Melkote’s article takes us deep into a serious analysis of development theories – somewhat drowning in academic, intellectual terms. His to-the-point punchline, however, was saved until the conclusion. Here, Melkote concludes that “it is usually futile and may be unethical for communication and human service professionals to help solve minor and/or immediate problems while ignoring the systemic barriers erected by societies that permit or perpetuate inequalities among citizens.” He goes on to say the work of many in the development world can be chalked up as “ineffective” and “superficial” when not taking this into account. Melkote seems to be taking the “give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day, teach him how to fish and he’ll eat forever” line a step further by removing the option of even giving the fish.
The question still remains, however, that we don’t agree on how to solve these systemic barriers. (Also, Melkote makes it clear that to even assume we should be the one’s solving others problems is part of the problem itself.) Yikes. So many problems, and no straight-forward solutions. This makes IC seem a lot less scary than ID.
Fisher’s descriptions of Raymond’s concept of the Cathedral and the Bazaar resonated with me. Raymond’s frank assertion that the open-sourced, Bazaar approach is “anarchic, messy, rude, and vastly more powerful than the doomed bullshit that conventionally passes for wisdom.” This is very true – and exactly what makes it so scary. As part of a large volunteer chorus, we are often called upon to help promote our concerts. With the advent of online networks, this has markedly changed the tools with which we can promote our work. When our administrative office sends out a concert image, a special offer, or new information on a performance, a quick stream of choristers add the information to their Facebook pages – with their own thoughts tacked on. This is the risk organizations take: by allowing (and encouraging) promotion by their extended communities, they remove their (often perceived) control of the spin. The net result, however, can be more effective than any slick, controlled message they would distribute on their own. Fisher further confirms this example by noting that charitable and volunteer organizations are smart to use enthusiasts to promote them, as their efforts are based on interests rather than financial reward. This, too, has been evidenced by my chorus. When asked to promote concerts that we haven’t been particularly excited about, our status updates remain blank, our images static. When we are inspired, though, our interest is evident in our promotion.
Finally, Corman’s article on the success and failures of media systems provided some interesting insight. By assuming that communication is the transfer of meanings from person to person, communicators are neglecting the fact that message received is the one that counts – not the one that was sent. In his description of Karen Hughes’ “listening tour” of the Middle East it is clear that she neglected this fact. Perhaps she should have focused a little bit more on the “listening” part of the tour?