For anyone – UN or NGO aid worker, policy analyst, researcher, journalist, donor, private sector – serious about being effective, the Peace and Collaborative Development Network (PCDN) is more than just an information tool, writes Edward Girardet. It is a resource site that has come a far way to bringing together different groups and individuals focusing on international development, conflict resolution, human rights, social entrepreneurship and other related interests.

As a journalist and writer, who hates wasting his time with meaningless Twitter, Facebook or website links, I find it a highly useful if not indispensable site. With over 25,000 members, the PCDN Network is currently receiving about 300,000 hits a month. I have recommended it to numerous others.

On joining some months back (I am one of the less than 2.2 percent who decided to make a small financial contribution once it became clear that PCDN is well worth supporting), I initially cursed Craig Zelizer for bombarding me with six or seven email alerts a day of his latest postings. These range from professional blogs, fellowship/scholarship programmes, training opportunities, interviews, conferences, art events, new books and other publications, films, videos and photographs, plus the latest on different research projects and discussions of conflict regions.

But then I discovered that at least one or two items were always of particular interest to me or my work. Or to someone else I know. So now I simply delete what is not relevant and follow up on what is. The PCDN site also has a highly valuable Key Resources Guide, which I regularly check into. While I haven’t got time for the chat sessions, I do find myself glancing at the various discussion fora, which explore different experiences from the field.

I am writing this because Craig Zelizer, whom I have never met, is doing a superb job by bringing together these diverse players bound by similar interests. In other words, he is providing a service that offers a better understanding of what is happening in the field of development and conflict resolution. Zelizer has also created a site, which deserves far better backing. He obviously puts a lot of time into this effort and relies primarily on volunteers and interns to help him. For this reason, as an editor of The Essential Edge, which aims at locally and internationally related audiences, I consider it worthwhile promoting here. It is also a site that Geneva-based internationals will find useful.

Many of us today have become utterly spoiled with the notion of receiving quality content for nothing. The emerging reality, however, is that such free services are already beginning to disappear with the good ones, which do not benefit from endowments or other forms of financial backing, charging for content. Sadly, however, some of the good ones are also disappearing because they can’t afford to continue.

If we want quality, whether good journalism or invaluable networking, we’re going to have to pay for it. So why not start supporting those initiatives, such as the PCDN, that could use our help, particularly if we’re going to benefit from them. Zelizer still plans to provide free access to those who can’t afford it, but is hoping to raise member support to about 40 percent. Check it out, see what you think, and if you like it, join it.

For more information, go to: