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August 2010

Dissemination vs Public Engagement; in Other Words, Are You Serious?

Sina Odugbemi's picture

'Ha, I almost forgot; we need a dissemination strategy for the report. Get somebody to sort that out. Meeting adjourned.'

You guessed right: the statement above usually occurs at the end of a long meeting discussing 'substance'; then somebody realizes that if the department/organization has spent all this money on this piece of research, it might be a good idea to get somebody to 'disseminate' it.

Usually, they have not given the matter serious thought. They have not answered basic questions.

Not In My Backyard

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

There are so many things in the world that need fixing, don't you think? More people need health insurance - but not from my money! Refugees need space and facilities in order to live halfway decently - but not in my backyard! Religious groups have the right to open their centers wherever they want - but not in my neighborhood!

It's a common public phenomenon - NIMBY, Not In My Backyard. It's a hurdle for many reforms: people opposing reasonable reforms because they don't want to have to deal with the consequences or pay the price. We don't want to pay higher taxes in order to cover a national reform that benefits a large number of people. We don't want certain groups of people in our neighborhoods (might bring property values down!). We do want to help, but preferably without having to do something about it. It's rather understandable - after all, we have our own interests to look after. If we don't, who will?

How UK’s Anti-Slavery Campaign Led to Transformational Change

Johanna Martinsson's picture

If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you will know that we in CommGAP are interested in learning how to change social norms for better governance and accountability.  In a forthcoming paper, I will take a closer look at the journey of norms in development; how they emerge, become global norms and diffuse to local contexts.  In reviewing global advocacy campaigns that led to transformational and normative change, it’s hard to ignore one of the most successful and important reform movements of the 19th century, namely the UK’s Anti-Slavery Campaign. How did the campaign manage to change such deeply entrenched norms as slave trade and slavery throughout the British Empire in some 50 years? Clearly, it’s a unique case that involved many institutional and environmental factors, and it would be impossible to cover all of them in a single blog post.  However, the campaign would not have succeeded if it wasn’t for a number of critical components that are of great interest to what we are learning about social norms and successful reforms.

The Company You Keep: "Connected" Part Two

Naniette Coleman's picture

Last week I provided a brief overview of "Connected", the popular book by Harvard Professor Nicholas Christakis, MD, PhD and University of California, San Diego Professor James Fowler. Christakis and Fowler's master-work provides an overview of the historical discussions behind social networks, pre and post Facebook, and ample examples of how social networks impact our day-to-day lives in ways we realize and are blissfully unaware of. My blog this week will attempt to translate some of their more notable findings for reform minded audiences in the developing world. 

 

The Primacy of the Individual, Bah Humbug!

Naniette Coleman's picture

Have you put on weight lately? Are you dating someone who knows a friend or two of yours? Are you a little happier or sadder and cannot figure out why? According to authors Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD and James H. Fowler, PhD, it may be your network stupid. In Connected, Christakis and Fowler set out to overturn the notion of the “primacy of the individual.” They suggest that people we do not even see can influence us in ways previously unimagined. Life many not be solely based on me, myself and my decisions. The beginning and end to all of our problems might be our networks. 

'Why Don't They Get It, These Morons?'

Sina Odugbemi's picture

If you look around you today, lots of activists and experts want to change the world. They have all manner of pet schemes for the improvement of the world in one regard or the other. Usually, they mean well and they are often right. They have done the analysis, crunched the numbers, written the books, papers and blog posts. They know they are right.  All that remains is for the morons to get it.

These activists and experts - - take the climate change/green movement/planetary emergence activists as an example -- are often in the clamorous grip of  a holy impatience. This epic impatience manifests in a number of ways:

 

Social Media for Good Governance: The Quality Measurement Challenge

Tanya Gupta's picture

This is the last of a three-part blog series on Social Media for Good Governance (Social Media for Good Governance: No Silver Bullet Yet- I, Social Media for Good Governance: The Quality Challenge-II)

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There is lot of garbage in the current social media stream today. For social media to be an effective tool in bringing about good governance, you have to be able to recognize quality information.  Defining quality of information is a complex science but for the moment we can define quality as meaningful information for a given user or group of users, with an associated set of considerations that would help measure "meaningfulness".

There are a few quality related considerations that come to mind.  One is identify measures of quality of the data itself, regardless of the source.  Another is to determine the quality of the source and make the assumption that quality sources provide quality data in the social media stream. 

Media Events for Development Campaigns

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Using large international events to get attention for a development objective is a pretty good idea. Events like the Soccer World Cup are so called media events - events that capture the attention of a large audience, that break our routines, and unify a large scattered audience. Whatever team you were cheering for, you weren't the only one cheering for it, and didn't you feel like your team's friends were also your friends? This kind of mood - attention and a feeling of community - provides a great environment for campaigns that want to raise awareness about certain issues or that want to change norms and behaviors.

Agreeing to Disagree on the Blogosphere

John Garrison's picture

There is growing Bank – CSO policy dialogue occurring via blogs which is generating unexpected thoughtful and frank exchange of views.  The most recent case was a few weeks back when Justin Lin, the World Bank’s Chief Economist, was invited to be a guest blogger on the “From Poverty to Power” blog page maintained by Oxfam/GB’s Head of Research, Duncan Green.  The exchange was on Justin’s recent paper "Growth Identification and Facilitation" on the role governments play in promoting economic growth.  Many CSOs, such as Oxfam, feel that the Bank is undergoing a paradigm shift by now providing developing countries with more ‘policy space’ to design their own economic plans, including industrial policies to support nascent industries.

Overcoming Negative Stereotypes in the South Caucasus

Onnik Krikorian's picture

Photo © Global VoicesIn the 16 years since a 1994 ceasefire agreement put the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed mainly-Armenian populated territory of Nagorno Karabakh on hold, peace remains as elusive as ever. The war fought in the early 1990s left over 25,000 dead and forced a million to flee their homes, leaving ethnic Armenian forces, backed by Armenia proper, in control of over 16 percent of what the international community considers sovereign Azerbaijani territory.

The situation, perhaps, is typical for many frozen conflicts, but what makes this dispute even more complicated is the almost constant rhetoric of hatred from both sides. Nearly two decades after the troubles broke out, new generations of Armenians and Azerbaijanis are unable to remember the time when both lived side by side together in peace. Armenia's last president, Robert Kocharian, for example, declared that the two were 'ethnically incompatible' while his Azerbaijani counterpart, still incumbent Ilham Aliyev, regularly threatens a new war.

A New Media Model for the Developing World?

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

Since the last post about Wikileaks on this blog, the site has drawn the world's attention with its release of nearly 100,000 classified military documents from the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Commentators have lined up on multiple sides, alternatively praising the site for its commitment to open information, condemning its disregard for troop security, or bemoaning the lack of explanatory discourse surrounding the data. Andrew Exum, who served in Afghanistan, criticizes the site's fusion of activism and journalism, while my friend Jeremy Wagstaff thinks that it both shows up the traditional media and points the way toward a fundamental re-imagining of journalism itself.

Research Is Not An End In Itself

Naniette Coleman's picture

In the world of development, research is not enough; a free and protected media is not enough; policy is not enough; but together, the combination can be unstoppable, when communicated well. Communication is the key. Disparate pieces floating in a vacuum cannot garner the type of result that is possible when they are combined and communicated as a whole, properly. 

 

Media Development vs. Communication for Development: Structure vs. Process

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Brothers for LifeMy colleague Shanthi Kalathil is working on a "Toolkit for Independent Media Development," which we have mentioned several times on this blog. One of the points she makes right at the beginning is that donors need to distinguish between media development and communication for development. Communication for development means the use of communication tools - usually in the form of awareness raising campaigns - to achieve development goals. Media development, on the other hand, is about supporting an independent media sector in and of itself, it's a structural approach.

Social Media for Good Governance: The Quality Challenge

Tanya Gupta's picture

In my last blog, I talked about governments will serve themselves and their citizens better if they do not take an adversarial stand against social media, and instead proactively use social media for good governance. In order to do so, governments have to be able to harvest and use social media data effectively.  For social media to facilitate good governance a fundamental prerequisite is a quality search in the social media space.   

Proactive vs. Reactive Transparency

Naniette Coleman's picture

 

"Transparency, is transparency, is transparency I thought.

 

It is transparent is it not?

 

Well except when it is proactive, that makes it not reactive."

N.H. Coleman

 

My poetic dalliances aside, Helen Darbishire’s recent World Bank Institute commissioned and CommGAP financed working paper on standards, challenges and opportunities in transparency made me think. “Proactive Transparency: The Future of the Right to Information” looks at, among other things, the drivers of transparency, the best of transparency provisions on the national and international stage, and notable outcomes grown from the examination of transparency provisions. So, what exactly is proactive transparency and why is it important? 

Quote of the Week: Willard Gaylin and Bruce Jennings

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"We are not as free and self-determining as we would like to believe, and we are not as independent as we pretend to be.  We must face the fact that we are not as rational as we would like to think we are.  The rational roots of our conduct are pathetically overvalued.  We must appreciate the power of emotions over human behavior in order to effectively institute changes in that behavior.  Despite a preference in the culture of autonomy for rational persuasion and a bias against manipulation and coercion, persuasion rarely works."

-- From Willard Gaylin and Bruce Jennings, The Perversion of Autonomy, p. 126

Hat tip: Stuart Gilman, the World Bank