In time for the upcoming World Cup, National Geographic’s profile of South Africa
New Blogs I Liked
Science and Technology
Tweeting for inter-religious dialogue (to be shared with the Rabbi)
Today (yesterday there) was Freedom Day in South Africa. It commemorates the first post-Apartheid election, by which Nelson Mandela was elected President.
Happy holiday, ZA, and many more!
Also, Sunday was World Malaria Day, which I completely didn’t notice on my calendar. Hopefully we won’t have too many more of those (both the Day and calendar mishaps) in the future.
I think I’ve now used ‘ridiculous’ or some form of it so many times in reference to iPad and technology as to lose all meaningfulness. It’s just that articles such as this one at Gartner infuriate me, as they seem to be based purely on enthusiasm and not reality. I’m all for enthusiasm and setting fire to the world, and I am not at all a luddite, but let’s not confuse the purpose and function of technology for that of people and institutions. Technology is NOT development. It is simply a tool for development. Nor will the mere appearance of technology lead to development (actually, if we define development as the rise in living standards, Jane Jacobs makes a powerful argument that technology can underdevelop or even un-develop). In any case, there’s more about the post over at D&S.
Just saw this post (h/t Ethan Zuckerman) about ‘social outcomes’, which is rather timely since I just posted my final project for my Research Methods class – a proposal for outcome evaluation of 4 sectors of the Ugandan economy, with a focus on government policy (to be absolutely clear, this is just a proposal, and I did not do the data analysis suggested, so I don’t draw any real conclusions – because to draw conclusions without evidence is precisely the thing I’m arguing against).
Mr Morino’s is a good one, and a great deal more developed and possibly more fair than my own thinking about social outcomes, which is that the goal of a non-profit (especially in development) should be to put itself out of business by achieving its purpose. I’m sure that statement will get me in trouble, but having worked with a variety of non-profits over the year – all staffed by hard-working, dedicated people! – I’ve come to this conclusion. Development work, advocacy work, is not meant to be sustainable, because if it needs to be, it means that the work is not effective – it is not changing lives, it is not changing laws. On the other hand, I see no problem with redirecting the efforts of an effective team towards a new goal or mission, but at that point, make the mission shift (not creep) transparent and defined. Otherwise it just starts to look like self-perpetuation.
That isn’t at all what I write about in my outcome evaluation proposal, but his central idea – the importance of understanding the goal of an action, implementing it purposefully, and evaluating its effectiveness for less learned on what to do/not to do – informs my choice to propose an outcome evaluation for my topic. The assignment was simply to ask a research question and design a research plan around it. As I explain, I took an idea from Paul Collier’s The Bottom Billion – the trap of landlocked states – and asked how a state might effectively implement his 9 strategies for development. I criticize those 9 strategies, as I think they are far too vague to be meaningful (as is most of development theory), and another look would allow us to be more focused in policy design. That is, in essence what this paper proposes, using 4 sectors of the Ugandan economy as case studies.