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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
Development and the Death of Aaron Swartz

“Aaron Swartz, who died on January 11th, worked and fought for key freedoms of our time: the right to information, to share knowledge and ideas, and to speak freely.  He did not just campaign: he built  the RSS standard which enables blogs and websites to share information, the Web site framework, the architecture for the Open Library, the link sharing platform Reddit, and he helped to design the Creative Commons licence. He co-founded the online group Demand Progress — known for its campaign against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). He died, apparently by killing himself, aged just 26. Aaron Swartz faced 13 felony charges for having downloaded millions of academic journal articles from the online repository, JSTOR, allegedly with the intention of publishing them freely online.

The death of Aaron Swartz has made me think about how important it is for development that we continue to fight his fights, and continue to build what he began.” READ MORE

Make a Consumer Reports for Aid

“My dishwasher died over the holidays.

The first thing I did was go to Consumer Reports to find out what their experts considered the best bet for a replacement.  I was on the verge of ordering one of their top-ranked models when I decided to click on the “User Reviews” tab.  I was shocked to see that the model was ranked only 2.5 out of 5 stars by actual users.  Consumers had a wide range of complaints, describing how hard it was to load and the length of the wash cycle, and others complained the thing broke down too often.  So I kept going down the list of recommended models until I found one that the experts liked and the users loved, and then I went online and ordered it.  It was simple, and it took less than an hour.

What if governments – and even regular citizens – had a similar tool to use in development projects?  Or better yet – why don’t they?  When I went on my first “mission” to Indonesia in 1987 as a young economist at the World Bank (something I will talk about in a future blog post), I was struck by the fact that there was almost no way for farmers to tell us “experts” what types of agriculture projects they wanted.  Nor could they tell us how they felt about our existing projects.”  READ MORE

David Sasaki
Beyond Technology for Transparency

“Three years ago some colleagues and I launched the Technology for Transparency Network. Back then I thought it was a pretty good description of what we were after. Today I confess that I haven’t the slightest idea of the meaning of “technology for transparency.” Let’s be frank: when we say “technology” we’re basically referring to a medium of communication. That could be an iPhone app, but in most countries it’s more likely to be a community radio station or photocopier. Similarly, what we call “transparency” is simply information; specifically information that is produced by the government. So, “technology for transparency” essentially means, “a medium of information.” I can’t think of a more vague, all-encompassing, indeterminte concept.”  READ MORE

Women, Technology, and International Development

“Over the past decade, the international development community has recognized that investing in women is the most direct and effective way to promote economic growth, peace, and prosperity. Around the world, and more recently in developing countries, we have seen the transformative impact of information and communication technologies (ICTs), particularly mobile phones and the Internet. The question remains, what might be possible when we put these two powerful forces together by investing in women and ICTs in low-to-medium income countries?”  READ MORE

Freedom House
Freedom in the World 2013: Winners and Losers

“The findings for Freedom in the World 2013, which were released this week, reflect a complex picture for the state of global freedom. On one hand, the number of countries ranked in the Free category increased to 90, an impressive share of the world’s 195 sovereign states. At the same time, more countries, 27, suffered significant setbacks in their freedom indicators than showed notable gains, 16, marking the seventh consecutive year in which declines outnumbered improvements.”  READ MORE

All Africa
Nigeria: Insecurity, Corruption Bane of Africa's Underdevelopment – Obasanjo

“FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo has identified corruption, insecurity and infrastructure decay as major problems confronting the African continent.

Obasanjo said this at the inauguration of newly-established Africa Institute, Valparaiso University, Indiana, USA.

The former president spoke as the convener of the Save Nigeria group, even as SNG, Pastor Tunde Bakare, yesterday accused him of allegedly returning the country to the path of corruption.”  READ MORE

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Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomite



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