When we think about 'fashion' we mostly think about clothes, like what the pace-setters in Milan and Paris tell the susceptible is currently fashionable, or what is, to use the lingo. 'so last season'. (I tend to think that , in the words of the old Hugo Boss slogan: True Style is Never Out of Fashion.) But what is increasingly clear is that political leaders, given one of the peculiar dynamics of public opinion, can be in and out of fashion too. So, as you read this, wherever you are in the world, think about your political leader. Is your leader still in fashion?
Nevertheless, I think we have suffered too much from politics by simplistic slogans. Making a coherent, well-argued case is surely the best way in the long term of trying to mobilize consent for any course of action. It dignifies an argument – and those to whom it is addressed – to set it out thoughtfully.”
- Chris Patten, Chancellor, University of Oxford
I am often amazed with how Google reads my mind when I am typing, giving me numerous options from which to click. Apparently, though, some words do not produce instant results. "The Hacker publication 2600 decided to compile a list of words that are restricted by Google Instant." Although many of the words are not surprising (think off-color biological terms), some others might leave you thinking really, this made it to the list (ex. the word butt), but others might educate you on topics (off-color) that you had no consideration or imagination for. Giggles aside, and yes I did some giggling when I reviewed the list, there is a bit of danger in the idea of a search engine censoring terms. Based on whose morals, based on whose values and who makes the final censorship decision? These questions worry me.
Two types of reaction are common when talking about civil society engagement in public sector reform: 1. Skeptical. 2. Idealistic. This leaves very little room for a realistic view to genuinely reflect on the actual impact and contributions of civil society in good governance work.
The use of relevant and credible evidence from the ground is crucial in strengthening arguments and incentives for reform. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines, for example, was successful in part because of the evidence gathered and presented by experts with practical experience from conflict-torn societies. Forging strong ties with local actors and ensuring inclusive representation in coalitions are crucial factors for successful campaigns.
To this point, Transparency International (TI), a global coalition to fight corruption, recently introduced Participatory Video (PV) as part of their program on Poverty and Corruption in Africa. The introduction of PV is a first for TI, and it is used as a tool to engage and partner with the poor in fighting corruption. In collaboration with InsightShare, a leading company in PV, TI’s African National Chapters have started training local communities on how to create their own films, capturing authentic stories about corruption and how it impacts their daily lives. Alfred Bridi discusses his experience about the training process in Uganda and has made a short film (see above) to illustrate the process and enthusiasm among the participants.
"To have the welfare and the lives of millions placed at our disposal, is a sort of warrant, a challenge to squander them without mercy.“
-- William Hazlitt, ‘On the Spirit of Monarchy’, 1823
- William Hazlitt
In my previous post, I narrated Sanumaya’s tale in the context of how development that looks good from the above can be problematic when viewed at the local level, particularly for socially and economically marginalized populations. The village was building a road that connected to the highway. Everyone was excited at the prospect of economic prosperity. Except, it came at the cost of dislodging the poor and vulnerable, like Sanumaya, whose poverty, illiteracy and social status became her entrapment.
- Social Development
- Public Sector and Governance
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Culture and Development
- Communities and Human Settlements
- Vulnerable Communities
- Road Project
- Resettlement and Rehabilitation from Infrastructure Project
- Legal Aid to the Poor
- Gender Equality and Socia Inclusion
- Communicatiing with the Poor
- access to justice
- Access to Information
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?
Malcolm Gladwell’s piece in The New Yorker, "Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted," stayed with me long after I put the carefully folded pages scribbled with my musings into the read pile on my floor. The piece deserves greater attention, meditation, rumination, which I intend to do in future blogs but for today’s blog, I want to explore his take on divide and conquer. Gladwell explores the difference between strong and weak ties in organizing and it is something that should be of the upmost importance to our readers. Decisions on organization, process, and the tools reformers engage to reach their ends are critical. "The medium, after all, is the message" - Marshall McLuhan. But it could also be that the medium signals something about the thoughtfulness of organizers and the level of commitment of participants.
Say you're a civil society activist who uses online and mobile technology as a tool for greater accountability. Wouldn't you want to be able to call up a map of the world and easily find examples from other countries that might also be relevant for your work?
Turns out, you can. Recently, at the Internet at Liberty 2010 conference co-sponsored by Google and Central European University, I heard a presentation from the Technology and Transparency Network, which is an initiative of Global Voices and Rising Voices. Click on the link, and you'll see that the Technology and Transparency Network's home page is a map of the world, where you can zoom in on individual projects in countries like Mexico, Sudan, Uganda, Cambodia and Hungary.