Ideas to Action:

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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Biometrics, Identity, and Development

I recently presented an overview of this work at one of CGD’s biweekly Research-in-Progress (RIP) staff meetings; colleagues urged me to share my thinking about this and the slides via this blog post.

C U L8ter? Using Mobile Phones as a Literacy Tool in Niger

This is a joint posting with Kristy Bohling.

I recently received a text message from my friend Karim in Niger, asking “Keski ce passe?” (What’s happening?). Those of you who know French might notice his text is an abbreviation of the much longer expression for “Qu’est-ce qui se passe”, which is formal and proper but a bit long when you only have 140 characters. Such abbreviations in French, English and other languages have caused teachers and parents alike to blame texting for corrupting our language and “degrading [the] spelling of [our] youth.” Existing studies in the UK and elsewhere have debunked these claims, and, the National Adult Literacy Database called on people to celebrate International Literacy Day by “reading or writing, tweeting or texting.” In fact, mobile phones and texting might be a new tool in the arsenal against illiteracy: our new research in Niger suggests that mobile phones could promote literacy and numeracy skills in sub-Saharan Africa.

New and Improved: Much Ado (and To Do) about Innovation in Development

“Innovation” is popping up everywhere you turn these days. In her recent speech at the Center for Global Development, Secretary Clinton cited “innovation” as one of the priorities of U.S. development policy. Both the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Department of Treasury are exploring ways to more systematically include “innovation” in the development agenda. The G8 is rumored to be launching an “innovation and development” initiative for Africa at its next meeting.

Does Sharing Apply to Development? Yup!

McNealy arrived late, delayed by a meeting at the Pentagon. You could tell he was tired. He’d flown to DC from California with a stopover in Dallas where he stayed up late watching hockey as his beloved San Jose Sharks fell to the Stars in the 4th overtime. Nonetheless, by the time lunch was finished at 1:30pm we had made good progress answering moderator Lawrence MacDonald’s query – does sharing and openness really matter for development?

Sharing as a Development Strategy

Scott McNealy is Chairman of Sun Microsystems a company he co-founded in 1982. He is a fierce competitor in business and in a hockey rink. He can be abrasive and outspoken explaining that "diplomacy has never been my middle name." He is an avowed capitalist and self-proclaimed libertarian. Nonetheless, his bio page says he's a "Champion for Sharing." In fact, Sun, as part of its business strategy shares almost everything. Its Java software platform and Open Office applications suite are open source.

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