Naïveté? Or Exploitation?

If there was one thing I learned from my Peace Corps experience it was that people everywhere know a lot more than the lucky few in the worldwide elites believe they do—and that the idea of helping them is really, at its heart, an idea of helping that elite. We lucky ones, generally from industrialized … Continue reading Naïveté? Or Exploitation?

West Africa’s Illusory Development

Twenty-two  years ago, I sat on a bench in Lomé, Togo watching a stream of people running in anger toward the central marketplace. Moments later, black smoke was billowing from the market. Soon, the panicked crowd was moving in the other direction as police reacted to the rioting. The government of Gnassingbé Eyadéma, controlled by … Continue reading West Africa’s Illusory Development

From the Voice of Experience?

Oh, I know, you don't have to be able to do something--or to have done it--to comment upon it. But there is certainly value to experience. Those of us who are Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, for example, can tell much more about the lives and systems of our host countries than can those journalists who … Continue reading From the Voice of Experience?

Technology, Culture, and Development

The debate over Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) reinforces my belief that few of us willingly recognize that technology alone can never be an answer for anything. Technology works within cultural and need contexts and not by itself. That is, it has to address perceived need and to operate within a milieu of … Continue reading Technology, Culture, and Development