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North American Information Initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa (NAIISA): Social Computing Environments and Implications (SIG III)

Kendra Albright, Johannes Britz and Wallace Koehler

(Submission #23)


For the past several years, informal meetings, originally coined the “Africa Forum,” have been held at ASIS&T meetings for persons interested and involved in information-related activities in Sub-Saharan Africa. Recently, there has been increasing interest in information initiatives in Africa, as evidenced by the increasing attendance at these meetings, resulting in the new name, North American Information Initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa (NAIISA) at ASIS&T 2006. The goal of these sessions is to bring together those interested and involved in African information initiatives for a formal exchange of ideas and coordination of information about projects and funding.

This year’s NAIISA session will focus on the role of social computing in Sub-Saharan Africa. This region of the world, like many developing areas, presents a variety of concerns about the role of computing and its effects on culture and society (e.g., social inclusion, the role of ICTs in development). While most Sub-Saharan countries are committed to goals of national development and want to bring about fundamental changes that will improve the lives of African peoples, the successful integration of computing leading to positive social change depends upon a number of factors. The focus of the NAIISA session this year will be on issues surrounding the use and influence of social computing within the Sub-Saharan Africa, including discussion of benefits and obstacles. Specifically, this session will consider:

• In what ways is social computing contributing to significant behavioral or attitudinal changes in Sub-Saharan Africa? How do we assess these changes?

• Is the information world getting flatter? What can we learn from Sub-Saharan perspectives?

• In what ways does web 2.0 influence the way information is created, represented, organized, stored, retrieved, and disseminated in Sub-Saharan Africa?

• In what ways are the new trends in social computing affecting information science education in Sub-Saharan Africa?


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