Alexander Flor - Contributions To Development Communication Theory

Contributions To Development Communication Theory

As a theorist, he is credited with the cybernetic definition of development communication rooted in D. Lawrence Kincaid's convergence model of communication; for being one of the earliest proponents of upstream and downstream DevCom interventions; for co-authoring the Transformational Communication Model (1997) along with Rebecca Smith; and for proposing development communication as a Fifth Theory of the Press (after the Authoritarian, Libertarian, Social Responsibility and Soviet Communist theories proposed by Siebert et al. in 1956).

Among his notable contributions to the field as an author include Broadcast Based Distance Learning Systems (University of the Philippines Press, 1995) and Introduction to Development Communication, which he co-wrote with Ila Virginia C. Ongkiko - the textbook used for development communication students' introductory courses in the Philippines. A student of Nora Quebral, he began relating development communication to the newly emerging ICTs in the early eighties. Flor differed from his mentor in the sense that he adopted a critical perspective. His dissertation on the Two Faces of the Information Age (1986) was indicative of this. Published early in his career were articles on the Information Wastage Ratio (Scientometrics,1987) and the Informatization of Agriculture (Asian Journal of Communication, 1994.) This, however, changed drastically while serving as Knowledge Management Program Officer of SEAMEO SEARCA, an intergovernmental organization of the ten Southeast Asian countries which pioneered in the area of agricultural knowledge resources and systems. In 2001, he presented a seminal paper on ICT4D at the Asian Development Forum III in Bangkok. The paper, ICT and Poverty the Indisputable Link, gave five major perspectives on the causes of poverty and how they relate to information and communication. This was followed by an online paper presentation on A Global Knowledge Network(2001) and a paper on Social Capital and the Network Effect(2004) presented in Bali.

Flor has three books published by SEARCA: eDevelopment and Knowledge Management(2001); Ethnovideography(2002); and Digital Tools for Process Documentation(2002) . While at UPOU he wrote Environmental Communication (2004) which he started with the declarative statement, “Environmentalism as we know it today began with environmental communication. The environmental movement was ignited by a spark from a writer’s pen, or more accurately, Rachel Carson’s typewriter.”

Flor is also credited for coining the term “ethnovideography” in 1992 and its conceptualization as a methodology for studying groups or sub-groups using small format video.” It may be noted that most YouTube documentaries inadvertently use production technique akin to ethnovideography. Additionally, Flor is recognized within the Philippine KM community as having started the Los Baños school of knowledge management, which he describes in his book Development Communication Praxis (2007) as “indifferent to corporate values, founded on knowledge science, guided by knowledge economics, and contributory to the Millennium Development Goals.” However, Flor belongs to the group of KM proponents who strongly disagree with the use of the term "knowledge creation," adopting a Kantian view that knowledge is apriori thus discovered instead of created as discussed in his book eDevelopment and Knowledge Management(2001). ” In 1998, while concurrently serving in SEARCA, he introduced knowledge management into the Bachelor of Science in Development Communication curriculum of the University of the Philippines Los Baños.

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