An open perspective on global development

Anyone trying to make sense of the opportunity to apply the principles of open source to opportunities wider than just software needs to listen to the recent series of Reith Lectures, broadcast by BBC Radio 4.

The Beeb’s curious podcast policy means that the archives are only accessible via its radio player, but right now you can grab a proper mp3 download of the final lecture, ‘global politics in a complex age’.

Here’s a taste:

“Once the problems are recognized, and the deep science is understood, it is far easier to come up with solutions, which typically require the application of new technologies at a scale to address the challenge. Those technologies exist, or can be developed. Public policies will be needed to get them into place.

Fortunately, governments will not need to do all of the heavy lifting. Individual champions of solutions can make great headway in demonstrating what needs to be done. New technologies for specific problems can be proved at a small scale and then taken to global scale. Social entrepreneurs from every sector can step forward with proposed solutions. The main role of government is stand prepared, with checkbook at hand and policy brief ready, to take working solutions to the needed scale.”

If you have time to listen to just one lecture, I’d go for lecture 3. If you’re interested in making sense of how open principles can be applied to speed up action on sustainability, or to transform the pace at which the world tackles the challenges of development, you’ll find inspiration here.

I’d also recommend dipping into Digital Formations: IT and New Architectures in the Global Realm. It’s a bit academic (read heavy work) but the insights are worth it…