this project is sponsored by the Thomas J. Watson Foundation
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senorjosh.comAugust 2003: → Fri. 08/08
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Mission Statement
August 8, 2003
After graduating from Wesleyan University, I was given a research fellowship by the Thomas J. Watson Foundation to study the global digital divide. The fellowship will allow me to visit five countries over the course of the year: Cape Verde, South Africa, Argentina, Costa Rica and China. In each country, I will be studying the ways in which organizations and individuals are using Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to improve peoples' lives.

About the fellowship program (taken from their website)

The Watson fellowship was established in 1968 to give college graduates of unusual promise the freedom to engage in a year of independent study and travel abroad following their graduation. The program provides Fellows an opportunity for a focused and disciplined year of their own devising--a period in which they can have some surcease from the lockstep of prescribed educational and career patterns in order to explore with thoroughness a particular interest... continue reading... (pdf)

My fellowship project: "Outreach or Evangelism?"

The subject of my project is the digital divide - the disparity in access to Information and Communications Technology. The 'information revolution' has produced powerful and useful tools, but billions of people around the world have yet to benefit from these new technologies. At the same time, it must be acknowledged that not everyone will find ICT useful in the same ways. Cultural and societal differences affect the way we interact with technology, just as they affect the way we interact with one another.

Over the course of the year, I will visit many organizations and initiatives using ICT to help people. Some of these organizations simply provide equipment and training; others have developed much more creative solutions. The implementation itself is not as important as the fact that organization is meeting the needs of the people it intends to benefit - that the technology is adapted to the people, rather than the other way around.

Throughout the year, I will be writing articles to draw attention to those initiatives that have the most effective approaches to ICT for development. When appropriate, I will help these initiatives in achieving their mission. At the end of the year, I will prepare and present a comparative study of the situation in the five countries.


  • To learn about the broader implications of the digital divide from those organizations actively working to close it.
  • To assist organizations when possible, in whatever capacity I can be of the most use.
  • To promote awareness of the issues surrounding the digital divide and social inclusion via articles and briefs.

  • About this website

    I will periodically post articles, links, and information relating to my research on the main page of this website (( My original project proposal and personal statement, both written in November 2002, are still available, though they are now considerably out of date. The old mission statement, written in August 2003, is included below. Information pertaining to past professional activities (resume, publications, etc.) is available via the projects section. Lastly, a more personal account of my travels and experiences can be found under journals.

    Old mission statement:

    It seems that everywhere one looks nowadays, computers are popping up even in the most remote corners of the planet. Historically undeveloped areas are, for the first time, getting wired into global telecommunications networks. There are, however, enormous disparities in access to this technology - a "digital divide" between nations and communities. To rectify this disparity, governments and organizations are undertaking projects to promote the use of technology in underserved areas.

    In August, I will begin a year-long comparative study of different approaches used to computerize communities. Central to the study is the idea of "appropriate technology" - technology built for the people who use it, rather than the people who build it. I am interested to see how effectively the 'digital divide initiatives' are addressing the needs and wants of the communities they aim to help. The study will involve five countries - Cape Verde, South Africa, Argentina, Costa Rica, and China - and is supported by a grant from the Thomas J. Watson Foundation.

    Once the study has been completed, I will prepare a short briefing containing observations and conclusions. This briefing will be made available free of charge over the internet. Additionally, this website, which will be the homepage of the project, will be continuously updated throughout the year. Currently, it is undergoing a massive overhaul, and little content is in place. Check back soon for updates. If you like, you can read more about my proposed project and my motivation for doing it.

    An outline of my itinerary can be found here

    Posted by senorjosh at August 8, 2003 06:40 PM
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