Play as Freedom: Implications for ICT4D
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Information and Communication Tech nologies for Development (ICT4D) deals with understanding the relationship between modern technology use and social and economic development. While play may not appear as an immediate concern to the field, a recent body of work has emerged questioning the role of play in ICT4D and the reasons behind its apparent dismissal. Some have even argued that aspects of pleasure and enjoyment get only marginal treatment within academic studies of technology more generally. In ICT4D however, concerns over lack of resources and a sense of urgency in addressing more pressing needs, creates in itself an added set of boundaries which may further restrict both the playful activities themselves, as well as their recognition in academic work. In this work I will revisit the work done in ICT4D with regards to play in order to frame the contributions that lie herein.
I will revisit in this work two distinct projects I have worked in during my PhD: the first an ethnographic fieldwork in Rah Island, Vanuatu, where I documented the first weeks of mobile phone usage; the second project took place during an internship at Microsoft Research India, where I participated in the design, development and deployment of KrishiPustak, a social networking system for low-literate users in rural areas around Hunsur district. To understand and unpack my reflections around play in both these projects, I propose a framing of play as a freedom, inspired by Amartya Sen’s work, discussing three of its roles: its instrumental role, in that play serves as a vehicle for achieving secondary outcomes, such as with educational games; its constructive role, in that play in itself unleashes an attitude of deliberation over the boundaries that surround play, questioning and re shaping those boundaries. I draw on Christena Nippert-Eng’s notion of boundary play and boundary work to explore the contributions that play has in constructively determining and reshaping values, goals and priorities in ICT4D work.
But most importantly, this thesis emphasizes play’s third role, its intrinsic role to be the starting point of any understanding: i.e. play is important because people have reasons to value play. This urges us to consider the intrinsic importance, not only to observe play as it unfolds, but to actively design for, and open up opportunities for play to occur.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2015. , 97 p.
TRITA-CSC-A, ISSN 1653-5723 ; 2015:11
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-167978ISBN: 978-91-7595-599-5OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-167978DiVA: diva2:813616
2015-06-11, Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, KTH, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Donner, Jonathan, Senior Researcher
Höök, Kristina, Professor
QC 201505252015-05-252015-05-242015-06-12Bibliographically approved
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