ICT for Rural Development: Working on it

Link to the presentation: 02 06 2012_ict4rd_ricard_espelt

Catalonia, long way to collaboration

The cooperative movement started in Catalonia in the last XIX century. The movement arrived from Rochdale. Before then, except for some exceptions, rural life was based in individuality. Cooperation, on the one hand, allowed rural communities to survive. On the other hand, communities generated a democratic methodology to decide. In spite of that, things have not been so nice. Some people of each cooperative have had more power than others and democracy has not been so clear. In conclusion, even though there have been some successful episodes, crisis periods have been really difficult for rural areas in Catalonia. At the end, cooperation, as it has been applied, has not been the final solution.

ICT4RD, another opportunity for rural community

Nowadays, when I go to rural areas to speak about how ITC could improve rural life, everybody mentions collaboration. My research, in fact, focuses on how that process is possible thanks to ITC. Technology allows collaboration, linking interests, as Network Society works. For that reason, I guess rural areas have another opportunity in Catalonia, at least, to work in a different way, far from individuality. Despite that, the results of my first investigation were not good enough. Individual producers, in general, are using better ITC to improve the way they launch their products in market than traditional communities. However, that would not be strange if the communities did not work well. But there are some good reasons to believe things could be improved:

  1. Virtual communities have a new approach to participation. Maybe, that is closer to Rochdale facts than traditional cooperatives.

  2. Technologies are beating geographical gaps between rural and urban spaces.

  3. Open Source Ecology links FabLab concept to rural life. Farmers can make their own machines (by copying); even more, they can create (and share) their own discoveries.

  4. Transition Towns Network shows another way to approach to consumption (sustainability or ecology, to name but two, are important values).

  5. Consumers want to control origin or business related with products they consume. (The People’s Supermarket, for instance). That urban community is willing to spend a few hours of their time and a little quantity of money so as to know product origin and marketing benefits.


I, for one, would be interested in seeing some examples of ICT for rural development and resilience. If possible bottom-up ones: I am quite suspicious of EU funded tech projects with large tech comanies and university pushing fancy apps onto farmer :slight_smile:

But the real thing… it would also be interesting for the Unmonastery.