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Hi all,

We enjoyed a great teaching seminar with our students in Paris! Now back to work and Friday blogging… 

Development news: India’s farm suicide widows; Nepal’s slow recovery; Helvetas fails (in a good way…); can the impact hype lead to useful transformation? UNICEF as (good) venture capitalists; Jeff Sachs wants as to continue fighting against dark forces; investigative journalism in the Arab world; media & participation-it’s complicated; Sweden opened her mansplaining hotline. 

Our digital lives: The state of news photographers (85% are men!); Pew on the gig economy; 

Academia: How economist professors make 1000 dollars per hour on the side; the 60 million hours biomedical researchers spend on peer-reviewing each other; precarious employment in UK academia.


New from aidnography
This is the place to be (book review)

One of the reason why I enjoyed Lara’s book is that it adds more and new nuances to the on-going debate on how to use non-traditional forms of writing in discussing, researching and teaching communication and development. Her book spans a nice ark from autobiographical reflections to ‘serious’ debates about the changing nature of mainstream journalism. The woman in two halves is as much a philosophical ice breaker as another ‘serious’ topic to discuss (re)presentations of events in our post-factual, post-truth world. This is the fragility that adds much needed nuances to the textbooks, edited conference proceedings and academic journal articles that still dominate our ways of writing and (mis)representing ourselves and ‘the other’.
Development news
The women who did not die

It’s the same story over and over. After a suicide, the children drop out of school, unable to pay school fees. Between the ages of 13 and 17, the girls are married. Farmers don’t want their children to become farmers but they’re trapped. The high-cost, high-yield seeds; the thirsty cotton crop; the bone-dry skies, the bore-wells, the bills, the increasing amounts of fertiliser to rejuvenate the land, pesticides, labor costs, the dowries, the mouths to feed, the debt, the women, the shame. Within this self-perpetuating cycle with no apparent escape, ingesting chemicals or wrapping a noose around the neck are all-too-friendly exits for men. While their deaths might bring personal escape, these men leave behind crippling emotional, financial and physical burdens, inherited by those left to farm the dust: the women who did not die.
Rianna Pauline Starheim for Himal Magazine with multi-media article from India.

4 Things to Know About Post-Earthquake Aid and Recovery in Nepal

The IRM research indicates that while people have so far managed to somehow get by, conditions remain extremely difficult for those affected, and there are real risks of poverty traps, rising food insecurity, and disease. Labor migration and the sale of assets to repay high-interest loans may become more common. Further, discontent of those left behind may lead to tensions and existing inequalities may be reinforced as already marginalized and vulnerable groups are recovering more slowly.
Lena Michaels for the Asia Foundation sums up new research from post-eathquake Nepal-the situation is not hopeless, it also confirms that part of Nepal will stuck in poverty for the foreseeable future...

The ‘oops moments’: why should we care about discussing ‘failures’?

Some colleagues working in the field who described their experience as ‘failing well’ did not share the experience with their partners ‘because we did not want to stir up trouble’. Yet they believed that the experience made team members ‘more open minded when someone came along with a proposal to start something new to achieve similar goals’… and this led to an intervention that we are now very happy with.’ This confirms the experience of another colleague: ‘I have learned most in “the stress zone” where oops moments are integral part of it.’
Zenebe Uraguchi and Riff Fullan share reflections on Helvetas' engagement with the 'failure' debate. Still a long way to go, but great to see that more organizations at least start having these debates and share them openly!

Caroline Fiennes: How can we make impact measurement more useful?

People will throw rocks when I say this, but I increasingly think that non-profits’ impact research isn’t a serious attempt at research. If it were, there would be proper training for non-profits on producing it, training for funders on commissioning it and interpreting it, guidelines for reporting it clearly, and quality control mechanisms akin to peer review, and places to put it, such as repositories and journals. There aren’t.
Caroline Fiennes for Civil Society Voices with some great food for thought on how to turn the impact hype into transformational organizational learning.

Venture investing in symmetry, fairness, and global collaboration: Launching the UNICEF Innovation Fund

UNICEF’s Innovation Fund is not just a new investment vehicle, giving its investors and partners a better sense of what’s being developed in some of the world’s most exciting markets; it is also a narrative of change. We will prove that investing in places that are not on the radar of traditional financial vehicles and creating communities around the production of open-source solutions builds a network of individuals, companies, and solutions that far surpasses the initial investment.
Chris Fabian presents UNICEF's latest innovation and the first 5 companies that received venture capital for their projects.

Jeff Sachs on global development after Trump

Well, if you’re in development — if you’re fighting poverty, if you’re fighting climate change — you’re in a battle every single day. If you let up, bad things will happen because making a change of the world’s system is not easy. So people that are in this battle have to be prepared for a long, tough, difficult battle of public education, of awareness, and of politics and power. Because we’re up against very powerful interests. Those interests are weakening, and sense is stepping in in a lot of ways. But we’re still facing a lot of powerful interests that paid for a lot of candidates, that buy a lot of candidates. And so this is not a simple battle. So keep with it, but don’t expect an easy road.
Yes, I want to share as little about the post-election situation in the US as possible, but Jeff Sachs makes an excellent point that 'we' in development already know how to fight against bigger, detrimental forces and that we need to keep up the pressure...

The silent revolution

A wave of investigative journalism practice is growing in the Arab world, thanks largely to the establishment of the Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) - the region's first institutionalised investigative journalism training
While many investigations are limited to social, environmental and economic issues, some journalists are risking their lives by exposing political corruption and effecting real change
Seba Bebawi on her research and training on the 'silent revolution' of grass-roots driven investigative journalism in the Arab world.

Media, participation and social inclusion: what are the links?

Despite not reaching high numbers of younger and less educated people, we found that our discussion programmes resonate particularly well with these traditionally marginalised groups. The higher level of participation for these groups is, on average, greater than the levels seen for those more typically involved in politics, helping bridge the difference in political participation between them.
Looking at gender, we saw something different. Women who watch/listen to our programmes are more likely to participate in politics than women who haven’t tuned in. However, this difference in participation is greater between men in our audiences and men who aren’t. Considering that men are already more likely to participate in politics, it appears that the media could be reinforcing gender imbalances.
Chris Snow for BBC Media Action presents some really interesting and nuanced findings and questions for future research; media and participation-it's complicated...

'Mansplaining' hotline opens for business in Sweden

"No matter what a woman says, a man always seems to know better. While it can happen both ways, more women tend to be the victims of this presumption that women need men to explain them things," she added.
While she's received plenty of complaints, a lot of men have also called in worried about whether they engage in this type of behavior.
"A common question has been: 'How do I know I've been doing this?'
Karla Pequenino for CNN on how trade unions in Sweden started a hotline to collect examples and educate about 'mansplaining'.

Our digital lives
Under pressure, but still positive: professional photographers in the digital age

If we think how important the visual image is in our day-to-day lives, online and offline, it should be a matter of general concern that the people who dedicate their lives to capturing quality, meaningful pictures are under pressure and, in some cases, being squeezed out of business.
Adrian Hadland summarizes findings from the The State of News Photography 2016 survey; in addition to issues of precarity, it is quite astonishing that 85% of news photographer are male-so almost 9 out of 10 of our images we see in news media were shot through a male 'lens'...

Gig Work, Online Selling and Home Sharing

Participation in labor platforms, for example, is more common among blacks and Latinos than among whites, more common among those with relatively low household incomes than those with relatively high household incomes, and more common among young adults than any other age group. But when it comes to capital platforms such as online selling, the reverse is true: Online selling is more prevalent among whites than blacks, more common among the well-off and well-educated than those with lower levels of income and educational attainment, and is engaged in by a relatively broad range of age groups.
Aaron Smith shares the latest Pew Research Center findings on the 'gig economy'-which is a stratified, and racialized necessity for quite a substantial part of participants.

Hot off the digital press

Examining “Digital Development”: The Shape of Things to Come?

This paper proposes a model for understanding what digital development consists of, and then investigates the patterns of economic, political and social transformation that may be associated with digital development. To frame this investigation, it sees economic and political life dominated by a competitive logic that contests with a subordinate cooperative logic. The signs from digital development to date are that five broad patterns can be seen. “Copy”, “Spread”, “Curve” and “Boost” are patterns involving the dominant competitive logic. “Shift” involves strengthening of the subordinate cooperative logic.
Richard Heeks with a new working paper from Manchester University's Global Development Institute.

These Professors Make More Than a Thousand Bucks an Hour Peddling Mega-Mergers

The premier economists in the field move back and forth from consulting firms to the top positions at the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission. In 2006, Carlton joined the Bush Department of Justice for a 17-month stint as the highest-ranking department economist, before returning to the firm. Carlton and the other luminaries in the field keep busy.
Jesse Eisinger and Justin Elliott for ProPublica. You will probably be as surprised as I am that no anthropologists, media scholars or peace researchers were among those high-level advisors; economists and legal scholars earn some nice extra income while the precariat teaches their classes...

The Global Burden of Journal Peer Review in the Biomedical Literature: Strong Imbalance in the Collective Enterprise

An estimated 63.4 million hours were devoted to peer review in 2015, among which 18.9 million hours were provided by the top 5% contributing reviewers. Our results support that the system is sustainable in terms of volume but emphasizes a considerable imbalance in the distribution of the peer-review effort across the scientific community.
Michail Kovanis , Raphaël Porcher, Philippe Ravaud and Ludovic Trinquart with more insights on peer review. One commentator suggested that if peer review would be remunerated with 100USD/GBP/EUR per hour (which I find a bit high...), it means that the publishing oligopoly outsources 6 Billion dollars to the academic system-while shareholders enjoy healthy profits; journal article publishing has become an expensive burden, but there seems no way to break through the rituals...

Universities accused of 'importing Sports Direct model' for lecturers' pay

One-year and two-year contracts are an inevitable part of grant-funded research. But these figures show temporary and zero-hours contracts are now widespread among those teaching undergraduates. University managers typically argue that such flexible contracts allow young academics to gain valuable experience. But in interviews with the Guardian, academics have disputed that argument from their own experience
Aditya Chakrabortty and Sally Weale for The Guardian. Working conditions at UK universities are deteriorating-unless you are part of the '1%' class of super-managers with 200-400K GBP salaries...


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