Development 2.0 – More than jargon?

There are a few possible interpretations of Development 2.0 that make it more than jargon. Two are simple (although not easy) and most likely inevitable. The last one is very, very hard. And, of course, it’s the one that matters most.

The first meaning of Development 2.0 would be using new technology and methods to share information and improve practice. Use new technology to improve the quality of the work we do. This includes both using new technology to solve development problems, and to share information across communities of practice. It could mean a better kind of water pump, it could mean Ushahidi, or it could mean posting your trip reports to YouTube. Other examples include Aidworkers Network, Appropedia,, and Not to mention the growing community of international development blogs and twitter accounts.

I think this kind of Development 2.0 will occur naturally. Development organizations are full of people who care about their work and seek ways to do it better. Early adopters will grab useful new tech as it occurs, and sooner or later institutional resistance will be overcome.

Another form of Development 2.0 would be using the social web to crowd-source funding for development projects. We saw the Obama campaign route around traditional donor dominance by getting hundreds of thousands of small donations instead of relying on a few major funders. We could do the same thing in development. This would mean a greater diversity in what projects get funded, and fewer irrational restrictions on money. This would mean that no one had the power to impose a global gag rule, for example, or force a project to procure all their mobile phones from Finland.

The truest, most difficult form of Development 2.0, however, is more than improving our current work. Instead, it will mean going from a donor model to a partnership model. The web 2.0 revolution was when people went from being passive consumers of pre-packaged information and entertainment to creating their own content and sharing it with each other using new tools. It shattered traditional media structures in ways we are still trying to understand.

If we could do that in development, it would be genuinely earth-shaking. What if developing countries went from being passive recipients of aid packages to identifying their own needs and developing their own solutions, reaching out to donors to provide funding and targeted expertise as requested? What if they shared those solutions with other countries in the same situation? Countries who have seen success in bringing down HIV rates could offer technical expertise to those still struggling. New technologies make information sharing and analysis easier than ever. They are not the exclusive province of the developed world.

Web 2.0 still relies on traditional media to provide content to be discussed, contextualized, and remixed. Perhaps in Development 2.0 donors would do deep technical research to support good program design, and monitor and evaluate programs to support the best possible uses of donor money.

Thanks to JamesBT, Bjelkeman, carolARC, waugaman, stevebridger, and Will Schmitt for helping me refine my ideas on this.

(photocredit: Ed Yourdon)
Chosen because I have a deep and abiding love for Al Gore.

International Development on Twitter, Part II – Five more people to follow

Joseph Kimojino @maratriangle

Why you should follow: Fascinating first-hand account of wildlife protection in the Mara Triangle, complete with catching poachers, making tourists behave, and helping wounded animals.

Sample Tweet: Three poachers arrested two nights ago and poaching activity seen in Mingu area. 14 snares collected this morning.

Appropedia @appropedia

Why you should follow: A constant stream of interesting information on useful technology.

Sample Tweet: A miracle substance that’s cheap & could add 1 billion points to the global I.Q.: iodised salt.

Usha Venkatachallam @nadodi

Why you should follow: Great posts on information technology and the developing world.

Sample Tweet: mix a nerd & humanitarian news. result = AidNews, AidBlogs, and a how-to blog post.

Gaurav Mishra @gauravonomics

Why you should follow: Links and thinking on social media and ICT for development.

Sample Tweet: Preparing for a talk tomorrow on the role of citizen journalism in crisis reporting for my fellow associates at

Jon Camfield

Why you should follow: Interesting information technology information, and great coverage of One Laptop Per Child.

Sample Tweet: TCO for low-cost computing in Education: The video archive of last Thursday’s discuss.

As always, let me know who I forgot in the comments.

(photo credit: Steve Woolf)
Chosen because it was either this or the fail whale.

International development on Twitter, Part 1

Ten people to follow on Twitter if you’re interested in international development. Not the top ten, necessarily – there are too many great people on Twitter for me to make that claim. But ten microbloggers who consistently engage my attention with interesting ideas:

Glenna Gordon
Glenna Gordon is a journalist, photographer, and author of the Scarlett Lion blog, currently living in Uganda. Her writing, and the links she posts, offer beautifully written insight into Uganda, with a solid dose of cynicism and wry humor.

Sample tweet: Supermodel risks TB and Genocide by visitng Rwanda: Monika Schnarre, who considers herself a supermo..

Why you should follow: For links to photos and articles on Uganda, Africa, and development which you wouldn’t have found on your own.

Chris Albon@chrisalbon
Chris Albon is author of the amazing War and Health blog, and posts a great series of links on war and conflict.

Sample tweet: For the past 2 weeks I’ve been writing post on armed groups potentially exploiting Ushahidi. This is what I mean:

Why you should follow: For links to a huge range of articles and resources on conflict in general and conflict and health. He’s obsessed with the intersection of war and health, and obsessed people make great reading.

Vasco Pyjama
Vasco Pyjama
is an aid worker who’s been everywhere, including Somalia and Afghanistan.

Sample tweet: Documenting lessons learnt and writing up methodologies. At first I thought I had indigestion. Now I realise it’s heartache.

Why you should follow: For a self-aware, intelligent, first-person perspective on aid work and its discontents.

Glenn Strachan@glennstrachan
Glenn Strachan travels the planet supporting ICT for development. He blogs as well as using Twitter.

Sample tweet: Right now I am trying to assemble a list of the top 30 organisations worldwide doing work specifically in ICT4D. There is no list.

Maneno @maneno
The twitter account of, which is devoted to making African voices heard.

Sample tweet: Toivo Asheeke’s latest post on his Maneno blog, “A Brief Case Study of A Successful African Country” (Namibia)

Why you should follow: To keep your news sources broad and deep.

I’ve got five more profiles coming up in my next post: @maratraingle, @chriswaterguy, @nadodi, @guaravanomics, and @joncamfield. Who am I missing? Tell me in the comments.

(photo credit: FunnyBiz)
Chosen because I love graphs.

Links: jargon, politics, humanitarian relief, and a contest

This glossary is a resource for deciphering development jargon.

The Huffington Post asks if Republicans are better at foreign assistance.

Statistics on humanitarian relief from the excellent new humanitarian relief blog. I have been very impressed by the blog so far; it’s a great combination of information, editorial, and links to useful resources.

Lastly, I’ll hop on the bandwagon and link to the USAID Development 2.0 Challenge. USAID will award a $10,000 prize for a high-impact use of mobile technology for development. I think this contest will be very interesting to watch – the small prize level should bring out fresh ideas and not just proposals from all the same USAID grantees.

Heading Offline

I am heading North this morning for a week of vacation and my baby brother’s wedding. Wish me luck! Internet access is slow and hard to get at my destination, so it’s unlikely I’ll be updating until my return. If you need reading material in my absence, check out these bloggers:

Glenna Gordon, at Uganda’s Scarlett Lion writes about Uganda, obviously, but also broader issues of Africa and development.

Rupert Simons, a Liberia fellow, writes Adventures in Development.

[My] State Failure Blog offers geopolitcal analysis.

White African writes about Africa and technology.

Should you find yourself pining for my unique perspective, here are some posts I have been especially pleased with (that aren’t on the sidebar):

The ongoing Things I Believe in Series.

April 13 -20 was a good week for me.

Bad Granting

Relief vs. Development

See you all in ten days!

Amy Sample Ward’s Blog

Amy Sample Ward’s Version of NPTech. Amy Sample Ward’s blog is a really exceptional resource on nonprofit technology, particularly fundraising and the web. I’m sending a link to a couple old employers who could use the info.

In general, I find blogs like this really energizing because they are about what works to motivate people and bring them together, which can lead to insight on a lot more than fundraising and advocacy.

The Cute Cat Theory of technology

The Cute Cat Theory Talk at ETech. Wow, do I love Ethan Zuckerman’s blog. His approach to blogging is similar to mine, in that he tries to bring together a lot of ideas to improve development practice in the field. He does it a lot better, though, and writes meaty posts full of interesting analysis.

This post, on the use of new technologies, is one of the most insightful things I’ve read in a long, long time.