Topic: Technology

Do Aid and Development need their own TripAdvisor feedback system?

I’ve been thinking about TripAdvisor recently, as a model of fast, crowdsourced feedback which highlights rubbish hotels and restaurants, and creates pressure for them to shape up. There’s plenty of rubbish performance in the aid and development sector, but our feedback loops are mainly limited to conversations in corridors and the occasional email. So what would be your top […]

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What to do about Inequality, Shrinking Wages and the perils of PPPs? A conversation with Kaushik Basu, World Bank chief economist

Along with a bunch of policy wonks from NGOs and thinktanks, I had an exchange with World Bank chief economist Kaushik Basu this week. Rules of engagement were that the meeting  was off the record, but I was allowed to blog as long as the Bank saw a draft to make sure I wasn’t about […]

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How do you keep 100 students awake on a Friday afternoon? Fast feedback and iterative adaptation seem to work

I wrote this post for the LSE’s International Development Department blog There’s a character in a Moliere play who is surprised and delighted to learn that he has been speaking prose all his life without knowing it. I thought of him a couple of weeks into my new role as a part-time Professor in Practice in LSE’s […]

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Why Bill and Melinda’s Annual Letter is both exciting and disappointing

Judging by his latest annual letter, if you could bottle and sell Bill Gates’ optimism, you’d probably make even more money than he has from software. In what they call a ‘big bet’ (actually, more like a prediction), the letter sets out Bill and Melinda’s personal version of some post-MDG goals for 2030 (Charles Kenny […]

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The Economist on the global spread of cash transfers and Jokowi’s flying start in Indonesia

Some fascinating coverage of the new Indonesian president and cash transfers in the Economist this week. First up, Indonesia: ‘Having trimmed petrol subsidies in November, Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, who is universally known as Jokowi, scrapped them entirely from January 1st. Small subsidies (1,000 rupiah, or eight cents, per litre) will remain in place for […]

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How Soap Operas and cable TV promote women’s rights and family planning

Taking a break from the How Change Happens book this week to head off to Harvard for a Matt Andrews/ODI seminar on ‘Doing Development Differently’ + a day at Oxfam America on Friday. Will report back, I’m sure. Meanwhile, I’ve just finished the draft chapter on the power of social norms, and how they change […]

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Why Inequality is a (very) Big Deal, and you need to get involved

I wrote this puff for Blog Action Day on 16th Oct – it appeared on Oxfam International’s site earlier this week. If you’re a blogger and want to join in the inequality theme, sign up here. A few years ago I was touring the US to promote my book, From Poverty to Power, which focuses […]

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Amartya Sen on dangers of climate change ‘obsession’ and nuclear power and need for a new ethics of environmentalism

Amartya Sen has an important piece out in the New Republic magazine, on the links between environment and development. It’s quite long, so I thought I’d offer my precis service. He argues that the attention to climate change is disproportionate, not because we should think less about it, but because we should worry a lot […]

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Why social entrepreneurship has become a distraction: it’s mainstream capitalism that needs to change

Pamela Hartigan, Director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford’s Saïd Business School, is having second thoughts about the impact of social entrepreneurs. The first time I heard the term “social entrepreneur” I thought it referred to business people who liked to party. That was about twenty years ago, when the term was […]

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Four ways in which a good theory of change can help your social accountability work

This piece went up last week on the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability blog. Sorry, I mean ‘knowledge platform’. Theories of change (ToCs) are a bit of a development fuzzword at the moment, used in lots of different and sometimes baffling ways. But Oxfam finds ToCs extremely useful, provided they address issues of […]

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Big Data and Development: Upsides, downsides and a lot of questions

One of the more scary but enjoyable things I do is be interviewed on stuff I know absolutely nothing about (yeah, yeah, I know – no change there then). You get to grasshopper around multiple issues and disciplines, cobbling together ideas and arguments from scattered fragments, making connections and learning new stuff. Great fun. This […]

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Jamie Love’s Next Big Idea: Making the WTO into a force for good in Public Health

I’ve heard the name Jamie Love mentioned in reverential tones over the years, and a few weeks ago, I was asked by STOPAIDS to interview him in an ‘in conversation’ format in front of a small group of activists. It was fantastic fun (for me at least). Jamie is director of Knowledge Ecology International and […]

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