Links & Contents I Liked 50

Hello all,

Welcome to the 50th anniversary post of my weekly link review!

Before I jump to the 'business as usual' part, I'd like to say thank you to all of you for visiting and re-visiting this humble effort and sharing great stuff. What I did not fully realize at the start almost a year ago was that a commented link review is actually quite a bit of work. However, I will continue to comment and share 'purposefully' rather than just dropping off a bunch of links.

As always, I like to hear from you - about great new blogs, topics I keep missing or shout outs of how enjoyable these weekly posts are ;)

Enjoy the next 50 weeks!

New on aidnography
OLPC in Ethiopia: The thin line between digital innovation, cargo cult and peoples on parade

Development

Maps before maps


Amanda Uren has a fun collection of map-like scans from the 11th century. Some of them are geographic, but most of them are more like rough sketches of how the individual saw the area the image represents. It's like those stereotype maps that people like to make, except no one's trying to be funny.
After all these maps about the U.S. election (CNN's 'magic wall' made Tom Cruise in 'Minority Report' almost look old-fashioned ;) a great review of maps from other parts of the world!

The UN High Level panel on post-2015: new goals for old?

The moderator responded by chiding the questioner for being less disciplined than others had been. You’d think it was extraordinary but actually – back to my bilious feeling – it’s par for the course. The questioner was trying to connect issues into a whole; the previous more “disciplined” (as in “house trained”) contributions from the floor had been on the disparate issues, right where development NGOs tend to have their comfort zone.
Interesting reflections from Dan Smith on NGO contributions to the UN High Level panel on post-2015 development goals. Rather than a critique of NGOs, his post indicated to me how little value such big, invited meetings have on actually informing, let alone influencing, UN policy.

I Am Not the Local, You’re the ForeignerAn Open Letter to Foreigners in Palestine

Speaking of humility, it seems to be severely lacking in the world of international NGOs and endless foreign funding. To be frank, to this day, no one has been saved. Palestine is still occupied, and poverty has reached a whole new level. There is no peace, just fake suit meetings that result in long agreements that are better off in a shredder, so forgive me if I sound too harsh, but where do you get off?
(...)
So next time you sit to talk about the locals, remember this: being a saviour will not set you free. We are not darker smiling victims for you to take a Facebook photo with, your dance/art/photography/communication workshops will not give me Yaffa back (nor will it ever make me forget), and no matter what Ivy League school you went to, if you fail to talk to me in my own language, and with respect, I will not take you seriously.

And finally, we throw big lunches for you not because you’re foreign, but because we are generous, and we make amazing food.
Yours truly,
Tala
No further comment necessary...

Juba: An old Jo'burg

Juba, on a Monday morning, spews diesel from thousands of Toyota Land Cruisers, their logos testimony to the baffling phalanx of aid organisations nudging the world’s newest nation into being. Flying over the city brings to mind images of Johannesburg in 1890 – a flung-together, hodge-podge camp made almost entirely of canvas, corrugated iron and mud.
But on closer inspection, Juba is less unformed than it appears. We have never seen an aid orgy like this one – not in Kabul, not in eastern DRC, nowhere.
And a view from the 'newest' capital of a state...

The Blurry Line Between Fact and Fiction in The Ambassador

The Ambassador features Brügger posing as a wealthy businessman who wants to gain diplomatic status to the Central African Republic (CAR) in order to access the nation's nefarious diamond trade. He employs hidden cameras to record conversations about how he can purchase a diplomatic ambassadorship and ends up working with one many to become the Liberian ambassador to the CAR.
Tom Murphy reminded me that I need to watch The Ambassador soon!

Crowd-sourcing your experiences about the Results Agenda

We invite you to visit our survey link, and give us your experiences, positive and negative! The survey invites stories, shorter fragments or snippets of experiences, and poll responses. All information will be confidential, all questions are optional, and nothing will be shared unless you agree. To subscribe to the Big Push Forward or to give support, please see the sidebar.
Everyone agrees that the development sector must use the public and charitable funds it receives as effectively as possible for the benefit of people living in poverty. The question is whether the reforms of the results agenda have enabled this, or hindered it, or a bit of both? (By the results agenda, we mean here the intensification of institutional practices requiring the use of evaluations and evidence on results for the planning and management of aid, and a parallel tightening of what constitutes valid evidence). The survey launched today seeks to collect some of the sector’s experiences on this.
Interesting project and survey that will hopefully get some momentum next year.

Philanthropy Turned to Short-Term, Project Funding During the Recession

No matter where I go in this great country of ours, when I’m talking with leaders of nonprofit organizations, I hear regularly about their intense frustration with grantmakers that are unwilling to provide unrestricted general operating support and multi-year grants.

“Don’t they have any faith in our work? Must they micromanage/dictate everything? Do they think they know this community/field better than we do?” they ask.

I wish that the latest research from NCRP’s crack research and policy staff had some good news for them, but it does not.
Sad to see a problem that has been around in the international aid industry for as long as I have been studying it is now encroaching in other philanthropic sectors

Three ways Millennials can develop a career that makes a difference – lessons from Net Impact, part I

Realize your career moves in stages: When we’re just starting out, it’s easy to invest in our first job, as though this is the make-or-break move in our careers. Sometimes this belief paralyzes us from simply trying new things and gaining experience. However, Ashley Jablow, Community Manager at IDEO reminded the audience that our careers evolve and move in stages. Your first job is not the end or even the beginning of your career and you will encounter this omg-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life feeling again.
A series of blog posts that touches on many challenges and issues that are very applicable to the aid industry.

Living with intrapreneurs

To keep being successful, organisations have to do two things at the same time: Look after the current engine and develop the engine of the future. The problem is that these activities demand different sorts of people working in different sorts of ways within different cultural frameworks. This is why intrapreneurs are so vital for the health of an organisation and why they annoy so many people all at the same time.
Another post that is relevant to the aid business, but not directly related to 'development'. My, slightly rhetorical, question is whether large, traditional aid organizations have the capacities to engage with 'intrapreneurs' and what that says about how 'future proofed' they actually are.

It's Time for the Poor to Come Out of the Plutocracy's Closet of Shame

As a college-educated, heterosexual, white, male American citizen I know something about (unearned) privilege. But being poor - for the last three years our family of five has lived on, and continues to live on, well under $30,000 annually - has also taught me that a social analysis that ignores economic standing is doomed to draw incomplete conclusions. In many situations, being poor diminishes these previously mentioned privileges
(...)
The time has come for poor people to stop letting other people speak for, and about, them; to stop letting others define who they are. Poor Americans need to look to black and gay pride movements. Thinkers like Malcolm X pointed out that it wasn't enough to change the political conditions of a people; subjugated people also had to stop viewing themselves through the lens of dominant culture, had to shake stereotyped, degrading visions of themselves that they had too often internalized.

To put it plainly, the time has come for poor people to have a coming out of the plutocratic closet of shame. Being broke is nothing to be ashamed of. What is shameful is that so many are degraded by precisely those who rely upon their labor.
A great piece that touches on many issues that regularly show up in my weekly link review. Questions of voice, poverty and 'third world America' as well as issues around poverty and academics. They are a reminder on how social justice is a global project and why we need critical analysis and spaces to explore them - even if it is just a blog...

Remote internships at think tanks: Research, Outreach, and Diplomacy

By offering remote, home-based internships think tanks can fill a niche and not only offer valuable experience to bright and committed young people, but draw tremendous benefits that build research, outreach and diplomacy capacity of the institution and host country itself.
Linked to career and work-related issues, the Institute of Advanced Development Studies (INESAD) in Bolivia introduces an interesting program that seems to have a strong 'win-win' component attached to it, even if remote internships are not 'perfect'...

Spanish NGO uses blogging to link donors with Latin American recipients

A pilot scheme, Vidas en Directo (Lives live), seeks to make that connection more immediate and personal, as well as conveying the impact of sponsorship. A deepening in the relationship, Ayuda en Accion hopes, will reverse the trend in declining sponsorships. The pilot involves training communities to communicate with their sponsors through a weekly blog. Ayuda en Accion has picked five communities, four in Honduras and one in Bolivia, where groups of young people have been posting occasional entries for the past six months.
"We want people to communicate directly without intermediaries," says Esther Alonso, head of organisation and projects. "That improves accountability, brings more transparency, works on their technical capacities and empowers them."
Sounds great! My only question is why it took so long to conceive such a project...send blog posts not 'gifts' around the world ;)!

Academia

Doctoral Writing SIG


Doctoral Writing SIG is a forum where people who are interested in doctoral writing can come together to share information, resources, ideas, dreams (perhaps even nightmares!) in a spirit of building knowledge and skills around higher degree research writing.
You might be supporting research students in doctoral writing or ‘academic literacies’, or be a researcher in this field. You could be a research student supervisor or a person who is responsible for professional development of these people. You might even be a research student yourself.
Whatever your official role or title, what matters in this community is a common interest in doctoral writing.
Great new project and well worth a visit!

All about MOOCs


But perhaps the biggest stumbling block for MOOCs is the lack of an accreditation system. While the major providers offer a certificate to students who successfully complete a class, none, as yet, offers credits that count towards a degree. Until that happens, labour markets have no means of evaluating the value of such courses and relegate them to the realm of continuing education, Dr. Siemens says.
On the other side of the ledger, there’s another problem: none of the providers has devised a way of making money from MOOCs although they have floated some ideas. Coursera and edX are thinking about charging a modest fee to issue non-credit certificates. Coursera has speculated that it could act as a headhunter, supplying names of its top performing students to potential employers; Udacity already does so. “This is something we believe employers would be very willing to pay for,” says Dr. Ng.
Interesting review of the Massive Open Online Course hype. Hopefully, I will find some time soon to write something meaningful with regard to MOOCs and development studies teaching and learning...

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