This panel examines the record of digital technologies and asks what we might do to re-engineer them to fulfil their early promise.
Fibre optic internet cables have now connected almost every part of the world into a giant web of networks. Pundits once claimed this infrastructure would allow everyone to raise her voice, speak her mind, learn from others and hold authorities to account. A decade on, a far more subdued mood has settled, with reports of targeted misinformation campaigns and nefarious surveillance the world over. This panel examines the record of digital technologies and asks what we might do to re-engineer them to fulfil their early promise. How might these infrastructures be used to generate more accurate information about contexts usually ignored or misconstrued by mainstream news outlets? How might we encourage users to actually listen and learn from those outside their own networks? How might we reconfigure these systems for deliberation and transparency, rather than divisiveness?
Nanjala Nyabola is a writer and researcher based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her work focuses on the intersection between technology, media, and society. She is the author of Digital Democracy, Analogue Politics: How the Internet Era is Transforming Politics in Kenya (Zed Books, 2018) and Travelling While Black: Essays Inspired by a Life on the Move (Hurst Books, 2020).
Idrees Ahmad, is the Director of Journalism at the University of Essex. He is a founding editor of New Lines magazine and a contributing editor at the Los Angeles Review of books. He writes for the New York Review of Books, Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, Times Literary Supplement, The Observer among others. He is on Twitter: @im_pulse.
Amil Khan is a former Reuters foreign correspondent and BBC investigative journalist. He started working with right-based groups in the Middle East when the Arab Spring kicked off. In 2020, seeing online manipulation emerge as a critical threat to journalists, activists and political movements across the world, he founded Valent Projects with the aim of levelling the playing field
Kecheng Fang is an Assistant Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. His research interests include digital media, journalism, and political communication.
Laura Mann is a sociologist whose research focuses on the political economy of development, knowledge and technology. Her regional focus is East Africa (Sudan, Kenya and Rwanda) but she has also worked on collaborative research on ICTs and BPO in Asia and has conducted fieldwork in North America as part of a project on digitisation within global agriculture.
This talk is part of the Cutting Edge Issues in Development Thinking & Practice 2022 series, a high-profile lecture series run by the Department of International Development at LSE and organised by Dr Laura Mann and Professor in Practice Duncan Green.
The Department of International Development promotes interdisciplinary postgraduate teaching and research on processes of social, political and economic development and change.
Twitter Hashtag for this series: #CuttingEdge2022