Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences, National University of Cordoba, Argentina
The tensions between what we call rich and poor, private and public, global and local, porous and walled, open and secret, sharing and leaking, activism and slacktivism, are impacting daily on the development practices all around the world. These practices are largely determined by the social, economic, cultural, and legal frameworks, facilitating, promoting and protecting (or not) access, development of and usufruct of local knowledge. First, the elaboration of Knowledge Development Goals (KDGs) needs to acknowledge the importance of standing for the right to know as well as to question what we know. When we value others’ knowledge, its development potential becomes evident. Second, the elaboration of KDGs needs to address the challenges posed by the widespread use of information and communication technologies and, in particular the internet and mobile-based apps. The potential of these technologies for participation and sharing is now threatened by the commercialization and control of all user-created content. Third, KDGs need to address the partiality of the products of mass media companies, which control the versions and analysis of events world-wide and recreate reality as it fits to their owners’ interests which is not always aligned with sharing information for development purposes. This fact needs to become visible and widely known, as local knowledge is influenced and transformed by what circulates on mass media.
What knowledge societies do we want? The concerned stakeholders (development agencies, universities, governments, companies, NGOs) can collaborate to counter the appropriation, commercialization and control by a few of the richness of knowledge for development. Health, education, employment and environment solutions can be addressed through open access initiatives, and the promotion of peer to peer sharing and exchange of good and bad practices. We need to promote the access and use of ICT for development from a social inclusion perspective, where technology is a mean and not the end. We also need to promote the development of alternative information channels, understanding the media is not neutral and owners have an agenda. Overall, KDGs not only recognize local knowledge and its potential for development, but also how in the processes of access and use of it, knowledge has been taken over, crushed, and, in many occasions, handed over to actors that wouldn’t prioritize development. We need to reconquer knowledge, what we know and we don’t know, individually and as a collective good. As the Brazilian thinker Paulo Freire said (1968): ‘Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.’ Our Goals should focus on making ‘hopeful inquiry’ possible and viable for all human beings.