Links & Contents I Liked 206

Hi all,

Don’t leave the office or desk without clicking through your favorite development content summary :)
Development news: Chemonics discriminated against 124 African-American applicants; Bono-man, woman, person of the year; Christians urge for better mission trips; 10 big picture communication challenges; 10 new frontier technologies; 10…wait…only 1 foundation president joined PepsiCo board; responsible data policies; media and drones; better health communication; studying development MAs; doctors are a bit like aid workers and like their stress.

Our digital lives:
How not to be racist (also applies to development...); an overview over the misinformation economy; how work works in the digital age.

Academia: Ebola anthropology and long-term investment in science.

New from aidnography

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Development news
International development company Chemonics International Inc. agrees to pay $482K to African-American applicants in hiring discrimination case

International development company and federal contractor Chemonics International Inc. has agreed to pay $482,243 in back wages, interest and benefits to 124 African-American applicants. The agreement settles U.S. Department of Labor findings that the company discriminated on the basis of race in hiring for its professional entry-level program.
Why hasn't this been in the news?! Seriously, I couldn't find a single article that highlights the fact that a leading development consultancy discriminated against African-American employees! Do they just have a great PR/SEO department that manages to keep this story under the radar?!

Bono Just Became Glamour's First Man of the Year

I ask the first Glamour Man of the Year why so few men are willing to rally around women’s causes. “Men can be a bit thick,” he says. “And I include myself. Honestly, things that ought to be obvious sometimes are not.” What’s obvious to Bono (the father of two daughters and two sons, feminists and activists all ): “We can do much more than we think we can. Leaders are accountable to all of us. If they don’t support women and girls, vote them out of office. To quote Nelson Mandela, ‘It always seems impossible—until it’s done.’ ”
Christiane Amanpour's praise for Bono at Glamour is borderline Onion-esque and not critical journalist worthy and ticks many bullshit-Bingo boxes from celebrity generalizations to the next generation of feminists and activists, ending on a Mandela quote...

Bono Named Woman of the Year, Women Everywhere Roll Their Eyes

Honestly, does someone like Bono really need another award to fuel his giant ego? Probably not.
Heather Henderson for Culturess.

Mission Isn't For Amateurs: How Untrained Enthusiasts Can Do More Harm Than Good

In the past, prospective missionaries would spend a year or more at college learning (among other things) about different cultures and how to avoid unnecessary offence. Following on from college, the mission agency itself would spend time orienting the new missionaries to life in their particular field of service. However, the shift to short-term mission work means that prospective missionaries receive far less orientation than their predecessors. The simple fact is that many missionary careers today are shorter than the time it used to take to prepare people for overseas service.
Eddie Arthur for Christian Today. As important as it is for the Christian mission community to engage with the 'Dancing Missionaries' video and subsequent debate, I am not entirely convinced that longer mission trips and more education will be enough-but it's an important contribution to the debate from within the community.

10 “big picture” communications questions for the social good sector

New! Improved! More! Better! Now! Are we in the nonprofit sector “selling” ideas or an opportunity to get involved, which some might argue? My answer is this: Haven’t these very words actually devastated us by building a consumer culture, upholding the inequities we’re trying to fight? These are not concepts I often use when describing the slow, deliberate work of personal, community, and societal transformation – and the intersection between all three.
So here’s what’s rolling around in my head lately, as a result. I hope these 10 “big picture” communications questions can spur your thinking as well!
Jennifer Lentfer with 10 'million dollar questions' for communication and development.

10 Frontier Technologies for International Development

Put simply: the more grounded technological development efforts are in specific, tangible development and The Ten Frontier Technologies report humanitarian challenges, the more sensitive they are to national and local political and cultural contexts, and the more they include local communities, organizations and governments as active creators and owners and not just as targets or end-users, the more likely they are to be successful.
This is one of the overarching messages from the new report Ten Frontier Technologies for International Development by the IDS Digital and Technology research group
Ben Ramalingam introduces his latest report on Duncan Green's blog.

Foundation CEOs Shouldn’t Serve on Corporate Boards

There are also plenty of significant but less visible risks and complications: the raised eyebrows at other foundations; the danger that his credibility will be undermined both inside and outside the Ford Foundation; the ammunition for critics who see inconsistency behind the lofty rhetoric of Mr. Walker’s writings; and the members of his staff who may not be so loyal or supportive when the next controversy comes around.
Given all these risks, it’s worth asking what the Ford Foundation might actually gain from such an arrangement. In theory, the answer is well-rehearsed: A seat on the board of a major corporation provides unparalleled access to its decision-making processes, enabling public figures like Mr. Walker to exert their influence in favor of greater social and environmental responsibility. The problem is that such influence rarely reaches very far into the company’s core business.
Michael Edwards for the Chronicle of Philanthropy responds to the recent appointment of the Ford Foundation's president to the PepsiCo board. As long as PepsiCo's core business and value chain come with environmental and public health challenges, especially is the global South, a seat on the board seems to look like window-dressing and supporting CSR rhetoric rather than substance.

Why do NGOs continue to focus their publicity strategies on the mainstream media?

Together, these various factors create what I call “reinforcing path dependencies.” By this term, I call attention to the way in which the enduring emphasis on mainstream media coverage is the result of interactions across a number of sectors. NGOs, journalists, government officials and donors each in their own way contribute to the persistence of media-centered strategies.
It is important to note that NGOs that prioritize media coverage are also involved in a range of digital efforts, from multimedia content creation to social media engagement.
Nonetheless, my research suggests that digital possibilities do not automatically translate into digital realities. Instead, NGO communication strategies are shaped by – and likely will continue to be shaped by – the people and institutions in which they are embedded.
Matthew Powers presents his research and outlines some of the complexities of NGO communication between the echo chamber, attempts to influence policy and getting to terms with digital realities in an algorithmic culture.

Developing and operationalizing Responsible Data Policies

Going from policy to implementation is a challenge that involves both capacity strengthening in this new area as well as behavior change and a better understanding of emerging concepts and multiple legal frameworks. The nuances by country, organization and donor make the process difficult to get a handle on.
Because staff and management are already overburdened, the trick to developing and implementing Responsible Data Policies and Practice will be finding ways to strengthen staff capacity and to provide guidance in ways that do not feel overwhelmingly complex.
Linda Raftree with a great overview over the emerging responsible data debate in the ICT4D community!

Humanitarian efforts benefit from drones as ethical debate continues

“I think that when it comes to humanitarian applications of drones there is a very clear value proposition. It’s a use case that makes sense to everybody. There’s still hurdles on the technological and integration sides of things.”
UNICEF officials said forming relationships with international governments and the price of using drones are obstacles that need to be overcome.
“It’s still more expensive to use a drone in Malawi than it is to pay somebody to take (supplies) on a motorbike,” said Chris Fabian, of UNICEF’s Office of Innovation and Ventures.
But in Malawi the process is also simpler, opening up the door to the possibility of wider-scaled distribution of supplies via drones.
Michael D. Regan for the PBS Newshour provides a good updated overview of the use of drones in humanitarian surroundings, featuring UNICEF, Patrick Meier (see next link) and more!

What Happens When the Media Sends Drone Teams to Disasters?

Media companies may not care to engage with local communities. They may be on a tight deadline and thus dispense with getting community buy-in. They may not have the time to reassure traumatized communities about the robots flying overhead. Media companies may overlook or ignore potential data privacy repercussions of publishing their aerial videos online. They may also not venture out to isolated and rural areas, thus biasing the video footage towards easy-to-access locations.
So how do we in the humanitarian space make media drone teams part of the solution rather than part of the problem? How do we make them partners in these efforts?
Patrick Meier adds another aspect of the use of drones in humanitarian scenarios, as media are increasingly interested in producing visually engaging (and relatively cheap) footage after natural disasters for example.

Why isn’t communication a greater public health priority?

Compared to other health interventions, communication has a reputation for having a weak evidence base. This reputation stems, in part, from disagreements about ‘what counts’ as evidence of impact in public health – a field in which where you often need a randomised control trial to back what you’re saying to get taken seriously.
Luckily, times are changing. Important figures in public health are realising the need to embrace a wider range of robust, yet practical, methods to evaluate the impact of complex community-focused health interventions. More resources are going into mapping the mountain of evidence that already exists around these approaches, helping build the case for investment and identify research gaps. There’s also far more that communication specialists themselves can do. Under-researched areas, like communication for improved maternal health and addressing malaria, should be explored in more depth. Questions of cost-effectiveness and how to scale up successes deserve closer attention. Health communicators need to get better at insisting that their work gets evaluated and opening up what they do to external scrutiny.
Caroline Sugg for BBC Media Action with a great overview over the organization's latest study on health and communication!

Studying development: seven tips for your master's

Macdonald adds: “I have a masters degree and in 15 or 20 years of working in this field I’ve never once been asked about my grades. Not even casually. I think the primary value of a degree is that it will make you a better practitioner. But experience living and working in the types of places you are interested in will help you to get a job.”
Abby Young-Powell for the Guardian. Solid, albeit quite conventional and not exactly ground-breaking advice.
I just happen to know a great program in Communication for Development that you could check out if you are contemplating studying an MA-no tuition for EU/EEA citizens ;)!

These four words that may offend you, may also just save you

As the discussion went on that morning, a common theme emerged. Many of these people did not want suggestions on how to keep from being burned out. What they wanted was to be fawned over and congratulated on how compassionate they were, and how they had the hardest jobs in the world, and that no one could possibly understand the work or appreciate how hard their jobs were. I’m sorry, I said. “I just don’t buy it. You invited me; I’m not here to validate you. That has to come from within.”
You see, I think we are a bit elitist as to how we view ourselves in medicine at times. Sure, this is a very hard job, charged with emotion; it leads to crying, heartbreak and nightmares on occasion. But it is also filled with incredible rewards both spiritually and even financially.
Louis M. Profeta's piece for is smarter than the clickbait headline indicates...many of the reflections also apply to 'our' aid industry and how we deal with professionalism, intrinsic motivation and stress...

Our digital lives

Yes, Amy Schumer Is Racist, And So Is Her Executive Producer

The most important step is owning that shit. And here’s what owning that shit doesn’t involve:
• Interrupting and dismissing the words of a Black Lives Matter co-founder talking to you about their lived experiences and how racism works.
• Adopting the fallacious “one-size-fits-all” approach to oppression by acting like if you know about one kind of oppression—say, being Jewish in America—you know about an entirely different kind of oppression—say, being Black in America.
• Trying to appease those who are offended without being held in any way truly accountable by relying on BS talk of “racially-charged language,” which signals something can rely on blatantly racist stereotyping without having ill intent or being harmful. If a man says something obviously offensive to a woman, do we call it “gender-charged language”? No, we call it “sexism.” Because it is.
Nikki Gloudeman for The Establishment. Read beyond the headline and the introduction! I think that the post is very relevant both for the aid industry and also academia where we also have to be aware of our language, privilege and power.

Bots, Lies And Propaganda: The New Misinformation Economy

The role algorithms play in this dissemination process is the best kept secret of the internet giants which have already grown into huge global media companies – obviously without taking any editorial responsibility for the nonsense they are multiplying on their platforms. Frank Pasquale, the American law professor (University of Maryland), speaks of a “Black Box Society” in which we increasingly seem to live.
Stephan Russ-Mohl for the European Journalism Observatory. There isn't anything groundbreakingly new in his essay, but it provides a good overview over journalism and 'mass communication' in the digital age. Could be a good primer for students, I think.

Hot off the digital press

How Work Works – An inventory of effects

How Work Works – An inventory of events is a collection of 6 critical texts that focus on the shifting paradigm of work and creativity. This publication traces the emergence and evolution of co-working, and pins creativity as an underlying factor to the way we think and work.
This is a substantial 124 page document with a good critical overview over work in the digital economy of our times!

Ebola anthropology: from real-time social science to building future local capacity

First is the importance of long-term social science and anthropological research, and support for it – including funding. The rapid response that we were able to mount would not have been possible without the team’s years and indeed decades of anthropological and interdisciplinary research in the region including projects, PhD and Masters’ theses, and the work of the ESRC STEPS Centre, funded by the ESRC and others. Some of this research had addressed health issues, but also important were understandings of broader aspects of social life, gender and political-economic context. To be ready to mobilise to prepare and respond to crises, such knowledge needs to be built in advance through patient commitment of time and resources; an important message in an era when the value of social science is too often equated with short term work yielding only immediate impacts.
Melissa Leach for the ESRC blog. Ok, this is a bit of a promotional piece for IDS and its relationship with the ESCR, but nonetheless it highlights some important aspects of how timely support in emergencies requires time, money and effort to build up, support and maintain after the immediate crisis is over.

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