This is the first of two linked papers dealing with information and computing technology (ICTs) and the question of putting research into use. This, the first paper, takes the experience of South Asia to review the scope of ICT applications in development practice as a tool for putting research into use for innovation. The findings from this study suggest that ICTs in general have not contributed effectively to the challenge of putting new knowledge into use as they are mostly used to support traditional communication tasks — such as information dissemination and training. The paper argues that this under‐utilisation of the potential of ICTs could be due to: a lack of appreciation of the new communication‐intermediation tasks required for innovation, underestimation of the roles of intermediaries and their capacities for innovation and lack of networks needed for communities to make use of the information provided through ICTs. Although the understanding on communication, innovation and extension has changed substantially in the past two decades, there is still a big gap between theory and practice. This paper contends that this gap needs to be bridged if ICTs are to effectively contribute to putting new knowledge into use.
RIU 2011 Discussion Paper 16, 53 pp.