BR KERO Peak phosphorus - The next inconvenient truth

 
BR KERO Peak phosphorus - The next inconvenient truth
BR KER
 issue 15   August 2009

                                  O
The next inconvenient truth
    Peak phosphorus

The impact of web 2.0 on research practices  Participatory
development assessment  The UK’s battle to make poverty
history  Greening the Gulf
BR KERO Peak phosphorus - The next inconvenient truth
contents

    2 Letters to the Editor                         Letters to the Editor
    3 EDITORIAL
      Pooling forces                                In their contributions to ‘Who is the enemy?’ (special report, The Broker 14) Mary
                                                    Kaldor of the London School of Economics and Stathis Kalyvas of Yale University
    4 On the website                                reflected on the nature of today’s conflicts and commented on each other’s
       Louise Stoddard                              articles on The Broker website. Here are some excerpts from their comments.

    6 Peak phosphorus
       The extravagant use of fertilizers has led
       to ever-increasing demand for natural
       phosphorus. As phosphate reserves            Kalyvas responds to Mary                                      Kaldor responds to Stathis
       decline, the impacts will be immense.        Kaldor’s ‘New wars’                                           Kalyvas’ ‘War’s Evolution’
       Arno Rosemarin, Gert de Bruijne and          When the Cold War ended, Mary Kaldor                          I agree that the end of the Second World
       Ian Caldwell                                 was right to intuit that this would have                      War marked the decline and indeed
                                                    decisive impact on the landscape of                           obsolescence of interstate war. However I
    10 A bright beacon of success 		                conflicts. Now, with a decade of hindsight,                   disagree with the characterization of the
       and hope                                     we can assess these claims.                                   Cold War as the ‘long peace.’ In Europe, it
       Annette Jansen                                  Is global armed conflict different after                   was an ‘imaginary war’, but outside Europe,
                                                    the end of the Cold War? Yes, intrastate                      the Cold War was expressed in so-called
                                                    conflict has replaced interstate conflict as                  proxy wars (or what Kalyvas calls civil wars,
    11 SPECIAL REPORT                               the dominant form of armed conflict; but                      guerrilla wars or ‘low-intensity’ wars).
       Social academia                              this change took place following the end of                      I also agree that the number of conflicts
       Information and communication                the Second World War, not of the Cold                         has declined and that contemporary
       technologies have become                     War. Yes, intrastate conflict is typically                    conflicts have been, on the whole, less
       indispensable for information sharing.       associated with high levels of civilian                       deadly since the beginning of 21st century.
       But many researchers are reluctant           victimization and related atrocities, state                   But I am less optimistic than Kalyvas about
       to enter the realm of social networks,       weakening and sometimes collapse,                             our ability to manage contemporary security
       and to start using web 2.0 tools for         irregular actors, various sources of                          problems. First, the reason I prefer the term
       collaborative writing, sharing work in       financing extending beyond the state,                         ‘new war’ to ‘civil war’ is because of the
       progress or publishing results.              destruction and contagion; but one finds                      blurring of what is inside and what is outside
       Janelle Ward                                 all these features in most civil wars that                    the state in the context of globalization. Not
                                                    took place during the Cold War, not just in                   only are many transnational actors involved
                                                    the post-Cold War civil wars.                                 in contemporary conflicts (diasporas,
    19 Subjective truths                               Finally, are the responses to global                       transnational criminal groups, neighbouring
       The starting point for development           armed conflict driven by Cold War                             states, mercenaries, mujahideen,
       evaluations should be how recipients         perceptions? Kaldor argues that we need                       international agencies, NGOs, and so on),
       experience change, rather than the set       to develop a ‘human security approach’ to                     but such conflicts are rarely contained within
       perspectives of the evaluators.              deal with global conflict rather than rely on                 the nation state.
       Ton Dietz, Francis Obeng, Jerim Obure        a counterinsurgency logic reflective of the                      I think it is important to draw out these
       and Fred Zaal                                Cold War, as the US seems to be doing.                        differences because of their implications
                                                    Perhaps. But whatever one thinks about                        for policy. The newly found enthusiasm for
    22 UK aid targets still to be met               its prospect of success, the current US                       counterinsurgency in the United States is
       The UK’s New Labour government is            focus on counterinsurgency (the so-called                     based on the assumption that these
       continuing the battle to make poverty        ‘Petraeus doctrine’) is not a relic of the                    conflicts are not very different from the
       history.                                     Cold War, but a reaction to real on-the-                      insurgencies of the Cold War period. But
       Romesh Vaitilingam                           ground challenges. As such, current US                        actually what is needed is not only state
                                                    counterinsurgency practices should be                         building and poverty reduction, as Kalyvas
    26 Greening the Gulf                            understood as responses to specific local                     points out, but the very difficult task of
       Thom Bohlen                                  challenges, rather than to global conflicts                   countering conflicts and violence rather
                                                    in general.                                                   than countering insurgency.
    28 The MDGs post-2015
       Ellen Lammers
                                                    Letters to the editor can be submitted online at www.thebrokeronline.eu/letters. Please include your full
    32 Interventions                                name and email address. We reserve the right to edit letters, and to use any submissions sent to the letters column
                                                    of The Broker in any other format.
       Ko Colijn

2      www.thebrokeronline.eu
BR KERO Peak phosphorus - The next inconvenient truth
editorial

                                                                                                                             Frans Bieckmann
Pooling forces                                                                                                               Editor in Chief
                                                                                                                             editor@thebrokeronline.eu

O       ver the last few months I have attended a number of
        conferences that focused on the future of development
cooperation. Among these were the Practice of Civic Driven
                                                                           Many conferences walk the line between academic debate and
                                                                        policy. They influence how policies are framed and affect the
                                                                        direction in which debates about issues move. And, for some
Change in the Hague, the Netherlands, and the High Level Policy         participants and speakers, conferences are opportunities for
Forum, After 2015: Promoting Pro-poor Policy after the MDGs in          gaining exposure, for defending the interests of their
Brussels, Belgium. Other conferences were aimed at designing a          organizations and for networking to find new coalition partners
new architecture for ‘international cooperation’, which has been        or funding sources. There is nothing wrong with that. But one
framed as a replacement for ‘development cooperation’. Some of          important consequence seems to be very cautious exchanges of
these conferences are reported on briefly in this issue of The          ideas and an almost complete neglect of the powerful interests
Broker, and they are all covered much more extensively in reports,      that drive global processes. No one wants to offend anyone else,
blogs and debates on the magazine’s website.                            and everybody wants to stay friends. Therefore they strive for
   Many of the conferences were inspiring because of the depth          compromise and look for win–win situations in which all
of the debates; others were disappointing. They covered different       stakeholders get their share.
topics, but had one thing in common: the participants were all             While I am making a case for more honest, direct discussion
from the development sector. The development community is still         about what experts from various backgrounds think needs to be
very closed and inward looking. Many conferences did bring              done, I do not believe the starting point for development efforts
together government officials, NGO workers, policy makers,              should be institutional interests or Northern political and policy
academics and, in some cases, business representatives who              debates. The starting point should be the interests of the people
manage corporate social responsibility initiatives. That may sound      concerned: the populations of the developing countries, or in the
like quite a mix of people, but they all had a development              case of climate change, the entire world.
background or focus. There were no representatives from the                In their article on participatory development assessment (PDA),
environmental NGOs. Or from human rights organizations, trade           Ton Dietz, Francis Obeng, Jerim Obure and Fred Zaal present a new
unions, or organizations that focus on the consequences of              evaluation method that begins with input from aid recipients.
globalization in Northern countries. They were not invited.             What is interesting is the central position of subjectivity in this
Perhaps no one thought their inputs would be useful.                    method: it attaches great importance to how people perceive and
   Even the successful workshop of the Civic Driven Change              judge a specific intervention. Even if we, as foreign ‘experts’,
Initiative (see ‘Deep democracy’, The Broker10) was attended only       disagree, the perceptions of the local people make their
by representatives of development NGOs, even though the                 assessment ‘true’. Or, on the flipside, if local people judge a policy
initiative goes beyond development, aiming at change processes          measure, project, intervention or process as being faulty or failing
driven by citizens from any country or sector.                          to add anything to their well-being, no results will be possible
   This issue’s feature article – ‘Peak phosphorus’ by Arno             even if objectively it is effective. Such an approach opens up new
Rosemarin, Gert de Bruijne and Ian Caldwell – illustrates once          ways to become really serious about the rhetoric of ownership
more how urgent it is to pool together forces from a wide range         that formally drives all development policies. But it would also
of fields in order to tackle global issues. The availability of         entail a much more modest attitude on the part of foreign (and
phosphorus, in the form of phosphate rock, may seem a rather            even national) experts.
technical subject, but the impending depletion of these reserves           This issue’s special report offers an introduction to the world of
could have far-reaching consequences. Rather than being an issue        web 2.0, and how new social media can be used by researchers
only for agriculturalists and environmentalists, diminishing            worldwide. The Broker is also looking at ways to use these online
supplies of phosphate could severely worsen the food crisis. If         tools to deliver information to readers. There are no wikis on The
there is a rise in the price of fertilizer, of which phosphorus is a    Broker website – yet – but we have launched several new blogs.
crucial ingredient, food prices will also rise. The main victims will   Researchers could use these new technologies to share and
be the poor living in developing countries. The authors also show       collaborate on research as it is happening. But the academic world
that geopolitical motives and the policies of big multinationals        faces an important dilemma that has not yet been resolved: how
have a heavy influence on the phosphate and fertilizer industry.        to guarantee the quality of information and knowledge, given the
The situation is urgent, requiring global initiatives to regulate the   enormous amount of data that is now accessible on the web. Does
extraction of the earth’s remaining phosphate reserves, and to          the ‘wisdom of crowds’ really apply to academia, as some people
promote phosphorus recycling.                                           assert? I offer space in The Broker to anyone who can prove that.

                                                                                                              The Broker   issue 15   August 2009   3
BR KERO Peak phosphorus - The next inconvenient truth
www.thebrokeronline.eu

    On the website
    Confirming many of the observations            In the driving seat
    made in this issue’s special report on
    web 2.0 and social media, growing              Also in June, the Civic Driven Change (CDC)
    numbers of readers are contributing            initiative (see ‘Deep democracy’, The Broker
    to online blogs and debates on                 10) organized a workshop on the practice of
    The Broker website. In recent weeks            CDC in The Hague, which attracted more
    13 bloggers have offered their views           than 150 participants representing 45
    on various meetings and events,                organizations. The CDC initiative aims to
    prompting lively discussions.                  develop a new, citizen-driven approach to
                                                   development and social change. It draws
                                                   attention to broader change processes in
    Windows on the world                           which development interventions play a
    Some researchers already write blogs in        small part, and how social change can be
    preference to diaries, collaborate in wikis    brought about by citizens themselves.
    instead of workshops, and prefer to visit         Willemijn Verkoren, of the Centre for
    virtual conferences rather than attend         International Conflict Analysis and Management (CICAM) at Radboud University Nijmegen,
    meetings in person (see page 17). While        prepared an overview of the workshop, which is now available on The Broker website.
    there is no substitute for face-to-face        Also available are 11 reports written by her students summarizing the discussions within
    interactions, and the inspiration and ideas    the various thematic working groups. The reports cover issues such as promoting
    that often emerge from them, at                responsible citizenship, civic agency and party politics, and children and civic action.
    The Broker we hope our online coverage            In her overview, Verkoren observes that, in the words of Alan Fowler, CDC now has
    of conferences, workshops and events           ‘wheels’ and is ‘rolling’. ‘Many people have expressed interest in the concept, hoping that it
    throughout Europe will provide useful          will lend inspiration for a changed approach to development. … Not only is CDC attracting
    windows onto the dynamic world of              interest, but a common understanding of the concept appears to be emerging. … Now, the
    research into globalization and                time may have come to start making some real changes in the practice of development’.
    development issues.                            >> www.thebrokeronline.eu/en/articles/Civic-Driven-Change
       This section of the magazine highlights
    just some of the recent debates and blog
    entries on The Broker website. We invited      Cultivating the social sciences                   potential technological solutions to
    various experts to contribute to the                                   The Science Forum         agricultural and environmental problems,
    debate on the High Level Policy Forum,                                 2009, organized by        rather than on a strategy to address such
    ‘After 2015: Promoting Pro-poor Policy                                 the Consultative          challenges. This tension between technical
    after the MDGs’, held in Brussels in June.                             Group on                  and social scientific approaches, or the
    Due to the large number of responses, we                               International             challenges of adopting a multidisciplinary
    have brought together their perspectives,                              Agricultural Research     perspective, is an area that The Broker is
    together with a report of the Forum, in a                              (CGIAR), was held at      committed to exploring.
    special overview of the discussion so far                              Wageningen                    ‘Amid all of the technocratic discussions,
    (see page 28). This overview incorporates                              University in the         the insights of social science … have faded
    the insights of the guest bloggers for the     Netherlands in mid-June. The forum was            into the background. Organizational,
    forum, among them Sakiko Fukuda-Parr           significant in view of the CGIAR’s efforts to     managerial and institutional considerations
    (professor of international affairs at the     reinvent itself as a consortium that              are frequently invoked, but by and large
    New School, New York), Charles Gore            emphasizes multiple strategic partnerships.       social science seems to be regarded as a
    (UN Conference on Trade and                    On behalf of The Broker, Dominic Glover, a        minor appendage of science – a vestigial
    Development) and Heather Grady                 postdoctoral fellow at Wageningen, wrote          organ rather like the human appendix:
    (Realizing Rights: the Ethical Globalization   a lively blog from the forum, which               everybody agrees that it should be present,
    Initiative).                                   attracted comments from many readers.             but nobody really knows what it is for. And,
    >> www.thebrokeronline.eu/blogs                Dominic reported on the discussions and           if it grumbles too much, it can always be
                                                   assessed the perspectives expressed from          cut out – the organism of normal scientific
                                                   the conference floor.                             practice will carry on happily without it’.
    By Louise Stoddard, web editor                    In his penultimate post, Dominic               >> www.thebrokeronline.eu/Reinventing-
                                                   observed that the discussions focused on          agricultural-science

4   www.thebrokeronline.eu
BR KERO Peak phosphorus - The next inconvenient truth
Blogs
More conferences and events online               working on various forms of value chain         Resident bloggers Thea Hilhorst and
                                                 development.’                                   Frans Bieckmann have commented on
Keeping pace with innovation                     >> www.thebrokeronline.eu/convergence-of-       the highs and lows – the encouraging
systems                                          sciences                                        stories and the irritations – associated
                        The Convergence of                                                       with their work.
                        Sciences –                                                                                     Recently Thea has
                        Strengthening            Building blocks for African                                           reported from the
                        Innovation Systems       development                                                           launch of the World
                        (COS-SIS) programme                              Reporting from                                Disaster Report 2009,
                        is a partnership                                 ‘Respacing Africa’,                           and discussed
                        between the                                      the third European                            ‘Weather
                        Netherlands and                                  conference on                                 Information for All’
                        agricultural                                     African Studies, held                         – a new public–
                        universities in Benin,                           at the University of                          private initiative
Ghana and Mali. As part of the                                           Leipzig, Germany,                             launched by Kofi
programme, a conference of the same                                      guest blogger           Annan, former UN Secretary-General and
name was recently held in Cape Coast,                                    Marieke Hounjet kept    now president of the Global
Ghana, where 80 or so participants                                       participants and        Humanitarian Platform.
discussed progress in strengthening              other readers up to date with the                 After losing her laptop on a train, and
innovation systems for agriculture and           proceedings and discussions in a building       retrieving it 24 hours later in the lost and
rural poverty reduction in the region.           that was finished just in time to welcome       found, Thea concluded that ‘trust in
   During the conference, Jim Woodhill,          the 1000 visitors. During the four days         people pays off’. She then wondered
director of the Capacity Development and         participants attended over 150 panel            whether this could be a useful motto for
Institutional Change programme at                discussions covering issues including           funding agencies that demand too much
Wageningen University and Research               globalization, urban poverty, peace and         control, and could help to improve
Centre, wrote a blog for The Broker. Jim         governance. As architect of the conference      donor–NGO relations.
talked with other participants reporting         blog, Marieke invited website visitors to
on their thoughts and experiences. Chris         read and comment on her postings. She                                 In his blog, Frans
Cordon, of the University of Ghana, told         attended many of the panel sessions,                                  reflected on some
Jim: ‘There is a terrible disconnect             reported on workshops and described her                               ‘threads and trends’
between the users of knowledge –                 experiences keeping up with the ambitious                             addressed by
farmers, policy makers and scientists. We        programme of events.                                                  participants at ‘After
just don’t have a proper integration of             ‘My understanding of inspiration here                              2015’, the High Level
knowledge flow. COS-SIS is helping to            moves beyond its pure “rational” sense.                               Policy Forum held in
bridge this gap’. In his blog, Jim described     When I was watching the speakers in the                               Brussels. He noted
the event, the questions raised and his          panel on “navigating urban space” this                                that one ‘element
thoughts while on a morning run along            morning I saw how, when they introduced         that kept coming up was the need to
the beach.                                       “the site” of their research (specific          develop a much stronger bottom-up
   ‘I marvelled at the skill of the fishing      country, city or neighbourhood) they            approach’, observing a potential overlap
boat builders and was reminded of the            instantly started smiling, and that really is   with the Civic Driven Change process.
reality that many people still don’t have        most inspiring.’                                   A loyal U2 fan, Frans also remarked on
basic sanitation facilities. Against the lack    >> www.thebrokeronline.eu/africa-conference     the media hype associated with Bono’s
of such basic needs, does talk of innovation                                                     recent comments on Italy’s poor aid
systems make sense or is it just academics                                                       record. Regrettably, Iacopo Viciani’s
being academic?... By the end of the day                                                         article in The Broker on the same subject
there was a big question on my mind. Is          Coming up                                       (‘Low scores for the chair of G8 Africa’,
COS-SIS trying to improve things for             Over the coming months The Broker’s             issue 14) received somewhat less
farmers within the existing market and           resident and guest bloggers hope to report      attention. If only Bono could be
policy system, or is it trying to radically      from various conferences. Keep an eye on        persuaded to write a guest blog for
change the system? This is perhaps a             the website to see if they are visiting an      The Broker…
critical question for many organizations         event near you.                                 >> www.thebrokeronline.eu/blogs

                                                                                                             The Broker   issue 15   August 2009   5
BR KERO Peak phosphorus - The next inconvenient truth
The next inconvenient truth

    Peak phosphorus
    Phosphorus, a key component of fertilizers, is crucial for the world’s food
    supplies. But as reserves of phosphate begin to run out, the impacts are
    likely be immense – in terms of rising food prices, growing food
    insecurity and widening inequalities between rich and poor countries.

    R      eports of the world’s diminishing mineral resources are
           easy to come by. In the case of oil, for example, there is
    no shortage of researchers, industry experts and policy
                                                                          Summary

                                                                          •	Phosphorus is one of the three key components of fertilizers, and is
    makers who are eager to discuss the problems of peak oil,               crucial for the world’s food supply system.
    declining reserves, the need for secure supplies and the              •	Phosphate extraction will peak around 2030, after which time global
    implications of rising prices for the global economy.                    economic development could be constrained not only by supplies of
       But there is one mineral that has received much less                  oil, but by the availability of phosphorus.
    attention. Reserves of phosphate rock, the main source of             •	So far, governments, UN agencies and international NGOs have failed
    phosphorus used in fertilizers, are running out. Very few                to acknowledge, let alone respond to, the problem.
    reports have examined the implications of the world’s                 •	Innovative strategies are urgently needed, especially agricultural
    dwindling supplies, but based on the data that are available,            reforms to reduce the demand for fertilizers, and policies to
    it is clear that alarm bells should be ringing.                          promote the recovery and reuse of phosphorus from organic
       Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for all plants and                waste.
    animals. It is also one of the three key components (together
    with nitrogen and potassium) of fertilizers, and so is crucial
    for the world’s food supply system. With continued                  Morocco/Western Sahara. At current rates of extraction, the
    population growth, improving diets and rising global                US will deplete its reserves within 30 years, and global
    demand for food and biofuels, the need for phosphate                reserves will start to run out within 75–100 years.
    fertilizers to improve crop production will only increase.          Phosphorus cannot be manufactured from alternative
       Over the years, the extravagant use of fertilizers has led to    sources, but it can be recovered and reused. Some can be
    ever-increasing demand for natural phosphorus. As these             recovered from human, animal and organic waste, but as yet
    reserves decline, the impacts will be immense – including           there have been few initiatives to promote recycling.
    falling farm output, higher food prices, growing food                 Phosphate extraction will peak around 2030, after which
    insecurity and escalating social and economic challenges for        time demand will exceed supply. Economically recoverable
    which the world is unprepared. Within a few decades, global         reserves of phosphate rock (those that can be profitably
    economic development could be constrained not just by               extracted using existing technologies) are currently estimated
    supplies of oil, but by the availability of phosphorus.             at 15 billion tonnes, and about 167 million tonnes are
                                                                        extracted per year. According to the US Geological Survey,
    Peak phosphorus                                                     at the current rate of extraction, which is increasing by 2%
    Reserves of phosphate rock are found in several countries,          per year, phosphate reserves will last about 50 years, but at
    but the largest commercially recoverable reserves are               3% per year, they will last less than 45 years. In 2007–8,
    located in just three – China, the United States and                however, the amount extracted increased by a record 7%,
                                                                        driven mainly by China, where output rose by 10%, and the
                                                                        US and Morocco by 4%.1 Even if so-called base reserves
    By Arno Rosemarin, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI),           (those that are not economically recoverable at present) are
    Gert de Bruijne, WASTE, advisers on urban environment and           exploited, these would be depleted within 75 years if the rate
    development, Gouda, the Netherlands, and Ian Caldwell, Stockholm    of extraction were to rise to 3% per year. The cost of
    Environment Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.                           processing these low-grade base and offshore reserves would
                                                                        also be enormous, raising the cost of producing food, making

6   www.thebrokeronline.eu
BR KERO Peak phosphorus - The next inconvenient truth
Alamy / Fine Art

                   A phosphate factory in Western Sahara, Morocco.

                   this commodity the main determinant of global economic                            soaring price of fertilizer and to devise schemes to lessen the
                   development.                                                                      impacts of high food prices on the world’s poor.1
                                                                                                       Prices might have remained high, had it not been for the
                   Price volatility                                                                  economic recession that began to bite in late 2008. As the
                   The availability of phosphate is reflected in the price of                        demand for biofuels fell, so did the need for fertilizers, and
                   fertilizer, and ultimately in the cost of food. In 2007–8, the                    so did world prices. The rapidity of the events of 2008
                   price of phosphate fertilizer unexpectedly increased fivefold,                    prevented any changes in policies with regard to fertilizer or
                   due partly to the growing demand for biofuels to replace oil.                     agriculture. What did become apparent, however, was that
                   The use of fertilized crops to produce biofuels such as                           the fertilizer industry is highly vulnerable because of the link
                   ethanol pushed fertilizer into a pricing structure determined                     to biofuels, and that many developing countries cannot
                   directly by the soaring price of oil. The result was a surge in                   afford conventional chemical fertilizers. The volatility of the
                   food prices, and even conflicts in some developing countries                      phosphate market also affected the prices of nitrogen and
                   where farmers could no longer afford to buy fertilizers. In                       potassium, the two other components of fertilizer, and thus
                   response, in April 2008, UN Secretary-General, Ban                                the price of food in general. Clearly, the knock-on societal
                   Ki-moon set up a Task Force on the Global Food Security                           effects of spiralling fertilizer prices need to be better
                   Crisis. This led to two food security summits – in Rome in                        understood if we are to respond effectively when the next
                   June 2008 and in Madrid in January 2009 – to address the                          major price shift occurs.

                     Phosphorus
                     Phosphorus is essential for all living systems. It is a building block of DNA   from around 1.5 billion in 1850 to 6.5 billion today.
                     and cellular membranes, and a key element in energy metabolism. The                Phosphorus is used in the production of fertilizers and animal feed,
                     human body contains about 1 kg of phosphorus, mainly in bones and               and in the manufacture of explosives, plastics, detergents and pesticides.
                     teeth, and we each consume and excrete up to 3 grams per day.                   Most fertilizer is commercially produced using the wet extraction
                        Phosphorus was discovered in 1669 by Hennig Brand. By evaporating            process, in which phosphate rock is dissolved in sulphuric acid to produce
                     human urine, Brand produced ammonium sodium hydrogen phosphate,                 phosphoric acid. Global production of phosphoric acid was 35 million
                     a substance that glowed in the dark and burned with a brilliant flame,          tonnes in 2008.
                     which he described as phosphorescence. Phosphorus was first obtained               Unfortunately, the wet extraction process produces highly polluting
                     from bone ash, and from the mid-1800s from rock phosphate, or                   by-products, including phosphogypsum (calcium sulphate) and an acid
                     apatite, which is found in fossil marine sediments and volcanic deposits.       leachate that can seep into groundwater if it is not properly contained.
                        For centuries, human and animal waste had been used directly as a            Stockpiles of gypsum waste are growing by about 175 million tonnes per
                     fertilizer. But when cities in Europe and North America started to build        year – about five times the amount of phosphoric acid produced. In
                     sewerage systems to prevent outbreaks of diseases such as cholera, farmers      Florida, stockpiles of gypsum have already reached 1 billion tonnes.
                     had to look elsewhere. Soon, imports of natural fertilizer in the form of          The overuse of fertilizers, and nutrient runoff, have resulted in the
                     guano, and eventually fossil sedimentary and volcanic rock phosphate,           accumulation of phosphorus in terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems.
                     provided cheap and abundant substitutes. As a result, agriculture was able      This nutrient overload – levels are about 75% above those in pre-industrial
                     to expand far beyond sustainable limits, and the world’s population grew        times – now threatens many rivers, lakes and coastal zones.
                                                                                                                                                                                     >

                                                                                                                                               The Broker   issue 15   August 2009   7
BR KERO Peak phosphorus - The next inconvenient truth
basic ingredient of phosphate fertilizers. Sulphuric acid is
                                                                                                                            produced mainly in the developed countries, although China
                                                                                                                            is now also self-sufficient. Sulphuric acid supply and demand
                                                                                                                            directly determine the price of phosphate, so here too there
                                                                                                                            are geopolitical implications. It is for this reason that
    Reuters / Anuruddha Lokuhapuarachchi

                                                                                                                            sulphuric acid producers publish reports and hold
                                                                                                                            conferences to discuss global trends in phosphate production.
                                                                                                                            By controlling the supply and price of sulphuric acid, the
                                                                                                                            developed countries can in effect control the price of the
                                                                                                                            phosphate they import.

                                                                                                                            Reducing the risks
                                                                                                                            Clearly, innovative strategies are urgently needed to ensure
                                                                                                                            greater stability in fertilizer and phosphate markets. More
                                                                                                                            efficient extraction of phosphate at source would help to
                                           A foretaste of things to come? In Sri Lanka, the decision to award a phosphate   reduce wastage of this valuable resource. Higher prices could
                                           mining concession to a foreign consortium led to widespread protests.            discourage the inefficient use of phosphate products and
                                                                                                                            promote recycling, although price increases should be kept
                                                                                                                            to a minimum in order to avert spiralling food prices.
                                           Geopolitical implications                                                           Crucially, wide-ranging agricultural policy reforms are
                                           As fertilizer prices rise, the increased inequality of access                    needed to reduce the demand for phosphate fertilizers. In
                                           between rich and poor countries will have major geopolitical                     particular, farmers should be encouraged to use them more
                                           impacts. This makes supplies of phosphate one of the most                        efficiently, and to switch to organic fertilizers and
                                           pressing global resource questions, one that requires                            composting technologies. In Europe, the EU Common
                                           urgent attention.                                                                Agricultural Policy, with farm subsidies amounting to
                                              Just five countries together control almost 90% of the                        €50 billion per year, has created a distorted market that
                                           world’s reserves of rock phosphate. China, the largest                           promotes wasteful use of fertilizers, because in effect farmers
                                           producer, has already begun to safeguard its supplies by                         and consumers do not pay the full market price. Reducing
                                           imposing, in mid-2008, a 135% tariff on exports. The US is                       and ultimately eliminating these subsidies would provide
                                           quickly depleting its own reserves – extraction has now                          more open market competition, and persuade farmers to be
                                           peaked. Aside from a number of smaller producers, led by                         more frugal. Consumers must also be convinced that they
                                           South Africa and Jordan, the next largest supplier of                            can play an effective role in controlling food prices through
                                           phosphate is Morocco.                                                            their decisions as to what and how much they eat.
                                              Morocco’s phosphate reserves are located in the Western                          But perhaps the most effective way to minimize the impacts
                                           Sahara, a territory that is internationally recognized as a                      of phosphate shortages would be to promote the recovery and
                                           sovereign country, but which has been effectively occupied                       reuse of phosphorus and other nutrients from organic waste
                                           by Morocco since 1975. In 2004, the US signed a bilateral                        and wastewater streams. With policy reforms to promote the
                                           free trade agreement with Morocco that allows the US                             development of recycling technologies, the EU could become
                                           long-term access to its phosphate. The deal received no                          more or less self-sufficient in phosphorus (see box, page 9).1
                                           media attention. Unsurprisingly, as a permanent member of                           In developing countries, especially in Africa where farmers
                                           the UN Security Council, the US has consistently vetoed any                      use limited amounts of chemical fertilizers, recycling could
                                           resolution requiring Morocco to leave Western Sahara.                            allow them to become almost self-sufficient. For rich
                                           Australia, in contrast, recently halted imports of Moroccan                      countries, a shift to a recycling economy would present
                                           phosphate in protest against its occupation of Western                           major challenges, requiring the retooling of the agricultural
                                           Sahara, and this move also attracted little attention.                           infrastructure and the adoption of new farming practices.
                                              None of the major phosphate producers have so far taken                       New incentives such as carbon taxes to combat climate
                                           proactive steps to conserve or manage their reserves                             change will also encourage the fertilizer and phosphate
                                           sustainably. China’s 135% export tariff could result in higher                   mining industries to become more efficient. The production
                                           prices, which in turn could encourage more efficient use of                      and transportation of fertilizers involves the substantial use
                                           fertilizers within the agricultural sector. But its impacts on                   of fossil fuels, which could be reduced by shifting to local
                                           the demand for phosphate are only likely to become apparent                      organic recycling systems.
                                           during 2009, once the importing countries have used up
                                           their stockpiles.                                                                An unacknowledged problem
                                              A further factor that is likely to become significant in the                  So far there has been little acknowledgement, let alone
                                           coming years is the availability of sulphuric acid. On average,                  response, from governments, UN agencies or international
                                           it takes nearly 3 tonnes of sulphuric acid and 3.5 tonnes of                     NGOs to the world’s dwindling phosphate reserves. The US
                                           phosphate rock to produce 1 tonne of phosphoric acid, the                        Geological Survey and the International Fertilizer Industry

8                                          www.thebrokeronline.eu
BR KERO Peak phosphorus - The next inconvenient truth
USA
       7.8%                             Morocco
                                         37.0%                                                China
                                                                                              26.6%
                                                                        Jordan
                                                                         5.8%

                                                               South Africa
                                                                  9.7%

       Five countries control almost 90% of global phosphate reserves

       Eight countries account for 65% of global sulphuric acid production

Association (IFA) publish their own reports, but there is no                     resource management. Fertilizer companies also are more
non-partisan international body responsible for monitoring,                      interested in potential profits than in conserving this finite
compiling statistics or providing policy direction. Yet articles                 resource.
are beginning to appear highlighting the implications of the                       Above all, efforts must be made to improve public
situation, and the body of knowledge is growing. At an                           awareness of the problem. Most people acknowledge that
international conference on nutrient recovery from                               mineral resources are scarce, but assume that more will
wastewater, in Vancouver in May 2009, participants from                          somehow be found. While this could be true for phosphate
more than 30 countries met to discuss the status of recycling                    to some extent, unless action is taken to conserve the stocks
technology, and to develop ‘new thinking’ for the future.1                       that remain, reduce the demand for fertilizers and recycle
   There has also been little response from the private sector.                  phosphorus wherever possible, the costs to society are likely
The major phosphate mining companies tend to keep a low                          be very high – in terms of rising food prices and widening
public profile, and are not known as leaders in sustainable                      inequalities between rich and poor countries.

  Recycling potential in Europe                                                  □ Cordell, D., Drangert, J.-O. and White, S. (2009) The story of
  Improving recycling systems in Europe would help meet phosphorus                 phosphorus: Global food security and food for thought. Global
  demand. Each year the EU uses about 1.34 million tonnes of                       Environmental Change, 19: 292–305.
  phosphorus in the form of phosphate fertilizers. Of this, 250,000              □ Cordell, D., Schmid-Neset, D., White, S. and Drangert, J.-O. (2009)
  tonnes are contained in animal feed supplements and 110,000 tonnes               Preferred future phosphorus scenarios. In: K. Ashley et al. (eds)
  are used in the manufacture of detergents, all of which could be                 Proc. International Conference on Nutrient Recovery from Wastewater
  recovered and reused.                                                            Streams. International Water Association, pp.23–43.
     Arne Haarr, of the European Union of National Associations of Water         □ Haarr, A. (2005) The Reuse of Phosphorus. Position paper, EU2-04-
  Suppliers and Waste Water Services, recently calculated how much of              SL09. European Union of National Associations of Water Suppliers
  the European demand for phosphorus could be met through improved                 and Waste Water Services.
  recycling systems. All organic waste contains phosphorus, with animal          □ Prud’homme, M. and Heffer, P. (2008) World Agriculture and
  manure being the most important source. Haarr estimated that the                 Fertilizer Demand: Global Fertilizer Supply and Trade 2008–2009.
  animal waste produced each year in Europe contains around 1.6 million            Summary Report, International Fertilizer Industry Association.
  tonnes of phosphorus. And if fully implemented, the EU’s Urban                 □ Vaccari, D.A. (2009) Phosphorus famine: The threat to our food
  Wastewater Treatment Directive could also have a major impact. In                supply. Scientific American, June, pp.54–59.
  2005, the EU produced at least 9.4 million tonnes of dry solids from           □ Global Phosphorus Research Initiative: www.phosphorusfutures.net
  sewage sludge, from which about 300,000 tonnes of phosphorus and
  other nutrients could have been retrieved.                                     1 For a longer version of this article, visit
                                                                                 www.thebrokeronline.eu

                                                                                                                      The Broker   issue 15   August 2009   9
BR KERO Peak phosphorus - The next inconvenient truth
book review

     A bright beacon of success
     and hope
     Freedom from Want: The Remarkable Success Story of BRAC,
     the Global Grassroots Organization That’s Winning the Fight Against
     Poverty, by Ian Smillie, Kumarian Press.

     A review by Annette Jansen

     O      ne wonders if a book that has been
            showered with praise by Nobel
     laureate Amartya Sen, former Irish
                                                    agriculture project based on poultry
                                                    farming. By 1992, the project involved
                                                    1.9 million women, and had managed to
     president and High Commissioner for            establish commercial and social linkages
     Human Rights Mary Robinson and former          that connected local activities to the
     US president Bill Clinton needs to be          wider national economy, and introduced
     reviewed again. Yet this acclaim may well      women to the experience of making real
     be an expression of relief from a sector       profits.
     that has been the target of much                   The poultry project story reveals another
     scepticism and is hungry for some positive     key ingredient of the BRAC approach: trial
     news. Ian Smillie’s Freedom from Want          and error. After the failure of a large-scale
     delivers that and more. Its tone and style     project in Sulla, Bangladesh, BRAC realized
     inspire hope in the reader.                    that, in Smillie’s words, ‘the constructive
        The book tells the captivating story of     dealing with error is much more important
     the Bangladeshi NGO BRAC (Building             than reliable adherence to an action plan’.      militarization of aid, which seems
     Resources Across Communities). Founded         Start small scale, conduct research, test,       somewhat out of place in a book that
     in 1972 by Fazle Hasan Abed, BRAC now          improve, retest and only then scale up. In       refers so little to this problem, and at a
     has at least 57,000 branches in countries      Abed’s words, ‘small is beautiful, but big is    time when donors have embraced an
     such as Uganda, Afghanistan and                necessary’.                                      integrated approach to security and
     Pakistan. Freedom from Want is an                  But BRAC did not only invest in its          development. Similarly unexpected, Smillie
     account of the organization, which             projects. ‘Development is not about              then begins singing a song of praise for
     through trial and error and a high dose of     buildings, it is about what goes on inside       human rights, stating, ‘Rights, including
     perseverance discovered what Smillie calls     buildings, and inside the heads of the people    legal rights, children’s rights, and rights for
     ‘the fallacies in standard approaches to       in the buildings’, Smillie writes. BRAC          women and for men, were the
     community development’.                        discovered the importance of investing in        cornerstones of long-term development’.
        Already in the early 1970s, BRAC            people. Instead of bringing people in from       This may cause the reader to wrongly
     realized that development was not about        abroad, BRAC recruited women from the            conclude that NGOs are correct to mobilize
     ‘getting bigger’, but about ‘how to make       villages and trained them to work as health      people to demand their rights. What this
     things different’, and how to change the       advisers, teachers or silk producers.            book shows instead is that, although
     patterns of power distribution that keep       Realizing that ‘the best way to keep the         human rights ‘conscientization’ is
     the poor poor. At a time when ‘gender’         best staff in absence of large salaries was to   important to raise people’s awareness and
     was anything but a buzzword, BRAC              ensure the greatest satisfaction possible’,      boost their confidence, real change is
     decided to focus on the economic               they sent promising young staff to obtain        about building different power structures
     empowerment of women. It did so by             masters degrees or PhDs at the world’s top       that link the poor to the wider world of
     launching, in 1975, a sustainable              universities. BRAC changed the lives of many     economic opportunities. BRAC’s country
                                                    people, not least those of its founders. It is   director in Uganda remarks that
                                                    these personal stories that make this book       microcredit is not a human right, but can,
     Annette Jansen is an independent               such a fulfilling read.                          if properly used, become a vehicle for
     humanitarian policy and advocacy adviser and       So is there anything negative to say         attaining human rights – thus reversing
     PhD student at the University of Amsterdam.    about the book? In his closing chapter,          the often heard logic that ‘rights precede
                                                    Smillie suddenly starts bashing the              development’.

10   www.thebrokeronline.eu
SPECIAL REPORT

The impact of web 2.0 on research practices

Social academia
Since the emergence of the web 15 years ago, information
and communication technologies (ICTs) have become
indispensable for most researchers. Email and online access
to public or restricted databases have become essential
tools, allowing academics to keep in touch with their peers
and up to date with the latest developments. Widely
dispersed research groups can now easily coordinate their
work online by means of Skype conference calls.
   Within some sections of the academic community there
is considerable hesitation to adopt web 2.0 applications for
social networking through blogs, wikis, twitter and sites
such as Facebook and YouTube. Granted, some academics,
including a few professors, now write personal blogs, but in
general, researchers seem reluctant to enter the realm of
social networks, and to start using web 2.0 tools for
producing collaborative reports, sharing work in progress or
publishing their results.
   There are perhaps three major obstacles. First, the formal
system of peer review to guarantee the quality of research
is at odds with the informal and much more open ways of
communicating via online social networks. The second
obstacle is the ‘publish or perish’ rule – researchers must
publish in peer-reviewed subscription journals in order to
further their academic careers. This does not fit well with
philosophy behind social networking that all knowledge
should be freely available. Finally, the ambition of all
researchers to publish their findings before anyone else, and
to secure potentially profitable intellectual property rights,
discourages them from sharing work in progress on
platforms that are open to all.
   In this special report, Janelle Ward examines two web 2.0
applications, blogs and wikis, that are slowly gaining
acceptance among academics. The Broker wishes to open a
discussion on the processes of generating and publishing
knowledge in the web 2.0 era. In particular, The Broker will
address whether the principles and applications of web 2.0
could contribute to greater inclusion and higher-quality
research or represent a distraction that may dilute the
quality of research, and whether a divide is in the making
between researchers of the web 2.0 generation and the
                                                                 ANP

academic establishment.

                                                                       The Broker   issue 15   August 2009   11
SPECIAL REPORT

     The challenges of social media

     Rewriting research
     A growing number of academics are using web 2.0 tools such as blogs
     and wikis to share their findings, discuss new developments, and find
     new ways for collaborative research. How does this open and informal
     medium fit with traditional academic processes? Although there are still
     some significant hurdles to be overcome, as well as doubts, web 2.0
     represents more than just a new technology. Its widespread use,
     including by academics, may offer solutions to many existing problems,
     as well as open up new prospects for communicating research.

     A     cademics have long operated within a system of
           peer-reviewed scholarship. The research process is seen
     as incomplete until a group of anonymous experts has
                                                                              Jill Walker of the University of Bergen, Norway, has
                                                                            identified three types of research blogs, noting that some are
                                                                            closer to traditional forms of academic publication than
     commented on and approved a paper prepared according to                others.1 Blogs of the first type are aimed at what she calls
     specific criteria. Only then can the work be published in an           public intellectuals, and are forums for social debate based
     academic journal. Publishing a piece of research in such a             on theories of political science, feminism, media analysis,
     way demonstrates the author’s legitimacy within a                      and so on. Blogs of the second type are used as research logs,
     community of scholars, and such publications are the basis             and serve as ‘a record of research conducted and ideas that
     for advancement in any academic field.                                 might be pursued’. Such blogs have traditional roots, and are
       But as academics embrace the opportunities offered by                similar to a sociologist’s notebook or a laboratory scientist’s
     web 2.0 applications for social networking, especially blogs           record of experiments. The third type includes
     and wikis, are they about to shake up this traditional                ‘pseudonymous blogs about academic life’ that frequently
     system?                                                                demonstrate ‘a tongue in cheek refusal to revere the ivory
                                                                            tower experience’. In such blogs, researchers tend not to
     Academic blogging                                                      focus on their work, but to discuss personal aspects of
     The term ‘web log’ was coined by blogging pioneer Jorn                 academic life.
     Barger, editor of the influential blog ‘Robot Wisdom’, who
     described it as a web page where a blogger ‘logs’ other web
     pages she finds interesting. They may be personal or group
     web pages that are regularly updated, often with fairly brief           Web 2.0: harnessing collective intelligence
     postings.                                                               Web 2.0 is a loose collection of ‘second-generation’ web-based
        Blogging is online self-publication, and a blog has a                technologies and services designed to facilitate collaboration and
     potential audience ranging from zero to millions. There is no           sharing between users. Web 2.0 applications include blogs and wikis,
     peer review, no editor, and spell checking is optional. But             as well as social networking sites such as twitter, YouTube and
     certain rules do govern the world of blogging, and there are            Facebook that encourage user-generated content.
     parallels between success in academia and success as a                     Web 2.0 is not about centralized control and static web pages;
     blogger. In order to examine the world of academic blogging,            rather, it sees users as co-developers and co-creators. Tim O’Reilly,
     it is first necessary to understand how such blogs are                  founder of O’Reilly Media, believes that the real value of web 2.0 tools
     constructed, who is blogging, and why.                                  lies in their ability to harness the collective intelligence of many
                                                                             individuals, which is the driving force behind Wikipedia. Other
                                                                             applications include RSS (really simple syndication), which allows users
     By Janelle Ward, assistant professor in the Department of Media and     to subscribe to a ‘feed’ from a website and automatically receive
     Communication at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.        updates to its content.

12   www.thebrokeronline.eu
SPECIAL REPORT
Alamy / Archives du 7ème

  Perhaps the most important function of academic blogs,                                        increasing opportunities for collaboration and providing a
says Adam Kotsko of the Chicago Theological Seminary, is                                        social outlet for members. The blogs were also used to make
that they fill a role analogous to the political blogs that link to                             research available to the public, often to obtain feedback.
and comment on particular news stories; that is, bringing                                       Academics do this by writing about their ongoing research,
new scholarly research to the attention of an interdisciplinary                                 sometimes in an attempt to improve the quality of their articles
audience.                                                                                       before submitting them for publication, or even afterwards. In
  While it is generally assumed that academic blogs are                                         June 2009, World Bank economist Charles Kenny posted the
written and maintained by individuals, there are also group                                     draft of a complete book on his blog, together with a request
blogs. A group blog can sometimes serve as a newsletter for                                     for comments and suggestions for improvement.
members of the blogging community, offering reviews of
recent articles and books, as well as spreading the word                                        Who are academic bloggers?
about conferences or grant opportunities.                                                       It is difficult to estimate how many academics are active
  In a recent study of 12 group blogs, María José Luzón of the                                  bloggers. Anecdotal information indicates that academic
University of Zaragoza, Spain, found that they served a                                         bloggers are a blend of researchers at the start of their
number of purposes, including publicizing the group and its                                     careers, mid-level professionals and ‘big shots’– tenured
research.1 They helped to create a sense of community,                                          professors with perhaps more to say and little to lose.

                 ResearchBlogging.org: beyond peer review?
                 One example of a successful blogging community is ResearchBlogging.               In a recent post, Dave Munger, the site administrator, discusses a
                 org, which ‘strives to identify serious academic blog posts about              number of scenarios regarding the criteria for blog posts published on
                 peer-reviewed research, with an aggregation site where others can look         the site. At present, all posts must discuss peer-reviewed research. This
                 to find the best academic blogging on the Net’.                                means that bloggers are not recognized (i.e. their content is not
                    Bloggers who wish to be included on the site register their blogs and       aggregated) for writing about research that has not been published in
                 select a variety of tags, or labels, describing their content (such as         formal academic journals. This presents an interesting conundrum, as
                 engineering, health, social sciences, etc.). The result is a large community   sites like Researchblogging.org want to make new research results
                 of academics often post summaries of recent research and add their             available to a wide community of scholars. When Munger opened the
                 own commentaries, which ResearchBlogging.org posts on its homepage.            discussion on twitter, some respondents offered enthusiastic support,
                 Because the site pools together knowledge from a variety of disciplines        while others expressed concerns about distinguishing preprints from
                 at a central location, it may be especially useful for those involved in       peer-reviewed research, and that the site’s overall mission might be
                 cross-disciplinary research.                                                   diluted.

                                                                                                                                                                                >

                                                                                                                                          The Broker   issue 15   August 2009   13
SPECIAL REPORT

       In 2007 Gina Walejko, of Northwestern University in                     one recent post she noted that ‘one of the responsibilities of a
     Chicago, carried out an online survey of US-based                         publicly paid academic is to participate in public debate. Yes,
     academic bloggers. In her sample, which was drawn from                    there should be ways to register blogging in a way that would
     the ‘blogroll’ (a list of links to other blogs) of the site               give us “points” when counting publications, and I am
     Crooked Timber, and excluded graduate students, Walejko                   certain this would propel Norwegian academics into a
     found that 50% of the 197 respondents were tenured; 57%                   blogging frenzy. No, I wouldn’t turn down the money if I
     were male; 44% worked in the humanities and only 14% in                   were paid for this. But yes, I am willing to do it, because it’s
     the social sciences.                                                      part of what I am supposed to do’.
       When asked why they blog, 91% of survey respondents
     said they were motivated by intellectual stimulation and                  Rewards of blogging
     discussion; 73% enjoyed the opportunity to test their ideas               Academic blogging efforts are currently not rewarded, at
     and share them with non-academics; and 64% were                           least not officially. Academics are paid and promoted on the
     interested in building an online community.1 Clearly,                     basis of articles published in quality, peer-reviewed journals
     academics see benefits to their blogging that go beyond                   with a high impact factor. Individual blogs are in many ways
     traditional academic rewards, such as obtaining feedback on               just the opposite. But there are clear indications that online
     their research ideas, and creating a network of like-minded               writing may increase the quality of research and can result in
     scholars across the globe.                                                a dedicated network of scholars.
       The focus of academic blogging often goes beyond                          For example, Julia Davies of the University of Sheffield,
     research itself, to look at the struggles of academic life. This          UK, and Guy Merchant have identified several themes in
     personal level of writing can help to create a support                    relation to academic blogging. They believe that the process
     community. The Chronicle of Higher Education, a magazine                  of hyperlinking and allowing others to contribute content
     and website for US academics, for example, has compiled a                 works to strengthen group membership. ‘Through blogrolls,
     selection of blogs that it describes as featuring ‘occasional             bloggers can stake out an interest, an identity and even
     discussions about academic life, careers and the job market’.             loyalties to others; through blogrolls, a certain “character”
       Other academics see their online contributions as part of               for the blog can be established’. If so, then blogging holds
     their work, regardless of whether their employers encourage               real promise. Not only could it change the type of output
     the activity. Torill Mortensen, of Volda College, Norway,                 that is expected of academics, but it might also help to
     describes the contents of her blog as ‘media studies, reader-             improve the quality of their research by exposing their ideas
     response theory, role-play games, Internet culture, travel,               to a broader audience.
     academic weirdness and online communication put together                    Thus far, however, there is no solid evidence that blogs are
     at random’. Mortensen provides links to her online articles               having a real impact in the academic world. There is also
     and encourages colleagues to participate in the dialogue. In              very little information available about the individuals who
                                                                               read and comment on blogs, and what conditions lead to
                                                                               success – however that is defined. Statistics are hard to come
                                                                               by. Although scholars have attempted to sample various
       Benefits and risks of blogging                                          academic disciplines, there has been no global or national
       At a meeting in 2004, academics and industry representatives            study that has examined this issue. At the same time, the
       identified the following benefits and risks of academic blogging:       practice of blogging has gained wide attention, and many
       Benefits                                                                believe that it is helping to bring about positive changes in
       • speed of publication (and dissemination)                             the academic world.
       • spontaneity                                                            But blogging isn’t the only writing tool that has the
       • the ability to publish (and receive feedback on) work in progress    potential to change academic practice. Another possibility is
       • bloggers can use their own personal voice, and speak informally      writing collaboratively, and some academics are already
          about their work                                                     using online tools to cooperate in new ways.
       • blogging bypasses the editorial process
       • reports on work in progress and articles can be made widely          Wise groups
          available for peer review                                            Collaborative writing, by definition, requires that scholars
       • scholars can establish connections with others                       work together. Can web 2.0 applications give rise to a new
       • a blog becomes a searchable archive of ideas/observations that can   form of collaborative writing? Co-authorship is part of
          be used or developed later.                                          normal academic practice, but traditional writing culture
       Risks                                                                   may not support this type of bottom-up approach to
       • by sharing information about their work before it is published,      knowledge gathering. What online opportunities exist for
          researchers risk having their ideas attacked or even stolen          academics to collaborate in the writing process? Although
       • blogging may damage a researcher’s credibility                       a wide variety of open source tools are already available,
       • blogging takes time, perhaps at the expense of more traditional      including online editors and file sharing, synchronization
          research activities.                                                 and storage services, this section focuses on the use of
                                                                               wikis.

14   www.thebrokeronline.eu
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