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Refereed Papers

Track: Technology for Developing Regions

Paper Title:
Communication as Information-Seeking: The Case for Mobile Social Software for Developing Regions


In this paper, we describe several findings from a multi-year, multi-method study of how information and communication technologies have been adopted and adapted in Central Asia. We have found that mobile phone usage is outpacing that of Internet adoption, that access to the Internet is primarily through public access sites carrying with it issues regarding privacy and surveillance, that people rely on their social networks as information sources, that public institutions tend to be fairly weak as citizen resources, and that information seeking and communication are conflated in peoples usage patterns with different technologies. In addition, in the developed world social networking software has grown rapidly and shown itself to have significant potential for mobilizing a population. Based on the collection of findings from Central Asia and observing patterns of technology usage in other parts of the world, our research leads to the conclusion that exploring mobile social software holds significant potential as an ICT that meshes well with preexisting patterns of communication and information seeking and also leverages the most predominant pattern of technology adoption. Many of the findings from this research echo results from studies in other geographic areas, and so we anticipate that much of this research will be relevant to developing regions generally.

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