Why Google Reader saves you time and expands your mind, with some links I liked on Africa, Climate Change and Aid

July 23, 2010

     By Duncan Green     

Back from holiday and in about an hour, I’ve just skimmed 250 pieces from the last three weeks of writing from my 15 favourite writers and bloggers, everyone from Paul Krugman and Martin Wolf to Texas in Africa and Political Climate. I didn’t have to go searching for them – they were all waiting for me on my homepage when I grabbed a coffee and turned on my laptop. All thanks to the wonders of Google Reader.

Development people claim to be interested in ideas, yet an alarming number of my colleagues roll their eyes when I sing Google Reader’s praises and wail ‘I haven’t got time to read’. Pathetic. The point is that GR (or its equivalents) saves you time, and allows you to skim your gurus’ (or competitors’) output as it appears. It makes you better at your job, not least by giving you bullshitter’s rights in the first meeting of the day – ‘well the New York Times had a piece on this today, and it said…..’.

And yes, I realize that if you’re reading this, you’re probably already connected, but why not make it your mission to go and persuade some colleagues (especially technophobic bosses) to do likewise?

For sage advice on the practicalities, and a great development blog list, read Owen Barder. Meanwhile, here are some highlights from my morning trawl.

What does the World Cup tell Ranil Dissanayake about the nuances of identity in Africa?

Alanna Shaikh explores the limitations and dangers of the aid industry’s obsession with assessing impact and shows how crowdsourcing can work in practice, as she raises the funds for a violence-reducing Ushahidi project in Kyrgyzstan in 8 hours using Twitter 

Bill Easterly asks ‘Was the poverty of Africa determined in 1000 BC?’ and concludes that history, while not destiny, is a pretty good predictor of future performance

“The only way in which we can get rid of “growth mania” is by getting rid of capitalism. It is not possible to have capitalism without growth.” Alejandro Nadal thinks the de-growthers have got it all wrong (or are being very disingenuous) 

Laura Freschi discusses the impact of right to information initiatives in India and Africa

Is the best way to tackle climate change bottom up (technological innovation) or top down (global agreements)? Matthew Lockwood reviews the arguments  and mines some data to ask ‘Do equality and security help the politics of climate?’ 

And finally, ‘What did the Chinese ever do for us?’ Texas in Africa takes some photos to demonstrate – the same section of road before and after China arrived in North Kivu in the DRC. Impact assessment anyone?

July 23, 2010
Duncan Green