So you want to Blog about Development? (Part 1)

Every week I try to post a set of “Links I liked” based on what I’ve read over the last few days. This is mostly an excuse to share articles that I find interesting, but also a good way to keep up regular posting. Over the year, I’ve started coming back to the same sources, people and sites that have the most interesting and engaging content, and keep me current with development news. If you’re starting out, my first piece of advice would be to learn from the best. So here’s my list of recommendations:


1. Chris Blattman: Chris Blattman’s blog was among the first I found, and remains the gold standard for development blogging. Blattman (a Columbia political economist) runs experiments on poverty and violence. Notably, his post on what to pack for development fieldwork is brilliant (as is his entire advice column). Beyond being an innovative researcher and talented communicator, he is also Canadian and a Waterloo grad.
Why I read: Honest reflections, Humour, Life advice for development practitioners and researchers. Basically, I get a secret sense of accomplishment when I find a story or image before it features on Blattman’s blog.


2. From Poverty to Power: One of the happy accidents of coming to Malawi has been being on Twitter at the same time as UK-based Duncan Green, a “Strategic Advisor” at Oxfam. Like Chris Blattman, Green’s blog curates fantastic content but his writing on ‘how social change happens’ is equally interesting. If Blattman’s economics are too much, Green’s practical advice on advocacy and change might be for you.
Why I read: Current events, interesting links, frequent guest contributors


3. Across Two Worlds: Bruce Wydick isn’t as prolific as the above two, but his posts are both academically brilliant and personally reflective. Wydick is a USF Econ prof who runs experiments to find out what interventions work best to end poverty. Personally, I am really impressed by the way he weaves his faith into his work, partnering with organisations like Compassion to make sure their interventions succeed, and promoting a wider idea of what it means to be “developed”.
Why I read: Rigorous and Holistic, enjoyable reading, he might yet convince me to like TOMS.

4. Our World in Data: I’m a huge geek for maps and charts, and Oxford Economist Max Roser’s work is unparalleled. Probably half the maps I share here are from him. His website is good if you need something specific, but I would highly recommend following his Facebook or Twitter.


Why I read: Fascinating Data, He’s convinced that the world is getting better.

Honourable mention:

The Monkey Cage: “Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage” -Mencken. Political Scientists take their research and summarize it for a popular audience. Right now there’s a lot about the US election, but if you want a non-hysterical perspective on any current event, this is the place to go.

Tyler Cowen– heavy on economics, but only the most interesting. I feel like he publishes a new blog post every ten minutes, but his monthly “Conversations with Tyler” are brilliant- there’s one coming up with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar!

Guardian Global Development Professionals Network– Four months into my placement in Malawi, the advice and reflections here have become painfully relevant. I’ve featured a couple of the “Secret Aid Worker” columns here, and now it has garnered its own parody!

Aidspeak– “J” writes about the humanitarian system and runs fascinating public opinion polls on aid workers answers to questions like “Would you donate to the NGO you work for?”. Here’s my favourite piece from Aidspeak. See the rest of his writing here.

Priceonomics– Everyone has that one store where they want to buy everything on the shelf. From the definitive answer to “Should You Use a Pie Chart?“, to the economics/statistics of selfies and hair, I love almost every article on this site.

Branko Milanovic– The world’s expert on inequality. Very ugly blog. This paper changed the way I think about the world.

Of course there’s more- on twitter, Ben Parker, Tom Murphy, Charles Kenny (and anyone related to the CGD) and probably more. You can see everyone I follow here.

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