Links & Contents I Liked 129

Hello all,

As we are starting a fresh week, we all deserve some good, critical readings for the breaks, waits or evenings...

The Development news section features sex (well, in the context of development and health work...); open data hypocrisy courtesy of USAID and the World Bank that continue to preach open water and drink closed off wine; how Mark Zuckerberg has become a 'natural leader' in philanthropy (hint: he has money...lots of it!); a long and sad read from on the 'forgotten' crises in the Central African Republic; the question of how and what we should pay participants of C4D campaigns & new reports;
Our digital lives
starts with quite a disturbing long-read into the work and lives of global content moderation workers; a veteran blogger reflects on 20 years of blogging;
Academia & Anthropology looks at new research on social media use for science communication; I still disagree with Jill Rettberg on her decision to pay 7500 pounds for her open access ebook; an interesting portrait of the driving force behind Google Scholar; and new publication on militarization, images and representations.


New from aidnography
Are 80 million potential voluntourists, slacktivists & DIY humanitarians the future of charity?

In the end, we teachers, researchers, educators and citizens will have to live with a growing demographic of people who will be demanding their full charity investment experience-either abroad and/or in connection with online activities…it means that traditional charities have to change from the printed newspaper to a New York Times online to Buzzfeed model of charity or the attention, clicks and dollars will go elsewhere-potentially traveling with a new generation of entrepreneurs who want to experience quick impact during a short sabbatical…
ComDev alumnus Shahriar Khonsari exhibits photographs in Finland
Last year, Shahriar Khonsari completed his MA in Communication for Development at Malmö University. ComDev’s Tobias Denskus took Shahriar’s current exhibition in Helsinki as an opportunity to catch up with him and the work he is doing on Afghan refugees in Iran.
Development news
A World That Counts
This is the draft report of the UN Secretary General’s Expert Advisory group on the data revolution for sustainable development. We welcome all comments by Monday 27th Oct (10am GMT+1) The group apologises profusely for the short time frame for comments, but we are under an extremely tight deadline and we hope you understand
As far as I know, the draft report was only posted a few days ago, so basically you had to send in your comments over the weekend...not the best start for the project, but let's see how things evolve...

Voluntourism is a 'waste of time and money' - and gappers are better off working in Britain
“We feel that there are many opportunities for people to undertake meaningful volunteering in their own community, where they will receive proper training, support and supervision – without the need to pay a tour operator for the privilege. In the majority of cases people would be far better (and have a more rewarding experience) volunteering at home and spending their money on travelling and staying in places listed in our Ethical Travel Guide,”
It's worth repeating the message time and again: Do meaningful volunteering 'at home' and then travel abroad for some sustainable tourism.

Let’s Talk About Sex: why sexual satisfaction & pleasure should be on the international development agenda
If women aren’t able to negotiate with their partners for their sexual satisfaction, how can they negotiate for condom use, birth spacing or their reproductive choices? If sexuality isn’t celebrated and discussed openly, how will we end the patriarchal norms that suggest sexual pleasure is something a man should control? If certain sexual acts are cast as wrong despite the reality that people take pleasure in them, how can we truly overcome discrimination and homophobia?
Ignoring that people have – and enjoy – sex diminishes the full reality of people’s experiences and relationships. If the development and donor communities, could shift their conversations around sexual and reproductive health and rights, empowerment, and gender to include the people’s whole sexual lives, we’d all be better off.
Colleagues at IDS have been advocating around sex and pleasure for a long time and just like the negative effects of voluntourism it is worth reminding people of these debates regularly.

Whistleblowers say USAID’s IG removed critical details from public reports
But when the inspector general’s office publicly issued its final audit report five months later, those findings and other critical conclusions had been removed, according to internal audit documents obtained by The Washington Post. What was once a 21-page report had been reduced to nine.
I'm less interested in the details of the story than the actual practices; just to be clear (and USAID is not the only one): You preach open data and transparency, but then you drink the old-school wine of political games and organizational politics...that's why I think 'open data' is mainly window-dressing at the moment.

The World Bank’s 100% citizen feedback agenda: a daunting challenge and an amazing opportunity
A feedback system that uses the fix-rate as a KPI places the emphasis on being results oriented and delivering solutions, rather than simply identifying or reporting problems. As such, it will contribute to improving service delivery and development outcomes. A rising fix-rate will improve public trust in government and public office holders, improve the effectiveness of public services and assist policy makers in identifying the policy-level changes that both reduce the incidence of problems and further improve fix-rates.
Seriously...I can hardly understand this paragraph because it is an assemblage of empty, neoliberal business- and policy-speak. And remember: This only on the program level, so this is obviously not '100%' of what the Bank does-the Bank as institution will hardly become more open or responsive in this process-some managers in some programs may if they have sorted out their type As, Bs & Cs...

The Data Manifesto
We need a Data Revolution that sets a new political agenda, that puts existing data to work, that improves the way data is gathered and ensures that information can be used. To deliver this vision, we need the following steps.
12 steps to a Data Revolution
- Implement a national ‘Data Pledge’ to citizens that is supported by governments, private and non-governmental sectors
- Address real world questions with joined up and disaggregated data
- Empower and up-skill data users of the future through education
- Examine existing frameworks and publish existing data
- Build an information bank of data assets
- Allocate funding available for better data according to national and sub-national priorities
- Strengthen national statistical systems’ capacity to collect data
- Implement a policy that data is ‘open by default’
- Improve data quality by subjecting it to public scrutiny
- Put information users’ needs first
- Recognise technology cannot solve all barriers to information
- Invest in infomediaries’ capacity to translate data into information that policymakers, civil society and the media can actually use
Development Initiatives share their Data Manifesto which provides excellent food for thought and discussions!

Mark Zuckerberg's Philanthropy Keeps Getting More Interesting. What Drives His Giving?
All of which leads us to the latest chapter of the Zuckerberg/Chan philanthropy story: Their pledge of $25 million to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation to help combat Ebola.
We weren't expecting the couple to jump into global health, and the move has gotten us thinking about what really drives the couple's philanthropy.
Because Priscilla is something of a black box, keeping a low profile, this article digs into Zuckerberg's possible motives and approach to giving. But make no mistake: Philanthropy is a joint endeavor in the Zuckerberg/Chan household.
I just hope they get expert advice and don't just stay in a Bill-Gates-Silicon-Valley-Charity-Bubble where billionaires become 'leaders' overnight on issues that are complicated and on which many capable people and organizations have been working on for a long time...

The Mission
Even so, Father Bernard’s persistent efforts have created a small area of safety. “At the hospital, we don’t get bothered by the antibalaka anymore, because they realize we also treat them,” Bernard said. A few Muslims remain in his care: the traumatized teen-age boy, the Peul girls with polio. The imam, too, is still there. When I met him, he was certain that he would one day resume his old life, and that the Muslims and Christians would learn to live together again. When I asked him how so much violence could be forgotten, he looked at me quizzically; it was a matter of faith, pure and simple. In the meantime, he was contributing what he could to Father Bernard’s work. An experienced tailor, he was earning his keep at the mission by sewing school uniforms. With God’s will, he said, he was living day by day.
Jon Lee Anderson reports from the Central African Republic for the New Yorker...great historical and political details and background, but also a very sobering read about a 'forgotten' crisis and a failed state that has failed many citizens and has been failed by many outside and inside interventions.

Should we pay subjects in development communications?
The debate is complex but maybe one solution to ensure authenticity and representation would be for the subject to be shown all images and for them to only give consent to those they select? Let’s call it paid participatory photography. A new era in development communication maybe?
David Girling asks some important questions about the (paid) involvement of people in development communications efforts. I think that some form of remuneration is appropriate-it doesn't have to be cash-but what about mobile phone/Internet vouchers or something useful and communication-related?

Hot off the (digital) press

Children’s Rights in the Digital Age: A Download from Children Around the World
How do children see their rights affected by digital media and tools? In July and August 2014, 148 children in 16 countries took part in workshops to discuss the opportunities and risks associated with digital media; these discussions – and the voices of the child participants of the workshops – are reflected in this report. Findings were presented at the Day of General Discussion, a meeting focusing on digital media and child rights that was convened by the Committee on the Rights of the Child on 12 September 2014. The workshops were led by Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre with support from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, UNICEF and other partners.
New UNICEF publication.

NGOs, States, and Donors Revisited: Still Too Close for Comfort?
Serious questions remain about the ability of NGOs to meet long-term transformative goals in their work for development and social justice. We investigate how, given their weak roots in civil society and the rising tide of technocracy that has swept through the world of foreign aid, most NGOs remain poorly placed to influence the real drivers of social change. However we also argue that NGOs can take advantage of their traditional strengths to build bridges between grassroots organizations and local and national-level structures and processes, applying their knowledge of local contexts to strengthen their roles in empowerment and social transformation.
Nicola Banks, David Hulme and Michael Edwards are revisiting the classic debate in a new, open access article in World Development.

Getting Started with Social Media Tools in Government
'Getting Started with Social Media Tools in Government' is a supplement to UN-APCICT’s Module 11 of the Academy of ICT Essentials for Government Leaders on 'Social Media for Development.' This publication is a practical guide that presents “how-to” steps for setting and managing social media tools and technologies in government. It aims to provide government officials with a basic understanding of the functions of common social media to enable them to utilize social media for the improvement of the delivery of public services and governance processes.
I just had time for a quick glance-but looks like an interesting, yet fairly basic, resource.

Our digital lives
20 years of blogging
Blogging is a platform for free people. We've seen people distort what blogging means to the point where blogging is a job for some. I never thought of it that way. It's a way to tell your story, to share what you see, to process it, draw conclusions, and move on. It's like a fresco painting. Or an interview with a reporter. It's quick, it's over, and it's done with.
Well I'm the other brand. If you hire me, and I say something on my blog your boss doesn't like, you'll be fired along with me. I understand. I want to let people know that writing publicly does not come without costs. You'll be lonely. There are so many things I want to do that I can't because of this rule.
Blogging pioneer Dave Winer reflects on twenty years of blogging-interesting insights for 'our' times and industries included.

The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed
While a large amount of content moderation takes place overseas, much is still done in the US, often by young college graduates like Swearingen was. Many companies employ a two-tiered moderation system, where the most basic moderation is outsourced abroad while more complex screening, which requires greater cultural familiarity, is done domestically. US-based moderators are much better compensated than their overseas counterparts: A brand-new American moderator for a large tech company in the US can make more in an hour than a veteran Filipino moderator makes in a day. But then a career in the outsourcing industry is something many young Filipinos aspire to, whereas American moderators often fall into the job as a last resort, and burnout is common.
Constant exposure to videos like this has turned some of Maria’s coworkers intensely paranoid. Every day they see proof of the infinite variety of human depravity. They begin to suspect the worst of people they meet in real life, wondering what secrets their hard drives might hold. Two of Maria’s female coworkers have become so suspicious that they no longer leave their children with babysitters. They sometimes miss work because they can’t find someone they trust to take care of their kids.
An important, scary, disturbing long-read from the real underbelly of the Internet. The global dimension between the Philippines, the U.S. and the rest of the world and the personal toll such work has on individuals is noteworthy on many levels.

Academia & Anthropology
Survey finds correlation between strength of scientists’ political beliefs and social media use for sharing research.
The stronger scientists’ political beliefs—regardless of their leaning—the more likely they were to use Facebook or Twitter to talk about their work. Liberals tended to use Facebook more than conservatives, consistent with charges from the political right in the U.S. that Facebook has a liberal bias and is an echo chamber for left-leaning thinkers. Aside from political ideology, the perceived effectiveness and barriers to use of social media for science-related purposes predicted use of Twitter, but not Facebook. Scientists who perceived social media as effective communication tools were more likely to use Twitter. Moreover, greater interest in actively seeking new ways to share science significantly predicted use of Twitter, but not Facebook. One potential explanation for why Twitter seems to be the social medium of choice for scientists is that it appears to be viewed as a more professional outlet, while Facebook is more often perceived as a space for personal information.
In most cases, however, the Twitter users most likely to encounter information about science are those who are already interested in science and related topics. Social media hold great promise for science communication, and use of these tools may even correlate to a researcher’s standing in her own field. In fact, Twitter has been found to amplify the positive effects of scientists’ interactions with more traditional forms of media, thus increasing a scientist’s prominence. In other words, engagement with social media may bring rewards in and outside of the ivory tower. But as our data show, scientists are only beginning to get their feet wet in this new communication world. Given the controversial nature of many recent scientific debates, researchers will have to do much more to connect directly with public audiences.
On the one hand, the survey's finding are an interesting confirmation of my own gut feeling about scientists and their social media strategies. On the other hand, I find the overall tone way too positive. The moment we are moving into any topic even close to contentious political, social and academic debates (climate change, Israel-Palestine, gun control, gender...), the political hardliners, the trolls and potentially the ill-willed committees will engage with social media as well. Yes, social media offer good tools for science communication, but it's certainly not an apolitical toolbox, a kind of social media peer review where better arguments and soundest research will lead the debates.

How I Published My Scholarly Book With an Open Access CC-BY License
I decided a while ago that I didn’t want to publish any more books that were closed access. I’m a public employee, so my research is paid for by ordinary peoples’ tax money. It makes sense that my taxpayer-funded research should be accessible to everyone. Not just to scholars in rich institutions in rich countries that can afford to paid skyrocketing prices for scholarly journals and books.
So when I saw that Palgrave, which is known for publishing quality scholarship, had set up a system for open access books, I was interested. Palgrave’s model is pretty simple. You pay. You pay quite a lot. My book is a Palgrave Pivot, which is a series of short books (mine is 40,000 words or about 100 pages) that are published in just 12 weeks after the manuscript is completed. (That in itself is reason enough to publish with them – I hated waited a year or two for my other books to actually be available.) To make your Palgrave Pivot book open access, you pay Palgrave a fee of £7500. Longer books cost up to £11000.
Jill Rettberg explain in some detail why she chose to pay 7500 pounds to make her latest book (see more details in my previous review). Based on her example I also asked Is paying 7,500 pounds for an ebook the future of Open Access? in a recent post.
In the end, I still disagree that paying a mainstream commercial publisher a lot of money is the best way to make otherwise free material available in an open access format. Why not make a deal with an independent publisher to distribute your printed paperback (which would not cost 100 USD) while you can distribute your own ebook? Anyway, there are many alternative and potentially better ways to get research out to the public than paying Taylor & Francis handsomely!

Making the world’s problem solvers 10% more efficient
Google Scholar was revolutionary for a number of reasons. Acharya and his team worked hard to get academic publishers to allow Google to crawl their journals. Since many of the articles unearthed by Scholar were locked behind paywalls, simply locating something in a search would not mean that a user could read it. But he or she would know that it existed, and that makes a tremendous difference.
Acharya’s continued leadership of a single, small team (now consisting of nine) is unusual at Google, and not necessarily seen as a smart thing by his peers. By concentrating on Scholar, Acharya in effect removed himself from the fast track at Google. He was part of a number of amazingly talented Ph.D. engineers that joined the company around 2000, and some of them are still doing work vital to Google’s core, pushing boundaries of computer science and artificial intelligence. He has the engineering chops to work with them. But he can’t bear to leave his creation, even as he realizes that at Google’s current scale, Scholar is a niche.
Steven Levy portraits the people and processes behind Google Scholar-a service I probably use every day!

Realism or Iconography? The Pentagon’s Implicit Theory of Visual Representation
In general, the Pentagon’s approach to photography fits well in descriptions of “scientific-realist” approaches that seek to “regulate the context” in which photographs are produced in order to produce “reliable” visual “evidence” (Pink, 2001, p. 97). The assumption made in this approach is that the photograph itself, the content of the photograph, would be the focus of the viewer’s analysis. However, as the numerous directives and manuals attest, along with their detailed instructions on how to make useful and good pictures, the Pentagon actively regulates context, and that can be made visible in a critical analysis of the photographs.
Maximilian Forte outlines his chapter of an interesting new book that is also available as open access.


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