Links & Contents I Liked 104

Dear all,

Welcome to the final edition of my link review for 2013!

I was busy finalizing my annual end of year development blogging review (see below), but now it's time for some links, things and thoughts you may want to read as you are heading out to connect with loved ones for the holidays!
There is a great new guide on children's participation as well as harrowing insights into human trafficking from Eritrea and the how girls have become a 'disposable' commodity in Colombian narco culture; there is more on humanitarian complexities in Ethiopia, complexity theory, mobile phone data use and insights into the gangs of Chicago; Reflections on women technology writers and Twitter scholars, a lecture on the global expulsion through capitalism and the myth of going to college to 'provide' in a meaningful way wrap up the review.

Enjoy--but more importantly: Have a great holiday time and a happy New Year!

New on aidnography
My development blogging review 2013
I want to unpack the consolidation among four topics that are guiding this review: My own professional development in 2013, a review of development and communication and social media research, a few topical highlights from this year as well as quick look into discussions from academia and anthropology-two areas I try to keep a particular eye on in my weekly link reviews which celebrated their centennial edition
Children and Young People’s Participation (CYPP) Training Workshop Guide (PDF)
This training is only the first stage of implementing more meaningful participation. Mainstreaming children and young people’s participation also involves long-term organisational and community commitment, changes in attitudes and behaviour, capacity building, and identifying champions for children. This training offers an important first step. It seeks to enable the valuable perspectives of children to be articulated and understood, giving them the opportunity to exercise their right to be heard in matters affecting their lives. It also seeks to help adults to listen to, understand and act on the views, experiences and information that
children and young people provide.
Interesting new resource on children and participation.

Launch in Cairo
The presentation in Cairo of the Human Trafficking Cycle: Sinai and Beyond that took place to coincide with the meeting in the European Parliament on 4 December brought together some 150 people.
It was significant in that it was one of the first occassions in Egypt when a public meeting has explicity addressed what is happening in the Sinai. Many of the survivors of the exploitative practices of the traffickers that hold refugees in Sinai for ransom subsequently live precariously in Cairo.
Really important, depressing work on human trafficking and rare insights into the autocratic, dictatorial Eritrean regime and its appalling human rights practices.

Aid agencies: Cooperating or compromising?
"I am just very suspicious about aid agencies who make huge claims for what they are doing without mentioning this dark side, the difficult side, where they know may be 20 to 30 percent or 40 percent or more perhaps is actually being siphoned off - may be spent on guns, will be spent on war - and they have to accept that. I think the only option is to be completely open about it."
An important, but also no longer shocking debate; as always, I have a lot of respect for MSF that they participate in these critical discussions and are willing to tell the complext stories from the frontlines of war and conflict.

Children, Sex and Gangs in Medellin
However, Ines believes that to truly tackle the issue Colombia and Medellin must also confront an uncomfortable truth about the roots of the problem -- the "narcotization" of the culture.
"In the narco-trafficking culture, girls are worth nothing," she said. "They are disposable."
James Bargent's headline he chose for his article may read sensationalist, but the sad truth is that the article is exactly about the relationships between the three. Girls and women suffer tremendously under the 'narcotization' of society in many Latin American countries and cultures--often worth than during civil wars or military rule...

What Aid Workers Want
There are few more sure ways to demonstrate one’s poseur status in the relief zone team house or coordination meeting than to sport jewelry made from cell-phones (local jewelry is status-proving gold; local tattoos, platinum), or goofy travel gadgets that look like they came from an in-flight magazine (most real aid workers either a) travel so light that a pocket luggage scale is irrelevant; b) have so many air miles that they automatically get three 70 lb. bags checked in at no additional cost).
J. is right that the GUARDIAN's gift list for aid worker friends is a bit weak. Try less ironic gifts such as more quality time for relationships, healthier work environments or an initiative by a large donor that they will not ask for lengthy monitoring reports every few months...the list is long...

The Risks of Complexity
None of the above points dismiss the many insights that complexity theory has brought to development. However, it should be recognised that there are real dangers in consciously trying to work in complex environments, as well as opportunities. As complexity changes (as I hope it will) from the latest exciting buzzword to a practical approach to implementing development programmes, I believe some of these challenges are addressed.
Excellent post from aidleap on the complexities of complexity in complex aid programs. Very useful as primer/overview over the debate(s).

Maverick Aid in the Philippines: An inspiring story or a waste of valuable money? |
Just giving away the money might not have gotten much attention, nor would it have necessarily supported by 20th Century Fox. The conceit is a rejection of a promotional offering, it is still very much a promotional video.
Tom Murphy tries his best to present this case as balanced as possible. However, the moment I spotted the white guy standing there alone, shirt sleeves rolled up, sunglasses and all and surrounded by neatly palleted merchandise I knew that this is about the publicity, not the real deal...

UN shows how mobile-phone data can map human need
One case study shows how information on the call locations of half a million individuals over a five-month period allowed researchers to outline typical travel pathways through Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire’s highly congested capital city, thus pinpointing where to concentrate new infrastructure and bus routes.
Other applications combine location with other metrics, such as the pattern of calls an individual makes within their social network, or expenses incurred due to phone use, for insights into socio-economic patterns and census data.
Some food for thought on using mobile phone data for development.

Doing Journalism with Data: First Steps, Skills and Tools
This free 5-module online introductory course gives you the essential concepts, techniques and skills to effectively work with data and produce compelling data stories under tight deadlines.
Comprising of video lectures, tutorials, assignments, readings and discussion forums, this course is open to anyone in the world with an Internet connection who wants to tell stories with data.
This looks definitely interesting for communication professionals other than journalists as well...

The Gangs of Chicago
A few months ago, on one of my other trips to Chicago, I was at a dinner with a group of wonks. The wonks were upset that the community, and its appointed representatives, would not support mandatory minimums for gun charges. I--shamefully I now think--agreed with them. It's not simply that I now think I was wrong, it's that I forgot my role. I mean no disrespect to my hosts. But whenever reformers convene for a nice dinner and good wine, a writer should never allow himself to get too comfortable.
Ta-Nehisi Coates insights from Chicago are a very good example of how journalism, non-fiction writing and a little bit of ethnography can create meaningful pieces, including a self-reflective space for the author, 'voice' for the participants and astute everyday observations.

Closed Network - Response by Jillian C. York
For women in the world of tech intellectuals, getting published is just the first obstacle. After publication comes promotion, and in an age of diminishing capacity at publishing houses and media outlets, that task often falls to the individual. Incessant self-promotion is the result. Jeff Jarvis, much maligned in Farrell’s article, promotes his own work heavily on social media and through speaking engagements. Some commentators—they’ll remain unnamed—send around unsolicited emails alerting recipients of articles they have just published. And even the humbler technology intellectuals, such as Ethan Zuckerman, heighten their profiles by signing up with speakers bureaus. Perhaps more than in other fields, the tech-intellectual world demands that participants be willing and eager to engage in self-promotion and to maintain a comprehensive Web presence. No longer is a mere blog or website enough; today’s public intellectual gives talks that are uploaded to YouTube, engages in debate on Twitter, and participates in Google Hangouts.
Jillian C. York comments on an issue that is also familiar to those engaging in development blogging, for example. Gender, power, patriarchy are not pre-digital topics but still exist or show up in new forms in technology research and writing.

Twitter Scholars: How Science Goes Viral
For now at least, much of the power of altmetrics lies in exploring specific stories of how information travels. “Altmetrics is a way of trying to find those invisible threads of how science is being shared online,” said Darling. Monitoring social media mentions and media coverage allows her to think about how to best present findings so that they will be catchy and reach the right audience. I.e. finding the perfect recipe to make science spread.
“[Twitter] lets me take the pulse of science from my actual peers who I follow in the field,” Darling said. “I don’t know how I did science without Twitter before.”
Kate Yandell presents a detailed and nuanced post on science communication in the Twitter age. As with any data-driven metric, we will probably experience how the researcher of the future carefully crafts her/his social media strategy as its impact will influence other metrics s/he needs for tenure and promotion and the 'natural', conversational element will likely be replaced by science marketing communication...

2013 Review Of [Some] Global Research
As 2013 draws to a close, we thought it would be a good time to examine some of the academic writing published in the last year that explores global phenomena.
This is not an exhaustive review by any means, but simply a list that reflects some of the articles we’ve come across that may be of interest to those interested in globalization and “the global”.
In case you are looking for more readings for the holidays...

Expulsions: The Fifth Circle of Hell, Saskia Sassen
One major trend is the repositioning of what had been framed as sovereign territory, a complex conditions, into land for sale on the global market — land in Sub-Saharan Africa, in Central Asia and in Latin America to be bought by rich investors and rich governments to grow food, to access underground water tables, and to access minerals and metals. Prof Sassen’s argument is that these diverse and many other kindred developments amount to a logic of expulsion, signalling a deeper systemic transformation in advanced capitalism, one documented in bits and pieces but not quite narrated as an overarching dynamic that is taking us into a new phase of global capitalism.”
I haven't finished Saskia Sassen's lecture yet, but it's definitely a great intellectual journey.

Digging Ditches
Over the years, I have had a lot of students sit in my classrooms out of fear instead of love. College is not for everyone. Not because everyone cannot handle it. Anyone can handle it. It is not for everyone because not everyone wants to take that path. However, they are fed a narrative in which college is the only path. So, many of them harness debt to pay their way and chain themselves to the nearest white-collar cubicle upon graduation. This narrative is built upon a materialistic definition of “to provide” and cultural bias against manual labor. It is a narrative that devalues working with your hands to fix, build, and dig.
Shawn Humphrey and the myth that you need to go to College to 'become someone' and learn the skills to 'provide' for you and yours.


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