My research is in Hypercontextualized Games (HCG), and this blog is mainly finding myself within my research that, in itself, is a challenge. But after the last two weeks, I saw how my PhD education is influencing my daily perception of things…. let me explain.
So far I have lived in four complete different countries, and visited over 25 more (I am a lucky one, I know). I refer to live in a country when I have been a minimum of two years without interruptions in the same city. Two years, in my opinion, gives an opportunity to start to merge with the host culture. Actually it is needed more time to merge, but in two years one goes beyond the novelty of the first year to find oneself in a context that is not “new” anymore in the second year.
Now, I do not consider myself an ethnographer, because I get involved with my new country, with the locals, I make empathy with them, I make friends, I join their culture, I make roots. I do not compare my host country in anyway with a previous one, because each place is unique. Each of my countries is part of me. I am not in a country to analyze it with an “objective” reference point or research agenda; instead I live my new country and I merge with its culture as much as I can. It is my country too, I grow with it. Nevertheless, I admit that to have roots in different locations allow me to perceive similar things from different perspectives. I give a value to it, and for me that is a gift of discovery.
Perhaps due to my recent research training, in the last weeks while I was in Mexico (due to an emergency), and after 10 continuous years to be out of the country, I documented events and things with an ethnographic influence. One example is a reflection of the ICT system in the Mexican health system.
In México we have very good medical doctors. For example the hospital I was “working” the first days of November, Hospital Juarez carries different types of medical research. The hospital has an ICT infrastructure. From my perspective, according of what I notice, it is used for charging the fees and host the website. The clinical data is handle on paper (hard copy). Perhaps, under an official visit at a directive level I would have seen a wider use of the ICT, but I was a patient’s family member, hence my perception of the ICT system is from the bottom-up.
Hospital's shelves of clinic histories
On Dec 11, while waiting for some medical information, I confirm that ICT by itself will not help to develop a person, or organization or a country. I waited for HOURS (literal), the secretary did not have a PC and all her work was convey on paper. At some moment she decided that it was time for a break and left a note that she will be out for an hour for breakfast. Then, I started to wonder (I had enough time for that) how a PC would have changed that behavior? How ICT would help to improve the situation? (you know be involved in a research group of Educational Technologies with strong influence in ICT4D, well invite you to think in this stuff)
Secretary desk. It says: Lunch break from 10 to 11
Honestly, the ICT alone would not have changed a thing. I can imagine the same desk with a PC instead of her notebooks and still making me wait per hours, and still a note saying: “breakfast time from 10 to 11”. Perhaps the paper work system could be done more efficiently if it is in a digital format, assuming that the program matches and hopefully improves the actual administrative system. Hence, a probability to reduce waiting time could be present. But honestly, it is needed to improve the attitude of the public servants even before the ICT implementation. Increasing their education and attitude before, during and after an ICT implementation is mandatory.
Still, I am thankful with this specific secretary, because thanks to her my issue was solved on the same day instead to wait several days. Even though I was only picking up one paper which should have been ready even a day earlier.
However the hours of waiting made me realized and confirm that the technology by itself will not trigger “development”, “innovation” or change things anywhere. It does not matter if it is Mexico, USA, Finland or Timbuktu. From my perspective, to promote development, innovation and changes we need to observe and understand things from two perspectives: from a top-bottom level AND from the bottom-up level too. The task is not simple.
One step at the time!