Audience: The Dynamics of Technology for Social Change is written for practitioners trying to achieve social benefit using Information Technology and communications (ICT). This includes nonprofits engaged in implementing projects, philanthropies and social responsibility programs supporting these activities, researchers trying to understand the process, and government and private sector actors working with the above to deliver socially beneficial ICT.
Focus: The book’s primary objective is to help people understand how to successfully design, implement, and evaluate ICT projects in a complicated landscape, by explaining the underlying principles that influence outcomes. The topics explored include organizational capacity, cross-sector partnerships, implementation, marketing, project evaluation, social return on investment and sustainability. Issues are addressed from the unique perspective of an implementer with both operational and programmatic experience rather than as a research scientist or academician. Examples abound from the author’s own experience providing insight into how technology can be used to facilitate social benefit.
What makes the book unique is its focus on institutional as well as technological dynamics. It explains institutional behavior across sectors — and how that impacts the implementation objectives of any project. These dynamics, and the accompanying strategies to successfully negotiate them, are also applicable to many initiatives meeting social objectives outside the realm of technology.
Contents: The first two chapters of The Dynamics of Technology for Social Change inform its perspective. They detail the structure and practices of the Soros foundations network and the Internet Program that managed much of the network’s ICT for social change agenda in the 1990s. This portion of the book will also be insightful to anyone interested in the inner workings of the Soros Foundation Network and one of its major network programs during this dynamic period of social change.
Chapter 3 details the internal dynamics and strategies used by an actual nonprofit implementing ICT for social benefit whose strategy Peizer managed before arriving at OSI. Chapters 4 through 9 explain the primary dynamics that influence the ICT for social change environment related to partnerships, capacity, sustainability, etc., and provide the strategies necessary for success. Chapters 10 and 11 introduce a technology and a process, respectively, into the ICT for social change equation and describe how the real-world dynamics of the environment influence them.
Finally, a large appendix of selected projects undertaken by the Soros foundations network Internet program is included. The program undertook and successfully completed hundreds of Internet related projects, regionally and locally, with NGO partners. The sampling of projects and related editorial comments provide further insight into both the Soros foundations network and practical methodologies that eventually grew out of these experiences.
“At last, a book that provides the non-profit community operational and applicable insights in how to apply and implement ICT solutions to strengthen their processes and activities to instigate social change beyond the theoretical and often untested assumptions associated with the social impact of technology. Jonathan Peizer possesses the unique capacity to share his considerable experience and expertise in IT management across sectors and countries in a highly readable and illuminating overview of lessons learned. He has delivered everyone in the non-profit community who cares about social transformation a tremendous service. A must read!”
~ Stefaan Verhulst
Chief of Research, Markle Foundation
“Finally, a global insider account of how civil society has used information technology to instigate social change around the world. What makes this book so valuable is the combination of Jonathan Peizer’s open and honest assessment of projects he’s been associated with, and an ability to distill his vast experience into a series of principles and practical guidance for developing an effective IT strategy. This is both a “how to” resource for practitioners and a call for development agencies and foundations that support NGOs to adopt new strategies in keeping with the rapidly changing IT environment. It should be read by all those, including students, who want to play a more effective role in bringing about social benefits through information technology.
~ Chris Coward
Director, Center for Internet Studies
“After e-commerce, e-government, it’s the turn of the private non-profit sector to address the digital revolution.” Jonathan Peizer provides a thoughtful first-hand account and synthesis of experience in managing information technology for social change in the philanthropic sector that is sure to be seminal. This work fills the gap between mere speculation and war stories with a serious attempt to think through the implications of the IT revolution for the “third” sector that is unique for being both well-grounded and systematic.”
~ Jon W. Anderson
Chair, Anthropology Department Catholic University of America
“Essential reading for the tech social entrepreneur. I strongly recommend this book. IT in the social sector is exploding, and yet many projects are not as successful as they could be. Jonathan has incredible learning and perspective to share from being at the center of this field over the last 15 years through his vantage point at George Soros’ Open Society Institute. This book is especially useful for practitioners. Quite often, we bumble about trying to find the best way to make things happen. It’s rare to find writings that immediately speak to your experiences, but from a more thoughtful and analytical viewpoint. It often explains why certain initiatives failed and others succeeded. I had that kind of “aha!” moment when I first read some of Jonathan’s essays years ago, and this book is a platform for expanding on these crucial topics. The best example of these insights isthe “Trusted Source Relationship” concept. In the book, JP explains why traditional marketing and sales have limited effectiveness in the social sector, and why trust is the most critical asset in effective technology implementations. However, the book is full of practical and realistic observations and recommendations. If you are planning on using IT to save the world, reading this book will greatly enhance your odds of success!“
~ James Fruchterman
President, Bentech & MacArthur Genious Award
“A Must Read for those Still Interested in Hotwiring the World for a Brighter Future. Mr. Peizer’s years of experience with both technology and philanthropy have offered up enough expasperation to guarantee his enlightement. Do NOT try and save the world with technology until you have finished this book.“
~ Gregory Baldwin