We are but one set of curators working among a massive network of people
who have collaborated across a number of different plateaus to give rise to
myriad ideas. As a friend once said about a conference they were discuss-
ing to Katherine Reilly, the coeditor of this book, “we need to think of this
not as a single forum, but rather as mil mini foros (a million mini forums)
that take place through each conversation, each experience, each activity.”
Similarly, this book is just one expression of a complex conversation; with
that in mind, we’d like to use this space to tell you how it came into being.
In 2008, the Information Technology for Development Program Area
at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) did a review
of emerging scholarship in the study of information and communication
technologies for development (ICT4D). Looking back over the last five
years of research in this area, and looking toward the future, they noticed a
significant trend. One word best captured it: openness.
As IDRC began to expand its work in the area of openness, it devel-
oped a working paper titled “Open ICT4D.”1
“Open ICT Ecosystems Transforming the Developing World” in the journal
Information Technology and International Development in March 2010. In that
work, Matthew Smith and his colleague Laurent Elder hypothesized that
open social systems could amplify and transform social activities in ways
that would radically alter the impacts of ICTs on development.
This led to the publication of