Posted to the Ethnos Project by on December 6th, 2013

My position is that a shortage of detailed and compelling problem statements is the primary bottleneck that prevents most computer scientists from conducting research in ICT4D. While interesting problems exist, they are usually discovered via months of fieldwork, and there is little incentive to formalize and disseminate problems for the benefit of other researchers. To address this bottleneck, I argue that we should create a prestigious venue for publishing problem descriptions, rather than problem solutions. I also propose that we establish problem-exchange websites to solicit problems from practitioners; organize structured design contests that aggregate knowledge in a problem area; and leverage the domain knowledge of funding agencies in defining technical research problems.

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