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ARNIC Welcomes Dr. Michael L. Best to Discuss ICTD Research

Michael Best
Ivan Allen College
Georgia Institute of Technology

On September 4th, ARNIC kicked off the academic year with speaker Dr. Michael L. Best, who spoke on topics surrounding ICTD (information and communication technology and development) research.

Dr. Best is an associate professor with the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs and the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology where he directs the Technologies and International Development Lab. He was founding director of the United Nations University Institute on Computing and Society (UNU-CS) in Macau SAR, China. He holds a Ph.D. from MIT and has served as director of Media Lab Asia in India and head of the eDevelopment group at the MIT Media Lab. Dr. Best has over 100 published papers in journals, proceedings, and books.

With three years of experience as the founding director of an ICTD research institute within the United Nations, Dr. Best provided background on ICTD research and posed some critical questions to the seminar attendees.

For those who were new to the concept of ICTD, Dr. Best noted that this research focus brings together computing and social scientists who are focused on the intersection of communication technologies. While this research has historically focused on the Global South, one question Dr. Best posed centered around geographic specificity.  In particular, he asked—is the divide between the Global North and Global South still a relevant framework for ICTD? Seminar attendees discussed this question in the context of a starkly increasing wealth disparity not only across but within both regions.

In addition to considering the geographic divide, Dr. Best prompted attendees to consider how disciplinary divides and cultural dynamics may impede or enhance ability to work in an interdisciplinary fashion. As ICTD research aims to connect social scientists and computer scientists to address larger questions in the field, how can ICTD research promote a respectful and approachable dialogue between what otherwise may be somewhat disparate fields? While the answers aren’t yet clear, the ARNIC discussion prompted thoughtful insight from faculty, graduate students, and visiting scholars alike. Thank you to Dr. Best for his thought-provoking discussion.

Our next ARNIC seminar will take place on Thursday, October 4 at 12:30 pm in ASC 236. More details will soon be available. For any questions, email sierra.bray@usc.edu.