Tag: Technology

‘Technology Justice’ – what does it mean for how NGOs think about new and old tech in development? And would you like a job working on it?

I had an interesting exchange with Practical Action’s policy director, Astrid Walker Bourne (right) recently, about one of my (many) hobby horses – technology and its absence from the NGO agenda. Practical Action is trying to fill the gap with a work programme on ‘technology justice’, but a failed recruitment has got her thinking about […]

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A world of friendship networks revealed – great interactive infographic

After a few days in the migrationtastic Philippines (more on the visit next week) this post seems particularly apposite. The world’s friendship networks revealed, or at least that chunk of them that are on Facebook (large and growing – 910 million and counting). This exercise in big data crunching is fascinating: click on the country […]

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African techno-euphoria and the origins of Kenyan mobile exceptionalism

I’m struck by one of those periodic waves of Africa techno-euphoria as I catch up on my post holiday reading (Google Reader, twitter, email, random subscriptions – is there no end to it?). The Guardian has pieces on how the web is changing Africa and 15 innovations that are transforming the continent. Meanwhile the Economist […]

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10 Challenges to 'business as usual' for development agencies: FP2P flashback

OMG, nearly three years on and almost everything on this list would still be on today’s version. But at least I could point to progress, in the shape of specific bits of thinking, reseach and/or programming. on nearly all of them. What new additions would go on today’s list, I wonder? Domestic taxation; resource scarcity […]

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Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding. Review of Charles Kenny's new book

Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding—And How We Can Improve the World Even More, published this month, is an exercise in ‘framing’ – trying to shift the way we feel, as well as think, about development and aid. It does it rather well. Two big frames: 1. Lives are getting better everywhere, including in […]

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Genetics and food doesn't have to be just about GM: genetic markers

The most interesting article in the Economist special report on ‘Feeding the World’, reviewed here yesterday, was on the question of new technologies. Quote: ‘The only reliable way to produce more food is to use better technology’. Some excerpts here: “There will not be big gains in food production from taking in new land, using […]

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Agriculture is key to development – why I (partly) disagree with Owen Barder

It was World Food Day on Saturday, in case you missed it, and Owen Barder had a typically thought-provoking reflection on the links between agriculture and development. He starts off by quoting Amartya Sen’s words from 30 years ago, “Starvation is the characteristic of some people not having enough food to eat. It is not the characteristic […]

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What distinguishes a nice technology from a nasty one?

Gave a short presentation to the Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum last week on the thorny topic of food security, innovation and safety. The speakers and audience were mainly on the science/policy interface, (a very different epistemic community from last week’s EU aid gabfest, but the powerpoints were just as bad). Most of the discussion […]

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Four big trends that advocacy NGOs need to watch

It’s obviously that strategic planning time of year again. Owen Barder recently posted his top tips for up and coming megatrends that should shape thinking in advocacy NGOs and last week I spent a self-indulgent morning doing my crystal ball thing with Traidcraft, an excellent UK NGO currently immersed in some long-term navel-gazing, (sorry I […]

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Why no-one believes what scientists tell them

The Guardian’s George Monbiot is a former environmental scientist turned journalist-activist. Many moons ago I studied physics, before joining the development and human rights dark/light side (depending on your point of view). So his recent meditation on the nature of science and ‘public reason’ as Amartya Sen would call it, struck a chord, (and not just […]

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The global crisis is an unavoidable moment in a technology long wave: an optimistic view from Carlota Perez

Is there a link between the current global crisis and the technological long wave that is in the process of transforming the world economy? Carlota Perez, a Venezuelan academic who specializes in the study of technological revolutions thinks there is, and laid it out at a talk at the IPPR last week (download her podcast here). […]

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Never make predictions, especially about the future

The panacea of technological innovation is routinely trotted out by political leaders faced with difficult problems. Poverty? A laptop in every village! Climate Change? Carbon capture and storage, with a side helping of biofuels! So no need to ask, let alone answer, difficult questions on distribution, or possible environmental limits to growth – the magic bullet […]

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