25 February 2011

How Internet Strengthens

...dictators INGOs.  Evgeny Morozov presents an interesting theory on how dictators can use the internet to maintain their power in his above TED talk.  In watching the video, I was struck by the similarities to the world of INGOs.  Notably, he gives the example of the Chinese government inviting critics to become special reporters.  In doing so, the government was able to shift criticism.

Thus far, NGOs have not learned the lessons of China.  Thinking about the #100kshirts discussions, World Vision might have been better off if they opened their arms to some of their critics and invited them to learn more about the process of securing, shipping and delivering the shirts.  Fortunately, WV did not heed the advice of Morozov and have been slow to responding.

I certainly do believe that they deserve some credit for the two posts they have written so far, but it has done little to bay the criticisms.  Grand criticisms of large NGOs are often far too sweeping, but they do control a significant level of influence over international aid practices.

Social media is a space for conversation between agencies and their donors, as well as beneficiaries.  However, it seems that it can also be a tool for maintaining the status quo.