Student profile: Social change in developing places

Alex Pompe and Gabriel Krieshok

Alex Pompe (MSI '11), at left, and MSI student Gabriel Krieshok looked at communication for social change for one of their course projects.

The two wrote a paper on "Repair Worlds: Sustainable ICTD in Namibia and Madagascar." Their goal was to explore the distinctive "repair worlds" that have grown up alongside the rapid extension of mobile phone and computer infrastructure in rural Namibia and Madagascar.

The two found that repair and maintenance are central to the practical work of information and communications technologies for development and broader efforts at communication for social change. One problem is that they have yet to receive the theoretical or empirical attention they deserve, Pompe and Krieshok found.

In February 2011, Pompe and Krieshok, along with Assistant Professor Steven Jackson, received the  Best Paper Award at the annual iConference in Seattle.

They presented “Things Fall Apart: Maintenance, Repair, and Technology for Education Initiatives in Rural Namibia." This particular paper grew from fieldwork in northeastern Namibia during summer 2010. Pompe spent two years in Namibia as an education and IT development volunteer in the Peace Corps. Krieshok served as an educator and trainer in the Peace Corps in Madagascar.

Pompe also served as the Peace Corps coordinator for the University of Michigan. Krieshok served as president of the School of Information Student Association during the 2010-11 academic year.

The iConference is sponsored by the iSchools organization, which consists of 31 information schools in eight countries. This year’s conference received approximately 300 submissions, of which 50 were selected for presentation.