Links & Contents I Liked 30

Hello all!

With a slight delay this week's link review is a bit shorter and more 'conservative' than last week's, dare I say, more exciting one around the theme of stories and storytelling. Actually, this week's focus is on social media-and failing law schools-but the two are not really related...


New on aidnography
Development blogging-How to have fun, avoid disappointment & be a strategic writer


Confusion and Delay (repost)

There is nothing quite like being a parent.
I have ridden motorcycles in shorts, sometimes with no helmet, and I have crashed twice – once into a BMW; I have traveled through war zones on two continents, and I have remained standing during a mortar attack; I have eaten “happy pizza” in Cambodia, drunk coca tea in Bolivia and been able to keep down fermented cow blood/milk/urine in Sudan; I have handled live cobras; I have been shot at; I have had the symptoms of both dengue fever and malaria; I once went for two weeks without a shower.
I like to believe that I am not some kind of wuss.
But in the spirit of abject confession I must concede: nothing – nothing has tested me as has parenthood. There is nothing that can bring out the extreme emotions of fear, exhaustion, anger, guilt, humiliation, frustration, anxiety, frustration… and also and sublime contentment more than parenthood.
Probably one of the most shared articles in my social networks this week has been Anne-Marie Slaughter's Why Women Still Can’t Have It All and in some ways, Tales from the Hood's re-posted post is a reminder that parenthood and aid work are also challenging to balance.

A year in Nigeria: the Mary Slessor Foundation, continued.
What I’ve seen here is that life is not fair and that if you have enough in your own life, it is important to serve people by providing them with the opportunity to earn their livelihoods, the freedom to choose how to spend their income and the education to make the best choices.
Christine Adolf's impressions from a village in Nigeria are encouraging, positive and realistic and capture well some of the 'mundaneness' of working in development.

I Decided Not to Save the World Today: Some Reflections on Self-Reflection

In this chapter I would like us to pause for a moment, and drawing on the rich insights offered by aid workers on LinkedIn, contemplate the role of self-reflection – both at individual and organisational level – in this action-based profession where “ego” and the desire to “put things right” often play an important role in the overt motivations that pull many to the humanitarian sphere.
Alessandra Pigni continues her White Paper Series on 'mindful' development work and the importance of (self-)reflection.

The Promise of Social Media for Humanitarian Action?

At the end of the day, humanitarian aid workers will need to be on the ground assessing needs, dealing face-to-face with armed actors and community leaders, making hard choices about how much and what kinds of aid can be delivered in life-or-death situations.

In conflict zones and politically charged contexts, the same challenges of negotiating access, assessing security risks, and navigating difficult compromises to the fundamental principles of independent, impartial, and neutral aid will remain, regardless of the evolution of social media and technology.

Even the practice of simply “listening” to conversations -- let alone engaging in those conversations -- on sites like Twitter to glean an understanding of the perception of aid organizations is incredibly time intensive as MSF has learned through various Arab Spring revolutions.

While aid agencies may be slow to capitalize on the perceived potential of social media and emerging technology, this may not be as dire a state of affairs as some social media evangelists would profess it to be. We should strive to use all the tools at our disposal to provide better assistance victims of wars, epidemics, and other crises.
I missed the post when it was published in May, but Jason Cone, MSF Communication Director, shares some interesting and open reflections on social media and humanitarian emergencies. I still need to read their ebook In the Eyes of Others: How People in Crises Perceive Humanitarian Aid ...

Big Data for Development: Opportunities & Challenges

The paper is structured to foster dialogue around some of the following issues:
What types of new, digital data sources are potentially useful to the field of international development?
What kind of analytical tools, methodologies for analyzing Big Data have already been tried and tested by academia and the private sector, which could have utility for the public sector?
What challenges are posed by the potential of using digital data sources (Big Data) in development work?
What are some specific applications of Big Data in the field of global development?
How can we chart a way forward?
More on my 'to-read' list-this time from UN's Global Pulse project.

5 top tips for think tanks using social media

In this presentation we want to explore how think tanks can better engage with social media in order to achieve their objectives. What are the key characteristics of effective organisations, and how can think tanks reap the benefits of this cheap and easy technology?
Excellent insights to round-off the social media section of this week's links!

The 2012 Failed States Index - Interactive Map and Rankings
From TomDispatch

Advantages of being invaded by the U.S. and having Washington “reconstruct” your country: you are subsequently guaranteed a place near the top of the “failed states” list compiled yearly by Foreign Policy and Fund for Peace. Afghanistan is #6, Iraq #9.
Book gives law schools failing grades

Failing Law Schools essentially flips the standard script on the rising cost of legal education. Bloated faculties of overpaid professors, the gaming of the U.S. News & World Report rankings and reams of academic scholarship pumped out each year actually are the effects of increased tuition revenue, not its root cause, Tamanaha argues.
The real culprits (the average public school tuition is now $22,116 per year, with private schools costing an average $39,184, according to the American Bar Association) are high demand and the fact that for years law schools have been able to raise tuition beyond the rate of inflation and still turn away potential students, he writes.
"The bottom line is: We all went up, and we all went up because everyone else was going up," Tamanaha said in an interview. "Everyone else was going up because students kept coming, and students kept coming because they thought it was worth it and the government was funding it."
Elite schools — Harvard Law School, Yale Law School and Stanford Law School — led the way, giving lower-ranking schools cover to boost tuition "underneath their wings," Tamanaha said. While the elite schools could easily charge more while still filling their seats and placing their graduates in good jobs, the same can't be said for the many law schools that followed their lead, Tamanaha said.
Another interesting case study of the challenges US higher education is would be interesting to explore the links between volunteering/voluntourism and applications for medical or law schools or other graduate programs. Will there be a 'DIY bubble' that may take a pinch if CV-enhancing placements may lose some of its appeals because some schools will lower their standards or good students stop applying?!

Blogging for Researchers

Resource pack produced for @digital_change workshop on 25th June 2012
 Lots of useful resources compiled by Mark Carrigan.


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