Links & Contents I Liked 88

Hello all,

It's link-time again! From the Öresund region straight to Uganda's tech sector, Rwanda's interference in Congo and Ben Affleck's 'better celebrity activism'. There's also a practical view on open aid and the question remains whether development offers what David Graeber calls 'bullshit jobs'. Great open access initiatives, a long essay on MOOCs and 'digital taylorism' and reflections on social networking in academia round off this week's review!


New on aidnography
Why you should attend the Örecomm Festival in Denmark & Sweden this September
This year's theme is Memory on Trial: Media, Citizenship and Social Justice, but the scope of the festival is much broader and a real treat for ethnographically inclined colleagues, including a workshop with top-notch anthropologists on Methods of Analysis in Ethnographic Studies of Mediated Memories as well as the screening of the award winning film 'The Act of Killing'

Gather: The Art and Science of Effective Convening

We are excited to present the result of two years of work with the publication of Gather: The Art and Science of Effective Convening - a unique guidebook for convening planners and change agents interested in harnessing the potential of collective intelligence through in-person convening.
A new useful product looks at one of those activities the development industry is also renowned for...

More US international aid data released – now what? A user’s perspective

Kan-Dapaah had shared earlier in the day that the USAID’s new focus on country systems are right on, but that supporting the civil society watchdog function alongside these efforts was key. As Kan-Dapaah scrolled through the listing, however, just a glance at the vendor names shows how little US assistance is going directly to the Ghanaian government and to Ghanaian civil society.
Jennifer Lentfer sits down with a Ghanian governance, government and accounting expert to look at American aid data. The challenge with aid data will be to keep it simple enough for civil society and journalists to access and to provide a level of detail that makes accountability actually possible...

Wired UK visits digital Kampala, writes about… the tech scene

I love this quote by my buddy Solomon King, founder of Fundi Bots, that Kampala “is relatively naïve in its tech awakening – only now is it riding the wave of African urban development.” Couldn’t agree more. Watch this space over the next 5 years.
It will be interesting to see how the African tech scene will be involved in development and digital data initiatives.

The Hard Truths We Must Swallow: Rwanda is Wreaking Havoc in Congo

After sixteen years of invasion and intervention through proxy groups, it is still difficult for people in the international community to accept that the Rwandan government is guilty of anything but justified intervention in Congo. But members of the international community must look past the glowing economic reviews, look past the constant denials and well-oiled public relations machine, and deal with the hard truths. The Rwandan government is committing unspeakable crimes against humanity in the Congo under false pretenses, and we must stop it
Interesting piece by Alice Gatebuke on how the conflict in Congo is linked to Rwanda and its foreign policy.

Ben Affleck wants you to connect with Congolese organizations

Rather than seek funding for his pet project, as other celebrities might do, Affleck and ECI wanted to create a place where the organizations that are going to make the greatest difference will receive direct funding. It puts into action the much talked about idea of supporting community leaders to create change for themselves.
It's great to see that some celebrity humanitarians seem to be able to learn lessons...interestingly, Tom Murphy does not include 'Rwanda' in the list of keywords for his article (see above)...

On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs

But rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world’s population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning not even so much of the “service” sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect on all those people whose job is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries, or for that matter the whole host of ancillary industries (dog-washers, all-night pizza deliverymen) that only exist because everyone else is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones.
These are what I propose to call “bullshit jobs.”
David Graeber reflects on capitalism mechanics to keep 'us' busy even if 'real' jobs are declining. Question is: How (if at all) does 'development' and its expansion into the current aid industry fit into this picture?!

African Diaspora: open access annual publication

This scholarly journal seeks to understand how African cultures and societies shape and are shaped by historical and current diasporic and transnational movements.
African Diaspora is a full Open Access journal, which means that all articles are freely available, ensuring maximum, worldwide dissemination of content.
The 2012 issue contains 19 articles on a wide range of topics, including
labor markets in Japan
an ethnic enclave in China
food practices and identity
Nigerian women’s experiences of deportation from Europe
monuments to slavery and belonging in the Netherlands
Open Access Week competition winners 2013

We are pleased to announce that the following institutions have been awarded a grant of $500 each to support their Open Access Week plans in the INASP Open Access Week competition, jointly sponsored by UNESCO and INASP. The grants are awarded to institutions which demonstrate an understanding of and commitment to Open Access resources and participation in the Open Access Week community at
Great open access initiatives 'off the beaten publishing track'!

Can what you do *before* you write improve your actual writing?

In each study, the researchers found similar patterns. When participants engaged in a pre-consumption ritual—anything from breaking a chocolate bar in half and unwrapping and eating each half separately to rapping their knuckles on the table and closing their eyes prior to eating a series of carrots in a predetermined sequence—they anticipated the experience more highly, savored it longer, and enjoyed it more. They even found that the food they ate tasted more flavorful – and were willing to pay, on average, between fifteen and twenty-five cents more for it than when they hadn’t performed a pre-eating ritual. If they engaged in non-ritualistic acts, however, or observed someone else performing a ritual, the experiential effects went away.
Instead, the explanation was, in some ways, a far simpler one: what mattered was intrinsic interest. When participants performed a ritual, they experienced heightened overall engagement—and that engagement, in turn, affected their entire experience.
You need the right ritual to get into your creative space-although the experiment sounds a bit more complicated...

A-level students: if you want to be a 'consumer', go to the mall

As a professor closely involved in undergraduate education, I share that vision completely. The consumerist and survey culture creates an inappropriate divide. In retail the customer may always be right but education doesn't fit that mould. Consumer-minded students are too often looking to plot the easiest route through their coursework to a degree certificate; as a result they are quick to find fault and slow to consider their own share in the responsibility for their learning. But the best universities aim to stretch and challenge their students, to work them hard and, from time to time, push them well outside their comfort zones. That may not always be a pleasant experience, but it's worth it.
Stephen Curry on the consumerist mindset that A-level education instills in British students. Yes, sometimes 'education' involves hard work, failure and the complicated answer that the truth depends on your methodology and ideology...

Massive Open Online Courses and Beyond: the Revolution to Come

"Digital Taylorism" is a general term that refers to the industrial process of digitizing work, and it is a term used and embedded in the larger framework of "cognitive capitalism" - sometimes referred to as "third capitalism," after mercantilism and industrial capitalism. Cognitive capitalism is an increasingly significant theory, given its focus on the socio-economic changes caused by Internet and Web 2.0 technologies that have transformed the mode of production and the nature of labor. The theory of cognitive capitalism has its origins in French and Italian thinkers, particularly Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Michel Foucault's work on the birth of biopower and Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's Empire and Multitude, as well as the Italian Autonomist Marxist movement that had its origins in the Italian operaismo (workerism) of the 1960s.
In postindustrial society, Hardt and Negri observe, "jobs for the most part are highly mobile and involve flexible skills. … They are characterized in general by the central role played by knowledge, information, affect and communication." Under different conditions, Hardt and Negri contend, such work might be conceived as extending our distinctively human creative powers in relationships with machine and computer power, such as artificial cognition. This theory might be thought of as one of the theoretical frameworks for thinking about questions of digital academic labor in the long term.
Cudos to Michael Peters for providing a long, informative yet critical overview over the MOOCs debate and pulling out the big intellectual guns from Foucault to Deleuze and Negri!

Social Media Before Conference Networking

What does work, though, is social networking. My professional networking has expanded considerably through the people I’m friends and friendly with, who introduce me to people who introduce me to people. At the same time, what’s worked at least as well is social media networking. Twitter, blogging, and op-eding—participating in these venues has opened many doors for me that would otherwise have remained closed. I’ve gotten to know a ton of people in this way, and have had opportunities to publish op-eds and similar on-line pieces, been invited to speaking engagements, and simply amassed a great many sources of information and analysis I can draw on when needed. I’ve also been able to exchange ideas and suggestions and comments more quickly and more often with my on-line interlocutors.
Brent Sasley reflections on how to weave in social networking with the traditional academic networking at (big) conferences are a good practical way to round off this week's review!


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