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The Public Sphere Enters Public Discourse

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

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.

Girls Invent Social Network for Farmers in 48 hours

Sabina Panth's picture

The AkiraChix, an-all girls’ team, was declared a winner of the recently held IPO48 software development competition in Kenya.  The IPO48 initiative brought together 100 participants from all over the country to pitch their ideas, question business models, form teams and create 17 prototypes and products which, by the end of 48 hours, were ready for the market (Afrinnovator).  The winning girls came up with an innovative M-Farm, a mobile-based marketplace that is targeted to small-scale farmers to increase their agriculture productivity.

Jeremy Bentham and Dictators Around the World

Sina Odugbemi's picture

A desperate, totally fed up young graduate sets himself on fire in a small, provincial town in his country and within weeks eddies of violent protests by citizens all over the country bring down an authoritarian regime. And everyone is stunned by both the suddenness and the scale of it all. But the philosopher, Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), would not have been surprised. He would have reminded the world of three things that he always said in the course of his long life:

Working With Those Who Can

Antonio Lambino's picture

The video posted above is the fourth in a series we are featuring on this blog.  The interview was conducted in June, 2010, during a learning event jointly organized by the World Bank Institute’s Governance Practice and CommGAP entitled “The Political Economy of Reform: Moving from Analysis to Action.”  Featured in the video is Kapil Kapoor, World Bank Country Manager for Zambia.  From the informed vantage point of managing not only a country portfolio, but also webs of relationships among local and international stakeholders, Kapoor cogently argues that donors and development agencies must broaden their view of in-country engagement:

… I think we need to be paying much more attention to civil society groups.  Over the longer term, there is no substitute from the people of a particular country putting pressure on their own governments to improve service delivery, to improve accountability, to improve transparency.  Often, when such demands come from donors, it’s quite easy for governments to turn around and externalize the issue and say ‘But these are people who’ve got no stake in our economy… they’re outsiders…’

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.

Poverty Matters Blog (Guardian)
Technology’s role in fighting poverty is still ripe for discussion

"I'm rarely one for predictions, so I shied away from the usual scramble to make a few at the start of the year. Looking back on events, however, is another thing, and for me 2010 has been a particularly interesting year on a number of fronts.

If I were to make one key observation, I'd say that the "D" in ICT4D (Information and Communication Technologies for Development) resembled more "debate" than "development" during 2010. The ICT4D field has always been ripe for fierce discussion – perhaps a sign that all is not well, or that the discipline continues to mature, or that the rampant advance of technology continues to catch practitioners and academics off-guard. Where, for example, does the advance of the iPad fit into ICT4D, if at all?"

One Year Later: ICT Lessons from the Haiti Earthquake

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

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.

Why Sound Technical Solutions Are Not Enough: Part II

Paolo Mefalopulos's picture

Let us go back to the main theme of this blog: why sound technical solutions devised by top ranking technical experts and supported by plenty of resources from the richest countries have failed to deliver the expected results. A review of past experiences identified a number of causes for the failures of past approaches, but most of them appear to be traceable to one directly linked to communication/dialogue, or the lack of; i.e. the limited involvement of the so-called ‘beneficiaries’ in the decisions and the design of activities that concerned their lives. To sum up, lack of results in development initiatives due to people failing to adopt the prescribed behaviours were largely due to the neglect of the voices of those who were expected to adopt and live with such innovations and technical solutions.

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