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About the Author

Johan Knols
Blogger, safari specialist, professional wildlife guide (Woerden, Netherlands)

Johan Knols is the owner of the planyoursafari blog. He studied tourism in the Netherlands and has been working in the African tourism industry for nearly 15 years. Starting as lodge manager in the Serengeti in Tanzania, he eventually owned his own mobile safari company in Botswana. Johan received his professional wildlife- guides licence in 1998 and was awarded the title of Honorary Wildlife Officer with the Botswana Wildlife and National Parks authority in 2005. During his time in Africa he has managed upmarket safari lodges and has done overland trips in the luxury and semi-luxury sector. At the moment he is a full-time blogger giving tips and advices on everything related to African safaris.

Post

1000 Blogs On TH!NK3

Published 26th July 2010 - 53 comments - 45583 views -

 

thinkThe TH!NK3 blogging competition on the 'Millennium Development Goals' and 'development' has reached the milestone of a thousand blogs. This provides a good opportunity to look back and write an overview about what has been tabled so far.

This joint article between Bart and myself takes a closer look at all the different categories: we distilled what we believe was interesting, what was standing out and what surfaced as the general feeling about these categories. Obviously it was not easy to cover a thousand articles and if you were not referenced in the many links we provide, then this does not at all mean that we don't value your contributions. We merely provide an overview!

Up front we report a huge diversity of topics and great enthusiasm and energy that everybody put into TH!NK3 so far. With more than 3,5 million page views to date we have collectively achieved something remarkable. Please applaud yourselves. The graph below indicates the number of posts that were written for each category.

graph

 

Hunger

The ‘hunger’ category received the lowest number of blogs (10). This is striking, considering the fact that more than a billion people on the planet are undernourished. Nearly six million people will succumb due to starvation before this year is over.

What did we TH!NK about?

First, that hunger can be tackled if we would only be more conscientious about consumption and not let produce go to waste. Two stories, from Brazil and Venezuela, reported shocking statistics about food wastage. It is likely that this happens across the planet in many other countries. Second, denial of hunger by politicians (in this case Venezuelan president Chaves), but also lack of commitment from the political world was noted in an interview. The fact that pricing of produce in real financial terms is completely out of balance was exemplified with a story about a plate of soup

What was remarkable?

That only one story brought a solution, in this case by using micro-seaweeds as an alternative source in the fish industry. Perhaps the ‘zero hunger’ project from Brazil could serve as a model for other countries. Mostly, however, stories were simply sad and left us all stunned, most notably the imminent catastrophe in Africa’s Sahel zone, with an example from Niger. Noteworthy were the points made by Prof. Gernot Klepper, who mentioned that there is more than enough food to feed the world, but that people lack (financial) resources to access it.

Comments

‘Those are terrible numbers’, ‘shocking stuff’, and ‘a totally unacceptable situation’ were the responses to the Sahelian crisis. Holding governments accountable for their actions was debated openly and strongly.

Synthesis

Overall, the MDG1 goal was considered too ambitious, and lack of political will was highlighted in several blogs and comments. 


Trade

The 'trade' category was also not amongst the favourites to write about (20). It is indeed a very complicated story when East meets West and North meets South.

What did we TH!NK about?

We seem to worry about sweatshops, child labour and bad working conditions. But also minerals, chocolate, coffee and Fair trade were discussed. There is a feeling of guilt with most people writing and reading about the topics (as can be told from the comments). Also companies came in the spotlight. IKEA was hailed as good and in another article as bad. Apple got mentioned for not wanting to pay more for a salary increase for the poor manufacturing their products. One post dealt with the evil of loans and how they can ruin peoples lives.

Comments

One comment was as striking as it was surprising: "I never imagined that making a country poorer, would actually save it" on the situation how Barbados took short term losses for long term gains. As in more posts, also in this category we were inventive with using new words. Under a post about bankers , I found the word: bankster (combi of banker and gangster).

Synthesis

This MDG8 goal makes people point fingers at who we think is responsible for unfair practises and injustice. Banks and bigger companies seem to be the culprits. Yet, the problems in the trade category should be fairly easy to solve since we through our consumer behaviour can instigate change.

 

Agriculture
With 9 billion mouths to feed by 2050 (http://www.fao.org/news/story/0/item/35571/icode/en/ ), the world needs to gear up to produce more food and distribute it in an equitable manner. Obviously this brings enormous challenges and relates to solving world hunger. Here’s what we came up with so far…
What did we TH!NK about?
A to be expected target for debate was the role of large biotech companies like Monsanto (http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/the_battle_against_monsanto_monsanto_stirkes_back/ ). Will biotech (http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/biotech_evil_or_wrong/ ) deliver the solutions needed to increase agricultural output, or should we head the other way and stimulate small-scale production (http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/agriculture_that_feeds_hunger/ )? Increased resources for the fields of science and technology as a starting point for improved production were echoed from Kenya (http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/agriculture_need_for_paradigm_shift_in_africa/ ). There were noteworthy contrasts, from increased mass-scale production to consuming less, becoming vegetarian (http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/if_you_do_one_thing..._go_vegetarian1/ ), and promoting small-scale enterprises and fair trade (http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/milk_fairtrade/ ). This dichotomy is worth exploring deeper – should we produce much more, or can we feed the world with alternative production methods on a small scale. How will global trade in agricultural produce affect our ability to feed the world? Will trade barriers spoil our efforts for more equitable distribution of food and lead to degradation and depletion of resources from arable land (http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/depletion_of_african_soils_nutrients_alarming_say_expert/ ) in developing countries?
What was remarkable?
">The story about Mexican children drawing agriculture (http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/agriculture_through_indigenous_art/ ) was remarkable and most interesting – a completely different perspective on this subject. The story about Human IPO, combining loans with expertise (http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/investing_in_talent/ ), is certainly an interesting concept.
Comments
Bloggers turned vegetarian (http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/if_you_do_one_thing..._go_vegetarian1/ ), and this was the most extensively debated topic in the area of agriculture. A small change, alas, but nevertheless important. Cuba was used as an example of how, without external resources (oil, pesticides, fertiliser), agricultural output can still be maintained at high enough levels to feed its populace (http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/agriculture_that_feeds_hunger/ ).
Synthesis
Up to now, there has been strong opposition to large biotech companies, but also large organisation like the IMF have been criticised (http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/development_isnt_a_uniform_concept/ ). We remain somewhat diverged when it gets to ways of feeding more mouths – some argue large scale, others small scale.


Agriculture

agricultureWith 9 billion mouths to feed by 2050, the world needs to gear up to produce more food and distribute it in an equitable manner. Obviously this brings enormous challenges and relates to solving world hunger. Here’s what we came up with so far…

What did we TH!NK about?

A to be expected target for debate was the role of large biotech companies like Monsanto. Will biotech deliver the solutions needed to increase agricultural output, or should we head the other way and stimulate small-scale production? Increased resources for the fields of science and technology as a starting point for improved production were echoed from Kenya. There were noteworthy contrasts, from increased mass-scale production to consuming less, becoming vegetarian, and promoting small-scale enterprises and fair trade. This dichotomy is worth exploring deeper – should we produce much more, or can we feed the world with alternative production methods on a small scale. How will global trade in agricultural produce affect our ability to feed the world? Will trade barriers spoil our efforts for more equitable distribution of food and lead to degradation and depletion of resources from arable land in developing countries?

What was remarkable?

The story about Mexican children drawing agriculture was remarkable and very interesting – a completely different perspective on this subject. The story about Human IPO, combining loans with expertise, is certainly an interesting concept that surfaced.

Comments

Bloggers turned vegetarian, and this was the most extensively debated topic in the area of agriculture. A small change, alas, but nevertheless important. Cuba was used as an example of how, without external resources (oil, pesticides, fertiliser), agricultural output can still be maintained at high enough levels to feed its populace.

Synthesis

Up to now, there has been strong opposition to large biotech companies, but also a large organisation like the IMF has been criticised. We remain somewhat diverged when it gets to ways of feeding more mouths – some argue large scale, others small scale.


Tourism

32 posts where written on Tourism. Being seen by the UN as one of the major accelerators for ending poverty in developing countries, it is evident that with an increase in tourism also damage can be done to culture and the environment. Due to myself, quite a few posts were written about tourism in Africa in general. Also Albania, South Africa and Morocco, received a close-up look.

What did we TH!NK about

We have a feeling that we all see the double edged sword of tourism. Too many people in a foreign country will almost certainly influence the native population and few countries have escaped this fate so far, one of the exeptions being Bhutan.

What was remarkable?

Truely remarkable was the article about the pyramids they found in Bosnia. We had no idea they exsisted.

Comments

Comments of outrage were aimed at the Tanzanian Government wanting to build a highway through an African National Park and some commenter found the polar bear video too extreme (We loved it!).

Synthesis

Tourism, which we have placed under MDG7, certainly has the potential to contribute to poverty elevation. This should however be done with the greatest care as not to disrupt national and regional cultures and by making sure the environment doesn’t get damaged.


Crisis

‘Crisis’ does not relate to a specific MDG, but is an overall encompassing phenomenon. However, it was interpreted in many different ways, in 34 different blogs so far. Perhaps, when tagging a blog about some ‘bad news’ topic, ‘crisis’ was perhaps considered the only option to choose from…

What did we TH!NK about?

Crisis was interpreted as natural disaster, with writing about the Haiti earthquake and its aftermath. But also the eruption of the volcano on Iceland and how this affected trade with developing countries came up. But beyond specific events like Haiti and Iceland, more persistent and chronic issues surfaced, such as population growth that was directly linked to climate change, ecological destruction, depletion of resources, and so on. There had to be some reference to the global economic crisis and the dubious roles played by financial institutions and of course the financial debacle of Greece. To what extent should banks be regulated? War as a cause of mass population displacement, famine, and sheer poverty was illustrated by the 25 year old conflict in northern Uganda and the civil war that affected Sudan until 2005. No surprise that we looked at the Global Peace Index. The oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico served as another example of our environmental crisis. 

What was remarkable?

Surely the case made against overpopulation was interesting. That apparently there are quite a few ways in which we can deal with this supposed problem (technology, food distribution, migration of people etc.). Also the pinpointing of the USA as the root-cause of the population growth problem (because of consumerism) is noteworthy. Certainly, a reflection of our own daily activities and the underlying crises we cause was an eye-opener.

Comments

The environmental crises (e.g. climate change) were noted as the basic problem affecting all other 7 MDGs. Writing about crises around the globe led to some pessimism and cynical remarks, even questioning the usefulness of TH!NK3.

Synthesis

Clearly, considering all these crises, ‘we’re in a mess’, but look at all the positive comments that followed this and many other blogs, to see that small little light at the end of the tunnel. We were not asked to solve these crises, we were asked to bring them to the front, make people aware of them, and reflect on them in the public domain. This succeeded well.

Technology

What did we TH!NK about?

This category was also viewed in many different ways. Some looked at technology to present the state of development (notably Hans Rosling’s Gapminder), others looked at big technology corporates as a model for development. IT solutions for environmental puposes, or for raising income were tabled. So was the use of modern social media like Twitter and online platforms as used by activists, for malaria control, and the China earthquake follow up. New technological developments and solutions for poor housing received attention.

What was remarkable?

Solutions, simple solutions – and the story of William Kamkwamba who built his own windmill from scrap in Malawi stands out. ‘Trust yourself and believe, whatever happens, don’t give up’, is what he said. So true. Using simple statistics to present the world as a village of 100 people, was powerful. And what to TH!NK about carbon-free Olympic games in Brazil in 2016? All thought-provoking and challenging. Good news came from the Appfrica project that stimulates software entrepreneurs in East Africa.

Comments

In general, blogs on ‘Technology’ received few comments, mostly expressing amazement of the technological solutions presented. 

Synthesis

Blogs labelled with ‘Technology’ focused mostly on the new possibilities provided by IT, use of social media for activism and fund raising, and only sometimes about real implementation and change brought by technology. It would be nice to see more real-life changes brought about by new technology.

Equality

Many blogs were written about equal rights for women and men, i.e. gender equality. But also racial issues, working conditions, and cultural differences surfaced. Still, only 5% of all blogs focused on equality. Is this issue that insignificant? We wonder.

What did we TH!NK about?

Gender gaps remain huge in the Asia-Pacific region, but globally inequality persists in institutions like the Catholic church. Pre-arranged marriages and the slowly but surely changing cultural wedding practices in India are indicative of change but inequality as a result of the banned but still forceful caste system persists. Horrific crimes against women persist and the ‘Acid’ story from Bangladesh is a telling example that there is still a long way to go when it gets to equality.

But stories of courageous women breaking out of the gender inequality trap appeared, of women daring to confront injustice (the Sisters in Law movie), of women that as part of their culture take their fate in their own hands, but also the remarkable show staged by deaf and blind actors was indicative of empowerment of the handicapped.

What was remarkable?

Early on there was a gripping story about Slovakian ‘fun’ during Easter, at the expense of women. During the competition the UN instated a new body, UN Women, that brings hope that gender inequality will be tackled more firmly in future. The role of Moroccan women in curbing the spread of muslim extremism was remarkable. Access to information through the web is a strong driver of equality.

Comments

Stories that reflected positive change for women were widely applauded and considered ‘inspirational’, ‘incredible’.  But the sadness, sometimes anger, and inability to drive change, oozed out of comments. To the extent that the question was asked ‘Where to now, friends?’.

Synthesis

There is clearly a long way to go to reach equality at various levels (gender, work-related, culture, religion) in society but a good number of blogs were indicative of change for the better, of hope.


Poverty

55 posts so far on the most important MDG 1. Does this relatively low number indicate that also we bloggers get tired of writing about all the poverty in the world? It is strange to see that the first Millennium Development Goal defined by the United nations, is not perceived as the most important one by us writers.

That we are going to miss to half the amount of people living in poverty by 2015 was often mentioned and some of us asked themselves what ‘poor’ and ‘poverty’ actually means. Fair questions of which we believe easy answers are hard to get for.

What did we Th!nk about?

Poverty is not an exclusive right of Africa, but also of less obvious countries like Malta, Venezuela and Peru apparently have their share of it.  Interesting was the three-part series that compared the Chinese and the Indian model of development and which of the two would suit Africa's development best. Fortunately there was also an action we as bloggers could take in a post about the Robin Hood Tax.

What was remarkable?

Turning big problems into small ones that are easier to handle was done beautifully in a post about kids diving for tourist coins. 'In The Water Out Of School' deserves a flower. Not only because the story is heart wrenching but it was written with passion, and the post also looks nice. A remarkable story was that of a lady in Kenya who now lives in an apartment but misses the slums and her friends. Talking about misinterpreting a situation..

Comments

A positive thought was that ‘the only good thing coming out of a wall, is the day when it falls down’, as a comment on the article about the 'Illegal Aliens'.

Synthesis

Although we are all in favour of eradicating poverty, it appears that it is easier said than done. Quite a few of us realised that what life brings, depends on luck and where one is born. To make the complexity of poverty easier to grasp, we noticed that a lot of graphs were used in articles.


Health

Malaria and HIV/AIDS took up a third of the 76 blogs in the ‘Health’ category. Focus was therefore placed on MDG6 although maternal health (MDG3) and sanitation were all also covered. Good health is obviously a basic necessity to kick-start development.

What did we TH!NK about?

‘Health’ was the topic that gave us the most-read article on TH!NK3 so far: the development of a miraculous cancer vaccine, developed by Venezuelan scientist Dr. Convit. However, these findings were contested in the discussion that followed, and it is somewhat remarkable that in the published scientific literature nothing about this discovery can be found. In PubMed, Convit appears in seven articles, of which one is related to cancer but not to a vaccine. If indeed his vaccine is a major breakthrough (which of course we hope it is) then the global scientific community will only accept this on the basis of published findings. The second most-read article on TH!NK3 also related to health, in this case the use of social media for malaria control. Good news came from UNAIDS, claiming that popularisation of safe sex resulted in dramatic decreases in HIV transmission.

What was remarkable?

Development can go the wrong way – and lead to poorer health as a result of obesity. Where we first spend millions to ‘develop’, we then need millions to safeguard against the excesses of wealth. Simple technological advances can have a dramatic impact on health, as exemplified with the Lifesaver filter for cleaning water. Noteworthy also is the use of rats to detect landmines and diagnose tuberculosis. And what to th!nk about more Indians having access to cell phones than toilets?. Finally DDT, the pesticide used for malaria control, led to the most intense debate on TH!NK3 to date. Even if we have tools to combat disease, this still doesn’t mean that we all agree on using them.

Comments

A striking comment followed a blog about abortion and the role of the church: ‘Not all religious leaders are like that, luckily. Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said that in his position as an Anglican cleric, he should have told people not to have sex. But he knew the world he lived in - and the impact of HIV/AIDS in his home country, South Africa - so he would urge people to use condoms. Sometimes Nobel Peace Prizes are awarded to people who really deserve them’. Remarkable also was a blog about the ‘AIDS Industry’.

Synthesis
Blogs either focused on reporting poor health or on initiatives to do something about this. Some technological solutions were presented, and some remarkable innovations surfaced. But poor health remains a serious obstacle for development. Having said, it should also be noted that various African countries are close to achieving the MDG6 targets by halving malaria-related mortality by 2010, and reaching near-zero deaths by 2015.


Education

Education (with 76 posts to date) is the word that dominates the entire endeavour called TH!NK3. We are all learning, bloggers, readers, everyone. Becoming educated about ‘development’ in the broadest sense, is something that we certainly see as a major outcome of TH!NK3 so far.

What did we TH!NK about?

Education wasn’t just writing about ‘going to school’. It also was an outlet for inner reflection on what was read elsewhere on TH!NK3 and beyond. About ‘us’ learning things, like a greener way to search the web, or blogs helping us to remember the MDGs, even for dummies. Using metaphors to discuss education, or educating about ‘stereotypes’ for example. But we also discussed improved access to education, with regard to India and Tibet, and noted that not only access but also quality of education remains an issue. The pros and cons of paying for education was touched upon with stories from Finland and Sweden. Child labour as a blockage to education came up, and the unequal rights to education for boys and girls in various countries was noted, besides education for the handicapped, notably Tanzania. The power of music as an educational tool and technological solutions to improve access to education (one laptop per child) showed ongoing innovative actions. 

What was remarkable?

Integration of several MDGs under the umbrella of education is noteworthy, and so was the Ugandan perspective on Swedish education. And what we learnt in the past and shaped our culture may sometimes become controversial. Also funny to note that every country in the world is the best or has most of something; we’re all number ones of something. Striking to note that developed countries can be educated by developing countries when it gets to the very basics: happiness, joy, and love.

Comments

Most blogs were followed, interestingly, by references to other (similar) content. ‘I know this project that does the same’, being indicative of the numerous, mostly NGO-driven, education activities ongoing as part of development. A lovely comment appeared in a blog on stats: ‘Math may be the language of the Devil, but statistics proves that reality really is what you make it’. 

Synthesis

More education, access to it, but also the quality of education remain key issues for development. But also the way we need to adapt our education systems, and the fact that we need to change education, was a powerful message, besides the fact that life-long learning may become inevitable. Amazing, whereas for three quarters of the world we are still talking about any education at all, for the remainder we have started to talk about life-long learning…

 

Human Rights

The Human Rights category is broad and diverse. 100 Posts were written with an enormous variety in topics. A topic that is popular amongst many is the abuse of humans. But also Israel and technology were discussed in several articles.

What did we Th!nk about?

We seem to be very worried about human suffering in general. Whether humans work under poor conditions, are raped, trafficked or simply abused. Also companies had to take a knock. Coca Cola is questioned and Bhopal is still fresh in our minds. There are also some articles on technology, with the Google Guerilla standing out in its call for action. Coincidentally are all last three posts written by one and the same participant. Obviously religion and water passed the venue as well.

What was remarkable?

Personally we liked the post about the Poverty Professionals, a fresh look at the other side of the coin. One blogger rightly asked the question to whom the Human Rights belong, while another video shows that we actually have little idea about what human rights actually mean. To us it seems that the UN has still quite a bit of work to do as to make the human rights better known!
Finally a very simple clip made it clear that we can only succeed in implementing human rights if we all work together.

Comments

There were not that many comments that stood out. But, apart from the ‘nice post’, ‘great article’ and ‘thank you for sharing’, we did come across a heated debate that had to do with Buddhists, Mosques and Skinheads.

Synthesis

Especially if we look at the variety of topics and therefore at the very broad spectrum in which the human rights are (ab)used, it will be a daunting task to make sure that eventually every individual on the planet will be covered by the human rights. The realization of MDGs 3 and or 8, will therefore be a tough job.


Aid

Just like ‘Crisis’, ‘Aid’ is also a general topic. However, no less than 109 articles have been written in this category. Most articles touched either on failure in aid-delivery or questioned the intentions of aid. Many worry about the influence of China on the world aid stage and the fact that less and less countries seem to be able to donate 0.7% of their GDP to aid.

What did we th!nk about?

Interesting are the articles focusing on countries. Like Italy and Poland that cut their foreign aid budget. Then we have the articles dealing with people. People who are pro-aid and those that are against aid were highlighted, as did some unexpected people. We like it when bloggers are critical and this post questions the West about our right to withhold aid from corrupt regimes. Since it is very clear that many countries are going to fail to give 0,7% of their GDP for aid, a number of articles where written on this important issue. Like this article on a World Bank report, this one about commitment and credibility and this one about the illusion of it all. We should however not forget to also highlight some success stories, like this one from Uganda, Tanzania and this one, dealing with China's aid giving behaviour.

What was remarkable?

A post about Female Genital Mutilation and UFO’s was an article that caught our eye. To come back to graphs, one of the best we have seen so far is the Billion Dollar-o-Gram. It is simple, informative and very controversi al. Talking about controversial, what do you think about Mr. Qadaffi’s aid to Italy?

Comments

There was a post about ‘Animation’ that got the tongues going. A funny remark was made on A Quarter century After where someone commented: I wasn’t even alive then (at the time of Live Aid in 1985). A good discussion followed this article about China and giving Aid.

Synthesis

It has become apparent that Aid can be given in many different ways and in many different forms. But the overall feeling is that governments should do more to live up to their promise of giving the 0,7%. We feel that the overall question is: ‘is the way we deliver aid at the moment, the right way?’
A tough one to answer!


Environment

Being part of MDG7, the category ‘environment’ was the one closest to the Th!nk2 competition on ‘climate change’ and a total of 116 blogposts were submitted in this category. Since 2010 was declared ‘the Year of Biodiversity’, it is not strange that biodiversity received the attention of many.

What do we think about it?

Again we focused on some companies like Nestlé and Coca Cola with its new Eco Bottle. That you can’t make an omelet without breaking an egg is shown in a post about Eskom and its new power plant on coal. Most of us bloggers are against coal, but that we are also not happy with nuclear energy show us the Finns. The company taking the biggest knock was, without surprise, BP, with a mocking video and the call for a new logo as a result.

Deforestation is today’s big worry and some sad stories can be read about the situation in Indonesia and Venezuela. Trees are seen as a symbol and there were quite some posts about trees. Like ‘the fairytale about the tree’, ‘planting trees for you and the world’ and Trees and Peace.
A big event during the competition was of course the eruption of that volcano with the unpronounceable name on Iceland. The question came up what emits more CO2, our planes or a volcano? And that not all is doom and gloom proves the silver lining of ash-clouds.

What was remarkable?

A Latvian student that designed a water saving toilet/sink combo and the way we can use Google technology to find out that North Korea logs illegally in tiger forests. A blogger invented the word ‘bioDIEversity’ and another one asked ‘if we are wearing green underwear?’.

Comments

An interesting conversation erupted about warning readers of ‘shocking images’. And as was rightly stated: ‘the people of ( in this case) Bhopal were also not warned’. As long as shocking images serve a purpose other than just to be shocking, they should be shown in our opinion.

Synthesis

With all the major (negative) developments that surround us, it is quite difficult to see a bright future for our environment. Biodiversity loss is out of control and the forest are still suffering too much. Maybe because of other millennium goals that seem a lot more important, does the environment, which we put under MDG7, face an uphill battle. Although we all agree that it might be our only lifeline.


Media

Not being a category embedded within the MDGs, media is a category that includes ourselves: all the journalists ( professional or not), bloggers and other interested writing-folk. We have got quite a bit to say about Media, as this category contains 129 articles.

What are we Th!nking?

Interesting questions were raised in some blog posts. Like: ‘Are writers and journalists providing too much information?’ and, are we willing enough to write about the MDGs and development? Another question was ‘who should report on issues, the foreign or the local media? One of the most important questions was on the ethics of journalists and how far they should go to get their article or picture. What can and can’t be photographed was discussed in this post.
Apart from asking ourselves questions, we are also concerned about the oppression and dangers journalists meet in their profession. There is an article about World Press Freedom Day and about the amount of journalist killed in the Philippines. It was not only the writing and photographing media that had attention. Some wrote articles about the influence of artists (and YouTube) within the media. Cinemas are seen as a great way of sending out the MDG message and TV is doing its bit by showing different cultures in a show exchanging families.

What was remarkable?

First of all the positive. We really enjoyed the weekly press clips created by Benno Hansen. He brought content in a fresh and surprising way and made good use of all the technology available.

Now on to the negative. We bloggers face problems that journalists in daily life encounter as well: the copying and ‘stealing’ or ‘borrowing’ of content. One of the bloggers decided to dedicate an entire article on it and although the discussion should officially have started in the Community, it was not entirely a bad thing to have it written as a blogpost.

Comments

Interesting that two professional photographers got involved in the discussion about ethics and morality behind the lens. Valeria made a comment about ‘not being there to judge, but to report’. The photographer who took the image in the blogpost says: “When shooting, all the tears, anger and empathy needs to be channeled into your picture. In that way you can mobilize people to stand up against injustice”. We agree on that.

Synthesis

Some of us are already official journalists, some are aspiring ones and some are ‘just’ bloggers. But it seems that the problems that the professional journalist faces, are not that different for the none professional ones. Albeit, writing from behind a computer reduces the chances of bullets flying around your ears or the chances of being sucked into a story and feeling the urge to physically help. It doesn’t matter anymore whether you are an official member of the free press, since being able to have access to the web makes a ‘journalist’ of all of us and we should always have in mind what is ethical and what is not.


Politics

Ouch, the biggest category when hitting the 1000th post on Th!nk3. Some 130 articles where published.

We have been asking ourselves why so many posts were written in this category, since politics are not as such one of the MDGs. We think it might have to do with us all realizing that the success of achieving the goals depends more on politicians than on anybody else. They are the ones we voted for, and they are the ones who have to deliver.

What were we th!nking?

Lots!

As we bloggers are from different parts of the planet, it is obvious that national politics were discussed. English politics were discussed in the light of the last elections and one blogger was asking himself which British party will be best for the developing world and if gay votes could swing the elections. Another writer wanted to know ‘if politicians are in it for the long haul?’ Thailand was in the news quite a bit, which resulted in a post about political violence. Another blogger mentioned Zimbabwe and if the international community should respond to the situation. How to rebuild the government of a nation was discussed due to the death of nearly the entire Polish government and there was a post on the possible failure of the Philippine elections.

Also politicians were highlighted. Baroness Kinnock, Joseph Deiss and ‘hurly Berly’ (Berlusconi) had the honors.

In the politics category five interesting questions were raised. The first one asked 'do illiterate people understand elections?' The second one dealt with the fact if we have a right to interfere in situations like the one in Zimbabwe? A very interesting question was if flawed elections are better than none? Whether insensitive leaders make sense and if it would not be better to have authoritarianism to deal with our complex problems were interesting reads, to say the least.

But we also spoke about failures in politics and in this regard about the failures in Greece, the failure of the last G8 and of course the failing of the Copenhagen Accord.
Furthermore there was an article about politicians against development.

What was remarkable?

We liked a blogtitle called: Should there be a toilet car in the presidential arcade? Another remarkable post was dealing with the Chinese government scapegoating prostitutes for increased real estate prices.

Synthesis

Sometimes the discussions could become fierce, especially when we compared communism, socialism and capitalism with each other. All in all it looks like we bloggers have a feeling that governments and politicians could do more and show more will to achieve the MDGs.

Note from the Authors:

1000 stories that relate to the MDGs have solemnly shown us one thing: That there will be a lot that needs to be discussed in New York next month. If you would be in a position to stand up in front of the assembly and talk about one of your posts, which one would it be? Bart would talk about 'The Man Who Saved Brazil', and I would talk about the 'Human vs Animal Migration'. Which of your posts would you talk about?
If you like this article then please don't forget to 'share', 'like' or re-tweet it. Not only for all the individual bloggers, but for the millennium development goals in general. Thanks!



Comments

  • Hussam Hussein on 26th July 2010:

    Thanks for your post, it was of great interest reading it and go slowly through all these months of blogging.
    Answering your question, I would say:
    “Jordan River and Dead Sea: slowly going to an end?”


  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 26th July 2010:

    Johan and Bart,

    Kudos to both of you for this very important synthesis. Thank you so much for mentioning some of my articles here. They’ve been read and noticed and I am happy to be able to bring attention to this corner of the universe. I am so proud to be part of this platform. I have been learning so much and in fact, feel that I am racing against time as I want to read every post here. It’s been a remarkable experience so far.

    If I can stand up in front of the assembly, I would talk about the problem of maternal health and internally displaced persons because some of these issues escape the radar sreen of donor communities.

    http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/filipino_idps_struggling_to_rebuild_their_lives

    and

    http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/she_gave_birth._and_then_she_died/

    Great initiative, you two!


  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 26th July 2010:

    Let me add that the photos are all so brilliant.


  • Johan Knols on 26th July 2010:

    Thank you for responding this fast.
    @Hussam,
    Why ‘Jordan River and Dead Sea’?


  • Johan Knols on 26th July 2010:

    In the interest of all bloggers and to raise awareness for the millennium development goals, please don’t forget to ‘SHARE’ this article or to tweet about it.


  • Helena Goldon on 26th July 2010:

    Brothers Knols! Your work is overwhelming and remarkable.
    I think I would talk about ‘Mad Developing World’
    http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/mad_developing_world
    If I was in position to stand up in front of the assembly I would follow the Marina Ponti’s idea of being humble faced with the complexity of the world and the development issues in particular. I would like to draw it as a chance in our hands presenting it as the best idea humanity came up with SO FAR.
    Note: There is an invalid link in the “What can and can’t be photographed was discussed in this post” sentence - I would say it would be by Andrea, right? smile

    Just like Iris Cecilia, I have learnt a whole lot here, writing-wise, information-wise, and in terms of creativity.

    THANKS TO EVERYBODY FOR THEIR CONTRIBUTION AND… PLEASE CONTINUE!


  • Hussam Hussein on 26th July 2010:

    Great!!! I’m sure that also at the end this post could be updated and we could use it again sharing it to show to everybody the issues we have discussed and to inform them about the cases and topics that have been raised here. Thx
    Why the Jordan River one? well, because I think it is a very interesting problematic being it not only an environmental one (including water, biodiversity, climate change, and agriculture), but also transboundary cooperation, peace building, education, etc. In other words, it covers a series of issues of strategic importance in this region of the world. what do you think?


  • Johan Knols on 26th July 2010:

    @Hussam.
    Great idea about the updating. After all the blood, sweat and tears I believe Bart and I will leave that to someone else. Haha.

    @Helena,
    Thanks for giving us your favorite. I have adjusted the link. Thanks!


  • Hussam Hussein on 26th July 2010:

    I can imagine… wink Well, let me know then, I could help for the next update smile thx again!


  • Giedre Steikunaite on 26th July 2010:

    Helena, please let me use your words and thank the Knols Brothers for their time and energy and commitment in writing this post.

    I’m thinking now, maybe we could have had these summary posts every, say, 200 posts - to keep the information fresh in our minds and have a sort of reference book for us the gang and the whole world in general. While reading it, I also had this feeling of the beginning of an end, as they say. It’s gonna be really weird to start a day without checking what’s happening on this platform.

    To answer your last question, if I was in a position to address the suit crowd in NYC, I would ask them one question: Do you care? Do you really care?


  • Bart Knols on 26th July 2010:

    @Hussam - thx veyr much. It would be nice if we could make a compilation of the favourites of all bloggers and combine them.

    Why do they think this is their most important/interesting blog; augmented with 10-15 why they think so…

    Best, Bart


  • Bart Knols on 26th July 2010:

    @Giedre - and your favourite post? And why?


  • Johan Knols on 26th July 2010:

    @Giedre,

    I hope you are not under the impression that you would get an honest answer?
    Of course they would say ‘yes we do’. Most likely followed by a ton of arguments why they are failing until now.


  • Giedre Steikunaite on 26th July 2010:

    Bart, it’s hard for me to self-advertise, however, under pressure, I’d choose Global Population Crisis Iⅈ: Case in Favour and Case Against, because the relation between humans and our planet, too many humans, what to do about it, who is to be held responsible and many more questions arise in that discussion. Many interests are interconnected in this issue and perhaps that is why it is so hard to solve.

    Johan, well for a second I was under this impression, imagining ashamed faces of the suits on front pages. But naivety aside, no, I am not. How sad is that?

    On another note, there were several new words on this platform: banksters yes, and then your own biodieversity, and my personal favourite homo non-sapiens. Men in dresses, too.


  • Johan Knols on 26th July 2010:

    @Giedre,

    As you say. It is hard to self-advertise.


  • Benno Hansen on 26th July 2010:

    Great work, guys!

    If I can wear a ski mask perhaps I’d talk about my comment to Target 8.E: Access to medicinal drugs.


  • Bart Knols on 26th July 2010:

    @Benno - and what about your favourite blog, and why?


  • Andrea Arzaba on 26th July 2010:

    I love this post very much! It makes me feel so proud to see what we what we have been working on for the last few months!

    I am very happy to see some of my favourite posts mentioned in this article as well: CONGRATULATIONS EVERYBODY!

    And answering your question, I would choose an immigration post. I would like to talk about:


    http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/the_illegal_aliens_wall_border_between_the_us_and_mexico


  • Hussam Hussein on 26th July 2010:

    Bart: Yeah, that’s very interesting, and then maybe put together all the favourite posts with motivation.. nice!


  • Bart Knols on 26th July 2010:

    @Andrea - thanks for submitting you favourite post and you kind words about our synthesis. Indeed, we can all be proud of what we have accomplished so far…

    @Hussam: I am collecting names and favourite posts based on comments above… Hope that all that blog will submit one…


  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 26th July 2010:

    Yes Bart and Johan. I will definitely SHARE and TWEET This. Thanks again for such an initiative!


  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 26th July 2010:

    @Giedre,

    I agree with you—about doing a summary every 200 posts or something. That would have allowed us to have a sort of reference book.


  • Larisa Rankovic on 26th July 2010:

    This is remarkable synthesis, congratulations. And thanks for wrapping up so many different stories, experiences and perspectives. 
    As for your question: I would talk about the woman behind ‘Mother Courage’ initiative, from the post ‘Blogging for Maternal Health’. http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think/post/blogging_for_maternal_health
    Her work shows the power of an individual empowered with persistence and determination. And how often big institutions and organizations lack just that. Besides, it shows the good side of new media and technologies.


  • Johan Knols on 26th July 2010:

    @larisa,
    It was a pleasure to do this post.
    Thanks for your most favorite article.


  • Tiziana Cauli on 27th July 2010:

    Thanks for this post! I’m sure there is a lot of work behind it and am really impressed by how you managed to wrap all this up together in such a clear and meaningful way.

    To answer your question: I would talk about the right to a safe abortion in countries where pregnancy still threatens women’s lives and hunger keeps killing children.

    http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/is_pro-life_helping_life/


  • Bart Knols on 27th July 2010:

    @Tiziana - thanks, noted. Indeed, this was a four-day mega operation for the two of us…


  • Hanna Clarys on 27th July 2010:

    You guys must be getting bored of all the compliments, but I can’t stay behind. This is a great review and it made me discover some interesting posts that I hadn’t read before.

    As to answer your question, my favourite post is this one: http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/neither_nostalgia_nor_illusion_congo_versus_belgium

    However if I would have the unbelievably amazing opportunity to be at New York’s summit, I will have to broaden my question to two sides: the future of former colonies like Congo and history’s influence on aid and development in such countries.

    Thanks for this!


  • Johan Knols on 27th July 2010:

    @Hanna,
    Getting bored receiving a compliment is a sign of arrogance. And believe me, we enjoy the fact that a lot of you like this post. So we are not bored….


  • Bart Knols on 27th July 2010:

    @Hanna - And…I have noticed that a lot more comments are made on older blogs, which is great for all of us… Thanks for your favourite, I have noted it.


  • Clare Herbert on 28th July 2010:

    Wow. There’s a huge amount of work in this post, so congrats to both of you for that.

    I found that the set categories will a little restrictive and often did not find an applicable category for the topic I was covering, though maybe that’s just me.

    Great and important post.

    As for my favourite post, I enjoyed Jodi’s piece on becoming a vegetarian as you mentioned above. I always enjoy actionable writing and thought her’s was a clear outline of why vegetarianism is good for the planet. It also hit home with me as it’s something I’ve been considering if a long time.


  • Johan Knols on 28th July 2010:

    @Clare,

    Thanks.

    Clair I think that the adding of more categories would only have made it more difficult to choose from, although I hear what you say.
    After having written an article, it is not always clear to myself where to put it.
    An article about poachers and poverty I put under ‘tourism’ although it should actually be under poverty. And during the creation of the 1000 article, I noticed that others had the same problems.


  • Bart Knols on 28th July 2010:

    @Clare - thanks for telling us that you liked Jodi’s post on becoming a vegetarian. But was is your own favourite?


  • Benno Hansen on 28th July 2010:

    OK Knols Bros… I took that comment and made it an article. Please enjoy: The willing. Not sure I’d enjoy speaking of it though!? And not sure it’s my best one either.


  • Johan Knols on 29th July 2010:

    @Hieke,
    Thanks for your contribution.
    It is indeed a pity that many comments come from within the community itself. It is often a matter of where you plant the links to your articles. Asking a question at the end might help, as does controversial content. Most importantly ( and I often forget myself as well) is making sure the links in your articles are mentioned under ‘trackbacks’.


  • Clare Herbert on 29th July 2010:

    @Bart: I’m not sure I understand you. Are you asking for my favourite blog that I wrote? Or, are you asking if Jodi’s post was my only favourite? Just a bit confused smile


  • Bart Knols on 29th July 2010:

    @Clare - sorry not to be clear. I meant the favourite blog that you wrote. I am collecting each person’s favourite… Thanks.


  • Clare Herbert on 29th July 2010:

    No probs Bart. My fave post by me is the one I wrote about Volunteering Overseas. It’s a topic I’m passionate about and I was delighted that it generated such great discussion. I felt it was something I could change people’s minds about and hopefully, I have. You guys can be the judge of that smile

    P.S. Great idea too.


  • Johan Knols on 29th July 2010:

    Hi Clare,
    Thanks for giving Bart your favorite post. For good order, Bart is not collecting the posts so we can judge them. That task is fortunately in other peoples hands.


  • Luan Galani on 29th July 2010:

    Bart and Johan,

    What a dynamic duo you both are! :D

    What a brilliant synthesis! Thank you so much for highlighting some of my articles. I’m chuffed to have such a golden opportunity to talk about my own country, which goes almost unnoticed for most of you. I know it is a cliché, but it is an honour and a complete privilege being among you all guys. It is quite challenging to catch up with all posts, but I do as best I can. I believe I’ve never learnt so much from so many different local perspectives. We all can consider this a feather in our cap (EJC -  consider themselves included in here). I also feel that topics for me to explore here will never drain to the last drop. I wonder if I will manage to write about everything I want in time on this platform.

    In addition, I couldn’t agree more with what everybody said here, as well as the new suggestions and ideas.

    Well, I’m not that good promoting myself. I think that those most indicated to pick my ‘best’ post are you guys. If there is one, which is my best piece?

    I will take your opinions as the last, decisive one wink

    Again, just great what you did.
    Cheers!


  • Johan Knols on 30th July 2010:

    Hello Luan,
    Thanks for your kind words.
    Bart and myself agree with what you say about keeping on track with all the new posts and the enormous amount of different topics that are being discussed.
    The reason why Bart is interested in the article you like best is not for promotional reasons. Eventually he would like to make a new post about it. So if you don’t mind, let us know which article (you wrote) you like best and why.
    Cheers.


  • Clare Herbert on 30th July 2010:

    @ Johan and Bart: Looking forward to reading the post.


  • Luan Galani on 02nd August 2010:

    Johan, it is extremely difficult. I’m not sure, but I think it would be ‘LAND CLASHES IN BRAZIL: god has forsaken these lands’ or ‘Food for the soul’. I’ve already changed my mind, sorry Benno. My articles are like sons to me wink


  • Bart Knols on 02nd August 2010:

    @Luan - thanks and noted. I hope others will also come forward with their favourite (own) blog…14 of the group have responded so far…


  • Johan Knols on 09th August 2010:

    Hello Pieter,

    You are right in your comment. The diversity of topics is indeed overwhelming, as is the background of the participants. Maybe this is also the reason (when looking at the bigger picture), that it is so difficult to get the MDGs fulfilled. Getting results on an international level only seems to be possible when organizing a few soccer matches or transmitting a festival over different continents (Live Aid). Eradicating poverty and reduction of deaths during child births seem to be problems of a different magnitude. I hope that all readers of the articles became better informed and felt enriched afterwards. Last but not least, what made you decide to comment on some articles, as very few other outsiders did?


  • Bart Knols on 09th August 2010:

    @Pieter - thanks for your compliments. What strikes me is the huge number of contributions with very specific and ‘small’ stories. Anything at a more grandiose and global scale is much harder to get a grip on and quickly results in bureaucratic blabla…unfortunately.


  • Wouter Dijkstra on 24th August 2010:

    Hi gebroeders Knols!
    Nicely done.. Nicely done..

    During my speech I would take the chance to discuss my post about Aid and Accountability.. I think that by adressing the problems related to uninformed and unheard citizens (in development nations)we can truly explore self-sustainable, bottom-up and local development solutions. 

    http://development.thinkaboutit.eu/think3/post/aid_and_development_more_complex_than_you_might_thnk/


  • Johan Knols on 24th August 2010:

    @Pieter,

    Pieter, the objective of this platform was not to fulfill the MDGs, but merely a way of holding politicians accountable for what they promised and decided on in 2000. Hopefully some decision makers also read some of the articles and if they didn’t, than at least I hope that people like you ‘enjoyed’ the read.
    On the topic of commenting on articles: I have a feeling that still too many don’t know how easy it is to share or like an article. These option are at present a few clicks away. I hope that this will change in the future.

    @Wouter,

    Thanks for letting us know your favorite post.


  • Bart Knols on 25th August 2010:

    @Wouter - thanks and noted.

    @Pieter - Another outcome hoped for on THINK3 was to get bloggers that do not normally have their field of work related to development issues get deeper into the complexity of development. I am confident that this has succeeded and that many in future will continue to write about development issues. Slow but permanent change.


  • Mirza Softic on 28th August 2010:

    I enjoyed reading, but I am more worrying now… Cause even I wrote the most stories about politics. Maybe I did it because I write it easier than other themes…


  • Bart Knols on 29th August 2010:

    @Mirza - there is no reason to worry. ‘Politics’ is indeed a category, but the stories should relate to the MDGs that form the centre focus for this blogging effort. Stories on politics that have nothing to do with the MDGs may be important, but should not feature here (at least in my opinion)...


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