The creaky adaptation of international development to technological change

Thanks to a recent post by Tomas Krag, one of the most creative, inventive and intense people I have met in the ICT for Development space, I stumbled across the “i4d: information for development” site, whose masthead and contributors’ list name a number of people I either know or respect.  Tomas’ and Sebastian
Biittrich’s (who in the past have cheerfully and willingly been
invaluable resources,
along with Michael Best, for me in clarifying the capabilities of
diffent wireless technologies and in offering blunt criticism)
involvement makes me believe that this journalistic endeavor merits
further attention. 

What Michael Best, Tomas and Sebastian (and many others too many to
mention here) bring to the international development
community is something that lamentably is still underappreciated even
today, which is deep and serious knowledge of how technologies
(wireless, computational, community-oriented and other) work. 
After a number of years of serious consideration of how IT
can transform development, the field still remains dominated by
bureaucrats, well-meaning economists and others who really do not
understand the technology, and
who hold at arm’s length a lot of very talented individuals with very
advanced technology skills who are looking for ways to help the
world. 

The esprit de corps of a global brigade of geeks has been institutionalized and scrappily pushed forth by my colleague Ethan Zuckerman,
but unfortunately, international development as a profession remains a dinosaur with little room for true entrepreneurship and
risk-taking with the exploration of new technologies.  In a
limited way, the field continues to creakily adapt to the realities of
technological change, but unfortunately, the structure and culture of
the global aid institutions are anathema to the acceptance of
fast-moving, technological saavy crusaders.

There remains a lot of room in the international development space for
a major institution to emerge to lead with money, creativity,
technological savviness and connections that will sweep clean much of
the aged detritus of bureaucracy and inertia that dominate what should
be the most important and impacting sector in the world.

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