Things that work: migration, mockery, meta-things and more


Pulling up the ladder. Owen Barder makes the case for the development benefits of migration and outlines the political obstacles to better policies in the UK.

The Most Effective Development Intervention We Have Evidence For? David McKenzie presents the evidence for migration on the World Bank’s blog. (See chart.)

The Biggest Idea in Development that No One Really Tried. Of course, this migration stuff isn’t exactly new. Follow the link for a lecture from Michael Clemens of CGD on the topic.

Local voices, local control

Where are the local aid and development worker blogs? Given the absence of non-Western blogs on my recent guide to development blogs, Linda Raftree put out a call for links to local voices in the development blogosphere. Scroll down to her comments section for the responses.

Twitter Enables DIY Disaster Relief in Indonesia. Of course, I balk a bit at the term “DIY” (if you’re new to this blog and don’t know why, go here), and I’m wary of the over-hyping that technology often receives in aid/development — but this story is actually quite different. The storyline I see here is about locally-driven solutions, where a community group has adapted an outside tool for its own purposes. (h/t to Sara B.) Sometimes this might involve ICTs, sometimes not. (For more on technology in development, see Linda’s recent post at ICTWorks: 3-step framework to integrate ICTs into development.)

Meta-things that work

Will I spoil KM [knowledge management] if I tell people “best practices” don’t exist? Ian Thorpe takes issue with the concept of “best practices”, and stakes out a better way for organizations to think about how they improve.

Against universalism, or at least flirting that way. Jina Moore draws parallels between the Gates Foundation’s approach to teacher effectiveness and the UN Peacebuilding Commission’s approach to postconflict nations. She writes: “The assumption is that the ‘exemplars’ do something other teachers don’t do but can learn how to do.” And concludes with a few questions: “Why not give a little stage time to the idea that success may be about idiosyncrasy?”

Self-deprecating mockery

Stuff Expat Aid Workers Like. Riffing off the dearth of local development blogs, Shotgun Shack had an idea. He turned the Stuff White People Like concept into a post on his blog, which then became weekend’s most popular hashtag, and now has its very own blog. Posts are primarily by J. of Tales from the Hood (twitter/blog) and Shotgun Shack (twitter/blog). Check out the first few posts:

(Just how did “self-deprecating mockery” make it onto a post titled “things that work”? Funny you should ask. Simply put, I believe that humor works. The ability to laugh at ourselves is the best way to rein in our own absurdities.)


The ABBAs (Aid Blogger’s Best Awards). Tom Murphy over at A View From The Cave has organized a poll on the best of the aid/development blogosphere from 2010. Voting closes on Wednesday. If nothing else, check out the nominations for some great bloggers and tweeters to follow, and some of the top posts from the year.

Not quite aid/development…

Why Companies Should Insist that Employees Take Naps. I like this for two reasons. First, I’m a big fan of naps. I believe that naps are wasted on the young (like PB&J — who says I was supposed to stop eating that after middle school?). Second, I like the line: “it’s not the number of hours people work that determines the value they create, but rather the energy they’re capable of bringing to whatever hours they work.” Just another case of mistaking one particular input (hours worked) with output.

Metrodome roof collapse. This is what happens when you fail to take local context into account. See, evidently it snows a lot in Minnesota. Design your buildings accordingly. (h/t to @laurenist)

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