Links & Contents I Liked 147

Hi all,

As our academic term is approaching its grande finale with 15 MA thesis examinations and a great seminar my link review is a bit shorter and more eclectic than normal, but nonetheless contains interesting readings on (assumed) expat travel privileges, expensive Ebola clinics, informal schooling & institutional social media success strategies; plus new books and essays on algorithmic governance and digital journalism and academic readings on the (ab)uses of peer review & a very long read that answers all your questions about book publishing!


New from aidnography
Is banning Powerpoint from the classroom the best we can do for digital, inclusive education?

I tend to disagree - not with the general sentiment that all of us have suffered through a more than fair share of bad Powerpoint presentations, but with the notion of a technology-free, disconnected classroom and the traditional learning environment it often represents.
In my comment, I will focus on three aspects: First, the dominance of one-size-fits all technology approaches throughout the university, second, today’s (social) media realities and third, the growing pressure and opportunities for higher education’s role in society.
Development news
Confessions of a humanitarian: 'There are days I'd sacrifice world peace for a chocolate croissant'

If I worked for the UN, however, I could serve the common good and stay in hotels that someone – other than me – has listed on TripAdvisor. Think of the time I would save, my greater overall efficiency in reaching the unreached, if I had a room with a window, and my toilet flushed, and my hotel towel was not a hepatitis risk. I am sure – and I have mentioned this in my last three performance improvement plans – that I am cynical only because I have tinnitus from trying to sleep through Nollywood marathons and because I eat in hotels where breakfast is basted in amoebas.
There are mornings, let me be frank, when I would sacrifice world peace for a bite of a chocolate croissant.
This surprisingly superficial piece has been shared quite widely in my networks-even though I'm not entirely sure why. Let's just say: The number of development people who REGULARLY fly business class is actually quite small-even if you work for international organizations. The same goes for luxurious hotels outside capital/main cities: There is no hidden 5-Star resort in rural places that only UN staff have access to. The list goes on. I have read much better aid work snark elsewhere.

Lost on the Ebola money trail

When I wrote Save the Children to see how they spent DFID’s money, they replied that I was wrong to allege that they spent that amount. In fact, they’ve spent $18.9 million and treated 280 Ebola patients at their unit. Staff salaries and living expenses in Sierra Leone amounted to some $12 million, the press officer wrote. The remainder covered costs of equipping the hospital, transport of medical staff and hospital overhead.
Is $12 million on salaries and living expenses justifiable when just 280 patients were treated over a few months? I don’t know the answer, but perhaps it’s a conversation worth having.
Might some donor money have been better spent on the local health system? Maybe. Maybe not. But if budgets continue to be opaque, it’s impossible to learn how to optimize aid to countries that desperately need it. As Alexander Kentikelenis, a sociologist at the University of Cambridge says, “There is no shortage of good intentions. The question is to what extent NGOs help in the ways that really matter.”
Last year, an economist at the Center for Global Development, Vijaya Ramachandran, said something similar after she found it impossible to track some $6 billion in donations to Haiti after the earthquake: “If we knew how it was spent, we could learn lessons for other disasters.”
Amy Maxmen on the challenges of tracking humanitarian and aid money-and very likely you can replace 'Haiti' with 'Nepal' in the reports that will be published soon and come to similar conclusions that we are unable and/or unwilling to follow the money and that it is sometimes impossible to achieve quick, impactful and transparent aid.

Not all of Ghana’s children attend school – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t learning

It is also fascinating to see that their informal learning looks and feels very formal. They complete homework, study with their peers outside the time allotted for Complimentary Basic Education lessons and teach their brothers and sisters. They write on walls in their own homes as a form of note-taking.
This form of learning is shaped by social and cultural forces within the community. The curriculum and textbooks use Dagbanli names for characters. At the same time, it is a patchwork of global influences: this programme wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the millennium development goals which channelled much-needed funding and placed universal primary education at the top of the global education agenda.
The children of Botingli and Bunglung may have much to teach us about rethinking ideas of literacy and schooling. Perhaps it’s time to stop seeing these as static, uniform concepts and start exploring them as fluid, mobile and flexible.
Brendan Rigby shares some interesting research findings that will ultimately challenge the traditional aid and volunteering models of 'building a school' and 'learning happens in traditional classrooms'.

Social media for development – lessons learnt at IDS

So the IDS top tips for success on social media are as follows:
Systematically and promptly broadcast across all your channels using devices such as BufferApp
Share partner content as well as your own
Identify those with shared interests and follow them
Reply to messages from your followers and fans promptly
Target specific communities within your fan base
Implement a social media policy that protects you and your staff from social media meltdowns
IDS' James Georgalakis shares lessons learned and future challenges of the institute's social media engagement.

Hot off the digital press

Contemporary concerns in development studies

The main objectives of the project included increased capacity of Institutes of Development Studies in Tanzania and Zambia, especially the academic competency of the  staff.
(...) In the research interests of the project participants there were a plenty of concerns. (...) The concerns are divided under different themes. These include: Natural Resources, Decentralization and Governance, Social Accountability, and Livelihoods.
In conclusion, we invite readers to familiarize themselves with the contemporary concerns in development studies, especially as experienced by Zambian and Tanzanian development scholars. However, as the chapters clearly suggest, all the concerns have
global connections. Both the global economy and international development aid are involved, in one way or another.
Interesting new open access book edited by Rehema Kilonzo & Tiina Kontinen on development studies and challenges from a Tanzaian and Zambian perspective!

EDRi-gram 300: Digital rights news from 2025

To celebrate our 300th edition, we have collected articles from the brightest stars in the digital rights universe. In the articles, they imagine what they will be writing about in 2025.
Open access book with plenty of food for thought on the future of digital rights and lives.

Our digital lives

The Violence of Algorithms

Third, spaces of dissent in society are being eroded. Those pushing the bounds of what is deemed acceptable behavior are increasingly caught within the grasp of algorithms meant to identify deviancy. We are already seeing changes in behavior among investigative journalists and activists.
If algorithms represent a new ungoverned space, a hidden and potentially ever-evolving unknowable public good, then they are an affront to our democratic system, one that requires transparency and accountability in order to function. A node of power that exists outside of these bounds is a threat to the notion of collective governance itself. This, at its core, is a profoundly undemocratic notion
Taylor Owen presents a concise summary of the ongoing debates around algorithmic governance and the growing power of 'data' in decision-making.

Digital Journalism: How Good Is It?

And so it goes for the first generation of digital sites as a whole. They helped lead journalism out of the kingdom of traditional print and broadcasting into the liberating land of the Internet, only to become stranded. Meanwhile, a new generation of high-profile ventures has emerged. Have they made it to the promised land of true digital innovation?
Michael Massing's first installment on the evolution of digital journalism is a great long-read; it actually reflects my growing interest in the topic of digital journalism and development communication on which I hope I will be able to work more in the future...

Understanding the new networked architectures of journalism

I was the respondent for a research panel on the new networked architectures of news at the 2015 ICA annual conference in Puerto Rico. Here are my comments.
An area for further research here is the impact of audiences incurating and framing news content through social networks. The intriguing prospect here is how collective social media choices could have a much greater impact than the what we used to call citizen journalism. When our friends are our editors, what is the impact on what makes the news and how the news is understood?
How an event becomes more than news through constant live updates is a fascinating area for research. It’s the drama of instantaneity as Papacharissi and de Fatima Oliveira put it.
Alfred Hermida's reflections from the International Communication Association's meeting are a great addition to the debate plus a good segue from the more general audience readings to the academic 'stuff'...

The peer review drugs don’t work

Peer review is easily abused, and there are many examples of authors reviewing their own papers, stealing papers and ideas under the cloak of anonymity, deliberately rubbishing competitors’ work, and taking a long time to review competitors’ studies. Several studies have shown that peer review is biased against the provincial and those from low- and middle-income countries. Finally, it doesn’t guard against fraud because it works on trust: if a study says that there were 200 patients involved, reviewers and editors assume that there were.
Scrapping peer review may sound radical, but actually by doing so we would be returning to the origins of science. Before journals existed, scientists gathered together, presented their studies and critiqued them. The web allows us to do that on a global scale.
Richard Smith contributes to the debate in academia on how to move towards 'peer/article review 2.0/3.0/4.0'. I don't think relying on 'the Internet' will work and as he outlines, academia has very few incentives to change the system-which sounds a bit like FIFA at the moment...

Answers from Academic Publishers

Two weeks ago I put up a post soliciting questions for academic publishers. (...).
Editors at various presses—Peter Momtchiloff, Peter Ohlin, and Lucy Randall at Oxford University Press, Stephen Latta of Broadview Press, Hilary Gaskin of Cambridge University Press, Philip Laughlin of MIT Press, Rob Tempio of Princeton University Press, Andrew Beck and Tony Bruce of Routledge, and Andrew Kenyon of SUNY Press—very generously took the time to answer a lot of these questions.
If your work requires you to publish stuff you should immerse yourself into this great (very) long read. It is meant for philosophers, but most questions are applicable in any social science context.

Did I plagiarize?

As the academic term is coming to its end...


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