Computer underground Digest Thu July 1 1999 Volume 11 : Issue 28

Computer underground Digest    Thu  1 July, 1999   Volume 11 : Issue 28
                           ISSN  1004-042X

       Editor: Jim Thomas (
       News Editor: Gordon Meyer (
       Archivist: Brendan Kehoe
       Croupy Editor:       Etaion Shrdlu, III
       Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
                          Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
                          Ian Dickinson
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CONTENTS, #11.28 (Thu, 1 July, 1999)

File 1--Upcoming in future CuDs
File 2--Creating a "latest.txt" CuD File on Homepage?
File 3--Comptuer Acculturation: Technological Ramifications....
File 4--Cu Digest Header Info (unchanged since 10 Jan, 1999)


Date: Thu, 01 Jul 99 13:27 CDT
From: Cu Digest 
Subject: File 1--Upcoming in future CuDs

In the next few months, CuD will intersperse regular issues with
longer special issue on thematic topics.  Readers who wish to
contribute to a particular issue with a substantive commenatary
or research note should limit it to about 35 K. nd be sure to sen

The next few issues of CuD will attempt to clear out the backlog
of posts that are still semi-timely, including at least two
issues of Rob Slade's book reviews.


Date: Sun, 4 Jul 1999 22:29:45 +0200
From: "Daniel Connolly & Nicola Hamilton" 
Subject: File 2--Creating a "latest.txt" CuD File on Homepage?

Could you put the latest CU-Digest in a particular file which
always has the same name? For example . This way I
could point at it and automatically get the
latest CU digest on my Palm organizer, where I could read it
at my leisure? Other readers might be interested in this too.

=== CuD Moderators' Response: ===

We'll give this a try. Starting with this issue, the latest
version of CuD will be available at:

We'll do this through the end of the year, and if readers find
it useful (as determined by the number of "hits"), we'll continue
retain it.


From: "lroman@" 
Subject: File 3--Computer Acculturation: Tech Ramifications....
Date: Sun, 13 Jun 1999 22:42:07 -0500

Lisiunia A. Romanienko
BA Rutgers University, MS New School for Social Research

                     Computer Acculturation:
    Technological Ramifications for International Development


This paper critically examines the potential impact of computer
technology upon international development activities. The author
offers economic, social, and political underpinnings of popular
arguments presented in the literature, and suggests that prudent
implementation is possible.  Dependency on the west, contrasting
levels of technological absorption by class, and global economic
competitiveness are some of the factors discussed that are used
to provide cautious support for the continued expansion of
computer technology as a component of development efforts
currently underway in the southern hemisphere.

Computer Acculturation:

Technological Ramifications for International Development

by Lisiunia A. Romanienko
Louisiana State University
Department of Sociology
Baton Rouge, LA 70803


This paper critically examines the potential impact of computer
technology upon international development activities. The author
offers economic, social, and political underpinnings of popular
arguments presented in the literature, and suggests that prudent
implementation is possible.  Dependency on the west, contrasting
levels of technological absorption by class, and global economic
competitiveness are some of the factors discussed that are used
to provide cautious support for the continued expansion of
computer technology as a component of development efforts
underway in the southern hemisphere.

KEY WORDS: science and technology, international development,
computer technology, public policy


If there is technological advance without social
advance, there is, almost automatically, an increase in
human misery, in impoverishment.

-Michael Harrington in The Other America  1962

There is increasing reliance upon computer technology in all
facets of modern life within industrialized nations of the world.
Some theorists have touted the computer as having the potential
to free mankind from all constraints, while others have warned of
the computers role in facilitating the demise of the world as we
know it.  Within these dichotomous perspectives, the majority of
intellectuals, industry analysts, policy makers, and other
interested constituents expect that little can be done to alter
the progress of computer technology.  Regardless of perspective,
these inanimate blocks of electronic circuitry lead to intense
discourse throughout the world.

There are many valid arguments espoused by both supporters and
detractors of computer technology.  Computers have been described
as crucial tools that increase efficiency, enhance problem
solving abilities, create opportunities for rapid analysis of
data, and provide users with the ability to engage in swift
communication.  These are just some of the beneficial
characteristics cited that perpetuate the increased reliance upon
microcomputers in everyday life.  If computers have resulted in
such favorable consequences for modern, industrialized society,
then logically it would follow that computers can have a similar
impact upon the development of Third World nations.  In order to
investigate the potential for beneficial influences of computer
technology in international development efforts, it would be
prudent to examine the issues within a sociopolitical framework.

In this essay, I intend to examine the impact of computer
technology upon international development, evaluate the potential
for computers to facilitate efforts to improve living conditions
among the poor, examine the strengths and weaknesses of various
positions in view of sociopolitical considerations, and summarize
the criteria for responsible technological implementation.


Supporters of computer technology espouse the notion that
computers will be the singularly most crucial tool in future
efforts toward economic development and the elimination of
poverty in underdeveloped nations. According to their research,
computer technology is perceived to be able to eliminate
traditional inequities of power, and lead to equal distribution
of wealth.

They even project that computer technology can promote such
empowerment among the oppressed globally, that computers will
have an important role in establishing a quality of participatory
democracy in the Third World unlike any currently found today.
One strong supporter of computer technology to strengthen
international economic solidarity is the United States' Vice
President Al Gore.  He recently described his vision of the role
of computers in creating a utopian democratic world.

I have come here to ask you to help create a Global Information
Infrastructure [GII]. These networks of distributed
intelligence...will spread participatory democracy. In a sense,
GII will be a metaphor for democracy itself.  Representative
democracy does not work with an all powerful
government--arrogating all decision to itself.  Instead,
representative democracy relies on the assumption that the best
way for a nation to make its political decisions is for each have the power to control his or her own life.  The
GII will in fact promote the functioning of democracy by greatly
enhancing the participation of citizens in decision-making.

Although the goal is a lofty one, the sentiment that the Vice
President holds is shared by theorists from industrialized
nations around the world.  The power of computer technology is
considered enormous, and as having the potential to substantially
improve the lives of traditionally marginalized people.   In
addition to improving living conditions, it has also been
suggested that computers will empower the poor and alleviate much
of the suffering associated with poverty.  How realistic is this
view ?  It may be necessary to examine the impact of computers
upon industrial, western societies, before turning our attention
to the potential of computers applications in the Third World.


In examining the effect that computers have had upon
industrialized nations, one can conclude that there has been
little improvement in the conditions of the impoverished during,
or as a consequence of, the computer revolution. To respond to
the lack of economic improvement, and to bolster continued
support, advocates advance the notion that the poor should be
more directly involved in computer technological development.
Once direct involvement in production and utilization occurs, the
disenfranchised will presumably be in a position to reap the
economic and financial rewards of participation in the
information age.  Because they make up such a significant
proportion of the world's poor, it may be useful to examine the
role of women and their relationship with computer technology.
Many feminists have called for greater participation and
leadership among women in computer technology in order to
strengthen their economic status and eliminate the continued
phenomenon of feminine poverty.  First, involvement with
technology empowers women and engenders self-confidence.
Learning how to manipulate the man-made environment...helps end
the paralyzing sense of passivity, helplessness and dependency
that can keep women from achieving full control they seek over
their lives.

This suggests greater participation of the poor in the existing
normative power structure as a method of empowerment. But is it
the poor and their lack of involvement in technological computer
advancements that should be blamed, or the environment that
creates obstacles for their participation ?

In my view, all attempts to analyze the exclusion of those within
the existing power structure through participation in
technological culture perpetuates the hegemony. The premise in
this type of analysis is that the existing social stratification
is an appropriate one that should remain stable and unchanging,
particularly where technological concerns define stratification
levels.  To suggest that the poor should take it upon themselves
to "get online" as a method to gain economic strength is an
unrealistic expectation.   In terms of Third World development,
this type of objective is even more unlikely.  Such progress
cannot occur without the assistance of the industrialized world.
A nation's economic strength has an impact upon its ability to
engage in research and development efforts, and hence, provide
its citizens with broad access to computer technology.
Furthermore, highly developed countries dominate the fields of
science and technology, so it is unrealistic to expect similar
levels of participation when computer technology is unavailable.
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO), developing countries which
represent 70% of the world population have only 5% of the world's
research and development capacity.  Independent participation in
the information revolution without intervention from
industrialized nations will be a difficult, if not impossible
goal for Third World nations to obtain.

Perhaps the redistribution of computer technology control, or an
admission of the limitations inherent in the use of computers as
a tool to empower the poor, should be incorporated in planning
and analysis.  The redistribution of control of computer
technology was cited as a top priority by the International
Federation of Information Processing (IFIP) at a recent United
Nations Conference on Science and Technology for Development.
Computer technology is assuming more and more wide ranging
implications, while the industry is becoming more and more
concentrated in the hands of a few countries and companies.
Clearly such a situation cannot continue long without adverse
consequences for progress, particularly for developing countries.

Rather than focusing the analysis on limitations that may be
inherent of the technology itself, supporters instead have
focused upon the actors involved.  The lack of economic
improvement as a result of contemporary technological
transformations has been blamed on the poor, and particularly
women, in their failure to obtain the necessary training for
achievement in related careers.  The impoverished are faulted for
not having taken a more proactive approach in enabling computer
technology to have a beneficial impact upon their lives.  Is
there some validity to the claim that the poor are responsible
for their failure to reap the rewards of technological
transformations ?  In evaluating this admonition, it may be
useful to briefly examine access to digital occupational
opportunity structures.

To determine the level of participation of traditionally
marginalized individuals in technical employment, it may be
useful to examine employment and prestige within an historical
context.  Programming is a good indicator of the potential for
the increase of status among labor force participants in computer

The very first computer was programmed by a woman in 1840 , and
several other females have made substantial contributions since
that time. There was, initially, very limited prestige associated
with this specialization.  Then, as languages increased in
sophistication, so did masculinization of the field.  As prestige
and wage levels increased, women who were already involved in
programming met with increased obstacles in the form of
heightened credentialing, compulsory professional association
membership, increasingly limited employment vacancies, and other
gate-keeping institutional mechanisms that prevented their
continued inclusion.  Despite these and other constraints, they
remained in the field of computer programming and have, more
recently, entered the field in substantial numbers.  This
phenomenon has resulted in decreased wages and prestige measures,
and is consistent with Weber's concept of social closure of
prestige for sex-atypical workers.

The field of computer technology has been consistent with other
industries in the failure to enhance employment opportunities and
improve the economic status of traditionally marginalized groups.
There is actually evidence to support the notion that computer
technology has, in fact, widened the disparities within the
existing class structure.  Contrary to the popular sentiment that
computers will improve economic conditions in the future for a
wide variety of people, many analysts now suggest that there will
actually be a detrimental effect upon the existing class
structures within industrialized nations.  Without a sweeping,
concrete plan to decentralize control over new technology, it
will be impossible to avoid the "Third Worldization" of the First
World -- a process that would exacerbate the gap between the rich
and the poor, decimate the working class, and create a large,
lower class of desperate service workers.

The labor force participation of the poor and women in computer
technology has not been advantageous in the United States.  The
environment has been described by researchers as dismal at best.
As indicative of other booming industries of the past, women and
the poor have had very limited involvement in the production,
distribution, and utilization of computer technology; and instead
are typically associated only remotely through low-skilled jobs
such as in the production of chips and as assemblers, often
through obscure subcontracting relationships with organizations
who compensate them far below survivable wages with no benefits
or job security, and under conditions that are often hazardous to
their health.  These occupational environments have been widely
documented among Latina workers in both the US and Mexico, as
well as in Asian women both here and abroad.  For immigrant,
sometimes undocumented, Third World women, who constitute the
majority of electronics assemblers, has a
different meaning.  Those minimally skilled Asian women and
Latinas who hope to earn a living in high tech environments like
Silicon Valley find themselves packing circuit boards on a
piecework basis in their kitchens and garages, often pressing
their children into service, even if dangerous chemicals are

The evidence shows that the proliferation and increased reliance
upon computer technology has had little positive effect upon the
lives of the poor.  This is particularly egregious in light of
the tremendous profits being enjoyed by many investors, analysts,
and specialists within the computer sciences.  Aside from the
obvious economic ramifications, computers are also viewed by many
as having negative sociocultural consequences upon contemporary
society, and the poor in particular.  Among these are its'
tendency to isolate us within our homes and workplace, reduce
human interaction, ".substitute vicarious experiences for direct
knowledge, [and] support the physical atomization of the


Computers have had other deleterious effects upon industrialized
culture. As technological transformations continue within an
environment of increasing complexity and rapid advancement, there
are concerns regarding widespread, sometimes haphazard computer
applications.  Reduction of the right to privacy, increases in
technocrimes, systems incompatibility, unnecessary complexity,
planned obsolescence, reduction in efficiency, and increased
interrelatedness (and hence reliance) upon massive economic,
legal, social, and financial global computer systems are all
potentially significant problems of concern.  Criticism regarding
computers and their role in the recent decline of Asian economic
markets are remarkably ubiquitous.  Even the most outspoken
supporters of continued expansion of computer technology are
beginning to acknowledge some of the negative social, political,
and cultural ramifications of the technology who call for greater
caution in formulating the criteria for broader applications of
computer technology in the future.  Contemporary technologies
contribute indirectly to diverse social ills, and in particular
subtle ways to significantly hinder participatory democratic
decision making.  Yet if technologies' social and political
potency is not taken into account, the best we can hope for is
improvements in productivity or in addressing basic social needs
that are nonetheless associated with further unintended declines
in political engagement, attenuation of community bonds,
experiential divorce from nature, individual purposelessness, and
expanding disparities in wealth. Fortunately, it is possible to
envision alternative technological strategies and designs that,
while still fulfilling vital economic and social needs, can also
help sustain democratic community, civic engagement, and social
justice.  Thus the point is not to reject all technology
outright--clearly a ludicrous proposition--but rather to become
more discriminating in how we design, choose, and use

There is yet another perspective among theorists who vehemently
oppose the information revolution that computers have brought
upon us, and base much of their pessimism upon the notion that
computers have been disappointing in terms of the revolutionary
potential anticipated, particularly when examining complexity and
its' effect upon sociocognitive processes.  The claim made that
computer applications have a tendency to make individuals,
groups, institutions, and nations (including less developed
societies, their governments, commerce, markets, and cultures)
unnecessarily complicated warrants further scrutiny.  There is a
tremendous body of literature on the inevitability of complexity
which deals harshly with issues of computer intelligence.  One
criticism offered is that the methods required in computer use
force unnatural cognitive processes upon us. Computers, they
suggest, constrain thinking by compartmentalizing stages of
thought within logical frameworks.  This construct is an
unnatural way of approaching problem-solving and skills-building.
They fear that expanded reliance upon computers will
substantially reduced our future generation's abilities to engage
in higher level cognitive functioning, and will be especially
detrimental to human creativity.   Detractors also claim that our
memories are being irretrievably impaired, as a result of
increased access to irrelevant and unnecessary information.
Though increased access to information through computers is
revered and highly valued by many, researchers claim that there
are negative ramifications of exposure to overwhelming amounts of
information.   Knowledge advancement is neglected while the value
of useless facts is distorted and exaggerated.  Since the
computer has made it easier to collect data, we have acquired
overwhelming amounts of it, without considering whether or not it
is important or useful to have.  As a result, we are swimming in
redundancy and sinking in `facts.' Already it seems impossible to
sort out which information is essential for survival in an overly
complex world, and the computer revolution has barely begun.

Despite the evidence that increased access to knowledge has had
little economic or social beneficial impact upon the poor,
theorists have remained optimistic for the potential for computer
networks in international development applications. The prospect
that increased information and communication to improve the
living conditions of the poor in the Third World is perhaps the
most farfetched.  The information superhighway is being promoted
as a powerful means to even out the disparities and inequalities
that afflict people.  But the very basis of the nonnegotiable
foundation of the project contradicts that promise.  A privately
constructed and owned system will, of necessity, embody the
essential features of a private enterprise. Will the creation of
privately financed and publicly owned , high speed,
multicapability circuits carrying broad streams of messages and
images reduce the gaps in living conditions across the globe?

Those who have a thorough understanding of the depths of poverty
in underdeveloped (as well as industrialized nations) will
concede that there is little direct or indirect effect of the
information revolution upon the poor.  From a global economic
perspective, it may, however, be in an underdeveloped nation's
interest to join the information revolution in order to threaten
the hegemony of the existing technological normative structure.
To compete within a global economy, underdeveloped countries will
be required to integrate themselves within banking,
manufacturing, commerce, transportation, and other international
computer network applications.  Because there is currently such
heavy reliance upon computers in these public and private sector
industries, this has been the singularly most compelling
rationale for underdeveloped nations obtaining substantial
computer science and technological sophistication.


>From an economic perspective, widespread reliance upon computers
will enable Third World nations to engage fairly in the global
marketplace, reduce the costs associated with exchange, and
reduce self-imposed trade barriers.  Competition will require
efficient, productive, competitive industries that engage in data
manipulation through computer technology.  The popular believe
then, suggests that the development of these sectors, possible
only through computer technology, is the most important component
bolstering a country's Gross Domestic Product.  In order to
enable nations to participate more fully and competitively in
these international activities, economists remain overwhelmingly
in favor of Third World familiarity with computers as quickly as
possible.  The most popular justification is in international
integration of all these activities, particularly in banking and
transportation.  There are few who would argue against
international cooperation, and most analysts would agree that the
integration of banking and transportation are crucial.   The
initial imagery evoked is one of efficient disbursement of funds
to aid in development; as well as the safe and cost-effective
transportation of food, medical supplies, and goods from place to

But critics argue that any international development objective
involving the creation and operation of global computer systems
such as in banking applications, would reek havoc on the world.
They fear that computer technology would produce models that will
become too powerful of an asset in the hands of their creators.
Since so much data is generated by the global economy, virtually
no individual or team of human being can currently digest it.
 But computers can use international data and analyze it.
Because no one understands the current world economy, there is no
central executive control.  This, they suggest, could change as
computer technology becomes more sophisticated.  Detractors
against massive international computer integration claim that an
even wider disparity will exist between highly developed and
underdeveloped nations, and that integration through computer
technology will merely pave the way to expand economic and
political dominance by the US, Japan, and Western Europe over
developing countries.

Aside from the argument involving international integration, it
would be useful to discuss the realistic financial constraints
for the Third World.   When engaging in a cost-benefit analysis,
the prospect of increased reliance upon computers within the
Third World becomes dubious.  How can a country's administrators
allocate precious public revenue to computer equipment when faced
with skyrocketing rates of infant mortality, overpopulation,
starvation, and infectious diseases ?   Many would apply what is
known as the Malthusian prognosis, which would reflect Reverend
Thomas Malthus' assertion that the workers of the world will be
doomed to live a subsistence existence.   Computer technology is
seen by many as having little beneficial effect upon the
inevitable class divisions within capitalist economies.

Of all the computer enthusiasts' political ideas, there is none
more poignant than the faith that the computer is destined to
become a potent equalizer in modern society.  Presumably, all
citizens equipped with microcomputers will be able to counter the
influence of large, computer-based organizations.  Notions of
this kind echo beliefs of eightieth century revolutionaries that
placing fire arms in the hands of the people was crucial to
overthrowing entrenched authority.  In a contest of force against
force, the larger, more sophisticated, more ruthless, better
equipped competitor often has the upper hand.  Hence the
availability of low cost computing power may move the baseline
that defines electronic dimensions of social influence, but it
does not necessarily alter the balance of power.

There is an even greater problem facing developing nations with
hopes that computers can facilitate economic strength.
Opposition to international efforts for broad reforms through the
implementation of computer technology cite the potential for
dependency as the most pressing concern.  In examining the
experiences of Third World nations who have already embraced
computer technology, inadvertent dependency, rather than
increases in autonomy, has been the unfortunate characteristic of
linkages that flourish.  Typically, decisions are made, policies
are implemented, funding identified, and acquisition ensues.
Short-term dependency manifests in acquiring the necessary
hardware and software, while long-term dependency develops
through the reliance upon technical assistance available only
through the west.  In light of the criticisms offered that weaken
the position of advocates for computer technology as the
salvation of the Third World, historians observe that computers
are just one technology within a long history of industrialized
advances that have had little effect on the pervasive problems of
international poverty in underdeveloped and industrialized
nations.  Each industrial transformation throughout time has
invariably maintained existing class, race, gender, and ethnic
divisions.   As occupations increasingly require highly technical
skills for even the lowest status jobs, there is already
startling evidence that occupational changes will result in an
even greater distinction between the upper and lower classes.
Economists and class analysts have projected that these changes
will eventually result in the bifurcation of the middle class,
producing two polarized groups with disproportionately
distributed resources.


Despite the overwhelming evidence that computer sciences have
done little in regard to the redistribution of wealth and control
in industrialized nations, I believe that we are prepared for
responsible sharing of computer technology with underdeveloped
nations.  With these serious social, political, and economic
considerations in mind, Third World nations can carefully accept
assistance from the west in terms of increasing their computer
technological sophistication.  There are many conditions that
should be met however, before we facilitate widespread computer
acculturation in underdeveloped nations.  Internal conflict can
arise if the technology is not implemented within a practical,
sociotechnopolitical framework that takes into account local
cultural and sociological considerations.  Also, support should
be provided to determine the wisest implementation policies.
This way, there is an enhanced likelihood that benefits are
maximized while detrimental effects are prevented.  How can this
challenging agenda be met, particularly when determining initial
access priorities ?  Internal class conflict may be an
unfortunate but necessary processual byproduct of initial
implementation strategies.  Even if internal conflict results in
class divisions when determining who will have access to computer
technology, the science can potentially improve the lives of some
Third World citizens.  Select benefit are, in my view, favorable
to having no improvement to any citizens at all.  Increased
reliance and even dependency upon the West is favorable to the
current conditions of pervasive poverty, illness, crowding,
starvation, migration, and early mortality found in less
developed nations.  It is becoming abundantly clear that these
nations will be compelled by international charitable aid
organizations to use computers widely in the future. The
international nongovernmental sector is expected to have an
increasingly compelling role in motivating underdeveloped nations
to use computers.  The international relief community, through
its' attached requirements upon aid, has such faith that
computers will help developing countries to enhance international
development and cooperation efforts that expectations of Third
World computer familiarity are already high.  The belief of the
efficiency of computers will be the singularly most powerful
motivational factor in computer acculturation in Third World
nations.  The specific justifications provided by international
aid organizations for computer applications include the
technology's ability to assist nations to integrate with existing
systems of commerce, improve problem-solving and analysis on a
governmental level, improve management and thereby efficiency,
expand existing resources, enhance international communications,
and maintain economic competitiveness in the new world order.

The implementation of the policies espoused by the international
nonprofit relief sector, including the United Nations, is already
underway.  Acclimation of computer technology is an increasing
necessity for nations and their nongovernmental organizations to
obtain crucial aid available.  In-kind gifts of computer
equipment are being donated in increasing numbers, and
institutions, particularly in education, are being expected to
use computers in all disciplines, in all pedagogical aspects, in
all grades.

On one level, the recent increased expectation of technological
sophistication is not in the best interest of the Third World.
To furnish cultures with such technical equipment without regard
for local culture, built-in technical assistance, concern for
assimilation in existing organizational climate, and other
conditions necessary for smooth and proper integration; the
usefulness of relief efforts involving computers are
questionable.   Because much is already known about computer
technology in its' application in modern, industrialized, Western
nations, those individuals and organizations who have a role in
assisting Third World nations in the assimilation of computer
technology should accept responsibility for the appropriate
transfer and application of that technology so that others can
learn from a half a century of western computer experiences.

[T]o extend strong support to the judicious application of new
information as the bridge the gap in this
domain between developing and industrialized nations
[requires]...recognizing the difficulties for developing
countries...and [the need for] long-term planning for each

If international aid organizations are determined to facilitate
computer use in Third World nations, then the sector has a
responsibility to assure that these drastic changes are brought
about responsibly.  There is a large body of literature regarding
the prudent methods of change.  Recommendations have been made
that suggest that it is possible to increase the likelihood of
beneficial consequences. If approached properly, the risks
associated with computer acculturation can be minimal in light of
the potential benefits, particularly when examined within the
framework of international economic competition.  Much of the
evidence supports our view that information technology is
essential to developing countries if they wish to modernize their
infrastructures, survive in economic terms and compete
internationally, and if they wish to be in electronic
communication with each other and the developed countries for
such purposes as trade.  In all sectors including agriculture,
industry, commerce, health, education, defense, local government,
transport, energy, and water, the technology offers opportunities
which are being seized in the Third World.  Foreign aid
programs...even require it.  Conversely, it threatens countries
which neglect it, because neglecting it widens the technological
gap between industrial and developing countries.

Others recommend caution, particularly in national perception of
what computer technology is capable of doing.

This doesn't mean that technologies are necessarily the single
most important factor influencing political life. Rather
technologies are sufficiently important--and so inextricably
intertwined with other factors, such as legislation, the
distribution of wealth, race and gender relations, international
affairs and so on, that we must learn to subject technologies to
the same rigorous political scrutiny and involvement that should
be afforded to those other factors.

As a finally cautionary note, the concept of omnipotent
technology should be consistently taken into account when
implementing international relief efforts that involve computer
technology applications.   Belief in, and dependency upon,
computer technology has the potential to perpetuate the concept
of technology as omnipotent, which is clearly a myth when applied
to an analysis of potential for the alleviation of suffering and
poverty in the Third World.


There is, in my view, significant potential for computer
technology to be used as one component of comprehensive
development efforts which seek to address the multiplicity of
factors that contribute to poverty in the Third World.  Taking
into account the many limitations outlined in this paper, coupled
with indigenous sociopolitical strategic considerations in mind,
industrialized nations (and the United States in particular) have
an obligation to see that computer technology, where applicable,
can be used as an important tool to assist in international
development efforts.   In the words of the Chair of the Technical
Committee 9 of the International Federation of Information
Processing regarding applications of computer technology,
Establishing socio-technical systems cannot solve problems for
the working man, but only with him; and his needs as a human
being must take precedence over technological and economic

Due largely to my cautious but confident belief that
nongovernmental and government organizations can prudently
implement computer technology without significant cultural and
humanistic devastation, I remain guardedly optimistic about the
impact of computer technology on future international development


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Press, New York, 1990

Inose, Hiroshi  and Pierce, John  Information Technology and
Civilization.  WH Freeman and Company, New York, 1984

Landauer, Thomas  The Trouble With Computers.  Cambridge, Mass.
MIT Press, 1995

Lind, Per  Computerization in Developing Countries: Model and
Reality.  Routledge Publishing, London, 1991

Mandel, Ernest  Late Capitalism, 1972

Pagels, Heinz  The Dreams of Reason: The Computer and the Rise of
the Sciences of Complexity.  Bantam Books, New York, 1988

Ragin, Charles  "Theory and Method in the Study of dependency and
International Inequality" International Journal of Comparative
Sociology, Volume 24, pp. 121-35, 1983

Rheingold, Harold  The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the
Electronic Frontier.  Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Reading,
Mass., 1993

Sackman, Harold, ed.  Computers and International Socioeconomic
Problems.  Elsevier Science Publishing, Amsterdam, 1987

Schement, Jorge Reina and Lievrouw, Leah, eds  Competing Visions,
Complex Realities: Social Aspects of the Information Society.
Alex Publishing Corporation, Norwood, New Jersey, 1987

Smillie, Ian  Mastering the Machine: Poverty, Aid, and
Technology.  Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1991

UNESCO, `The Declaration of the Paris Congress 1989 on Education
and Informatics', Document ED-89/CONF.402/2

Wegener, Bernd, "Concepts and Measurement of Prestige" in Annual
Review of Sociology, 1992 Vol.18, pp. 253-80

Winner, Langdon, "Mythinformation"  in The Whale and the Reactor
University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1986, p.112

Zimmerman, Jan, Once Upon the Future: A Woman's Guide to
Tomorrow's Technology, Pandora Press, London, 1986

 Zimmerman, 1986.  According to Wegner (1992), prestige and
 status are related and are of causal relevance for creating
 closed positions for women. The mobility consequences of
 differential prestige discrimination [is] due to the value
 consensus paradox and the sex-typing of occupational prestige
 perceptions by which women...are kept from entering high status
  ibid., p.73
  ibid., p.31
  ibid., p.39
  Zimmerman, Jan, Once Upon the Future: A Woman's Guide to Tomorrow's
Technology, Pandora Press, London, 1986, p.62
  Schiller, Herbert  "The Global Information Superhighway" in Brook, James and
Boal, Iain eds. Resisting the Virtual Life: The Culture
and Politics of Information, City Lights Press, San Fransisco, 1995, p. 21-30
  Winner, Langdon, in The Whale and the Reactor  University of Chicago Press,
Chicago, 1986, p.112
  Hawkridge, D., Jaworski, J., and McMahon, H., Computers in Third World
Schools: Examples, Experiences, and Issues, 1991, St.
Martin's Press, New York, 1990, p.6
  Sclove, Richard  "Making Technology Democratic"  in Brook, James and Boal,
Iain eds. Resisting the Virtual Life: The Culture and
Politics of Information, City Lights Press, San Fransisco, 1995, p. 88
  Sackman, H, ed. Computers and International Problems, Elsevier Publishers,
Amsterdam, p.143


Lisiunia A. Romanienko, (BA Rutgers University, MS New School for
Social Research) is currently pursuing her PhD at Louisiana State
University.  She has conducted research and advocated on behalf
of the ethnic poor throughout the public health and criminal
justice systems in New York and New Orleans.  Any correspondence
can be directed to Louisiana State University, Department of
Sociology, 126 Stubbs Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803 or by email:


Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 22:51:01 CST
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Subject: File 4--Cu Digest Header Info (unchanged since 10 Jan, 1999)

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