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December 2011

#2: Activism versus Advocacy

Johanna Martinsson's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011

Originally published on February 8, 2011

In recent weeks, we have seen how citizens in several countries have taken to the streets in great masses to demand change. While real change is yet to be seen, it’s most certain that things will never be the same. In thinking about activism in the public sphere, and what methods are most effective in bringing about social and political change, the University of British Columbia recently hosted an interesting seminar, entitled “Advocate or Activist: What is the best way to effect change?”  The panel included: Stephen Toope, UBC President; Jacqueline Kennelly, Assistant Professor, Carleton University Department of Sociology and Anthropology; and Ronald Deibert, Associate Professor, University of Toronto Department of Political Science. They raised a number of interesting points, which I will try to capture in this post.  Here’s also a link to the podcast.

#3: It's About Dignity and Poverty, Not About Facebook

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011

Originally published on February 8, 2011

Frank Rich, op-ed columnist at the New York Times, made a very important point this week: Revolutions are not about Facebook and Twitter. Revolutions are about human dignity and hunger. It seems that a few journalists are trying to push the (mainstream) media's fascination with the role of (social) media in Egypt, Tunisia, and Iran toward a more realistic point of view. After a prime-time CNN talking head stated that social media are the most fascinating thing about the events in Egypt (!), some senior journalists seem to have had it with the ICT hype. Rich tries to pull attention to why people rise up against their government: "starting with the issues of human dignity and crushing poverty."

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Space for Transparency
Latin American Elections: How to Use Social Media to Promote Transparency

“Several presidential, regional and municipal elections were held between October and November in Latin America: In Argentina, Cristina Kirchner won by an overwhelming majority; in Guatemala, for the first time after the dictatorship a former member of the military was elected; in Nicaragua, Ortega was re-elected amid accusations of irregularities; and in Colombia, voters endorsed the position of President Santos.

As part of these electoral processes, TI chapters have implemented various strategies based on the use of new technologies and social media to engage citizens and ensure fairness and greater transparency of campaigns and elections.In Argentina, Poder Ciudadano waged the campaign Quién te Banca (Who is supporting you?) to provide information to citizens on election campaign spending, such as how much funding is received by candidates, the origin of the funds, etc. Citizens were asked to send photos of election campaign posters via sms, Twitter or Facebook. Poder Ciudadano processed the data received and submitted requests for information regarding the origin and allocation of the funds.”  READ MORE

#4: I Paid A Bribe

Sabina Panth's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011

Originally published on January 12, 2011

I Paid a Bribe is a recently launched online tool that strives to change the perception of corruption and move citizens from apathy to action.  Its goal is to “uncover the market price of corruption” by encouraging victims to report on incidences when they have been forced to pay a bribe, when they have resisted a demand for a bribe, or when they didn’t have to pay a bribe because of honest officers on duty or improvements in law or procedures.  The format for reporting is compartmentalized in a manner that allows both the viewers and the host organization of the website to observe the nature, pattern, types and distribution of bribes across cities and government departments in India.   

#5: The UN E-Government Survey: Towards a More Citizen-Centric Approach

Tanya Gupta's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011

Originally published on January 10, 2011

Last year South Korea ranked first in global e-government ranking among all the countries in the world according to the United Nations E-Government  Survey 2010, with the US in second place.  The UN E-Government Survey provides a bi-annual assessment of national online services, telecommunication infrastructure and human capital of 192 Member States. 

  • Is South Korea’s government really making the best use of ICT for governance? 
  • Does it even make sense to measure the “level” of e-government development in a country and is it possible to do so?  
  • Are rankings preferred to “best practice cases”?  
  • Do the rankings include aspects of MDG priorities such as e-inclusion (gender equality)?  
  • Do they measure usage of technologies such as mobile technology and social media?  
     

#6: The Arab Spring: Welcome to the Explanation Olympics

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011

Originally published on March 3, 2011

Is it possible to 'technocrat-ize' a revolution that is still roaring? The Arab Spring has been a spectacular surprise that so-called experts around the world failed to foresee, yet the same experts are now rushing to impose their favorite frameworks/paradigms on it. I call it the Explanation Olympics. There are experts who are tremendously certain the Arab Spring is all about social media. Others are quite sure it is all about the price of food. Still others say: it is the youth bulge, stupid. A New York Times columnist has just thrown a whole bunch of other explanations into the mix, some of them a trifle baffling.  (See: 'This is just the start' by Tom Friedman).

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Center for Global Development
Publishing Construction Contracts as a Tool for Efficiency and Good Governance

“Construction is a vital part of development, but it often falls prey to poor governance and corruption that misdirect funds, escalate costs, and delay projects. Making the details of construction contracts public is one proven way to help citizens get what they need and what they are paying for.

Publishing government contracts would provide a large stock of public intellectual capital which should reduce the legal costs of contracting and help spread the lessons from failed approaches. The approach is feasible: some jurisdictions have already introduced it.”  READ MORE

#7: Kibera: Making the Invisible Suddenly Visible

Sabina Panth's picture


Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011

Originally published on February 3, 2011

The Map Kibera project is a pioneering enterprise that has applied a combination of modern technologies that local residents can use to uncover information about their locality and use that information for needed awareness and reform.  The project has trained the local youth of Kibera (Kenya) to use the hand-held global position system (GPS) and open source software  (OpenStreetMap) to illustrate a map of the physical landscape and resources encompassing the region and apply digital media and mobile technologies (photographs, video-clips, SMS reporting) to tell stories behind the imprinted information on the map.  The goal of the project is to reinstate the often non-transparent nature of data collection and reporting conducted by external agencies into the hands of local residents, who not only become repository of information about their communities but can also scrutinize the information “to influence democratic debate, access resources and plan development on their own" (Project Concept Paper).

#8: Media and Policy Makers Need to Connect to Online "Influentials"

Susan Moeller's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011

Originally published on September 6, 2011

Most of those who have been riveted to the breaking news in North Africa and the Middle East during the so-called “Arab Spring” and the recent grimmer months this summer have been focused on predicting the actions of the various heads of state—of Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Gaddafi, Bashar Assad.  But many academics have been trying to figure out who have been the prime movers of the grassroots unrest sweeping the region. 

#9: The Role of Social Norms in Achieving Behaviour Change

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011

Originally published on July 28, 2011

Recently I attended a course on social norms and social change organized by UNICEF at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Understanding how social norms affect change in practices and behaviours is becoming an increasingly ‘hot topic’ in development discourse, and rightly so I would add. In some of my previous blogs I’ve discussed how in many cases the failure to achieve expected results should be ascribed to technocratic solutions, which are not always understood and agreed upon with local communities. The lack of a clear understanding of the role and mechanisms of behaviour change has been responsible for many development failures. However, developing strict behaviour change strategies might also be not enough to promote change.

#10: Placing a Value on Social Media

Johanna Martinsson's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011

Orginally published on January 19, 2011

Lately, there has been a great deal of debate about the $500 million investment by financial giant, Goldman Sachs, and a Russian investor in the social networking site Facebook.  Sachs justified their investment by saying the company is worth $50 billion dollars.  Many financial analysts think this high dollar amount is ludicrous and unjustifiable because Facebook has not yet generated a great deal of profit.  However, the question many people are debating, and have been debating for some time, is: what is the true value of social media?

Quote of the Week: Václav Havel

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

"Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better in the sphere of our Being as humans, and the catastrophe toward which this world is headed, whether it be ecological, social, demographic or a general breakdown of civilization, will be unavoidable. If we are no longer threatened by world war or by the danger that the absurd mountains of accumulated nuclear weapons might blow up the world, this does not mean that we have definitively won. We are in fact far from definite victory.

We are still a long way from that 'family of man;' in fact, we seem to be receding from the ideal rather than drawing closer to it. Interests of all kinds: personal, selfish, state, national, group and, if you like, company interests still considerably outweigh genuinely common and global interests. We are still under the sway of the destructive and thoroughly vain belief that man is the pinnacle of creation, and not just a part of it, and that therefore everything is permitted. There are still many who say they are concerned not for themselves but for the cause, while they are demonstrably out for themselves and not for the cause at all. We are still destroying the planet that was entrusted to us, and its environment. We still close our eyes to the growing social, ethnic and cultural conflicts in the world. From time to time we say that the anonymous megamachinery we have created for ourselves no longer serves us but rather has enslaved us, yet we still fail to do anything about it.

Weekly Wire: The Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Revenue Watch
2011 Corruption Index Links Graft and Public Protests

"In its new 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index, Transparency International makes a direct link between global corruption and increasing public protests demanding transparent and accountable governance, from European demonstrations over the debt crisis to the Arab Spring.

Compiled annually, the Index ranks perceived public sector corruption in 183 nations, based on indicators such as information access, bribery, kickbacks, embezzlement and government anti-corruption efforts.

'Public outcry at corruption, impunity and economic instability sent shockwaves around the world in 2011. Protests in many countries quickly spread to unite people from all parts of society,' wrote Transparency International. 'Their backgrounds may be diverse, but their message is the same: more transparency and accountability is needed from our leaders.'" READ MORE

Closing the Gap Between Climate Change Science and Public Opinion

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

The global policy community seems unlikely to take drastic steps with regard to climate change any time soon. Politicians remain hesitant about taking action, although scientific consensus on climate change is overwhelming. It’s happening, it’s happening now, and it will cause massive damage. And it’s mostly caused by humans. Public opinion, on the other hand, is far behind the science. Are politicians unwilling to impose dramatic measures to slow down climate change because the public is unwilling to pay the cost – yet? Are they kicking the can down the road because the people are not yet willing to fully embrace the fact and the consequences of climate change?

Should Your On-line Identity Be True?

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Because major players in the on-line world like Google+ and Facebook are insisting that people should use their real names (that is, reveal their true identities) there is a debate going on in the emerging global public sphere on the role of pseudonyms.  In what follows, I attempt to sum up the arguments for and against – as I understand them.

Weekly Wire: The Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Carnegie Endowment
Aiding Governance in Developing Countries: Progress Amid Uncertainties

"Since emerging as a new donor enthusiasm in the 1990s, governance support has become a major area of aid to developing countries. The idea that remedying debilitating patterns of inefficient, corrupt, and unaccountable governance will unlock developmental progress appeals not just to aid providers but also to ordinary people throughout the developing world who are angry at unresponsive and poorly functioning states. Yet despite the natural appeal of improving governance, it has proved challenging in practice. Many initial assumptions about the task have run aground on the shoals of countervailing realities. As a result, aid practitioners have begun accumulating important insights about how to improve governance aid." READ MORE

Should CSOs Have a Seat at the Table?

John Garrison's picture

The World Bank has experimented with different approaches to including civil society organizations (CSOs) in its decision-making processes over the years. These have varied from regular policy dialogue with CSOs through the Bank – NGO Committee in the 1980s and 1990s, to establishing CSO advisory committees in several Bank units during the 2000s.  Currently, two of these initiatives stand out: the Bank’s Climate Investment Funds have invited 19 CSO representatives (chosen competitively through online voting) to serve as ‘active observers’ on its five Committees and Sub-Committees; and the Bank’s Health Unit has established a CSO 'consultative group' to which it invited 18 CSO leaders to advise the Bank on its health, nutrition, and population agenda. 

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

The Wall Street Journal
How To Calculate How Much The Bribe Was Worth

“In the murky world of international corruption, it’s frequently unclear who is paying who and how much they’re paying.

It’s even harder to figure out how much profit a businessman or a company may have derived from greasing the palms of a corrupt government official.

Despite this lack of clarity, ill-gotten gains are one of the primary metrics governments use to calculate penalties for bribe-payers — the thought being, proceeds can only be confiscated if they are calculated accurately.”  READ MORE