Thanksgiving in December…

trackerwebssite1The search for good links for TrackerNews has been an adventure. Why should “bots” have all the fun crawling the web for tasty content? Those over-achiever algorythmic bits of code will catch on to what I’ve been doing soon enough. For now, there is room for all in the cyber-universe.

TrackerNews could be described as a sort of artisanal aggregator. Content isn’t driven by datelines, but  contextual relevance (a nod to Alta Haggarty for that wonderful phrase). It is about creating an interesting mix and match, grouping stories (breaking news, research, blog posts, websites, book reviews, e-books, in print, audio, video) to deepen understanding and/or make it easier to see connections.

TrackerNews is also not limited by RSS feeds. No matter how many feeds one gathers, there is always much more to be mined from the web. Also, most feeds skew toward breaking news, or what’s popular. Tracker mixes it up a bit more, often featuring lesser-known stories (research abstracts, for example, or a flashback to an older article). This isn’t to say that I don’t scan RSS feeds early and often – they’re darn useful. But Tracker is trying to do something a little different.

With such an omnivorous charge and broad beat – one health, humanitarian work and technology that supports both –  I am always on the look-out for for sources, particularly blogs, that offer the kind of insider’s depth and insight that can add a real richness to the mix on TrackerNews.

Many are linked on the TrackerNews’ Resources section –  a work in in progress (The Resources section is not intended to be a definitive list, but a good place to begin research. We gratefully link to other aggregators that do a better job covering particular fields).

humanitarian blogsStill, there is no way to acknowledge leads for story links sourced from blogs. After mulling what to do about this unintentionally rude state of affairs, I thought it might be an idea to try occasional shout-outs of thanks from the Editor’s blog.

For those who aren’t already familiar with the following, have I got some good links for you!

Today’s list focuses on humanitarian blogs:

  • Paul Currion’s blog,, arcs from tech reviews, short essays and news-from-the-field, to discussions of overarching issues such as innovation. The comment threads are often as sparky as the posts.
  • “Identifying what works in international development” is the tagline for Alanna Shaik’s Blood & Milk blog. Shaik, who holds a master’s degree in public health, speaks a dazzling array of languages (including Arabic, Urdu and Uzbek) and as worked both for NGO’s and contractors, brings a unique and eclectic perspective.
  • Peter Casier runs a warren of blogs and aggregators under The Road to the Horizon banner. So seemingly effortlessly prolific is he, I told him he reminded me of the Tom Leher line about Mozart: “When Mozart was my age, he’d been dead for two years.” Sigh… Be sure to click on the “More” button in the navigation bar – and be prepared to lose a few hours.
  • Full Circle’s Nancy White is difficult to categorize and I suspect that is just the way she likes it. She is generous with connections, a restless thinker and as passionate about learning as she is about teaching. You never know for sure what you’ll be reading on her blog, but chances are she’ll send you off a tangent that mysteriously and surprisingly tells you  exactly what you need to know. I hear she works for chocolate.
  • It was through Nancy that I found Dina Mehta’s blog, Conversations with Dina. Mehta, a Mumbai-based consultant, weaves together qualitative research and ethnography and writes about social media, with considerable insight on the experience of new technologies. Her continued reporting and analysis in the aftermath of the recent terror attacks in her home city are incisive and moving.
  • Finally, to round things out, Sanjana Hattotuwa’s ICT4 Peace blog. Hattotuwa, based in Sri Lanka, focuses on policies that affect how technologies is used, particularly in the developing world. Although some of his posts stretch my limited would-be wonk’s abilities, he is a beautiful writer of thought-provoking essays.

That’s enough for now. As with all things Tracker, we are just warming up…

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