The Digital Agency for International Development

Politics of Software Architecture

By Alan Jackson on 23 May 2014

I'm at the Agile for Development conference in Aberdeen. Bob Jolliffe gave a talk on the politics of software architecture. He read a great quote from "Developing District-based Health Care Information Systems: The South African Experience", a paper by Jørn Braa and Calle Hedberg:

"When the bulk of health staff are engaged in collecting data for others, when they have no influence over what they collect, when they are barely involved in analysis of data, when computerised tools used are inflexible “black boxes” reducing their operators to mindless keyboard pushers, when they don’t get feedback and don’t use information for local management – then the structures thus constituted are those of disempowerment. Given this, it is obvious that such information systems and technologies are not neutral but have politics, meaning and behaviour inscribed into them."