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Hello all,

The development blogosphere was dominated with Kony 2012 discussions. WhyDev's 'Reader's digest of Kony 2012' is still an excellent starting place to catch up with the debate. I presented and discussed '#Kony2012, social media & the ethics of DIY development' with University of King's College journalism students, focussing on the dilemmas of engaging with a single, powerful and unrefutable narrative, every campaigners dream, what happens once you start asking questions and what the implications may be for a new breed of DIY aid initiatives and philantropical endeavours.

And before I'll turn to the more 'mundane' finds on development and academia, I would encourage you to watch 'The Governance Gap', a documentary that is part of my IDS colleague Marjoke Oosterom's doctoral research:

The Governance Gap (2011) is a documentary about the legacy of the LRA conflict in the Acholi region of Uganda. It tells the story of Nighty, a woman who survived the conflict and displacement camps. It also shows the life of Michal, whose home area is located just outside the LRA affected area. He never experienced war and his community was not displaced. The film shows their different experiences at present and in Nighty's case the invisible effects of war; how it undermines people's capacities and voice, and local democracy.

24.8% of population earn less than US$1.25 a day in Nepal

Congratulations (major credit to remitters and very little credit to policymakers and governments) for such a remarkable feat in reducing poverty. Here is a country where you can have encouraging poverty reduction with a miserable growth rate of below 4 percent!
A quarter of Nepalis still earns less than $1.25/day. The rate was more than 50% only about 10 years ago. A lot of the credit must go to the Gulf states, especially Saudi-Arabia, where an estimated 700,000 Nepali work. Not unlike Africa where Gulf states have been buying/leasing huge areas of fertile land, Nepal has become an exporter of man- and woman-power. So on the one hand, traditional development aid is no longer the driver for change and poverty reduction, on the other hand, there will be difficuly discussions in the future about the longer term impact of labour migration, the situation of migrants in Gulf states and potentiually detrimental effects on Nepal's development beyond income and poverty statistics.

Development Hoax: Some Field Notes!

I symbolize development of Nepal as a hoax because development here, has been highly acclaimed as a failure and especially in rural areas aid has not been a component for the development of poor, marginalized and excluded people

Interesting observations from rural Nepal...the story behind the picture I posted recently (A picture says more than...what development in Nepal looks like)

New Ways of Seeing Japanese Aid

I suppose I was surprised because I don’t come into contact with many Japanese researchers or policymakers. Partly this is me needing to broaden my horizons, but partly it is a kind of invisibility borne of the modesty of the Japanese development community. In one of my seminars, someone asked me how Japanese ODA appeared outside of Japan. I answered that from my perspective Japanese aid was certainly low key, and that it was difficult to get a grip on what its comparative advantage is, outside of the traditional emphasis on infrastructure
Interestring reflections by IDS Director Lawrence Haddad on his recent meetings with the Japanese development community

Theories of Change: Breaking out of the Results Agenda

A couple of weeks ago, someone phoned me from a large INGO to explain that his organisation was under increasing pressure from its government donor to ‘do a ToC’ in its funding proposal. ToC had become an additional mandatory results-based management tool constraining the INGO’s partners from designing projects based on their own strategic decisions.
There is a good case for organizations in an alliance to agree to use two or more different approaches on the basis of political contingency and the positionality of those involved. I am dubious about any organisation having a single ToC that applies in all and every circumstance. That is just performing for the RBM machine. It is not about usefully working with others for social transformation.
I realise that IDS is featured quite heavily in this week's post, but Rosalind Eyben's post on the dangers of turning 'theory/theories of change' into yet another managerial 'tool' is well worth a read.

Tomorrow’s Power of Knowledge

What will it take for us as development actors to contribute to adequate answers to the key challenges of tomorrow? We will have to be good at what we do – no doubt about this – thematically, methodologically, strategically. But this will not be sufficient. We will increasingly have to draw on all relevant available knowledge, from within the organisation we work for, but even more from outside (from other federal departments, from NGO partners, multilateral organizations, and private actors).
I am a loyal reader of SDC's Learning and Networking Blog. Not because it's the most exciting, ground-breaking or surprising blog, but mostly because I really like the idea that organisations share honest reflections with the wider world (although a link to the background paper on 'International Cooperation of Switzerland 2025' would have been perfect...). I like the latest post because it's honest: The world is going to be complicated - and we don't and won't have all the answers.

How TED Makes Ideas Smaller

But the ideas spread through TED, of course, aren't just ideas; they're branded ideas. Packaged ideas. They are ideas stamped not just with the imprimatur of the TED conference and all (the good! the bad! the magical! the miraculous!) that it represents; they're defined as well -- and more directly -- by the person, which is to say the persona, of the speaker who presents them. It's not just "the filter bubble"; it's Eli Pariser on the filter bubble. It's not just the power of introversion in an extrovert-optimized world; it's Susan Cain on the power of introversion. And Seth Godin on digital tribes. And Malcolm Gladwell on spaghetti sauce marketing. And Chris Anderson on the long tail.
A TED talk, at this point, is the cultural equivalent of a patent: a private claim to a public concept. With the speaker, himself, becoming the manifestation of the idea. And so: In the name of spreading a concept, the talk ends up narrowing it. Pariser's filter bubble. Anderson's long tail. We talk often about the need for narrative in making abstract concepts relatable to mass audiences; what TED has done so elegantly, though, is to replace narrative in that equation with personality. The relatable idea, TED insists, is the personal idea. It is the performative idea. It is the idea that strides onstage and into a spotlight, ready to become a star.
When I was reading the article again, I began to realise that this may be the best Kony 2012 critique that hasn't been written on that topic. I am glad to see some critical reflections on TED emerging - partly because it has been playing quite a significant role in development and humanitarian circles. But there is also a striking similarity to the Kony 2012 campaign: Finding Kony is now the 'trademark' of an organisation called Invisible Children...and it tells you a lot of how important self-marketing has become to establish yourself, your ideas and products as a 'brand'. Great food for thought!

'World-Class' vs. Mass Education

But the issue of whether developing nations should emphasize excellence or access as they build and strengthen their higher education systems undergirded much of the discussion of the three-day event, flaring at times into sharp disagreement among the attendees over "the extent to which the emerging world should be part of the educational arms race," says Simon Marginson, a professor of higher education at the University of Melbourne.
Different observers would define that race differently, and with varying degrees of sympathy and scorn. But in general, most experts on higher education would equate it with the push to have institutions in the top of worldwide rankings (or "league tables," as they're called in much of the world) -- rankings dominated by criteria such as research funding and student selectivity as opposed to measures that emphasize democratic student access.
Great segue into the Academic section ;)!


What is a "fake" conference?

But I object to the universities spending the meager travel budget on trips to fancy places that produce publications that do not contribute to furthering science. I object to conferences that do not do more than a cursory check on the papers, accepting pretty much anything accompanied by a check. And I object to the explosion of papers, especially the mini ones often found at such conferences that often just rehash was was published elsewhere or was not publishable at all, just to get a publication. Science needs to be more focused, not have more material of a questionable nature floating around.
Intimidation attempts prove that WORLDCOMP is a scam
Worldcomp seems to be a “fake” conference which makes a lot of money for its organisers by preying on students and researchers (and unscrupulous supervisors of research) who are desperate to get published – even if only in the Proceedings of this fake conference. It seems that no review – apart from copy-editing – is done. Payment of registration fees is sufficient for publication. While a venue (Las Vegas) exists and the minimum necessary is done to show that the conference was held, there seem to be few sessions and even fewer presentations.
These are two interesting posts on a company called IEEE and how there seems to be a growing industry around 'fake' conferences.

Call For Papers: Journal of Civil & Legal Sciences

And while I was saving the link for the 'fake' conference posts, I received an email with a Call for Papers for a journal hosted by a company called OMICS whose founder denies accusations of being a Science SPAMMER of the month.

I have written to four scholars who are listed as an editorial contact and asked them about their opinion regarding OMICS' approach to open-access journal publishing.

Your Academic Twidentity: or more about Twiter and Academic Identity

Be yourself, but avoid being crabby, snarky, or mean: The internet is forever and it is easy to vent on social networks. Be careful if you do. I try to be very cautious by recognizing that, while I am often talking to friends, I may also be broadcasting to future employers. I don’t hide that I am politically active, and that is a risk I am willing to take at this time. It may not be a risk you want to take. I also like to joke around on Twitter and have fun: I like interacting with people who don’t tweet like robots. Decide what your level of comfort is and stick with it. One of my rules is that I don’t post about my family very often, and I never post pictures of my children or name them. This is because I strongly feel that my children should be in control of their own online identities. I am a total hypocrite in this regard because I will click on any picture of a child tweeted by folks in my network (what can I say? Kids are cute.).
Finishing on a lighter note on how academics could use Twitter


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