Social Appropriation of Internet Technology: a South African platform
AbstractThe social appropriation of Internet technologies is emerging as a research and practice field called Community Informatics (CI). Various research groups (for example Australia, UK, Canada, Latin America, Italy etc.) are contributing to Government's gradual realisation that the enabling of communities with Internet technologies can boost local economic and social development, as well as enhance personal empowerment. Civil society digital inclusion, linked with World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), is now seen as a necessary component of social development strategy. However, various attempts at such initiatives have met different forms of resistance and various levels of success. Cape Technikon is establishing a research hub in Cape Town as part of the international CIRN (Community Informatics Research Network). This project will aim to establish a research, teaching and community engagement platform in Community Informatics (the social appropriation of Internet Technologies for local benefit) which will link Cape Technikon into a rapidly expanding international area of research and teaching as well as putting it into a national leadership position. Outputs will include demonstrated linkages with local, national and international Community Informatics efforts, the establishment of local projects and entities, the establishment of courses, the attraction of undergraduate and post graduate students, a profile with national and international funding agencies, publications, funding proposals, internal agency recognition in research and teaching, a program of high profile and internationally recognised visiting research fellows and academic sabbaticals. This paper discusses activities towards this South African initiative and experience elsewhere.
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