This paper aims to show that the meaning of development influencing the design of ICT for development (ICT4D) projects is important in deciding what purpose they will eventually serve.
Through a review of the literature on development and technology studies, the paper shows how different meanings of development guide technology usage and policy choice for land reforms. A case study of a land records computerization project in India is used to reinforce this claim.
By explaining alternative manifestations of interlinkages between development and technology, the paper demonstrates that the design choice, especially the content and service delivery model, for an ICT4D project gets influenced by the development context within which it is set.
The focus of the paper has been restricted to a limited context of information and communication technology usage – to land reforms as a development objective, in a relatively better‐off province of India. Future research will include ICT4D projects in other domains and in different socio‐economic settings.
The findings will encourage ICT4D policy makers and project designers to broaden their perspectives of what constitutes development and explicitly acknowledge the importance of development contexts in influencing the outcomes of ICT4D projects.
Prior research in ICT4D has not looked explicitly at the influence of development contexts in informing technology design. The paper attempts to fill this gap by tracing design choices to the contexts of technology use created through alternative understanding of the objectives of development. This can be of help to researchers looking at issues of technology use for societal development and for policy makers and project designers entrusted with the choice of technology.
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