I gave a talk yesterday at the Center for Global Development. If I were the sort of person to have favorite thinktanks, they’d top my list. CGD’s president, Nancy Birdsall, has a gift for talking about complex issues in development economics in a way that’s both rigorous and comprehensible to non-economists… like me.
I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with CGD’s commitment to development index, a fun document that looks not only at how much aid developed world governments give to the developing world in relative and absolute terms, but how much good that aid does. Given recent announcements that there’s been little progress made in achieving the UN’s millenium development goals, it’s a worthwhile document to consult when considering various government plans to address underdevelopment, through trade and aid.
My talk was a basic introduction to the idea of bridgeblogging, the work that Global Voices is doing in that field, and an overview of some of my favorite African and Middle Eastern bridge bloggers. A few folks asked for the list of URLs I used in the talk – they’re posted here.
In the process of running through some of the African blogs, I discovered that Ory Okolloh, the inimitable Kenyan Pundit, is back online with a beautiful new site. Can’t wait to see what stories you’re able to dig up now that you’re back in Nairobi, Ory. (Ory’s already got a great post up about the odd symbols chosen as avatars for the constitutional campaign, and their affect on Nairobi fruit markets…)
Two twists to the talk, one funny, one sad. Rebecca was in DC on the same day, giving a talk at the World Bank about bridgeblogs, Global Voices, and basically all the same stuff I was talking about. Unsurprisingly, many of the folks who work at the Bank who’d been invited to my lunch talk chose to keep listening to her rather than come across town and listen to me… Always fun when you get to blame your colleague for the turnout of your talk.
A sadder note: the talk at CGD was something my late mentor, Dick Sabot, had asked me to do. The last time I saw him, I spent a while explaining my fascination with blogs as a medium for disseminating ideas. He asked me to go down to DC and talk with CGD (where he served as a board member) and see if the Center could use blogs more effectively to get people discussing key development issues. Having the date on my calendar was a lovely reminder of how many of the opportunities I’ve been given by Dick over the years – it put a lump in my throat to cross the last meeting scheduled for me by Dick off my to do list.
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Thank you Ethan. It was CGD’s privilege to host one of the heros of communications in development. I wish I had been in DC to hear your talk.
(Maintaine of the Vaccines for Development blog at the Center for Global Development)
Hi Ethan – Many thanks for the kind words about CGD and most especially for the fascinating talk valuable advice about how CGD could make better use of blogs to support our mission of improving rich country policies towards the developing world. It was my pleasure to host you.
Several people told me how much they had learned from your talk. And I told several who could not attend how much I had learned from you — including CGD President Nancy Birdsall (soon-to-be our chief blogger!). How I wish Dick Sabot could hear how his matchmaking benefited CGD!
Let us know when you are next in DC so we can schedule a repeat performance!