Community-Based Open Source Development for Microfinance NGOs: A Software Biography
Mitev, Nathalie. N and Houij- Gueddana, Wifak (2011) Community-Based Open Source Development for Microfinance NGOs: A Software Biography. p. 1. In: Proceedings of the A DECADE IN INTERNET TIME: OII SYMPOSIUM ON THE DYNAMICS OF THE INTERNET AND SOCIETY, 21 - 24 September 2011, University of Oxford.
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The microfinance movement aims to deliver financial services to the poor and the ‘unbanked’ in the developing world. Microfinance providers are NGO-based partnerships between grassroots and aid agencies. ICTs are seen as a driver for economic growth and organisational change in developing countries; microfinance institutions are using open source software (OSS) to support the growth of their operations and their accountability to national and international partners. The concern of this paper is how community-based development of software-enabled information systems can allow local capacity building and collective learning, rather than support the global financiarisation of NGO-based banks. To counter the dominance of technological determinism in development studies, we combine Simondon’s notion of individuation of technical beings and Pollock & Williams’ biography of software; this enables us to explore the links between the software life performance and the milieu of an OSS microfinance community-based virtual platform in the Middle East and North Africa. Our research data consists of two sets. The first is based on the OSS newsgroup exchanges between 500 participants in 45 countries over a period of 5 years, which we explore using social network analysis (SNA). The second consists of 65 face-to-face interviews with software community members. This paper presents exploratory SNA results on how user participation takes place in this virtual platform. These highlight that many dimensions are intertwined in the dynamic of community-based development. Further research will relate online to offline data to investigate software life performance in its milieu.
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