Whew. I just published the third and final part of my “New Era of Media Development” series over at Idea Lab. I’m glad to have that out of the way. I know I’ve been whining quite a bit lately about the funding community, but that’s because that is where all the power lies, and hence where the bottleneck lies as well. For over a year and a half now I’ve been arguing for a participatory philanthropy approach to civil society, and it seems like the idea is starting to gather steam. (Speaking of participatory philanthropy, please vote for “Rio Olympics: Ensuring a Powerful Legacy for Rio’s Favelas” if you read this in the next 12 hours.)
What disappointed me most about the meeting of funders, however, was the almost obsessive focus on metrics and the complete lack of attention on projects or people. I was frequently under the impression that many of the funders are not even aware of the work their grantees are doing. It was just all about finding the right measurements to justify their work. This leads me to three recommended relevant links. I’d write more about each, but I need to hop on a 12-hour train journey.
The first is a podcast from American RadioWorks which talks about the myth of GDP as the all-encompassing metric of national well-being. It starts with Joseph Stiglitz’s skepticism about GDP and then gets even more interesting.
Also related to GDP and well being is this podcast from the HowStuffWorks podcast. Everyone refers to Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness census, but mostly with grinning condescension. In this podcast they actually dig into the details of it. Highly recommended.
Lastly: Lawrence Liang’s criticism of the framing of ICT for Development at the Harvard Forum. I disagree with some of what Liang says (and plan on commenting on the post soon), but I still think it’s a very worthwhile critique to read.
Off to the train station.