Dear readers (all 7 of you)
After some reflection and growing disquiet, I am reaching the opinion that this blog risks being narcissistic. Particularly the last post, about how I started in aid work, which is why it is now protected. If you are really keen to read it, ask me for the password. It is not that fascinating, nor extraordinary.
I have had concerns before about the power of the internet to distract, diminish and disengage us (which is why I deleted my embryonic Facebook account, back in 2008. Information doesn’t necessarily lead to action (a point proven time and time again in development work – you really need three things for change to occur: knowledge, resources and motivation – development agencies can provide or assist with the first two, but motivation is something you can not manufacture in someone else, though you can buy it temporarily – another great error of many development efforts. But I digress).
I am not a popularist. I like to stimulate people to think about the ambiguities and complexities of development, but I am disinterested in attracting people. But I think I have been a little seduced of late. My wife and I do write newsletters about our work here, about every two months, and I think that might be a better means of achieving that original aim, so if you want to be on the email list, let me know. *
I will be reducing posts to this this site; perhaps using it just to show photos from here on. For anyone who shares my concerns, I recommend Neil Postman’s seminal book, ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death’. It is dated now – written in the ’80’s, I guess, certainly pre-internet, but his observations are just as pertinent.
*Addendum: An additional reason for being unsure about continuing this blog is the sense that these days, I generally interact with the worst of Afghanistan. When I worked in villages, back in the early days, I had plenty of good, bad and in-between stories to wrestle with and to tell. Here, now, in Kabul, and for the last few years, my contact with ordinary Afghans is much reduced: the most it gets is when I am the field, visiting staff or training. Otherwise, it consists of talks with my guard, the office staff, vegetable sellers at the bazaar, angry encounters with bad drivers. We are also more exposed to the ongoing, degrading security, and that creates its own negative momentum.
I don’t want to tell only the bad stories.