4ra.org), VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Professor Hans Akkermans
Extending the World Wide Web Without Internet
This event took place on Thursday 02 July 2015 at 11:00


The World Wide Web is widely viewed as a premier global mechanism for communication, information and knowledge sharing between people. However, this is not at all a trivial thing. Although the Web is global, still billions of people on the planet in several continents do not have access to the Web - because of living in remote rural regions, lack of Internet and other technical infrastructure, lack of electricity, illiteracy,  etcetera.  

I report on the research work we do in Amsterdam and other places to extend the Web under the mentioned adverse conditions. I focus on the work we have done 2009-2015 in West Africa (in particular Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana) and the experiences and lessons learnt there. Broadly speaking, this research falls under the label of ICT4D - Information and Communication Technologies for Development, i.e. the developing and emerging countries.  

Following on earlier publications (e.g. Akkermans et al., WebSci-2011; Nana Baah Gyan et al., WebSci-2013; Bon et al., REFSQ-2013 and ESWC-2012 [2015]; De Boer et al., Semantic Web journal 2015), I will both sketch the technological innovation work we have done as well as discuss its social and economic aspects that are key to sustainable success.  

Next, I will critically scrutinize the (also tacit) positions and assumptions of what has been marketed as ICT4D 2.0 (Heeks, IEEE Computer, 2008) and position this within the wider political world-wide development debates, especially what is known as the neoliberal (post)Washington Consensus.  

From there, I then explain from a social network theory perspective why it is time to move on to ICT4D 3.0, the latter characterized by an approach to technology innovation and development that is (i) discursive (ii) collaborative (iii) adaptive (or agile) (iv) supportive to self-organization - as based on our research and field experiences in Sub-Saharan Africa, esp. West Africa. 

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