Photo Credit: The World Bank
Recently, Feedback Labs and GlobalGiving had a chance to sit down with Ken Chomitz, co-author of the World Bank’s upcoming World Development Report 2016: Internet for Development. In it, the authors will ask, “what does the digital revolution mean for improved service delivery?”
More specifically, how are rapid feedback loops for improved service delivery made easier, faster, and cheaper? How does the Internet provide a platform that reduces the marginal cost of information dissemination and collection?
And what does this all mean for business-as-usual at the World Bank? This part of the conversation stood out:
For the World Bank and many US foundations, “due diligence” or “project appraisal” takes a lot of time, sometimes millions of dollars, and perhaps most problematically, some theatrical interpretation. That is, there’s presentation bias–you might go to see if a project is viable and what’s presented to you by the local counterpart (the recipient of the loan or funding) is a successful but staged and unrepresentative project. The less successful stuff is hidden from view and you have no way of accessing it.
Due diligence in the Internet-age can mean crowdsourcing project support and approval from the ground up. People can “vote” if they find a project has value. This kind of “distributed due diligence” might not be perfect but generally speaking, it can be a lot less biased, and might help fund projects that matter more to people.
In this kind of world, the Internet is allowing a real marketplace to thrive: projects at the World Bank will be less centrally-planned, and those that provide value and have popular support will thrive; those that don’t will not and will have to adapt to become better.