Whenever I explain what I do at eHomemakers, I usually mention ICT for development. Eight out of ten, even though they are in development field, return a curious face waiting for my description on what ICT stands for. Well, it is Information Communication Technology, and a quick and dirty explanation usually follows, that it is something like the Internet, computer and mobile phone.
To think about it for the second time, the word ICT is actually a combination of IT, information technology, and CT, communication technology. Even though both information and communication should carry equal weight of importance to the listeners, the picture people usually draw is mostly about information. We are mesmerized by the ‘information’ that in the emerging information society, knowledge should be your new asset; information as something that you can capitalize. Indeed, people ‘own’ information in the form of intellectual property, and the jackpot an innovative idea can bring has become everybody’s dream. Amid such tips to lead you to this new type of prosperity, the meaning the other letter C stands for is usually lost.
Recalling back Namrata’s inspiring presentation at AWCF, communication is inherently mutual. It happens among people, thus cannot belong to just one individual. Communication, in this sense is a means to enrich the sharing of information, which in turn fulfills the true nature of information as a public good. But when we talk about ICT, the essence of communication is usually faded away right next to the vivid array of information as a new form of valuable, which can be exclusively owned by individuals.
Earlier this week, we made a short trip to Sleyang to interview Foong Yee, a Salaam Wanita basket weaver. There were six ladies altogether in Foong Yee’s group, three of them actually neighbors just three minutes away from one another. Taking full advantage of this location, they frequently gather around Foong Yee’s place to talk about their baskets. Just to help your understanding, this is not quite usual Salaam Wanita process, as most other Salaam Wanita ladies work alone, usually from their own home. And to give you a little more, Foong Yee and her group are the best weavers Salaam Wanita has.
Watching them talking to each other very loud in the small living room of Foong Yee’s flat, it struck me that perhaps what makes them the best is their communication – they hang around, go to shopping mall together to see new design baskets, talk, laugh, listen to one another and become all friends. Communication is their asset that they all share but that does not belong to just one of them to own.
They use mobile phones to arrange these informal ‘meetings.’ Placing calls and sending SMS is still a very new technology to many of them, as some of them had their first mobile phone only after joining Salaam Wanita. A humble form of ICT, if you will, helps them to create information and share it through communication, and makes them all the best.
“Friends are very important because they can help each other,” Foong Yee says. And what makes them friends is, communication, communication, communication.
Posted By Julia Zoo
Posted Aug 18th, 2007