“ICT for Development” seems to be all the rage these days. One cannot turn anywhere without being bombarded with the conventional wisdom that ICT will solve all developmental problems, so much so that people have begun to employ the idiotic shorthand “ICT4D” without so much as a beg-your-pardon.
I appear to wage a solitary battle against that sort of foolishness. I am perfectly willing to grant that the use of ICT could definitely remove some information imperfections that prevent rapid economic growth and development in backward economies. But it is silly to attempt a technological fix to problems that are definitely not technical. Information imperfections are not the only barriers to growth. There are others that are far more important and those have to do with the culture, the institutional infrastructure, the physical infrastructure, etc. If those other barriers are not addressed as well, merely putting PCs in rural areas will not achieve much.
But the opinion that ICT will magically transform economically backward regions is widely held. In fact, I am persuaded that precisely because it is a widely held belief that one should start to suspect it. Bertrand Russell warned:
[T]he fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.
Anyway, I struggle on. It is a futile endeavor, like mud-wrestling with a pig — it is a waste of time because you cannot win and the pig enjoys it. Or even, to put it another way, like trying to teach a pig to sing: it cannot be done and it annoys the pig.