Today I wanted to write the first FATE blog. And I got stuck immediately. What should I write about? And, more importantly: how should I write it?
I did what I do when I get stuck: I googled. Quickly I found some explanations, most of which pointed towards the web log – or short, blog – being something like a diary, a place for people to write about their daily activities. However, there also seems to be a blogger community who rather writes about a particular interest, a topic, or something they are passionate about. I learned that more than 100 Million web logs can be found on the net, and every day, more people become active bloggers.
While this was all illuminating, it did not really solve my problem. I discussed with Stéphanie – second thing I do when I get stuck, and google somehow did not do the job. We shared our experience as blog consumers. The blogs we like are the following:
The STEPS-Centre blog
The STEPS-Centre is an initiative between two research departments at the University of Sussex, in Brighton, UK. Funded by the British Economic and Social Research Council, their pathways approach to Sustainability is as innovative as it is influential. The STEPS-team works in themes such as agriculture and food, energy and climate change, health and disease, water and climate change.
The Guardian development blog
The Guardian is always on top of the news. The development blog, funded by the Bill and Melissa Gates foundation, is a rich source of debate around development issues. It is also a good archive on important themes such as inequality or conflict. Apart from text entries you find a number of video and audio contributions which are informative and entertaining – and easily get you absorbed for longer than intended.
The Oxfam international blog
Oxfam offers blogs on a range of themes, not least of which are streams on gender justice and gender and food. I particularly like posts by Duncan Green, a senior advisor at Oxfam whose contributions have addressed the theme of inequality long before it became a hot topic at an international level.
The ODI “shaping policy for development” blog
Sober in its appearance, the ODI blog covers themes from the SDGs to the Turkey refugee deal with the EU. A comment section is readily available on the site, and links directly point to ODI research on the themes discussed in the opinion pages.
The World Bank Blog on gender equality
Of course, the World Bank also blogs on gender and development. I have not consulted this blog on a regular basis, but it seems informative, and it is always good to know what the Bank thinks, isn’t it?
UNRISD Blogs and Think Pieces
Last, but not least, I would like to invite you to our partner UNRISD’s version of a blog. They found what I think is an elegant solution to circumvent the balance between academic and non-academic writing by inventing the category of “think piece”. Think pieces are more research based and offer summarised or preliminary thoughts on issues relevant for UNRISD and its partner organisations.
Even so, the question remains: What is our specific aim with a FATE blog?
In other words: Why do we have to add to 100 million blogs floating on the web today?
Our initial idea was to create a platform to stimulate debate among FATE team members. However, we do have the ambition to open the discussion to an interested public beyond the FATE project. We will of course distribute our blog entries specifically to partners and networks. This means that we will have to navigate between the original “diary”-idea of the blog and the intention to make relevant contributions to current debates in the scientific and development community. I encourage you to explore the freedom that this genre of text offers in terms of themes and writing. We do not need standardised texts, they can vary in shape and message. What I propose to be the least common denominator, or, if you wish, the core of each post, is something that has even if just a slight link to the themes, people and activities of the FATE project. From there, you can connect to the bigger themes that are of interest and that might bring us closer to institutions and partners we would like to engage with. Don’t hesitate to include graphs, photos, audio files, small videos, if you have them. They can make valuable and attractive elements of your posts. And, not least: have fun!
So this is it, we are starting our blog, right now. As a start, I would like to give you some questions:
- What are your favourite blogs, where do you get inspiration from, which sites do you frequently visit, and why?
- Do you or your institution blog? Can we see it?
- Please suggest themes and interests you would like all of us to blog about.
- Please let us know how we might assist you with your own blog posts (your turn will come, no doubt…).
- And, of course: feel free to comment on this, and the following posts of the FATE blog.
I did it! First FATE blog post. It took me two hours – too long, of course. I got sidetracked while checking my favourite blogs. It contains 5507 signs – rather upper limit, I guess. No pictures, no graphs, nothing to be mixed with the text: I will try to find variations in my next posts.
I am looking forward to this platform of exchange. I hope we will all feel committed to take an active role in it. Blog number 2 is already in the making. It will be more of a “think piece” style post on “empowerment”. Same place, next week.