Welcome to NDItech: Blogging on ICT in Development and Democracy

By Chris Doten | August 16, 2010

The "demos" of the word democracy is the people - the masses, the rabble, the hoi polloi, the plebes, the great unwashed. One of the most powerful transformations of the past 10 years has been spread of tech to the demos.

In 2000 we were very concerned about the "Digital Divide;" today in one form or another technology has penetrated many of the most distant corners of the world, making some of the world's poorest people into tech experts. This is an astonishing change from the days when Thomas Watson, head of IBM, saw a worldwide market for, oh, a couple dozen computers or so.

The tech explosion is a sea change for international development in general, but it’s radically disruptive for those of us in democracy development. This revolution is the focus of this blog.

NDI has been working in this field for 25 years; we don’t have all the answers, but we do have a lot of ideas and experience.

Those of us in international development are here because of that idealistic dream of saving the world. We hope that by sharing some of our ideas and experiences we can help everyone get a bit closer to that goal.

If you’re here, you’ve probably got great ideas and innovative experiences, too. We at NDI hope to open a conversation among all the people working on this intersection of technology and democracy - development pros in DC, techies from IT firms, academics pondering in their ivory towers, implementers on the ground, app developers in Nairobi.

Everyone has valuable ideas and approaches, and we hope they feel welcome here.

About Me - Chris Doten I've spent the last decade bouncing among being a full-time IT geek, grad-school conversations about foreign policy, scrapping in the rough-and-tumble of American democracy, and working in the developing world.

I'm particularly intrigued by the blowback this connection revolution can have. The tech transformation ain't all wine and roses, as the same tools that help citizens communicate, mobilize and transform can help authoritarians repress, control and manipulate.