The age of uselessness

Development Policy06 Sep 2010Pepijn Jansen

What did you do today?I wrote a text and did some editing.

What is the text about?The text is a sort of guideline for organizations on how to deal with knowledge.

Do they not know how to deal with knowledge?Well… I guess they do. But maybe I know better.

And what makes you think you know better?I don’t think so. I try to believe so. More importantly: they need to believe so because that’s how I make my money.

Aha. And why do you want to make money?So I can buy my daily bread.

Can’t you bake your own bread?No. I don’t know how, and I don’t have the time to learn how.

Why don’t you make some time to do so?Because I have to work… I have to show other people how to learn.

So you don’t have time to learn because other people need to learn? Who are these people anyway?They are with some development organization.

I see… why would they want to learn how to deal with knowledge?Well… in this case they need to learn how to deal with knowledge so they can help other people learn to deal with knowledge. I sort of tell them how to learn to learn to know how to learn knowledge… or something like that.

Right… at least you can show them! Yep…

And why do the… erm… well let’s call them the beneficiaries of all this… why do they need to learn?They need to learn from each other how to deal with polluted and contested water areas.

Okay, that sounds reasonable. Why is the water contested?It is contested because everybody wants water. They need it to drink and to grow grain to bake bread.

So why then is it polluted?It is polluted because everybody pollutes water.

Wait… everybody? So you also contributed to this water pollution? Why would you do that?Well… I guess because I drive a car and eat bread that is baked using grain from those areas.

Why is the grain grown over there?Because it’s cheaper. Because over there, the water can get polluted without us complaining. And they can’t complain because we don’t want them to complain. We don’t want them to have a voice, because even though we say we do, we obviously act against it. Also, the people over there don’t have cars to go to work so that’s cheaper, too.

And why do you drive a car?To go to work and buy my bread…