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In memoriam.

Aaron Swartz has died.

In a small tribute, I will put all the .pdfs I have online – these are a few hundred gathered by AidGrade.

I encourage you to do the same. Let’s use the hashtag #pdftribute.

What makes a research question academically interesting?

Someone asked me this and I realized that I don’t have a good model of it, other than believing that it is not purely based on the question’s importance. Any experts care to opine?

N.B.: This question is slightly different from “How do you find a research topic?” for which there are some thoughts here (also see the links there).

Blogging at AidGrade

I’ll be blogging at AidGrade. Some posts there are from the organization as a whole – there isn’t a place for an “author: Eva” tag yet on posts but those which are my personal views will be marked as such….

AidGrade’s site launches!

There’s a new site up with data on aid effectiveness. You can also do your own analyses of the data online using a meta-analysis app! A lot of work went into this – good job, everyone!

What effect will the internet have on development?

Tough question – who could have predicted the way the internet would go in the last 15 years?

Currently, it’s more reasonable to talk about mobile phones than about the internet in many developing countries. Everyone gets a phone who can afford one, but the internet has been more out of reach. Some stats (bearing in mind significant noise):

In 2000, the U.S. had 38.75 mobile phone subscriptions per 100 individuals, according to the International Telecommunication Union. Of the 195 countries for which they have 2011 data, only 21 countries were below that level. At the bottom of the list are North Korea and Myanmar.

Algeria went from less than 1 mobile phone per 100 individuals to 99. Congo: 2 to 94.

Botswana comes 23rd in the world on this scale.

The 2000 U.S. sits around the 2011 Rwanda, Madagascar, and Sierra Leone.

As for the internet, 43.08% of Americans used it in 2000. In 2011, Seychelles, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Panama are at around that level. Seychelles is the only African country that has caught up yet.

But smartphones might pick up faster. Some predict that in five years’ time, most sub-Saharan Africans will have a smartphone!

I might give it ten, but the fact remains that this *could* change a lot. Microwork, education – more importantly, perhaps, access to information. I will write more about this in a later post.