mercredi 29 octobre 2003, par Shrum Wesley
Communication among researchers is fundamental to the development of knowledge in both developed and developing areas. Internet connectivity is now a precondition for participation in research communication.
Establishing reliable and efficient connectivity at reasonable bandwidth is a task that is assumed to be relatively easy and straightforward in developed countries, but is surprisingly difficult in developing areas. The Louisiana Internet Project has sought to establish connectivity for university departments and government research institutes in India, Ghana, and Kenya for several years. The technical phase of the project were, at the outset an ’unproblematic’ followup to a long term study of research communication.
What we found surprised us. We have yet to experience an unqualified ’success’ for a variety of institutional and relational reasons. The concept of ’reagency’ is used in preference to ’development’ to explain the priority of personal relations introducing significant constraints that must be faced directly to establish connectivity in developing areas.
Wesley Shrum has been Professor of Sociology at Louisiana State University since 1982. Since 1987 he has been Secretary of the Society for Social Studies of Science, an international and interdisciplinary association for the study of science and technology with over 1200 members worldwide. The basic aims of the society are to bring together those interested in understanding the social dimensions of science, technology, engineering, and medicine through annual meetings and publications.
Professor Shrum has been studying the social networks and communication practices of scientists and engineers since the 1970s. His first book, Organized Technology : Networks and Innovation in Technical Systems (Purdue University Press, 1985), examined the social networks of researchers involved in nuclear waster and solar photovoltaic research in the U.S. In the early 1990s his primary interest shifted to the developing world, still focused on communication and collaboration in the research process. For the past ten years he has focused on Ghana, Kenya, and the state of Kerala in southwestern India. In 1994, Prof. Shrum directed comprehensive studies of the research institutions in these areas. His current studies examine the impact of the Internet on communication patterns with particular emphasize on international relations.