While the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in fostering socioeconomic development is generally accepted, the process through which this may happen remain unclear. In this paper, we take a social capital perspective and propose that ICT helps to create or strengthen social capital of communities which in turn leads to development. To illustrate our proposition, we conducted a qualitative case study in the Myagdi district in the mountain region of Nepal. We studied the Nepal Wireless Networking Project (NWNP) and examined its role in building social capital, and the consequences of extended social capital on socio-economic development process. Our findings indicate that the project is enabling the villagers to create, maintain, and extend their bonding, bridging, and linking social capital. Subsequently, this social capital assists them in developing and improving their education, healthcare, communication, and generating economic activities. We also identified several challenges such as, over dependency on single actor, high illiteracy rate, poor physical infrastructure, language, and lack of participation that may impede the social capital building process.


ICT and Society

Current news on growing rate of internet usage and installation of mobile towers in Nepal shows that more and more people can have access to pools of information and bridges of communication. The growing web of information and communication technology (ICT) can be a boon to people living in urban areas in general and remote areas in particular. Plenty of literatures, anecdotes, and empirical studies show that proper design, implementation, and execution of the technology can leads to extended social ties, better education and healthcare opportunities, and advance commerce activities, at the same time, more inclusive participation in political decision making.

In the context of Nepal, assessment of information and converting it into valuable knowledge, however, remains an issue. Likewise, the threat of social exclusion is another important issue that needs to be considered before realizing the joy. We cannot ignore the fact that majority of the population is still out of technology reach. And, the extension of towers is just one of the necessary conditions of development, but not the sufficient condition. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen argues that the primary end objective and the principal means of development should be focused on individual substantive freedom, such as education, healthcare, environment, gender equality, and political participation; so that they can lead a life they have reasons to value.

Even philosophically, technology means more than just a technical intervention. The word technology derives from the Greek techne and logos. Logos means word, thought, reason, which in turn could be interpreted as a form of knowledge. Techne means art and craft and is one of three ways of knowing as described by Aristotle, the others being episteme and phronesis. Techne describes the practical knowledge used when producing art and craft, episteme describes the abstract theoretical knowledge in science and phronesis describes the social knowledge used in our everyday relations with other people. The impact of the ICT therefore, should be directed towards phronesis or social welfare.

To warrant and back up this unequivocal claim provided below some statements made by prominent people working in the area of ICT and society in Nepal.

Mr. Karmacharya, executive director, OLE Nepal, stated:
Getting more teachers training, building schools, building classrooms, in spite of this, we are not saying that we should stop it, but in parallel let’s start looking into quality. One of the best ways is to introduce computers like OLPC in the classrooms… other thing technology can do is from the communication aspects, it improves the access, so now they[students in rural and remote areas] can go to school and access lot of quality education materials. Many places every year in remote areas don’t even get the textbooks, sometimes the books arrived when the academic year is over, so we are facing lot of these challenges. By introducing technology we can update and send the materials immediately, and easily access the materials. These are the things we can do with technology.

Dr. Dhital, Doctor, Kathmandu Model Hospital, Stated:
Currently we are in a very initial stage [talking about telemedicine project]…daily video conference can provide continue training to the health workers in the remote area. And secondly, at the time of emergency, they can bring patients before camera. Our effort is that health workers here in the village become efficient. The people in this village should trust them more, and ultimately it will benefit village people.

Mr. Joshi, Director, www.thamel.com expressed:
In the rural areas, there is always a misconception that there is no market. What works in urban obviously not work in rural areas, but the thing is all the rural areas have there own socioeconomic dynamics. Where we can plug in the technology and create some kind of socioeconomic opportunities… people in every village in the mountains like Nangi and Tikot are working somewhere else…So there are people making money and there are people sending money to villages…right now the remittance service in the middle of four or five villages can stop villagers to come down to Beni (district headquarter). If we bring that remittance service in the village then they don’t have to come down.

In the similar strand,
Dr. Pun, Team Leader, Nepal Wireless Networking Project expressed his optimism:
One of the reasons I involved in this project is because I have seen that this has good potential to provide some very basic services to the rural community. Like health and education services…Because there is no way Nepali government is going to build hospital and bring doctors in the rural areas … as it cost so much money to do that… also you can see a lot of good schools and colleges are in the urban areas… students are getting opportunity to get quality education there but students in rural areas are not. So there is a huge education gap…therefore, I think ICT can help to bring this education gap closer. Similarly, to make this project sustainable we have to generate income, that’s why we are working in ecommerce project and internet telephony.

Finally, this article acknowledges the role of information and communication technology in fostering socioeconomic development, however, at the same time, put emphasis on understanding the process through which this may happen.


Crafting research proposal

One of the interesting, challenging, exasperating and demanding moments of PhD is writing research proposal. I had a similar experience while writing my proposal. I experienced the tantalizing moments of finding research topic, structuring research questions, finding theoretical framework, research methodology and philosophical underpinnings. Through this article I would like to share the experience of intellectual labor pain, which may be helpful to other PhD candidates. Beware, this is one of the many ways to explore and inscribe research proposals. I coined it as crafting because it is both a science as well as an art.

My exploration started with finding a suitable research topic. In my opinion, finding a research topic doesn’t imply finding a title for the research. The topic implies the comprehensive knowledge of the phenomenon that you want to examine. I followed two basic principles to identify my research topic. The first principle was my personal motivation for the topic, for instance, I was interested in understanding the link between information and communication technology (ICT) and socioeconomic development of developing countries. Therefore, I started to read related literature, case studies, and UNDP reports, furthermore, discussed with researchers and practitioners in this research domain. After reading loads of literature, I was still not be able to find a link between ICT and development. Aha! And that was the clicking point in my exploration moment; consequently, I formed my initial research topic. The topic was ‘finding a link between ICT and socioeconomic development in developing countries’. Now, the second principle was relevance of the topic to the contemporary society (academic and non-academic), for example, I asked myself what are the implications of my study on policy makers and practitioners of the third world countries, likewise, I asked, whether academic world were interested in this research topic. By going through the reports and research articles, I identified the relevance of subject; I found that the topic of information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) was a hot subject of discourse in academia and non-academia. Therefore, I decided to continue with this research topic.

The second task after finalizing the topic was to identify the philosophical, theoretical, and methodological underpinnings. Initially, to me, the term ICT4D sounded easy; however, after going through the process of inquiring its anatomical features, my views were completely different. I identified four complex topics and philosophies concealed inside this easy looking term ICT4D. The ICT4D was composed of multidisciplinary subjects, ‘I’ information, ‘C’ communication, ‘T’ technology and ‘D’ development. It was a pretty tough time to find relevant theories that integrate all these four fragmented alphabets. To understand this gigantic subject, I decided to read multidisciplinary literature, such as computer science, information systems, and development studies. As Richard Heeks stated, from computer science we learn what is possible with digital technology; from information systems we learn what is feasible with digital technology; and from development studies we learn what is desirable with the digital technology. At the same time, I attended many ICT4D related seminars, summer schools, workshops and conferences. During that time I always tried to relate gained knowledge, experiences, and insights with my research topic. It truly helped me to blend my scattered knowledge. Three courses that directly contributed to understand the subject were philosophy of science, theory of information systems, and research methodology. The philosophy of science course taught me to understand the meaning of concept through micro-analysis of the concept; the theory of information systems helped me to understand the ICT and its implications on society; the research methodology course helped me to find the suitable method, tools, and techniques for data collection and data analysis. Finalizing research methodology is an equally difficult part of the proposal crafting process. The philosophical understanding, such as paradigm, ontology and epistemology helped me to recognize the particular theory and methodology for the research topic. These philosophical, theoretical and methodological connections are important to define our work as a science.

Crafting a research proposal is a hermeneutic circle as Gadamer expressed,” The hermeneutic circle is an iterative process through which a new understanding of a whole reality is developed by means of exploring the detail of existence. Understanding is linguistically-mediated, through conversations with others in which reality is explored and an agreement is reached that represents a new understanding,” similarly, crafting requires to read in breadth and depth, to relate concepts with theories, philosophies and methodologies, to write and rewrite, to present, discuss, listen, and sometimes defend. Writing research proposal is not a mere process of copying and pasting ideas, but it’s a rigorous process of Structuration through learning and reflecting. The outcome (research proposal) of this intellectual labor pain will leads to rigorous and relevant empirical study vis-à-vis theory and practice.


The reflection of philosophy of science on my ICT4D research: is my research a science?

 1. Introduction
The purpose of writing this essay is to find the corresponding philosophy of science for my information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) research, so that I can entitle my research outcome as a valid scientific knowledge. The ICT4D research, which is more dealing with the national development and changing the quality of life through deploying ICT service, falls in the domain of information systems (IS) research. Whereas, the IS field is more broadly related to the study of the effective use of information and the potential impact of software systems and enabling information technologies on the human, organizational, and social world. The nature of IS field as a science is a mixture of natural science positivism and social science interpretivism (Khazanchi & Bjørn, 2000).

Particularly, the objective of my ICT4D research is to analyze the complex interaction process among various social and technical actors that influence the impact of ICT availability on remote communities. Therefore, the nature of my research as a science is more pertinent to interpretative or social science rather than positivist. My work is influenced by the authors like Heidegger, Gadamer, Latour, and Amrtya Sen who are writing from phenomenological hermeneutics, sociotechnological, and post-modernist perspectives. However, as Chalmers proposed that if the human sciences are to emulate the success of physics then that is to be achieved by first understanding and formulating this method and then applying it to the social and human sciences. Therefore, in the subsequent sections, as highlighted in Table 1, I will summarize the different perspective of philosophy of science such as empiricist tradition (observation and Experiments), logical positivism (theory confirmation through induction), popper’s theory of falsification, Kuhn’s paradigmatic views, furthermore, brief description about Lakato research methods and Feyerabend anarchistic theory of science. Alongside, I will briefly explain the reflection of these philosophies on my research; in addition, I will locate the nature of my research as a science by referring to the philosophical ideas of sociology of science. Finally, I will briefly discuss the ontological beliefs such as realist and anti-realist of my research work.
2. Reflections of philosophy of science on ICT4D research
Table 1. Nature of science and its reflections on ICT4D research
Nature of Science
Reflections on ICT4D Research
Empiricism (Aristotle, Locke, Berkeley, Hume)
Observation & experience
Rejects, priori reasoning
Case study (observation)
But, uses priori theory
Logical Positivism (Vienna Circle)
Confirmation of scientific theory by induction/deduction
Generalization of theory through induction or deduction, however, lacking law of uniformity
Karl Popper’s falsification
All theories should have the nature of falsification
Better than induction, however, difficult to falsify social theories due to contextual problem
Kuhn’s Paradigm
Galileo paradigm, Newton’s paradigm etc.
ICT4D research uses paradigm such as positivism and constructivism in ontology and epistemology
Lakatos ‘research programs’
An alternative theory of paradigm
Using standard research methodology such as interpretive case study
Fayerabend’s theory of Anarchistic history
Based on humanitarian ground, doesn’t believe in paradigm or standard methods
Misunderstood, but it is relevant to my research because ICT4D is more concerned to humanitarian issues
The Bayesian approach
Confirmation of new scientific knowledge influenced by previous success probabilities
Difficult to estimate the previous success probabilities of social science research
Social science (post-modernist approach)- science is the outcome of interplay among different human and non-human actors (Latour)
My research fits here, but is it a real science?
2.1 Empiricism
The initial thought in the philosophy of science was mostly dominated by the concept of empiricism. The empiricism emphasizes those aspects of scientific knowledge that are closely related to evidence, especially as discovered in experiments (Chalmers, 1999). The idea of empiricism is that the science is to be based on what we can see, hear and touch rather than on personal opinions or speculative imaginations. Based on Aristotelian theory of tabula rosa, which state that the human mind is like a blank table and that their knowledge comes from experience and perception. Empiricism is a fundamental part of the scientific method that all hypotheses and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world, rather than resting solely on a priori reasoning, intuition, or revelation. Therefore, empiricist claims that the science is methodologically empirical in nature. Some of the classical empiricists were John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume (Godfrey-Smith, 2003). The ICT4D research is also bound to empirical study.  For this purpose we conduct interviews, surveys, and data collection in the natural setup. However, the concept of not using any priori or existing theory in empiricism is differing to my research. It employs existing theories such as actor-network theory and social capital theory for analytical purpose.  

2.2 Logical Positivism
It is a school of philosophy that combines empiricism with rationalism incorporating mathematical logics known as deductions in epistemology. The epistemology of IS realm was dominated by the logical positivism. However, the IS research community gradually realizing the importance of interpretive studies along with positivism. Notwithstanding, the construct validation and process evaluation of the case study is some of the reflections which has implications to my ICT4D research. Logical positivism has advocated the observation based theory should be tested through experiments. However, the ICT4D research has a contextual problem in conducting theory laden experiments. The differences in the local context can produce different results even though both use the same theory. Another, drawback of logical positivism is the logical induction. Logical positivism has put forward the concept of generalization through induction. This suggests that the appropriate facts can be established in science by large number of observations under a wide variety of conditions, and there should not be any conflict with the derived law (Chalmers, 1999). It means replication of experiments many times to make it a standard theory. This kind of replication is not possible in social science research generally and ICT4D research particularly. Although social science theory also needs to be generalized through inductive and deductive reasoning, there is a lack of law of uniformity.

2.3 Karl Popper’s falsification
Karl popper was sharply against the idea of logical positivism or induction for generalization of the theory. Therefore, Pooper formulated his demarcation criterion for distinguishing science from non-science, where the criterion pertains to falsifiability. The falsificationist sees science as a set of hypothesis that is tentatively proposed with the aim of accurately describing or accounting for the behavior of some aspect of the world or universe. There is one fundamental condition that any hypothesis or system of hypothesis must satisfy if it is to be granted the status of scientific law or theory, a hypothesis must be falsifiable. Even though falsification seems better than induction for the generalization of ICT4D research outcome, sometimes multiple subjective interpretations may erroneously falsify the true hypothesis.

2.4 Kuhn’s Paradigm
Inductivist and falsificationist accounts of science were challenged in a major way by Thoman Kuhn. He came to believe that traditional accounts of science, whether inductivist or falsificaniost, do not bear comparison with historical evidence. Kuhn’s account of science was subsequently developed as an attempt to give a theory more in keeping with the historical situation as he saw it. A key feature of his theory is the emphasis placed on the revolutionary character of scientific progress, where revolution involves the abandonment of one theoretical structure and its replacement by another, incompatible one (Godfrey-Smith, 2003). The concept of paradigm is frequently used in the realm of ICT4D research. However, the paradigm in ICT4D research is mostly confined to positivist and interpretive camps (Khazanchi & Bjørn, 2000). And, my research falls into the interpretive paradigm.

2.5 Lakatos ‘research programs’
Lakatos like Kuhn, saw the merit in portraying scientific activity as taking place in a framework, and coined the phrase “research program”. According to Lakatos some laws or principles are more basic than others and that can be the defining feature of a science. A science can then be seen as the programmatic development of the implications of the fundamental principles. I take it as a use of standard methodology in my research such as use of most frequent interpretive case study.

2.6 Fayerabend’s theory of Anarchistic history
Fayerabend from his humanitarian point of view supports his anarchistic theory of science on grounds that it increases the freedom of scientists by removing them from methodological constraints and, more generally, leaves individuals the freedom to choose between science and other forms of knowledge. A central problem with Feyerabend’s notion of freedom stems from the degree to which it is entirely negative, in the sense that freedom is understood as freedom from constraints. The only relevance to this paradigm and my research is that both are based on humanitarian ground. Social science research probably cannot be confined to any establish way of theorizing the phenomenon.

2.7 The Bayesian approach
Bayes’ theorem is about conditional probabilities, probabilities for propositions that depend on the evidence bearing on those propositions. Those probabilities will be subject to change by the punter in the light of new evidence. Bayes’ theorem is a theorem prescribing how probabilities are to be changed in the light of new evidence. It is quite difficult to estimate the previous success probabilities of social science research.

2.8 Social science (post-modernist approach)
Scientific theory can be objective, however, an objective theory not as one that exists independently of human beings and their influences. It can be a social object that forms over a period of time from a process of social construction in which many generations of cohorts of researchers participate and whose properties and behaviors can be observed and explained through such empirical disciplines as the history and sociology of science (Godfrey-Smith, 2003). The emergence of modern science in itself is a sociological process, which takes different forms during the transition from feudalism to early capitalism (Zilsel, 1942). The philosophy of science has been mainly drawn by the natural scientist with a very positivist approach; therefore, so called modern science definition rejects my research as a science. However, it is the post-modernist scientist who defined the science in a broad view which includes the social perspective as well. According to Schultz a social science theory and a natural science theory are no different in their logical form. Of course, there remain major differences between them, one of which pertains to some empirical work that a social scientist, but not a natural scientist, needs to perform prior to formulating a theory. As such, they require data collection or observation by the social scientist no less than does any other aspects of objective reality that he or she encounters. Schultz conceptualizes these subjective meanings as first-level constructs – meanings constructed by human subjects in the social setting that the social scientist seeks to explain. It is only on the basis of these first-level constructs that the observing social scientist may properly found the constructs (hence second-level constructs) comprising his or her scientific theory. Because subjective meanings or first-level constructs exist in the empirical subject matter of social science but not natural science, it is appropriate to describe the subsequent second-level constructs or theory as being social theory. An interesting consequence that follows from Schultz’s view of social theory is that natural science methodology can be seen as a limiting case or subset of social science methodology. Therefore, my ICT4D research qualifies as a valid scientific knowledge.

3. Conclusion
Most of the theories put forward by scientific community are positivists by nature, whereas, social phenomenon cannot be observed by positivists approach only as advocated by the theory of empiricism, logical positivism, and falsification. As an anti-realist ontology my research seems to be more near to empiricism however consider the importance of existing theories as well. Confirmation of social theories through induction seems to be impossible in my case because the context changes with every new case study. Likewise, the theory of falsification cannot be found in my research as my research does not test any theory; instead, it just uses the theory for the sake of defining its conceptual framework. These theories are mainly criticized for favoring objectivism and rejecting the subjective aspects of social perception. That may lead us to rigor testing of the process and ignoring the relevant facts.  

In IS domain, I found the Kuhn’s paradigm theory is consistently dominating. For instance, the ontology of IS realm is defined as positivists and interpretive. Likewise, the epistemology of IS field is characterized as positivist, interpretive, and critical realism. Following this tradition of paradigm, I would say the ontological and epistemological nature of my research falls into anti-positivists and interpretive category. Interestingly, I found the nature of science itself is the outcome of social construction. And, there is not a single agreed philosophy which describes the nature of science. Thus I am not in a state to fit my work in any particular theory such as empiricism, logical positivism, falsification or Kuhn’s theory of paradigm. Whereas, the IS field is more broadly related to the study of the effective use of information and the potential impact of software systems and enabling information technologies on the human, organizational, and social world. The nature of IS field as a science is a mixture of natural science positivism and social science interpretivism. To me, this controversy seems to be a never ending process, however, that is the only way to keep the growth of science alive.

(1)    Chalmers, A. (1999). What is this thing called science? : Open University Press, UK.
(2)    Godfrey-Smith, P. (2003). Theory and Reality: an introduction to the philosophy of science: The University of Chicago Press/Chicago and London.
(3)    Khazanchi, & Bjørn (2000). Is information systems a science An inquiry into the nature of the information systems discipline. Database for Advances in Information Systems ( Formerly : Data Base ), 31(2), 24.
(4)    Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social, an introduction to actor-network theory: Oxford University Press.
(5)    Lee, Allen (2004). Thinking about social theory and philosophy for information systems, in Willcocks, L. and Mingers, J. (eds) Social Theory and Philosophy for Information Systems, Wiley, Chichester, 2004, pp. 1-26.
(6)    Merton, R. K. (1938). Science and the Social Order; Philosophy of Science, 5(3), pp. 321-337.
(7)    Zilsel, E. (1942). The Sociological Roots of Science, The American Journal of Sociology, 47 (4), pp. 544-562.


Research Process

Suggestion by (Andrew M. Pettigrew):
1) What we choose to study.
2) How we choose to study.
3) What literature we do or do not read.
4) How and with whom we develop relationships.
5) What we are capable of seeing and making sense of.
6) How we make connections between concepts and data.
7) Our capacities, such as intuition, insights, persistence, craftiness, and courage to getting into or out of research situations.
8) Theoretical development and practice (Research contribution).


Reflections on Microsoft Research Summer School

Microsoft Research Summer School on Computing for Socio-Economic Development

Time and place:
13 June, 2010 – 27 June, 2010 (Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India)

The selection of candidates was based on short listing of the applications. Applications procedure was composed of essay writing, supervisor’s recommendation, and CV. After selection, we were supposed to read the following 10 papers and one book,
We discussed 10 research papers in two weeks. In my opinion, the selection of papers was excellent. The papers were composed of ICT4D concepts, economic behaviour of poor, research methodologies used in ICT4D research, and fundamentals of development. It provides the overall idea of multifaceted perspective of ICT4D.

Sessions I found particularly useful:
All the sessions were useful in terms of revisiting some of the ICT4D concepts and understanding the multifaceted meaning of development. Activities such as field trip to slums, field activity in small groups, and research methodologies were excellent. The objective of slum tour was to experience the portrait of everyday life in an urban slum. During the field trip to slums, we visited one telecenter project run by the slum community. We did observation and interviews with different stakeholders and community people to understand the role of ICT in their socio-economic development.

Field activity in small groups of three students was an exercise to conduct quantitative survey and qualitative interviews in the Bangalore street. The streets were assigned by the session leader. The purpose of the field activity was to understand the mobile phone usage pattern and income spending behaviour of poor people earning less than RS 10,000 (approx. 250 dollar per month). Subsequently, all the group data had been collected and analysed. Numerical data were analysed using quantitative techniques, such as t-test, correlation, and p-value. And, qualitative data has been analysed using grounded coding techniques. This session also discussed the pros and cons of both the techniques using collected empirical data. Finally, based on our field survey and qualitative interview, we made poster presentation. Furthermore, we wrote a research proposal, and presented to the panel.

Lectures by Tapan Parikh, Joyojeet Pal, and Indrani Medhi on design challenges in working with low-literate and disable people were new learning for me. The objectives of these lectures were to understand the need of low-literate and physically challenged people before designing information systems. Presentations showed that low-literate and disable people normally use intermediary to deploy any ICT artefacts, therefore, the system should be designed after understanding the perspective of both the users, and the intermediaries.

The paper discussion session was also good. We discussed 10 research papers in two weeks. In this session, all the participants were assigned with two papers (same) to read. And, these papers were discussed based on the list of questions prepared by the session leader. This model was effective in terms of paper discussion and learning. I would like to suggest this model in our course curriculum as well.

The lecture by Michael Best (editor-in-chief of ITID journal) was also helpful to understand the elements of writing good journal papers. Likewise, Jonathan Donner presentation on mobile phone usage pattern, such as the different meaning of beeping was very interesting.

Feedback and questions I received:
During the two weeks period I made a number of questions with different participants. My questions were mainly focused on understanding the link between ICT and development, how to measure the impact, and sustainability of ICT4D projects. I discussed my own research project and initial findings in Nepal. Most of the participants from India were from computer science background, so it was a bit hard time for me to explain them about the concept of social capital. However, they found it novel and useful as Nepal has been discussed a little in ICT4D literatures.

Networking experiences:
Microsoft Research India (MSRI) is running number of ICT4D projects in India. They have a group of team called TEM (Technology for Emerging Market). As per my discussion with the co-chairs,
Ed Cutrell
Kentaro Toyama
University of California, Berkeley
We have an opportunity to visit their projects and conduct our research; in case of availability, they can provide us with office location in Bangalore, India. Similarly, I had an opportunity to discuss with the editor-in-chief of ITID journal,
Michael Best
Georgia Tech
And, renowned researcher in m4D (mobile for development):
Jonathan Donner

Overall experience:
I enjoyed the field study and slum tour. There, I got an opportunity to understand the portrait of slum poor of India. It gives me a comparative advantage to understand the role of ICT in the context of slum poor of India and mountain poor of Nepal. The only thing I disliked was no internet connection in the hotel. The main learning outcome from participating in this summer school is to understand the multi-perspective views and roles of ICT4D. The summer school was composed of people from different background, such as computer science, economics, social science, and information systems. Sometime we found complete disagreement in our understandings. For example, some computer science students were thinking that they will learn programming and software development. However, at the end, this summer school somehow succeed to convince majority of the participant that understanding socio-economic development context is very important to design ICT4D project.

I will highly recommend the researchers, practitioners, and students concerned with ICT4D to participate in this summer school. The lectures in this summer school were balanced mixture of theory, practice, and empirical case studies. Likewise, in this summer school, we can experience real time field activities, and learn data analysis techniques. Overall, it is helpful to understand the multifaceted concept of information and communication technology for development (ICT4D).


Social Capital

The advancement of social capital concept can be traced back to the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries(Portes, 1998). The idea that involvement and participation in groups can have positive consequences for the individual and the community was raised by scholars, such as Tocqueville, Durkheim, Weber, Locke and Marx (Portes, 1998). Durkheim and Marx emphasized group life as a solution to social instability and self-destruction. The term “social capital” has been first coined by Hanifan in 1916(Huysman & Wulf, 2004). He defined the social capital as an instrumental to goodwill, fellowship, sympathy, and social interaction among the individuals and groups within a social unit. The concept of social capital, therefore, was more focused on the positive consequences of sociability and ignoring the less attractive features(Portes, 1998). However, their research on social capital concept was not systematic and did not attract wide attention of the scholars.

The contemporary proponents of social capital, such as Bourdieu, Coleman and Putnam, pull the attentions of the researchers to conduct a systematic research (Portes, 1998; Yang, et al., 2009). Scholars, who derived the concepts from academia into the wider media (Yang, et al., 2009), defined the social capital as “features of social organization such as networks, norms, and social trust that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefits” (Putnam, 2000). The studies of social capital can be categorized into two general sections based on level of analysis (Portes, 1998). Studies of Bourdieu, Coleman, and Burt that focused on individual (human capital) or small groups as the unit of analysis can be denoted as individual social capital, where they examine the benefits accruing to individuals from their relationships with others. On the other hand, those who extended the concept of social capital from individual assets to a community or national feature can be referred to as collective social capital, considering social capital as both individuals’ social networks and their moral attitudes, or social norms, which contribute to the common good of a community or even a nation(Yang, et al., 2009). The World Bank has categorized Social Capital into six dimensions, such as Groups and Networks, Trust and Solidarity, Collective Action and Cooperation, Information and Communication, Social Cohesion and Inclusion, and Empowerment and Political Action(World_Bank, 2006).

There is a need to investigate not only the positive consequences but also negative consequences introduced by the social capital perspective, as argued by Portes: “The research literature on social capital strongly emphasizes its positive consequences. Indeed it is our sociological bias to see good things emerging out of sociability; bad things are more commonly associated with the behavior of homo economics (economic human). However, the same mechanisms appropriable by individuals and groups as social capital can have other, less desirable consequences(Portes, 1998)”. Negative consequences are related to several issues, such as restrictions imposed on actors who do not belong to the network, lacking perception of environmental changes outside the network, negative social dynamics within the network and downward leveling norms, dependency on central actors and their loyalty towards the network, restrictions on autonomy and individuality resulting from demands for conformity, irrational economic behavior due to the feeling of solidarity towards partners in the network, and irrational economic behavior due to personal aversion(Huysman & Wulf, 2004).

Bridging, bonding, and linking social capital:
Social capital can be conceptualized into different forms, such as bridging, bonding and linking social capital (Cote & Healy, 2001; Putnam, 2000; Woolcook, 2001). The notion of bridging social capital is a relation among distant friends, associates and colleagues, civil rights movements, and ecumenical religious organizations, for example. Conversely, bonding social capital is a relation amongst homogenous groups such as family members, close friends, ethnic fraternal organizations, and religion based groups, for example. The linking social capital refers to relations between individuals and groups in different social strata in a hierarchy where power, social status and wealth are accessed by different groups (Cote & Healy, 2001). The concept of linking social capital is extended to include the capacity to leverage resources, ideas and information from formal institutions beyond the community(Woolcook, 2001).

Bonding and bridging social capital have resonance with the ideas of “strong ties” and “weak ties” respectively (Granovetter, 1973). For instance, weak-ties are loose connections between individuals who may provide useful information or new perspectives for each other, without emotional support. Tightly-knit ties are bonding social capital between individuals in emotionally close relationships, such as family and close friends. Bonding social capital is good for maintaining the existing relations. However, strong bonding social capital may sometime have adverse impact and serve to exclude and create a context for the growth of reactionary ideology. The bridging social capital is crucial for extending social networks, and it could be an important resource in facilitating mobility opportunities.

ICT and Social Capital:
Despite abundance of research in social capital from social, political, economic and organization scientist, the attention from the side of IS research lacks far behind (Huysman & Wulf, 2004). However, the interdisciplinary nature of IS research and growth in networks within and between organizations makes research into the relationship between ICT and social capital even more important. Social capital in relation to ICT could be categorized at the individual level which is known as connecting and enabling social capital (Yang, et al., 2009), examining the impacts of ICT on individual’s social networks and the possible benefits generated by such networks. The collective level is aiming to identify the role of ICT in social capital building in communities. This paper is focused on the collective level study; it explores how ICT facilitate remote communities to build their social capital.

Research shows that ICTs facilitate the building of social capital through increasing flows of information(Adam & Urquhart, 2009). A number of anecdotes advocate that ICT facilitate to create and maintain bridging, bonding and linking social capital. Some research has been done, studying the role of ICT and its impact on social capital. For instance, the impact of ICT on individual social capital has been studied, examining the impact of online social networking sites (SNS) on formation and maintenance of social capital (Ellison, et al., 2007). Focusing on both the maintenance of existing social ties and the formation of new connections, they identified a positive relationship between certain kinds of SNS use and the maintenance and creation of social capital. Such studies illustrated the impact of ICT on social capital and vice versa (Frank, et al., 2004; Shah, et al., 2005; Simpson, 2005). Studies show that ICT facilitate interactions among community participants that helped to generate and maintain the trust, acceptance, and alignment necessary for successful cooperation (Syrjånen & Kuuti, 2004). A case study on Iranian NGO shows how computer based centers facilitate to build e-community and extend the community networking through improved transparency and participation (Rohde, 2004).

ICT Intervention and Development in remote Nepal

The remote communities in the mountains regions in developing countries are among the poorest, most-remote and most-excluded in the world. They are socially, politically, and economically excluded. This has widened educational, healthcare, information and communication gap. Studies show that availability of information and communication technology (ICT) in a remote community is significant to facilitate the flow of information and knowledge that can provide an opportunity to connect them with the main streamline of development. To explore the role of ICT in socio-economic development of the Mountain regions, we conducted a case study in two villages of Myagdi District. In this study, we have explored how Nepal Wireless Networking Project (NWNP) may help to overcome these shortages. There is a great deal of optimism, exemplified by one villager from Tikot who stated that:

The Internet cannot help us with plowing, sowing, and harvesting. But by using the Internet, we can engage in a lot of other educational and financial development, I believe.

We argue that the NWNP provides a promising opportunity to create social, human, physical, financial, and political capital. People may access data resources and they are offered training to improve their competence. Social networking may also be facilitated. Now they no longer have to travel long hours to make a phone call to their relatives. Due to the NWNP, people living in the villages have better access to medical competence. Transaction costs are reduced and there are some promising opportunities to empower marginalized groups, especially women, through training programs.

The NWNP has provided several opportunities to the Nangi and Tikot communities. However, in order to realize the macro level socio-economic impact, the community people should not only be able to access and assess the information; they should also be able to convert it into relevant knowledge, and to make decisions. At the same time, they should be able to generate local content that can be used for revenue generation activities. In the content development and revenue generation program, this project is still in its infancy. They need to work on local content generation. Although they started local bulletin and eCommerce services, this information is still not exported to the outside community. Access to local data and information by external market is important in order to generate revenue and long-term sustainability.

Overall, the NWNP has created a positive wave in the Nangi and Tikot villages. The extension from what were initially two villages to currently more than seventy indicates its importance. Despite some challenges, the NWNP is an important example of an ICT for development (ICT4D) project in remote areas in a country which is rarely discussed in the ICT4D literature. Conducive government policies, infrastructure development, and public-private partnerships may support the replication of the NWNP across other mountain villages in Nepal. Further development of business models to attract eco-tourism, and to sell cultural and agricultural products through the Internet may generate revenues and further add to the socio-economic development in the long run.


Qualitative Research Interviews

Twelve aspects of qualitative Research Interviews:

  1. Life world: the topic of qualitative interviews is the everyday lived world of the interviewee and his or her relation to it.

  1. Meaning: the interview seeks to interpret the meaning of central themes in the life world of the subject. The interviewer registers and interprets the meaning of what is said as well as how it is said.
  1. Qualitative: the interview seeks qualitative knowledge expressed in normal language; it does not aim at quantification.

  1. Descriptive: the interview attempts to obtain open nuanced (a subtle difference in meaning or opinion or attitude) descriptions of different aspects of the subjects’ life worlds.
  1. Specificity: descriptions of specific situations and action sequences are elicited, not general opinions.

  1. Deliberate Naiveté (An artless, credulous, or uncritical statement or act): The interviewer exhibits openness to new and unexpected phenomena, rather than having readymade categories and schemes of interpretation.
  1. Focused: the interview is focused on particular themes; it is neither strictly structured with standardized questions, nor entirely “nondirective”.

  1. Ambiguity: interviewee statements can sometimes be ambiguous, reflecting contradictions in the world the subject live in.
  1. Change: the process of being interviews may produce new insights and awareness and the subject may in the course of the interview come to change his or her descriptions and meanings about a theme.

  1. Sensitivity: different interviewers can produce different statements on the same themes, depending on their sensitivity to the knowledge of the interview topic.
  1. Interpersonal situation: the knowledge obtained is produced through the interpersonal interaction in the interview.

  1. Positive experience: a well carried out research interview can be a rate and enriching experience for the interviewee, who may obtain new insights into his or her life situation.

Seven Features of Interview Knowledge:

  1. Knowledge as produced: Interview knowledge is socially constructed in the interaction on the interaction of interviewer and interviewee.

  1. Knowledge as relational: The researcher can focus on the knowledge produced inter the views of the interviewer and interviewee or concentrate on the interaction between two participants. The research interview establishes new relations in the human webs of interlocution, with the goal of producing knowledge about the human situation.
  1. Knowledge as conversational: If we follow Socrates, we understand qualitative interviews as having potential of producing descriptions and narratives of everyday experiences as well as the epistemic knowledge justified discursively in a conversation.

  1. Knowledge as contextual: the interview takes place in an interpersonal context, and the meanings of interview statements relate to their context. Interviews are sensitive to the qualitative differences and nuances of meaning, which may not be quantifiable and commensurable across contexts and modalities.
  1. Knowledge as linguistic: Language is the medium of interview research, language is the tool of the interview process, and the resulting interview product is linguistic in the form of oral statements and transcribed text to be analyzed. Knowledge is constituted through linguistic interaction, and the participants’ discourses and their effects are of interest in their own right.

  1. Knowledge as narrative: The interview is a key site for eliciting narratives that inform us of the human world of meanings.
  1. Knowledge as pragmatic: when human reality is understood as conversation and action, knowledge becomes the ability to perform effective actions. Good research is research that works.

Elton Mayo’s Method of Interviewing:

  1. Give your whole attention to the person interviewed, and make it evident that you are doing so.

  1. Listen – don’t talk.
  1. Never argue; never give advice

  1. Listen to:
    1. What he wants to say
    2. What he does not want to say
    3. What he cannot say without help

  1. As you listen, plot out tentatively and for subsequent correction the pattern (personal) that is being set before you. To test this, from time to time summarize what has been said and present for comment (e.g.,” is this what you are telling me?”). Always do these with the greatest caution, that is, clarify in ways that do not add or distort.

  1. Remember that everything said must be considered a personal confidence and not divulged to anyone.

Seven Stages of an Interview Inquiry:

  1. Thematizing: formulate the purpose of an investigation and the conception of the theme to be investigated before the interviews start. The why and what of the investigation should be clarified before the question of how method is posed. For example, formulation of hypothesis about the influence of grading on pupils on the basis of precious studies.

  1. Designing: plan the design of the study, taking into consideration all seven stages of the investigation, before interviewing. Designing the study of undertaken with regard to obtaining the intended knowledge and taking into account the moral implications of the study. For example, planning the interviews with 30 high school pupils and 6 teachers.

  1. Interviewing: conduct the interviews based on an interview guide and with a reflective approach to the knowledge sought and the interpersonal relation of the interview situation. For example, a detailed guide was used for the individual interviews, each of which lasted about 45 minutes and was tape-recorded.

  1. Transcribing: prepare the interview material for analysis, which generally includes a transcription from oral speech to written text. For example, all 36 pupil and teacher interviews were transcribed verbatim, resulting in about 1,000 pages of transcripts.

  1. Analyzing: decide, on the basis of he purpose and topic of the investigation and of the nature of he interview material, which modes of analysis are appropriate for the interviews. For example, the 30 pupil interviews were categorized with respect to different forms of grading behavior. The interviews with pupils and the teachers were also subjected to more extensive qualitative interpretations.

  1. Verifying: ascertain the validity, reliability, and generalizability of the interview findings. Reliability refers to how consistent the results are, and validity means whether an interview study investigates what is intended to be investigated. For example, reliability and validity checks were attempted throughout the project, including interviewer and scorer reliability, and validity of interpretations.

  1. Reporting: communicate the findings of the study and the methods applied in a form that lives up to scientific criteria, takes the ethical aspects of the investigation into consideration, and results in a readable product. For example, the results were reported in a book and in journals articles.

Source: (Interviews - learning the craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing, Steiner Kvale & Svend Brinkmann )