On investing in technology in developing countries with the goal of social change:
The myth of scale is seductive because it is easier to spread technology than to effect extensive change in social attitudes and human capacity. In other words, it is much less painful to purchase a hundred thousand PCs than to provide a real education for a hundred thousand children; it is easier to run a text-messaging health hotline than to convince people to boil water before ingesting it; it is easier to write an app that helps people find out where they can buy medicine than it is to persuade them that medicine is good for their health.
I think this is why it’s easy for governments to spend money with (sometimes) little to show for it. Investing in education for a cause from governments, NGOs, lobby groups (e.g. energy conservation, recycling, food security, moderate Islam, etc.) does not mean there will be a proportional response in the behaviour of these “educated citizens”. Sometimes it’s just complex human capacity. [Via Chris Blattman].
To me the take home statement is you can invest and educate all you want, it will only get you so far. Sometimes it doesn’t even come close to guaranteeing a proportional response in behaviour. A sunny thought on a snowy Friday.