Links & Contents I Liked 37

Hello all,

Although this week features not as many links as last week (probably because it's the first full week of summer-holiday-August?) there's still a nice selection of good stuff: The photo essay from inside the Nigerian oil industry (although originally from 2010) is worth (re)sharing, the visualisation of GlobalGiving's project document language and for anthropological method geeks enthusiasts there's a brilliant essay on the ethnographic study of Wikipedia sources as well.

So enjoy a quick reading break from your summer vacations!

New on aidnography
Disastrous Passion-a humanitarian romance novel (Book review)
Well-known for his aid blogging and setting up the Aid Source community, J. from Tales from the Hood also worked on his first aid romance novel. Now, for the first time the complete ebook has been published and I really enjoyed it as a perfect summer read: It’s easy enough for a hot afternoon on the porch, but there are some serious, interesting and even thought-provoking nuggets of aid wisdom in the novel that should take it to the level of undergraduate reading lists (a real compliment ;)!).

I'm currently preparing a small list of development fiction and first-hand aid industry accounts titles that should be online next week to supplement your reading lists!


Christian Lutz, Tropical Gift, Nigeria
This photographic essay by Christain Lutz captures the closed world of those dealing with oil and gas in Nigeria. His sharp approach conveys malaise born of the consequences that the economic interests in question have on civil societies. The result is a bitter statement laying bare the unequal power relations between the dominators and the dominated, a dark picture of how the overly abundant mineral resources of Africa are being exploited.
Fascinating pictures that really do speak for themselves...

The Management Handbook for UN Field Missions
The Management Handbook for UN Field Missions introduces critical concepts of management theory while offering practical tools and real-life examples of good management practice from UN field missions. The principles, tools, and tips of the handbook are to serve as baseline resources for every civilian in the field who has struggled with management tasks – be they at the bottom or the top of the organizational hierarchy.
To be honest, if it wasn't for Manu's cartoons (now is your chance to connect with him on facebook...) I probably wouldn't be as interested in the handbook. But the fact that they chose to 'lighten it up' with his art is already a sign of visionary leadership, or is it not ;)?!

Crowdsourcing definitions in international development
Why should your interpretation of these maps be useful?
This can be done with totally unstructured, qualitative information. But if you have a lot of data, the noise (individual differences) will cancel out, leaving a more unified perspective.
This represents a huge number of perspectives. Instead of having a focus group of a dozen, you can have a crowd-perspective representing thousands of voices and yet all of them can be heard when they tjotjog. (Tjotjog is when many people are saying the same thing in slightly different ways, thus reinforcing some common principle without copying exactly the same idea. In sense, tjotjogging is when people are riffing off each other, not retweeting each other.
After photos and cartoons even more to please the eye...visualising thousands of GlobalGiving projects and reports is a splendid idea to get a good sense of some of the underlying discourses.

12 tips on using ICTs for social monitoring and accountability

On August 7, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Community Systems Foundation (CSF) joined up with the Technology Salon NYC for the first in a series of 3 Salons on the use of ICTs in monitoring and evaluating development outcomes.
“Donors want new technology as a default, but I cannot reach the most excluded with technology right now,” commented a participant.
What I'm taking away from this is that successful ICT social monitoring has a lot to do with good, participatory, accountable ground work and maybe less with technology per se. But who prescribe ICT as a panacea for successful M&E?!

Accountability Lab

This fairly new blog was recommended to me and I'm more than happy to share it with you! Although I need to think about it longer whether I really understand 'venture accountability' or whether this is already too much hipster-development-language for me...

Creative screencasting

But there are a lot more creative ways you can use screencasts. For instance you might show a presentation on your screen, a prezi or powerpoint. A nice way as a trainer or teacher to put up an explanation or presentation online. Ideal if you want to flip your classroom or training room.
Really good introduction and tips from Joitske Hulsebosch on work with screencasts...I have worked with Camtasia a few times and really think there is some great potential - especially for remote presentations which save time, energy and save the environment :)!


Toward community based conservation: An interview with Douglas Hume
The major research question you address in your 2012 article is about how ritual practices related to the stages of horticulture are affected by exposure to conservation organizations, informed by the hypothesis that more exposure would lead to greater abandonment of longstanding ritual practices. You didn’t find a perfect relationship. Can you please discuss the challenges involved in quantifying such complex relationships?

The main problem with this type of analysis is demonstrating a causal relationship between the activities of the conservation organizations and indigenous knowledge change. You therefore need to collect data before the “treatment” of new knowledge and document any changes in the knowledge of farmers and account for any other effects that occurred that may explain the change in knowledge. In a natural experiment such as this, it is nearly impossible to be absolutely certain of the cause of knowledge (culture) change.
I really like the format of an interview with an academic author on his recent fieldwork and writing. Excellent way to promote your research and add a 'human touch' to the writing and dissemination process.

Beyond reliability: An ethnographic study of Wikipedia sources
Almost a year ago, I was hired by Ushahidi to work as an ethnographic researcher on a project to understand how Wikipedians managed sources during breaking news events. Ushahidi cares a great deal about this kind of work because of a new project called SwiftRiver that seeks to collect and enable the collaborative curation of streams of data from the real time web about a particular issue or event. If another Haiti earthquake happened, for example, would there be a way for us to filter out the irrelevant, the misinformation and build a stream of relevant, meaningful and accurate content about what was happening for those who needed it? And on Wikipedia’s side, could the same tools be used to help editors curate a stream of relevant sources as a team rather than individuals?
This is a fascinating piece on how the digital knowledge world works by looking at the individuals who are actually responsible for writing, sharing and curating.

Unpaid research internships reveal a dangerous hypocrisy in academia
The arguments against internships are well rehearsed, but as the message doesn't seem to have sunk in, it's worth staging them again. Firstly, internships decrease the number of paid posts available. If there are two candidates – one with private means who can afford to do the job for nothing, another without – the law of the market dictates that the former will "undercut" the pricing of the latter.
This setup, which confuses privilege with perseverance, creates several additional problems for academia. At a time when we are trying to ensure the continued diversity of our student body, we are restricting to a specific socio-economic class the pool from which applicants are drawn to sit on the other side of the desk. What's more, as far as all mainstream reports go, everything in higher-education land is fine.
The (academic) race to the bottom always seem to find another niche...unpaid research assistance is the latest trend...

Cultivating minds and hearts
Contemplative practices cover a wide spectrum, from simple breathing exercises and seated meditation to free writing and even walking. Contemplative education draws upon a variety of such mindfulness-based practices and techniques in order to consciously hone attention, develop concentration, open awareness, foster emotional balance and build the capacity for insight and creativity. All of those qualities are essential aspects of education, understood with its own Latin roots of “leading forth” and “drawing out” in mind. What contemplative education offers is the possibility to foster students who will be more just, compassionate and reflective as they graduate and begin to engage the world as citizens.
A great piece at the end about an alternative vision of/for education. But the realities of the academic and various outside industries seem to care very little about 'compassionate citizens'...


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