Showing posts from March, 2011

Publishing books vs. the modern world II - The Ebook post

A few months ago I shared some musings, based on my initial experiences with blogging, about writing and publishing in an academic context .  The main point was that the current academic system supports a publication model that ensures high profits for (academic) publishers, but that does not do much in terms of sharing knowledge, starting debates or helping academic writing to get feedback from the ‘real world’ - vital for research on international development, anthropology or any other social science. In the end, there is often an expensive hardcover book that is difficult to order and while many complain that such books are basically ending up on library shelves, they are ending up on library shelves without much notice other than by the library accountant who oversees an ever-dwindling budget for acquisitions. A few days ago I read a long and insightful interview with Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath on Ebooks and self-publishing . They are outlining some of the key challenges

Does Twitter kill compassion? An academic institution struggles with the right response to the catastrophes in Japan

A few days ago a colleague of a development studies institute sent out a message to the postgraduate student community about responding to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. He is an academic expert on disaster preparedness issues and he wrote a short message, cautioning people not to make rushed decisions regarding donations and also to think about long-term responses to such crises. Sending money immediately may not be the best choice. What I found a bit ambiguous was that he had a small advertisement for his latest book in his email signature and with bad intentions you may have been reading this as an indirect book promotion. But the tone of the email was appropriate, reflective and cautionary – the sort of writing I would have done and I felt perfectly appropriate for a message that goes out to a 200+ audience. It also reflected the ton of discussions in my online network. Since then, his message has sparked quite a debate and in a follow-up message he explains that he has r

Do we need an MA in Social Media for International Development & Change?

As with most short, catchy headlines the answer is probably ‘Well, I am not so sure...’ Me neither. And I do not really mean a fulltime MA programme dedicated to social media in the context of international development and social change. But I do think that social media should play a more prominent role in the development studies curriculum. The example of Northwestern University’s cooperation with businesses ( Here, Tweeting is a class requirement ) to tap into the creative potential of marketing students is very interesting and made me think about the potential and limitations of a similar cooperation between development organisations and the departments that teach an increasing number of students who want to work ‘in development’. I will start from a more conservative point of view – meaning from a point of view that the strengths of development studies courses lie elsewhere and social media may only be a trending add-on. But I also want to share a few more forward-lookin