Donald Z. Osborn dzo at BISHARAT.NET
Mon Aug 2 06:56:17 UTC 2004

"Ethnocomputing" is one of those terms that sounds like I've heard it someplace,
but in fact it is relatively new (searchs on ILAT and GKD
yielded no hits and Google had only 60 some). That is not to say that the
thinking behind it would be unfamiliar to many people working on "ICT4D" and
"digital divide" issues. Still, it may be a useful concept to add to the
repertoire for discussions of ICT & development, ICT & language, knowledge
generation in non-Western or indigenous communities, etc.

Here are a few references I ran across on this:
* An article, "Ethnocomputing a Multicultural View on Computer Science" by Matti
Tedre, Piet Kommers, Erkki Sutinen at
* A M.S. thesis (2002) by Matti Tedre entitled "Ethnocomputing: A Multicultural
View on Computer Science" at
* There was even a webpage, though that apparently exists
now only in the Web Archives at:

Part of the abstract from the Tedre's thesis (similar to one in the article) is
reproduced below.

Don Osborn

"The prevailing westernness of Computer Science is a major problem with the
Computer Science education in developing countries. The students not only face
a new subject, but also a fundamentally different philosophy and problem
solving methods. In this thesis, I shall present a new member to the family of
ethnosciences: ethnocomputing. Ethnocomputing challenges the prevailing way of
thinking that in order to keep up with the West, other cultures have to adapt
the western ways of thinking. Relying on constructivist theories, I argue that
the universal theories of computing take different forms in different cultures,
and that the European view on abstract ideas of computing is culturally bound,
too. Studying ethnocomputing~W i.e. the computational ideas within a culture ~W
may lead to new findings that can be used in both developing the western view
of Computer Science, and improving Computer Science education in non-western

More information about the Ilat mailing list