Amplification (Bridge)

Technology’s effect as an amplifier of human intent and capacity emerged as a clear bridge to achieving project development goals. Certain modes such as video amplified the ability of projects to clearly convey development-related information such as agricultural processes (first quote) and educational content (second quote):

“In a slide show we can’t show the whole process, only photos. By photos they [farmers] can’t understand; by video they can understand. This makes a big difference... Like compost, only one or two people would adopt. After seeing video, many people adopted for themselves.” (Member of partner organization)

“Blackboard and chalk is the key tool. Once you come out of the class, you have done the operation. But these additional programs with [project name] are a major add-on material for better understanding.” (Member of partner organization)

A particularly common theme of amplification was that the technology-mediated communication developed by project team members could be used by other organizations to support those organizations’ development goals. In other words, partner organizations could do what they do better by adopting and adapting technology-mediated communication strategies. Quotes below from stakeholders of three projects illustrate this approach to amplification:

“We thought these partners were doing good work, and our job was really to build tools to support those organizations’ development goals or missions.” (Project leader)

“What we want to see is that there is other organizations that are able to take the aspects of this model and use it without having to overinvest especially upfront, because that’s the largest struggle, and for them to realize the value as quickly as possible into the existing systems that they already have.” (Project leader)

“We are looking to create games that can support existing curriculum objectives, wherever they might be.” (Team member)

Another common theme is that conveying messages through digital media amplified existing human capacity, allowing projects to engage with greater numbers of intended beneficiaries and to increase the productivity and reach of domain experts:

“For each district, there is one [regional government organization] to support agriculture, people with expertise in this area. They do research and come up with practices about what people should do. They are covering a whole district, and a farmer may not want to come so far. The director is very enthusiastic. She said if you want to cover whole district, ecommunication is the only way.” (Team member)

“[Project name] worked with [partner organization] activities to quicken more coverage of farmers. Eight to ten people could cover 50-60 farmers, but with the TV we can over more than 100 in a day. More people will get benefit of whatever they are disseminating—more coverage.” (Team member)

“What we’re also trying to do as the government is also trying to promote using information communication technology in agriculture. Because, you know, 60 percent of our population, more than 60 percent of our population is into agriculture. It is a big challenge how to reach this many number of farmers.” (Member of partner organization)

One of the key ways that digital media amplified existing manpower was by reducing or eliminating travel. Travel has traditionally been a barrier for people in developing countries to receive information and services (Anderson et al., 2009), and transportation is becoming increasingly difficult, slow, and expensive in developing regions (Gakenheimer, 1999). Therefore, reducing the travel necessary for stakeholders to send and receive development-related information is an important bridge for meeting project goals:

“So what we’re really trying to do is transformative change by introducing new paradigms like using mobile technology to take school to the kids, rather than trying to get kids to go to school, which is really not feasible sometimes.” (Project leader)

“ICT can bridge that gap by bringing virtual farms to the lab, and professionals can look at variable situations in a single place at any day or time.” (Team member)

“In the future ICT will provide a big role in agriculture. It can only be delayed; it cannot be denied. Agriculture has not professionalized and formalized because of location. Plants cannot move; experts have to do [it] except that that constraint is addressed by ICTs.” (Team member)

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