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Hi all,
A busy week with #LintonLies going viral is coming to an end...but other interesting things happened as well, for example Madonna visiting an orphanage in Malawi ;)...

Development news:
BBC on humanitarian broadcasting; the complexities of Nepalis working in Afghanistan; cash-transfers in humanitarian situations; more fundraising is the best capacity building; Some evidence why ‘Rationalia’ may not be our dream state.

Our digital lives:
Recent U.S. police killings and powerlessness of social media; add to your critical dictionary: ‘empathy-washing’; Twiplomacy also works offline; analyzing Instagram images 
 
Publications:
Development by Numbers & technology for evaluations in fragile states

Academia:
A reflective essay on a writer’s year on the road; theorizing academic identity in the digital age. 
 
Enjoy!


New from aidnography

#LintonLies: How Zambians Are Using Social Media To Talk Back

I spoke to Zambian writers about Louise Linton's book in my latest piece for NPR's 'Goats & Soda' development blog; a proper book review of her memoir is also in the pipeline!

Development news


A Warm Welcome at Home Of Hope Orphanage in Michingi 💛 Malawi the Warm Heart of Africa 🌝❤️🇲🇼🇲🇼🇲🇼 pic.twitter.com/1CCDIghkut

— Madonna (@Madonna) July 7, 2016

Celebrities-they seem to be immune to learning and reflection...

How My Dream Gap Year In Europe Turned Into A Nightmare

Needing to escape my idyllic Zambian childhood, and hoping to do good work in faraway places, I’d accepted a position as a volunteer at a commercial fishing lodge in Cornwall.
Gena-mour Barrett and Hannah Jewell with one of the best responses to #LintonLies...the perils of volunteering in Cornwall-with looming #Brexit one of those distant corners of Europe where unrest and underdevelopment could be witnessed soon :)!

How can humanitarian broadcasting help support recovery from crises?

In this short film, the report’s author, Theo Hannides, expands on the challenges for development researchers in measuring the efficacy of media interventions. She also explains what this report contributes to the evidence base around information and communication, which is used by the media development sector – as well as the wider development sector – when designing humanitarian responses.
More on BBC Media Action's work in humanitarian broadcasting.

Caught in Kabul

Based upon this work it is clear that certainly no less than 50,000 Nepalis have worked in Afghanistan over the past 15 years. And it was striking how for the majority of those I interviewed, working in Afghanistan was an extremely positive experience. Most companies paid well, the work was fairly easy compared to construction jobs in the Gulf and workers sent money home to build houses, set up businesses and send their kids to school.
(...)
If anything, given market inequalities and the growing internationalisation of conflict, security and other contracting companies are likely to continue to exploit Nepali workers. This tragic attack in Kabul last month should serve as a wake-up call for the governments of Nepal, Canada, the US and the other countries who fund these contractors to better protect the lives and rights of those working in conflict zones.
Noah Coburn with a nuanced piece around Nepali labor migration to Afghanistan; a common theme is that authorities in Nepal need to step up there came rather than simply banning Nepalis from working in Afghanistan.

The Other Side of the Coin: The Comparative Evidence of Cash and In-Kind Transfers in Humanitarian Situations

In other words, the appropriateness of transfers cannot be predetermined and should emerge from response analysis that considers program objectives, the level of market functionality, predicted cost-effectiveness, implementation capacity, the management of key risks such as on protection and gender, political economy, beneficiary preferences, and resource availability. Finally, it seems possible (and necessary) to reconcile humanitarian imperatives with solid research to inform decision-making, especially on dimensions beyond food security.
Unfortunately, ReliefWeb's summary of a new WorldBank report on cash transfers turn an 'it depends' answer into a slightly convoluted example of development-speak...

What Foundations Are Missing About Capacity Building

In other words, only fundraising has the ability to create more money, not just for programs, but even for the other elements of capacity building. So if you really want to maximize funding for capacity-building, fund fundraising instead of funding the other elements of capacity.
(...)
But a foundation not understanding fundraising is like a venture capital firm not understanding sales.
I'm not surprised about the article-this is the Harvard Business Review after all...Dan Pallotta makes another 'there actually is a magic bullet' suggestion when we all know that there never will be one and that fundraising does not simply build more, better and greater capacity. File under: 'Links I don't like'...

A rational nation ruled by science would be a terrible idea

There has always been a hope, especially as elites became less religious, that science would do more than simply provide a means for learning about the world around us. Science should also teach us how to live, pointing us towards the salvation that religion once promised.
(...)
Yet it’s simply galling that a person who can recognise the difficulties of studying social life somehow doesn’t connect those same challenges to their philosophical and political implications. If simply studying sociology is complex, governing society with it is anything but simple. Science is not straightforward – as Tyson himself admits. Our interpretation of it simply requires insights and wisdom well beyond what science can provide.
Jeffrey Guhin challenges Neil deGrasse Tyson's vision of a country called 'Rationalia' where evidence-based live is taken to the next level...

Our digital lives
For Philando Castile, Social Media Was the Only 911

In that moment, Facebook was Reynolds’ only recourse. And that’s scary. Because no matter how much social media has done to raise public awareness about these tragedies, it still falls so short. Comments and posts and shares and retweets couldn’t come to the rescue when Reynolds and Castile needed it most. And virality alone isn’t admissible in court. As Castile lay dying, he and his family could not rely on anything else. Social media was all they had, and all that social media could offer them was an outlet for outrage, fear, and mourning.
Issie Lapowsky on power and powerlessness of social media.

Beware the ‘empathy-washing’ of self-proclaimed caring capitalists

In reality, the technological euphoria spawned by the refugee crisis suggests that we update the list of clever co-optation efforts that arise from compassionate capitalism –from “greenwashing” for fake ecological commitments to “openwashing” for fake transparency pledges – with yet another term: “empathy-washing”. It seems apt to describe growing corporate efforts to hijack humanitarian crises in order to tout corporate commitment to humanitarianism. Empathy-washing initiatives create the false impression that the crisis is under control, with individual ingenuity, finally unlocked by privatised technologies, compensating for the rapidly deteriorating situation on the ground.
Evgeny Morozov, smart as ever, introduces another term to look out for in the future.

Twiplomacy visualized: Yes, they talk with each other. Analysis, insight and consequences.

Overall and in the end Twiplomacy (the Irantalks) are not only visualized but it turned out, that the Twitter network and its actors (their communication) do reflect real life politics and discussions.
Consequently, Twitter is not only a tool and platform to pursue political goals and spread a message to selected actors and policy makers but also a very strong analytical tool that can be used to obtain information and (/through) analyses if used right.
Interesting food for thought from Robin Hörrmann on how Twiplomacy reflects 'real' political dynamics and foreign policy debates.

Instagram and Contemporary Image

Millions of people around the world today use digital tools and platforms to create and share sophisticated cultural artifacts. This book focuses on one such platform: Instagram. It places Instagram image culture within a rich cultural and historical context, including history of photography, cinema, graphic design, and social media, contemporary design trends, music video, and k-pop. At the same it uses Instagram as a window into the identities of first truly global generation connected by common social media platforms, programming languages, and visual aesthetics. The book also demonstrates how humanistic close reading and computational analysis of large datasets can work together by drawing on the work in Manovich's lab with 16 million Instagram photos shared in 17 large cities worldwide since 2012.
Lev Manovich's new open access ebook is already on my desk-looks really fascinating!

Hot off the digital press

Development by Numbers - A primer

How good are the numbers? This paper provides a review of the data quality in the most  important databases on economic development. It discusses the provenance and quality of the observations in the  data sets and equips data users with a guide to judge data quality. The adequacy of the most influential databases is assessed, and the paper furnishes guidance on how to use and how not to use the numbers. The paper explains the sources of the data, and highlights the most serious gaps in our knowledge about
economic development. The paper discusses different methods of gauging data quality and whether or not we can assert a margin of error to different data and databases
Morten Jerven with a new paper for the Development Research Institute.

Technology for Evaluation in Fragile and Conflict Affected States: An Introduction for the Digital Immigrant Evaluator

Technology is the new normal. Whether one works in humanitarian response to conflict, good governance, anti-corruption or peacebuilding, technology is being incorporated in ever increasing and innovative ways. The field of evaluation is no different. This paper lays out a 5-step decision filter for the experienced evaluator to effectively navigate the inclusion of technology.
New paper from Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church and Aditi G. Patel on tech, evaluation and fragile environments.

Academia

The Year of Numbered Rooms

It was a year of loneliness and long flights and spectacular good fortune, a year of numbered rooms and standing behind podiums. “Culture,” I told the audience, “is an antidote to chaos,” although that year the chaos seemed exceptionally strong. It was a year of mass shootings, of blinking back tears in airport lounges beneath televisions tuned to CNN, of reading about new massacres in hotel rooms at night. The violence that year was stunning and constant and it was easy to conclude that it would never end. But every day of the tour, in seven countries, I met people who cared about life, about civilization, about books, and by the end of the tour this seemed to me to be a reasonable antidote to despair.
A very thoughtful essay by writer Emily St. John Mandel that combines many topics currently discussed in academia, from traveling (too much), to conferencing and what 'public scholarship' means.

Digital selves, digital scholars: Theorising academic identity in online spaces

For scholars, considerations of public identity are especially critical, as academia functions in many ways as a reputational economy (Willinsky, 2010). Thus, while concerns over digital footprint are widespread amongst the general population, they become particularly pressing for academics, but avoiding digital spaces entirely is increasingly a non-viable option as institutions of higher education expand into digital domains. As well, there are many affordances made possible by various forms of digital scholarship (Veletsianos and Kimmons, 2012). Many scholars are therefore tasked with the necessity of navigating a digital culture that is quick to judge and reluctant to forgive.
Katia Hildebrandt and Alec Couros with a new open access paper in the new open access Journal of Applied Theory.

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