Building on Johanna's earlier post on social media, I thought I'd highlight a few points from Clay Shirky's new piece in Foreign Affairs, entitled "The Political Power of Social Media" (users must register). The essay is a thought-provoking contribution to the ongoing discussion about technology's political impact - and it also gives me an opportunity to clarify a few issues regarding my thinking on the Internet and authoritarian regimes.
One year after the Haiti earthquake, the disaster response/development community is in a reflective mood. And well we should be: despite a massive cash influx in the wake of the disaster, the ongoing daily struggle for existence for many Haitians does not reflect well on the international community's attention span, coordination capabilities, and ability to respond in a sustained fashion to challenging and shifting local conditions. We can and should do better.
In an article last month in the Boston Review, Kentaro Toyama, a former computer scientist for Microsoft turned ICT4D promoter, confronts the limits of technological solutions to development problems:
Our third “Kenya Economic Update” – Kenya at the Tipping Point? – notes Kenya’s strong economic recovery in 2010 reaching 4.9 percent of GDP. For 2011, we forecast growth of 5.3 percent. The special Focus on the ICT Revolution and mobile money captures the economic momentum which is now spreading across Africa. Kenya now has 21 million phone subscribers, the vast majority connected by cell phones.
Suppose you want to run an awareness campaign for, say, methods that prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in a sub-Saharan country. Suppose you want to reach the widest possible audience because most adults are concerned by this issue. Suppose you have a well thought-out campaign message. Which medium do you go for?
This week, we’re blogging and tweeting from New York, trying to keep up with the blizzard of events, meetings and talks intended to spur global progress toward achieving the eight development goals agreed to by UN member nations in 2000. You’ll see coverage elsewhere on this blog, as well as on our newly-revamped @worldbank Twitter feed. And we’re only one of many voices online this week talking about the MDGs.
Or at least, that’s what a former boss of mine used to say. Undeterred by his wise advice, I was totally won over when Bryan Sivak, DC’s Chief Technology Officer, came to the World Bank a couple of months ago to present his vision of a Civic Commons, under the tagline of “sharing technologies for the public good”. Here is how Civic Commons’ recently launched website summarises the objectives of the initiative:
Editor's Note: The following post was submitted jointly by Brendan Ahern (Bankable Frontier Associates) and Ignacio Mas (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation).
How many of you have used Youtube to learn new things? I know I have. It was on Youtube that I discovered two young instructors from Iowa, who I have to thank for my basic salsa moves. When I bought a new camera, I turned to Youtube to give me some tips and send me on my way. And of course, if I ever need to learn how to survive a zombie attack, or how to become a ninja, I know I can depend on Youtube to impart those very important skills.
2. The World Bank talks about failure (with a little help from a Google transplant)
3. Which country has the second highest number of gyms in the world (after the US)? (Hint: It belongs to the BRICs.)