Links & Contents I Liked 119

Hi all,

Our teaching term was rounded off with the largest-ever examination seminar our ComDev program has seen so far!
As the course convener of the Degree Project/MA thesis course I am very proud of the students and their range of excellent and good projects that we have examined in Malmö over four days. Congratulations!

We also had a very interesting seminar in Malmö on ICT4D, Crisis Communication & Social Change and you can find a link to the updated post with the recorded presentations below.

During all these exciting events quite a few interesting links have piled up and I'm happy to share my latest carefully edited and concisely reviewed link list with you!
The review starts with a new post on reflecting on emerging bad South-South development practices and an updated post on our ICT4D seminar last week.

To make the review more exciting, there are four sub-headings: Development News features new publications and contemporary debates from 'the cult of glamorized victimhood' to the UK government not practicing what they are preaching when it comes to conflict, women and violence; as summer is looming and opportunities get knocking on your door check out the Development as career special section! From Somalia to how Uber protests backfired and how to plan better meetings-we now live Our digital lives-the other new section in the review; and finally, in Anthropology & Academia we look at the future of student learning and open access beyond the journal article.


New from aidnography
Are we doomed to repeat every North-South development mistake globally like #SWEDOW?
So how can we ensure that well-educated, well-meaning youth find a space for different, sustainable social transformation initiatives? Can ‘we’ development folk help in this quest? Should we wait for local responses and rely on local innovations? Should we try to go out ‘there’ and talk to high school and business students or corporate leaders? Would they listen? Should they be listening to ‘us’?
I do not have handy answers, but I know that no matter how you define ‘we’, ‘they’ most likely do not want and need your old stuff…

Seminar in Malmö & online: ICT4D, Crisis Communication & Social Change
Now with embedded/linked recordings of Emrys' and Timo's presentations!

Development News
New issue of Glocal Times

Amidst what may be described as a flurry of activity, Issue No. 20 of Glocal Times once again engages with communication for development from a threefold perspective: as a field of study, as professional practice and as an institutional project.
Plenty of new C4D summer reading-open access, of course!

'It May Approach as Quickly as a Bushfire': Gendered Violence and Insecurity in South Sudan

In post-civil war South Sudan, citizens experience a deep sense of insecurity due to actual incidents of violence in their home areas and to reports they hear about violent conflict elsewhere in the country. This sense of insecurity is exacerbated by the lack of protection from the state and the perceived injustice in the national political settlement. In response to this sense of insecurity, citizens develop protection strategies based on local institutions. These strategies are mainly developed by men. Though women are excluded from the institutions that govern security arrangements, they exercise subtle forms of agency to influence local institutions.
New research report from IDS/Sussex.

Closing the Feedback Loop : Can Technology Bridge the Accountability Gap?

The report presents a theoretical framework about the linkages between new technologies, participation, empowerment, and the improvement of poor people's human well-being based on Amartya Sen's capability approach. The book provides rich case studies about the different factors that influence whether or not information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled citizen engagement programs can improve the delivery and quality of public services to poor communities. The report analyzes in depth both the factors and process of using new technologies to enhance the delivery of primary health services to pregnant women in Karnataka, India, and of several community mapping and crowdsourcing programs in Guinea, Haiti, Kenya, Libya, Sudan, and other countries.
New, open access book from the World Bank. There's going to be a live-streamed book launch seminar on Thursday, 19 June.

ICT4D 2016: New Priorities for ICT4D Policy, Practice and WSIS in a Post-2015 World

It recognises the need for practice to break out of the “ICT4D bubble” and engage more with the development mainstream through a reorientation of ICT4D’s scope, language and worldview. And it discusses ICT4D’s future structure, process and vision. It identifies the need to retain specialist centres of ICT4D expertise alongside mainstreaming, and the value of multi-stakeholder participation. It highlights the current absence of a compelling narrative and vision for the future of ICT4D: ICT’s transformative potential – and the possibilities of “Development 2.0” – might form one such vision. The implications of all these issues are outlined for ICT4D generally and for WSIS specifically beyond 2015.
This new paper is also on my bookmarked list of summer readings...

The politics of the gut and a recipe for riot

Our soon-to-be-published study on what food rights mean to people, part of the Life in a time of food price volatility project, finds that the sense of a right to food is uneven. Across the 10 developing countries we work in people seem to know, deep down, that they have a right to food – it’s the very basis of being human. But how that can be claimed and whether and how in a globalising food system the ruling classes can be made to give a damn are far less clear.
IDS/Sussex researcher Naomi Hossain introduces her research project findings on the right to food.

A history and future of WhyDev

This starts with Weh’s current work at CABDICO, a Cambodian NGO dedicated to supporting and empowering people with disabilities. Community development in action. He was recently featured in the Sydney Morning Herald, highlighting the economic and moral argument for speech therapy for 600,000 people in Cambodia. On the back of it, they are also running a crowdfunding campaign that you must support within the next three weeks.
This is the future of global development; in particular, how humanitarian and development professionals work, support and empower individuals and communities. It is about focusing on the equitable distribution of knowledge, resources and capital within global development; moving from saviours to savoir-faire, top-down to bottom-led, duplication to replication, global development to why development?
Brendan Rigby reflects on the work and future of development through the lens of of the best resources for learning aid workers.

Somaly Mam And The Cult of Glamourized Victimhood

Sex trafficking of minors is absolutely a serious problem that needs to be dealt with. But that’s not exactly why it’s an issue that attracts so much attention and funding and glitzy celebrity hobnobbing. It’s because it’s one of those issues that is easy to moralize about without much fear of stepping into a major controversy. No one is for selling underage girls into prostitution. Even the pimps interviewed by the Urban Institute went out of their way to denounce sex slavery and trafficking of underage girls. Standing up for reproductive rights or pushing back against economic injustice means running the risk of powerful people, such as religious leaders or other wealthy people, fighting back.
Very good post by Amanda Marcotte on the moral economy around glitzty development and fundraising efforts.

5 Ways the UK Government Undermined the Wartime Sexual Violence Summit

The involvement of the UK government in the London conference posed numerous problems, from the policing of the event itself to its complicity in wartime sexual violence. The UK government’s involvement in perpetuating global war is obvious – from the ‘war on terror’ to its role in the global arms trade. Yet wartime sexual violence has specific dynamics related to its particular situation in wartime – it is a type of mass human rights violation that occurs in conflict, due variously to the rigid identities demarcating others as ‘enemies’ or through the chaos in civilians’ lives of a war and post-war period. This cannot be credibly addressed by a government such as the UK’s where militarism and perpetual conflict is stitched into the logic of the state.
Heather McRobie makes some excellent points that beyond appealing fundraising efforts, mediatized 'heroes' and politically correct conferences there are many structural issues that undermine a country like the UK's 'practice what you preach' efforts right away!

But Isn't Doing Something Better than Doing Nothing?

But this doesn't mean that all well-intentioned somethings are better than nothing.
Yesterday, the American Economic Review published two excellent articles that clearly demonstrate this point. Each paper identified a situation in which there appears to be strong evidence that aid resulted in an increase in violence.
Both of these papers are also important because they address causes of conflict over which someone has control. Poverty or natural resources may also cause variation in violence, but they're a bit harder to change. Aid is a policy lever.
Finally, more interesting new research on food aid as a driver of conflict.

Development as career

UNDP Headquarters staff facing major layoffs, fortunately

Under the leadership of Administrator Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, UNDP is currently undergoing deep structural changes. 30 percent of the jobs at the organization’s New York Headquarters are to be cut, including positions at the Director level. A drastic reorganization of this kind was long overdue.
My friend, colleague and writing partner-in-crime Daniel Esser is not sad that UNDP plans to cut jobs in its New York HQ.

Volunteering: The paradox at the beginning of an aid career

The aid industry is quite odd in this way: professionals ridicule volunteer work, but won’t hire new people who haven’t done it. This is just another way in which the aid system is broken.
But still, colleges send their students off on ill-conceived volunteer programs every summer and praise them for working in orphanages and schools and doing other jobs they’re unqualified for and that could be done by a local. Schools should provide more guidance to students looking for volunteer positions and encourage them to carefully consider the impacts of their actions on local populations, rather than blindly praising them for “doing.”
Jennifer Ambrose points out many of the paradoxes around getting a foot in the aid work door through volunteering; I totally agree that universities must play a more proactive role in promoting 'better volunteering' and that teachers need the time and resources to engage with students rather than signing off a form in a 10-minute office hour slot.

America’s budding professionals: Well-traveled and ready to save the world

Thirdly, make the conversations about voluntourism experiences an assessment of the candidate’s reasoning and critical thinking skills. If applicants demonstrate themselves as more thoughtful about their experience and the effects it had on the community, this – not the trip itself – is what can signal skills critical for success in the professional world.
Ashley Simms points out another important aspect around assessing volunteering work: Employers need to ask the right questions and educate themselves about good practices and 'orphanage tourism' when assessing job applicants.

Navigating expat-aidland

At least for me, moral decisions make up half of the thoughts running through my head every day (and night, to be honest) and it is not a particularly relaxing thing. On the other hand, that’s part of spending time in a ‘bad place’ so you’d better deal with it. (Thinking of it, it would be so great to have a bi-weekly discussion group on expat aid-land issues.) My sister told me about expats having drinks with well-off Lebanese in Beirut, having their cigarettes lit by Syrian refugees desperate to make some money. Now, realistically, this is better than earning nothing and starving – and whose responsibility are those refugees anyway? Sure not the expat’s. Yet morally, how can you justify this?
And, finally, once you have arrived in 'the field' more problems are waiting as Alies Rijper points once you are faced with the complexities of 'development' around you professionally and personally.

Skimming off the top (Part 1)

What so far has come from our survey that may be of interest to those who recruit and employ development and aid workers around the world?
A quick glimpse into the aid work(er) survey that J. and Elon University have been running for a while.

Our digital lives
How Somalia’s al-Shabab militants hone their image

A recent al-Shabab directive that all its members change their mobile phone numbers shows how tech-savvy the al-Qaeda-linked Somali Islamist group remains and how their communications strategy is key to their survival.
The group has long run what is regarded as a slick media machine.
Even without smart phones, it has been known for its sophisticated handling of social media, a reputation at odds with its regular bans on communication technology for Somali citizens.
In particular, it has made extensive use of Twitter in order to get its message across.
It has also devoted considerable resources to producing a series of promotional videos.
Conflicts change, communication change-the underbelly of 'C4D'...

Taxi Drivers In Europe 'Protest' Uber, Creating Astounding Media Attention, Massive Jump In Signups

This may be the least successful mass protest in history. Not only does it fail to accomplish any of its goals, it appears to have massively helped those it was targeted against. As the EU's Neelie Kroes points out, this is really part of a debate about the wider sharing economy, and the recognition that innovators are building new and disruptive services that are, quite frequently, much better for the public, even if they may be disruptive to existing businesses and employees.
I think this is bigger than the Uber-Taxi debate; can (traditional) protests actually help to achieve the opposite in a digital, viral, attention-driven environment? Is media attention helping a cause or drawing attention to the other, 'bad' guys (e.g. protests in Europe against right-wing parties)? Very important questions for the C4D community-when is silence/non-communicating the better option?

In defense of meetings

We’re also learning of the profound impact ceiling height has on meetings. For example, high ceilings should be provided for workers who need to be creative, where meetings that involve mathematical calculations should be done in rooms with lower ceiling heights. In addition, we’ve found that people perform better when they are in proximity to natural light and nature in general.
So here are our tips for making your meetings and meeting spaces more effective.
Get up and move around. There is no more effective way to meet than by taking a walk around the block.
There are no one-size-fits-all rooms. So include a variety of meeting spaces, some with visual privacy, others with no visual privacy; some with acoustical privacy, and others with none. The key is diversity.
Make sure you fill your office with team players.
Remember: the more women, the more intelligent your team.
New management-style research on success factors and an enabling environment for meetings...lessons for the aid industry?!

Recommended Summer Reading List for Social Media Managers

While I think one of the best ways to work in social media is to dive in and get to know your community, there are many techniques to learn from books and websites on communicating with your audience.
To stay relevant I research communication technologies, design of tools and graphics, why people share, and storytelling so that I continue to strengthen my skills.
Here’s my recommended summer reading list:
Interesting list...I'll post my summer readings next week before the vacation mode is switched on!

The Disruption Machine

Disruptive innovation is a theory about why businesses fail. It’s not more than that. It doesn’t explain change. It’s not a law of nature. It’s an artifact of history, an idea, forged in time; it’s the manufacture of a moment of upsetting and edgy uncertainty. Transfixed by change, it’s blind to continuity. It makes a very poor prophet.
The upstarts who work at startups don’t often stay at any one place for very long. (Three out of four startups fail. More than nine out of ten never earn a return.) They work a year here, a few months there—zany hours everywhere. They wear jeans and sneakers and ride scooters and share offices and sprawl on couches like Great Danes. Their coffee machines look like dollhouse-size factories.
They are told that they should be reckless and ruthless. Their investors, if they’re like Josh Linkner, tell them that the world is a terrifying place, moving at a devastating pace. “Today I run a venture capital firm and back the next generation of innovators who are, as I was throughout my earlier career, dead-focused on eating your lunch,” Linkner writes. His job appears to be to convince a generation of people who want to do good and do well to learn, instead, remorselessness. Forget rules, obligations, your conscience, loyalty, a sense of the commonweal. If you start a business and it succeeds, Linkner advises, sell it and take the cash. Don’t look back. Never pause. Disrupt or be disrupted.
But they do pause and they do look back, and they wonder. Meanwhile, they tweet, they post, they tumble in and out of love, they ponder. They send one another sly messages, touching the screens of sleek, soundless machines with a worshipful tenderness.
Great long essay by Jill Lepore on the history of innovation and disruption and how many of these dynamics and approaches have become hipster-/gentrified in some ways.

Anthropology & Academia

What Students Will Learn In The Future

It’s also important to note that none of this means that in a system like this we wouldn’t teach math, science, literature, etc., but rather that we might reframe how and why we teach math, science, literature, etc., all while merging them and bringing in new thinking, skills, and ideas into truly modernized content areas.
The Content Of The Future: 8 Content Areas For Tomorrow’s Students
I was tempted not to share it because of the corporate sponsorship of a technological company that in my view has very different interests from what I believe teaching and learning technology should look like in the future, but it's still interesting food for thought...

The Emerging Science of Computational Anthropology

One way of measuring this is in their mobility patterns: whether they are more like those of a local or a non-local. “We may be able to estimate whether a non-native person will behave like a native person after a time period and if so, how long in average a person takes to become a native-like one,” say Zimo and co.
That could have a fascinating impact on the way anthropologists study migration and the way immigrants become part of a local community. This is computational anthropology a science that is clearly in its early stages but one that has huge potential for the future.
Fascinating insights into an emerging technology-based branch of anthropology.

Beyond Copyright and Technology: What Open Access Can Tell Us about Precarity, Authority, Innovation, and Automation in the University Today

I completely concur here—much of my activism around open access has very little to do with what I perceive to be as dead obvious: academics want their work to be more available than it is—and much more to do with the broken economy of scholarly publishing that prevents this in the first place. I frequently find myself frustrated that the conversation circulates back to petty concerns about individual academics’ rights or anxieties about copyright ownership when there is so clearly a larger system in need of diagnosis. Why aren’t we better, as anthropologists with a clear reflexive sensibility, at diagnosing the structural, organizational, and economic conditions that make open access seem necessary?
Long and very readable debate around open access-and how it is so much more than just publishing articles open access.

Keep Out the Poor, the Huddled Masses…

The real issue with student debt isn’t community colleges anyway. It’s a combination of high tuition places, state disinvestment, and a sustained, crummy job market. Fix those, and we’ll make real progress. Tightening the circle to exclude the huddled masses is not the answer.
Suburbdad comments on a new book around community colleges and access.


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