If you build it, it doesn’t matter: Author Kentaro Toyama throws cold water on tech utopias

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Last Wednesday, on the third floor of the Electronic Frontier Foundation offices in San Francisco, a few dozen attendees — representing the payrolls of a number of Silicon Valley concerns, along with cyber-libertarians of various synthetic hair-colors — gathered for an hourlong presentation and discussion of a newly published tome with a techbro-baiting title: Geek Heresy: Saving Social Change from the Cult of Technology.

The book is an examination of ICT4D, which is neither a new Star Wars character nor an exotic psychoactive substance but a field of academic and commercial research, standing for Information and Communication Technologies for Development.

Geek Heresy’s author, Kentaro Toyama, is a computer science academic and a founding executive of Microsoft Research India. He’s a ten year veteran of corporate ICT4D efforts, and his experience has furnished him with a message to those who believe technology is a driver of social change: It isn’t…

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