Design and Determination: the role of information technology in redressing regional inequities in the development process

Ashgate Publishing, Aldershot.

Part III
From Geography to History: designing a place in the world


The final part of this book examines the practical consequences of the dynamics of the emerging global system and the technology that underpins it for decision making in development.

Design itself is a process of compromise to find acceptable solutions within large potential solution spaces. The notion of bounded rationality was propounded by Herbert Simon to explain the limits of human capability in such situations (Simon, 1957). He coined the word satisficing to explain the compromise strategy of arriving at an acceptable solution rather than pursuing of an unattainable optimised solution.

One consequence of the inevitable compromise in achieving a design solution in the face of complexity is that any non-trivial solution also contains unanticipated characteristics and consequences. An increasingly well known example is the consequences of robust characteristics designed into ARPANet, the precursor to the Internet. In order to enhance survivability during a possible nuclear war, the core of the system was able to relocate itself between host computers depending upon availability and capacity. As a result the current global network is in no way amenable to centralised control.

Bryan Lawson has demonstrated that design students develop additional rules and constraints as one means of further reducing solution spaces. In some respects this more constrained problem offers easier routes to solution than the less bounded one. At a meta-level the end of the Cold War has removed one clear set of constraints on decision making. As a result it seems that the attention span of developed nations is incapable of dealing with the unconstrained complexity of Ohmae's "multi-polar" world. As a consequence, for better or worse, vast areas lying beyond the core economies of the triad introduced in Chapter 2, merit only intermittent attention from the centre.

The pursuit of greater added value has led to the recognition of the emerging global system as an "information economy" and this relegates developing countries to the peripheral areas beyond the triad core. Information and communication technologies have enabled the disaggregation of the production chain into a network by locating each activity specifically at its point of greatest comparative advantage. The ability to disaggregate the intellectual capital produced by the divergent stage of the design process from the convergent, focused discipline of the production process has been enhanced by the ability to control production lines from across national boundaries. In some instances complementary manufacturing takes place at both ends of such relationships, however, Alain Lipietz argues that the ability to separate production from consumption signals the end of the "Fordist compromise", his term for the Keynesian social-democratic paradigm which was accepted during most of the Cold War period. In the neo-liberal view, employers need not pay the production workers remote from intended markets sufficiently well to consume the products of their own labour .

Part III looks at past attempts to design development pathways into the industrialised world of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in order to emphasise the path dependence of such strategies and the complexity of outcomes.


Chapter 10: Development by Design: two national development paths
Melih Kirlidog with Steve Little

Download chapter HERE (100kb pdf format)

This chapter compares two nations which made a conscious effort to achieve "modernisation" in the terms created by Western industrialisation and colonisation. Turkey and Japan aimed for the same outcome from different starting places and achieved different outcomes. However, comparison of their different trajectories of development reveals the importance of the opportunities and constraints to development set out in the previous sections of this book.

Istanbul, TurkeyCentral Tokyo

Chapter 11: Designing Development: cultural consonances in post-Cold War development
Melih Kirlidog with Steve Little

Download chapter HERE (154kb pdf format)

Chapter 11 examines the re-establishment of geo-economic alliances suppressed by recent history, and the emergence of new forms of association facilitated by current communication technologies.

The early nineties saw the unequivocal end of the Cold War and the removal of barriers arbitrarily created at the cessation of hostilities in World War II. Subsequent political and economic re-alignments have been problematic. In the Balkans they have allowed the resurrection of earlier conflicts, placed in stasis by external threats. Elsewhere in Europe, Darrell Delamaide has identified these linkages in terms of what he describes as "super-regions" across Europe.

From this perspective we are witnessing the re-emergence of older international alignments. For example, an emergent Scandinavian bloc within the EU is linking with the Baltic republics, recalling both the Hanseatic League, and the days when Shakespeare's plays opened in Gdansk within months of their London debuts. The resilience of such links reflects a degree of cultural consonance. This is evident in the relationship between Turkey and the Turkic republics of the former USSR, where linguistic and cultural ties preceded the emergence of the Russian empire in the nineteenth century.

Palace of Culture, WarsawLjubljana old town

Chapter 12: Through the Window or Through the Looking Glass: prospects for greater equity in development.

Download chapter HERE (47kb pdf format)

Chapter 12 examines the technical and social synergies of the current and prospective generations of information and communication technologies. It engages with the consequences of the paradigm shift from hierarchical information and communication technologies to the disintermediated world of solar powered satellite-based technologies with which the planet becomes a single communication space.

The chapter looks at responses to the opportunity for countries and regions disadvantaged by the current distribution of communication infrastructure to enter the communication space of the wealthy. The "window of opportunity" metaphor is applied to the consequent shifts in definitions of centre and periphery in the global economy and shifts in the nature of exclusion from that economy. From critical information systems research, a paradigm through which windows can be kept open is described, and illustrated with some current initiatives from a variety of locations.

Delhi streetscapesatellite uplinks


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