What does blogging have to do with development?

November 01, 2005
When I suggested that the World Bank launch a blog on remittances a couple of years ago, friends there asked: “what does blogging have to do with development?” Today the answer might go something like this: “What do telephones, fax machines, e-mail and websites have to do with development?” Answer: “like blogs, they are part of the 21st Century communications tool kit. We decide which to use depending on what we want to achieve.” How times change! One of the best arguments I have seen for development blogging comes from Tim Harford and Pablo Halkyard, authors of the World Bank’s Private Sector Development Blog whose article Will Blogs Change Development Thinking? appeared recently on ID21, the lively development research clearing house funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and run by the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex. Accompanying the Harford/Halkyard piece on the ID21 page is a valuable blog roll, which we have shamelessly copied to our own new space. Among the development blogs they list is one from our friends at the Overseas Development Institute blog where Simon Maxwell recently cut loose and apportioned blame for the disappointing results of the UN Summit in a post modestly titled: Diplomats and NGOs to blame for UN Summit failure – send them all to boot camp . Other worthwhile blogs with a development dimension include the World Economic Forum’s blog and, which is sponsored by our friends and neighbors at the World Resources Institute. Perhaps one of the most interesting efforts in the growing development blog space is Global Voices run out of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at the Harvard Law School, founded by Ethan Zuckerman and Rebecca MacKinnon. Global Voices aggregates the postings of “bridge bloggers” – a term they coined to describe the growing number of people who are talking about their country or region to a global audience. They bring an urgently needed developing country perspective to online discussions about development. With so much development blogging already out there, our own new effort at CGD has plenty of company - and plenty of competition for the limited attention span of our audience. Of course, as any development economist knows, competition is good. We are happy to be joining in such a lively marketplace for ideas and hope in our small way to make it livelier still.


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.