by Rick Duque Published in PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE OF RESEARCH IN THE INFORMATION SOCIETY edited by Wesley Shrum, Keith R. Benson, Wiebe E. Bijker, Klaus Brunnstein. Springer 2006. This is a study of the relationship between scientific communication and productivity in Chilean science, focusing on the role of Internet adoption and use. The World Science Project’s prior work in Africa has identified a “collaboration paradox” in the developing world: in resource-poor contexts, the high costs of collaboration may be greater than their benefits in terms of output.ii While the Internet has been promoted as a technology that will change this relationship, our recent findings in Africa contradict this notion. However, it is not known whether this results from conditions peculiar to sub-Saharan Africa or is true more generally. In this paper, we present results from a recent video-graphic study of the Chilean scientific community and the role the Internet may or may not be having in shaping it. This study is framed by the 1964 U.S. Defense Department funded Project Camelot, an ambitious sociological investigation of the entire Chilean society to measure the capacity for revolution. This project failed to get authorization from the Chilean government, did not acquire solid collaborative links with local scholars and was subsequently terminated. Many charge, though, “results [were] achieved by other means” including CIA sponsored dissertations and through Peace Corp volunteers. Given the socio-political upheaval that occurred in Chile less than a decade later, the scholarly world recognized the sensitive nature of projects from abroad conducting social research within less developed regions.iii Our experience studying the Chilean scientific community is informed by the legacy of both Project Camelot and the Chilean dictatorship that followed.
Chile is an interesting case, since for most of its history it has had strong contact with the north. As one local scholar put it, “Everything in Chile comes from abroad”. Its scientific community, though like many in the developing world, has been characterized as being isolated and having low productivity. The 1973 military overthrow, often referred to by locals as simply “El Golpe”, may have added to these limitations. This could be due to the following factors: resource deficiencies in the years following the Golpe; loss of international collaboration, resulting from the world’s displeasure towards the military take-over; whole disciplines and research programs that posed a threat to the new regime removed from University rosters; and the partial Diaspora of its scientific community who were forced into exile or left for better funding opportunities and prestige in the exterior. The Internet is a development project from abroad, much like democracy and neo-liberalism. Many hope this technology will elevate the Chilean scientific community as it continues to reconstruct since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship in 1989. Because Chile is a regional leader in economic performance and Internet access and use, it is assumed that this cyber-optimistic relationship will hold true. The World Science Project empirically investigates whether or not this assumption holds. The following reviews the sample for our video-graphic study, the methodology, analysis and our preliminary findings.