Ricardo Ramirez and the team from Telecommons Development Group have been working with Keewaytinook Okimakanak for the past four years in the development and facilitation of the program evaluation tools we are using to assess our work in the KO First Nations. Ricardo recently developed and published a paper for the Journal of Development Communication about this work for an academic audience and communication practitioners internationally. This journal is published by the the Asian Institute for Development Communication (AIDCOM) in Malaysia.
The paper is called "Bridging disciplines: The natural resource management kaleidoscope for understanding ICTs" and is available on-line by clicking on the title.
The potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) as tools to enhance the development of rural and remote regions remains largely undetermined. The component technologies are designed as commercial tools for industrialized settings and the fact that they have potential for rural and remote community development worldwide is an add-on. The role and impact of the new technology is so vast that a multidisciplinary approach is needed to appreciate it. There are a growing number of tools and diagrams in the literature to capture the multiple dimensions of ICTs, and they all seem to fall short of capturing their very essence. In other words there is a need for a new epistemology to guide this process. This paper provides elements for that epistemology from the field of natural resource management (NRM). The fields of natural resource management and information and communication technology for rural development share several features: they involve multiple dimensions and technical disciplines, multiple stakeholders are involved, a seemingly endless number of variables and indicators need attention, and there is increasing unpredictability and complexity. Four pillars are proposed towards a new epistemology to understand ICTs as tools for rural and remote community development: acknowledging diversity in paradigms; embracing pluralism; embracing a systems approach; and emphasizing learning and participation. The paper describes ongoing action research with attention to stakeholder engagement in planning, tracking impact, and creating local capacities.