Key words: global network, Internet, expectations, practice, transformation
The case in this thesis is the 2001 e-conference initiated by the Dutch development organization Novib, and organized by the International Information Center and Archive for the Women’s Movement (iiav). The aim of this e-conference was to facilitate and generate exchange of knowledge and information on the topic of violence against women among the global partners of Novib by using Internet technology. The e-conference has to be regarded as a “failure” in the sense of its inability to promote participation, because only a limited number of potential organizations participated.
This thesis examines the experiences with the use of the Internet within a global network of development organizations. The aim is to understand how the great expectations towards the technology are transformed and revealed through the use of the Internet in practice. Utopian and deterministic expectations are present in the general public rhetoric as well as in the basis for the execution of the e-conference.
The experiences with usage of the Internet for exchange of knowledge and information were revealed through interviews with representatives from both Novib and iiav, in addition to a questionnaire-based survey among all the potential participating organizations.
In addition to the empirical material, STS informed theories regarding the relationship between technology and society, as well as literature on inclusion and exclusion in the “virtual society”, serve as framework and contribute to increased understanding of how the implicit theoretical position inherent in the e-conference is transformed in practice.