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The conference on Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide (PPDD) looks interesting, and invites contributions from practitioners as well as researchers, but unfortunately it’s not as accessible as the recent #reframingICTD workshop.

ReframingICT “walked its talk” of building bridges between researchers and practitioners and enabled participants to join in at a distance. PPDD is reaching out to practitioners in theory. Its call for papers said that practitioners who want to present can think of the abstract “more as a place to describe what you want to talk about. No final paper required or expected.” That invitation was a step in the right direction, but it’s  only for people who can attend in person at Arizona State University, so its limited in its accessibility.

Going to conferences is part of the academic lifestyle, but as a practitioner things are different for me. I like to connect with relevant research and researchers, but my work has always been as a self-funded volunteer, so I’ll only consider conferences or workshops if they are easily accessible (i.e. low travel costs or online) and I imagine there are other practitioners in a similar situation.

It seems ironic that a conference on Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide isn’t walking the talk on inclusion by using digital technology to include people at a distance. I may have missed something, but I didn’t see any reference to opening up sessions via the internet.

The scope

The invitation invited submissions from any theoretical and methodological approach, and across multiple disciplines engaged in work that informs issues related to the digital divide.

As I read the list of topics I was struck by the overlap with Dadamac’s posts. These are some quick examples:

Topic – Gaps in access and connectivity

 Topic – challenges and opportunities

Topic – international development

Topic –  the ways in which people use the Internet to create content

Topic – practitioner-oriented topics considering aspects of ….and collaboration

Some projects we have organised enabled by online collaboration:

Topics – digital inclusion – digital exclusion – the application of research to communities, practice, and public and private sector initiatives

It seems sad to me that PPDD organisers are  inviting submissions on digital inclusion and exclusion, and they are interested in how their research is applied in practice – and yet there is no way for additional people to be included digitally, to contribute to, and benefit from, the conference. I do understand that conferences have to be business like, but the educator in me does regret the enclosure of the knowledge that will be shared at the conference.

More about PPDD conference at http://www.ppdd.org/conferences/ppdd2015/cfp/