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Bits and AtomsInformation and Communication Technology in Areas of Limited Statehood$
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Steven Livingston and Gregor Walter-Drop

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199941599

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199941599.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 04 December 2021

FrontlineSMS, Mobile-for-Development, and the “Long Tail” of Governance 1

FrontlineSMS, Mobile-for-Development, and the “Long Tail” of Governance 1

(p.78) (p.79) 6 FrontlineSMS, Mobile-for-Development, and the “Long Tail” of Governance1
Bits and Atoms

Sharath Srinivasan

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the governance implications of deployments of FrontlineSMS, a free and open-source software tool that enables users to deploy a text messaging system for distributed communication at scale. Drawing upon analysis of software download data and user survey data, the chapter investigates who, where, and for what use FrontlineSMS is deployed, developing some dominant typologies of opportunities for governance outcomes in “last mile” contexts. The chapter discusses the manner in which such Mobile-for-Development innovations can change affordances in governance’s “long tail” by enabling decentralized informational flows that alter demand and supply logics for coordinated delivery of public goods. This allows an array of non-state actors to achieve governance effects, but falls short of idealizations of collective self-governance. Rather, it is organizations with intentional “for development” objectives that best seize the opportunities afforded by new ICT, strengthening ecologies of co-governance.

Keywords:   Mobile-for-Development, co-governance, SMS, FrontlineSMS, long tail

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