Volume 42 Number 5
Published: September 1, 2011
Policymaking on development in Malawi has long taken place in a heavily government, NGO and donor‐run system. Policymakers are invariably informed by the usual types of evidence from established sources, which reinforce existing agendas. Online communities present a free space, bringing together a spectrum of people and perspectives in a setting where debates can evolve, are continuously updated and interaction is key. This space can provide a fertile environment for ideas, knowledge and evidence that can create new agendas and develop existing ones in innovative ways. This article examines the role of the Malawi Development Exchange (MDE) as provider of an open space for development discourse. We assert that the online space is highly conducive to exploring a wide range of idea and value shifts, and to encountering alternatives that are less constrained and could be more challenging to the status quo than those generated by engagement in formal forums.