Computing for global development…..

I was reading this report: “Computing for Global Development -Is it Computer Science Research?” a few minutes back. Thought it was an interesting article – with some questions to ponder upon.

There are few things that captured my attention:

1. “ICTD also poses new research challenges for systems and networking researchers, given the unique constraints of applications e.g., there have been several streams of work in long-distance WiFi to connect remote rural villages to urban centers or the Internet..”
– Hmm, that left me wondering for a while – in what way will stuff like computer vision or robotics or language engineering will be posed new challenges specific to ICTD? I mean, as it will be discussed further down in the paper, as well as in my blog : What research challenges are specific to these areas…and ICTD put together? Do those challenges remain challenges even outside ICTD – i.e., does solving them ICTD imply solving a hitherto unsolved problem in those areas, in general?

2. “ICTD research not only impacts global development, but can also advance “traditional” computer science. Two examples that come to mind are WildNet and HashCache. Although motivated by applications in developing regions,these works fundamentally changed our view ….”
-Hmm..pretty interesting to know about HashCache and WildNet…. Well, I did not know of them before, so, can’t comment more until I read about them🙂

3. “ICTD is thoroughly interdisciplinary…. One issue with interdisciplinary work is that problems seen to be legitimate, even crucial, to the area often don’t contain enough research content in any one area to satisfy the contributing disciplines. Also, even if there is enough research content in one area, solving that part of the problem may be only a small portion of the larger problem being addressed. As is the case with some work in systems research, its not clear that a core technical contribution is really valuable without building the whole system. Unlike systems research, however,the whole system might include non-technical components requiring social, cultural, economic, and political efforts, as well.”
-I felt this is a very important observation. Well presented too.

4. “Third, ICTD like some other application sub fields lacks a clear definition of generic technical issues within a well circumscribed context. Just in agriculture applications, there are networking problems (e.g., connecting remote villages to urban experts), speech problems (e.g., for building a Q&A system in multiple dialects), information-retrieval problems (e.g., permitting cross-lingual, geography-relevant database queries), computer-vision problems (e.g., diagnosing diseased crops via photographs), and so on.”
-Which is where I get back to my doubts raise at point 1. From the examples given here, the problems are generally problems in those areas. However, theres another possibility – these problems are not unsolved problems in the respective areas – but there are more of engineering issues involved. Hmm, this particular part of the paper reminds me of my thoughts on sitting through the “e-sagu” talks and wondering – whats so much of research in this project (That was long back and I understood it better later)

5. “Ironically, ICTD is struggling to establish itself within a field that has itself had a history of struggling to establish itself, namely computer science.”
– Irony!🙂 It was a very interesting section – this section 3.1 – “Acceptance of applied science”. However, my doubt is this : Why should it be accepted as a sub area of computer science? Why not science in general?🙂 I mean – instead of applied computer science, why not applied science, as mentioned in the section title?

6.” It’s surprisingly difficult to find hard, technical problems that are unique to ICTD { often, the technical challenges are generic computer science research problems (e.g., better speech recognition). The portion that is relevant for ICTD is often limited to adaptation (e.g., what’s the best way to train speech recognition engines quickly in local dialects?). It’s not that challenging technical problems don’t exist in
ICTD, it’s that they’re often not obvious.”

-It goes back to 1 again🙂 Hmm, so, perhaps, ICTD researchers always keep thinking about this issue, then🙂

– I found the first part of this paper to be very readable (Until Section 3.1) – with interesting points raised. The rest of it – is not really my kind of stuff – its for an older audience I guess😉

It helped me get a better overview of the “ICTD as Computer Science Research” – question, though.

The report can be read here.

Published in: on October 14, 2009 at 1:56 pm  Comments (2)  

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  1. […] post:  Computing for global development….. Filed under long-distance Tags: below-the-rear, connect-remote, cruise-ships, frequent, […]

  2. మీకు మీ కుటుంబసభ్యులకు దీపావళి శుభాకాంక్షలు .


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