a little east of reality

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

blogs and development

id21, a group that sends out information on research being done on development issues has published an article on blogging and how it might affect development thinking. This is just an excerpt, but just click on the title if you want to read the whole article.

Will blogs change development thinking?

...Here's how blogging will change both the developed and the developing world.

...blogging improves the quality of debate. For instance, an article in the Washington Post, 'The Rise of a Market Mentality Means Many Go Hungry in Niger' in August 2005, drew furious responses from bloggers. That's nothing new, of course: people have always read newspaper articles and grumbled to their spouses over the breakfast table. The difference is that now commentators can find each other, track the debate, air their differences and discover more about the facts behind the story.

...Being a big organisation counts for very little in the booming world of blogs - what counts is quick, relevant content.

And if the playing field is being levelled within the developed world, just wait until the developing world starts to play the game. It's already happening: during this summer's Live8 campaign, some African bloggers started to complain that the concerts were irrelevant, patronising, or worse. Even just a couple of years ago, such dissenting voices from Africa would never have been heard.

Huge sites, such as Harvard's Global Voices Online, are gathering together the output of 'bridge bloggers' who read local blogs and comment in English. Some countries, such as Iran, have vast blogging communities; others are tiny but growing very fast. It has never been easier for journalists to pick up voices from the developing world - or even for you and us to do so from our desks.

People all over the world are talking, but only now can we hear what they're saying.

I find this really encouraging, the idea that as the internet spreads throughout the developing world that we will see more input and opinion by people who are affected by decisions made by other, more powerful countries. However, having voices out there ~ even if those voices are heard and understood ~ doesn't necessarily translate into action. Let's hope that better and more relevent information translates into people acting to influence their government to make fair economic, trade and foreign policy. The world could be a very different place.