Weighing impacts of Internet appropriation in Indonesian CSOs

Sunday, 30 December 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Surman and Reilly (2003) offer a simple framework to understand different extents of Internet use in CSOs by posing three steps in a ‘ladder’, i.e. access, adoption and appropriation. While Camacho’s and Surman’s model offers simplicity to understand different levels that CSOs should use to maximise the benefit of using the ICT, the model proposed by this study provides more details in comprehending the course of actions involved during the innovation-decision process when CSOs (in this instance, Indonesian) adopt the Internet technology until they fully appropriate it. What matters here, empirically, is the impact of such adoption and use on the performance of the organisation. Survey data shows that the overall effect of the Internet use may support the argument that the Internet has been used as a ‘convivial medium’ for CSOs, as concluded by Lim (2003) following Illich’s prophetic vision on human-technology relation (Illich, 1973).


Impact of internet adoption in Indonesian CSOs
Source: Fieldwork survey data (collected 2005-2006, N=268)

More than 92% of Indonesian CSOs who have used the Internet find that such use positively or very positively affected the achievement of the organisations’ goals and missions. Using the Internet has widened nearly two-third of CSOs’ perspective to global level or at least beyond the regional, national or local boundary. As a consequence, the use of the Internet has become the major support for CSO networks expansion and significantly or very significantly increases the performance of the internal management as it helps the organisation to become more focused or much more focused in their aims and activities.

This discussion resonates with other previous studies concerning international CSOs who appropriate ICTs for establishing collaboration, publishing (campaign), mobilisation and observation (watchdog activities) (Camacho, 2001; Surman and Reilly, 2003). Other possible appropriation of the Internet is to use is as alternative media (Bennett, 2003) to foster social movements. Such appropriation is possible as by nature CSOs work in networks that link a multiplicity of actors (Anheier et al., 2002; Curtis and Zurcher, 1973; Gerlach and Hine, 1970) which is necessary for facilitating their work to achieve their mission, for example furthering democratisation (Uhlin, 1997; 2000) or taking initiatives for conflict resolution in volatile areas with continuous fighting among tribes as well as civil groups (Hill and Sen, 2002).

Yet, given the abundant possibilities of such appropriation, the actual use of the Internet among Indonesian CSOs seems to be seriously lacking behind what they actually can benefit from it. This is, by all accounts, not only a problem for CSOs in developing countries like Indonesia who have limited access to ICT infrastructure, but for CSOs worldwide in general (Surman and Reilly, 2003).

[I]n many cases, they are simply using them without any thought about where and how these technologies fit into the political work for which they feel so much passion. It is not that these organisations use networked technologies completely without question or critique, but rather that they don’t take the time to consider how they can be using these technologies most strategically. (p.1)

Therefore it is important to explore empirically how CSOs in different contexts and settings appropriate Internet strategically and politically so that it matches their own missions and goals.

Source: Fieldwork data, author’s reflection
(PhD Thesis, Nugroho, 2007:190 – Box 5.2.)

Note 31 Dec 2007: corrected, thanks to Merlyna Lim (see comment below)

  1. mer
    Sunday, 30 December 2007 at 8:12 am

    Thanks for sharing some snapshots of your thesis. I really look forward to reading it.

    I feel bad of doing this… but I think I should clarify and point out…. that Ivan Illich never envisioned the Internet as a convivial medium. I used the term “convivial medium” for the Internet in my articles (and thesis), borrowing his term “conviviality”… he used the term to refer to a certain condition (of society) where people can maximize their creativity and individual freedom.

    i do claim that the internet is “convivial” — convivial medium (perhaps i was the first using this term for the internet), but conviviality is not the same as ‘democratic’ or ’empowering’… i do have one chapter devoted for this topic only.

  2. Sunday, 30 December 2007 at 8:50 am

    Mer, thanks a lot. You’re absolutely right. I could have been clerer in the “boxes” as in the “main text” of the thesis.

    (p.71) … it is at the level of appropriation that CSOs turns ICTs like the Internet to their own ends, creating political and social impact. Borrowing Illich’s (1973) conception on the use of technology, Lim (2003) coined the term ‘convivial medium’ to explain a level where CSO turns ICT into a ‘convivial medium’ to achieve their goals. Indeed, this accurately portrays Illich’s prophetic vision towards a level of the interaction between human and technology where people are not any longer subordinated by technology, but have full control over it and use it for their own purpose (Illich, 1973).
    “For a hundred years we have tried to make machines work for men and to school men for life in their service. Now it turns out that machines do not “work” and that people cannot be schooled for a life at the service of machines. The hypothesis on which the experiment was built must now be discarded. The hypothesis was that machines can replace slaves. The evidence shows that, used for this purpose, machines enslave men. Neither a dictatorial proletariat nor a leisure mass can escape the domination of constantly expanding industrial tools. The crisis can be solved only if we learn to invert the present deep structure of tools; if we give people tools that guarantee their right to work with high, independent efficiency, thus simultaneously eliminating the need for either slaves or masters and enhancing each person’s range of freedom. People need new tools to work with rather than tools that “work” for them. They need technology to make to most of the energy and imagination each has, rather than more well-programmed energy slaves (1973:10).

    I will correct this box before it is published –if there is a UK publisher interested enough in this topic .. 🙂

  3. mer
    Sunday, 30 December 2007 at 9:08 am

    you’re such a sport, buddy! great. thanks for taking time (and energy) to respond to me… i am flattered to be quoted in such great work as yours.

    honestly, i did think of just ignoring it….. but since i knew you’re a good friend and, moreover, a good scholar, i thought i’d be brave and blunt .. hehe.

    hey, it’s unfair that i only read your boxes! i want to read the whole manuscript. if you send yours to me, i’ll send mine to you 🙂 (haha, barter…)

  4. chers...
    Friday, 18 April 2008 at 1:24 pm

    What is CSOs ?

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