Links & Contents I Liked 274

Hi all,

Because we discussed our four fantastic ComDev student blog projects this afternoon I am a little bit late with my link review...

Development news: UNAIDS, Bono & Oxfam #AidToo updates; Canada's feminist foreign policy challenges; measuring women's inclusion; Syria war fatigue; World Bank, end of poverty & Internet of Things; Heineken wants to do good; Decolonizing National Geographic; reading the new WDR on education; challenging #globaldev lingo; Drake's cash transfer; humanitarian oral history project; speaking out; disaster capitalism; ICRC augmented reality app;

Our digital lives: Tabloid India; women & open mapping; the tech behind an educational non-profit; millenials' exclusive ski resort.

Publications: A study on #allmalepanels.

Academia: A record-breaking 30 white men history conference; universities as experience providers.


New from aidnography

The Office meets global politics: New sitcom on life inside the United Nations

I caught up with the creators of The Mission Marie-Marguerite Sabongui and Benedict Moran to learn more about their UN sitcom project.
We discussed how to communicate development and international politics issues differently in an age of new TV platforms, satirical commentary as edutainment and what could be the beginning of a global movement of creative talent taking on the absurdities of the aid industry.
Development news
UN official questions ethics of sexual misconduct victims in bizarre speech

In the all-staff meeting, Sidibé said he had the full backing of António Guterres, the UN secretary general. Sidibé claimed Guterres had called him to say, “Let us continue, let us do what is right for people, let us not be held back.”.
Sidibé told staff they must not be divided, adding: “If we are not going united out of this room, believe me a lot of people will be losing their job, and families will be suffering – and that is not the people who should be suffering.”
Sidibé also appeared to criticise staff who have spoken to the media about concerns relating to the handling of the Loures investigation. “Some people don’t have ethics, and they don’t have [a] moral approach to respect this confidentiality,” he said, adding that he would not speculate on the case involving Loures.
Last month, several UN staff members told the Guardian they had been approached at their desks and asked to sign a letter in support of the deputy director.
Rebecca Radcliffe for the Guardian with a wowzer of speech (in the worst #AidToo meaning) from UNAIDS' director...

Sweden is the first donor to resume Oxfam funding

"Oxfam has been able to show that they have strong rules and routines that work in practice,” Eldhagen said. She added that the decision to resume funding is important for hundreds of thousands of people helped by the charity. “Fundamentally Oxfam is a good organization that does an impressive job. We know that they take these issues seriously."
Vince Chadwick for DevEx with an update after the #OxfamScandal.

Bono apologises after One charity hit by bullying allegations

She said the investigation showed "institutional failure" and that she had apologised to the former employees who agreed to speak to her.
Bono, meanwhile, spoke with the Mail on Sunday about its investigation, saying he was left "reeling and furious" when he learned of the allegations in November.
"My team and I heard concerns about low morale and poor management in this office but nothing along the lines of what emerged recently," he said.
"The head office failed to protect those employees and I need to take some responsibility for that," he told the Mail - adding that he would like to meet the victims to apologise in person.
Other prominent members of the charity's board include former UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer.
BBC News on yet another #AidToo story from the world of philanthrocapitalism...

Canada puts its feminist foreign policy to the test

Both Dobson-Hughes and Wibben ask whether the use of the term “feminist” instead of “women’s empowerment” or “women’s equality” could be a hindrance to long-term policy changes. “Finland has done many of the same things that Sweden has done but hasn’t called it ‘feminist foreign policy,’” Wibben says. “I’m wondering if it’s a branding effort more than it is a policy.”
Overall, Dobson-Hughes believes Canada has an uphill struggle this year, despite its heart being in the right place.
“Every single country in the world does badly at gender equality and women’s rights. There is no equal country that gets to sit on a moral high horse and lecture others. None of the G7 countries are where they would want to be and where they have all committed to be under the [UN] Sustainable Development Goals,” she says.
“Part of Canada’s big task ahead is [looking at] where are those places where it thinks it can make progress.”
Karen Ho for Open Canada on the challenges around gender and equality that lie ahead of the Canadian G7 presidency.

What Does the New Women, Peace, and Security Index Measure?

But the divergent national rankings in the WPS Index and the Global Peace Index do not necessarily tell us something new about security by adding women’s experiences of conflict. What they tell us is that different things are being measured, and specifically that the WPS Index is not taking adequate account of how some countries foster warfare, particularly abroad. The Global Peace Index, like all measures of fragility, instability, and conflict propensity, urgently needs a gender perspective. And the WPS Index would benefit from additional measures of conflict (for instance, measures of militarism) so that its understanding of organized violence captures more than in-country armed conflict.
Without indicators for organized violence beyond battle deaths, the WPS Index is less a way of calibrating how states score in terms of women peace and security, than a way of measuring women’s economic, political, and social security. In that sense, it is a great improvement on existing indices of gender equality or of women’s empowerment, but does not yet tell us which countries are able to engage women in making and keeping peace at home and abroad.
Anne Marie Goetz for the IPI Global Observatory on the improvements and shortcomings of how to create better indices that take gender into consideration

Here's Why You Probably Won't Read This Article About Syria
BuzzFeed News analysis, using the social media monitoring tool BuzzSumo, found that the number of shares on the most-read stories about Syria — across all publishers — has fallen dramatically in little over a year.
Comparisons are difficult, partly due to fluctuations in the intensity of the conflict, and also owing to Facebook’s recent algorithm change at the end of 2017. Nevertheless, the figures are stark.
“Watching it every day it just never stops, it never changes,” El-Katatney said. “It is just saturation. It’s desensitization, it’s numbness, it’s paralysis.
“I feel like if I have been doing this for years and years, and I have had millions watch and witness, but everything still remains the same.
She is left asking: “What kind of ways can we cover Syria that we haven’t done a thousand times before, whether it is with footage or with the scripting? And sometimes we fail. Sometimes there just really is nothing.”
Rose Troup Buchanan for Buzzfeed News on reporting on Syria after 7 long years of war.

Using Big Data and the Internet of Things to Help End Poverty

Second, we’re creating a new Internet of Things Big Data Initiative with operators, convened by GSMA. Just as the smartphone brought an unprecedented level of new opportunities for the poor to access markets and finance, we believe IoT can bring us closer to our goal of ending extreme poverty.
Jim Kim on LinkedIn. It's a bit like the Twitter 'RTs are not endorsements' caveat: For an organization that emphasizes 'evidence' so strongly this post is pure unsubstantiated buzzword, the 'Internet of Things' will not 'end poverty'!!

Not A Happy Hour: Critics Slam Health Alliance With Beer Giant

They also believe that the partnership creates a conflict of interest. One part of the beer company could be working with local health ministries to improve their pharmaceutical distribution networks while another part of the company could be working against those same ministries to potentially block new alcohol control measures.
The criticism of the Global Fund/Heineken partnership, however, continues. The influential medical journal The Lancet just came out with an editorial saying Sands should scrap the Heineken alliance. The editorial says the new head of the Global Fund with this partnership is "alienating large parts of the global health community."
Jason Beaubien for NPR Goats & Soda. PPPs and CSR is mainly window-dressing. International development needs strong, independent funding to create long-term inclusive change and multi-national companies are not interested in sustainability at all.

For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It

“National Geographic’s story barely mentions any problems,” Mason said. “There are no voices of black South Africans. That absence is as important as what is in there. The only black people are doing exotic dances … servants or workers. It’s bizarre, actually, to consider what the editors, writers, and photographers had to consciously not see.”
Contrast that with the piece in 1977, in the wake of the U.S. civil rights era: “It’s not a perfect article, but it acknowledges the oppression,” Mason said. “Black people are pictured. Opposition leaders are pictured. It’s a very different article.”
Fast-forward to a 2015 story about Haiti, when we gave cameras to young Haitians and asked them to document the reality of their world. “The images by Haitians are really, really important,” Mason said, and would have been “unthinkable” in our past. So would our coverage now of ethnic and religious conflicts, evolving gender norms, the realities of today’s Africa, and much more.
Susan Goldberg's post for National Geographic has been shared widely this week and encourages further debates on how to 'decolonize' our world.

Navigating Education’s Complexity – a review of the 2018 WDR

This, perhaps is the central implicit message of the 2018 WDR – that going forward, the crucial transformative idea is no longer the ‘education for all’ vision of the MDGs, but a vision of pro-active engagement by all stakeholders; a vision, one might say, of ‘ALL FOR EDUCATION!
Brian Levy for Working With The Grain shares his closer look at the new World Development Report 'Learning to Realize Education's Promise'.

Why I hate (the word) ‘beneficiaries’..

This group of women live in incredibly difficult circumstances. They have travelled miles to bring their children to this clinic and have to make daily choices that most of us can’t begin to understand. They are passionate, kind, resilient, tough, funny. They have hopes and dreams just like anyone else. But in development jargon they are usually referred to as ‘beneficiaries’.
Pete Vowles on aid lingo, (mis)representation and decolonizing our #globaldev discourses.

Two ideas to retire

Any words or phrases like “empower” or “capacity building” that can contain, assume, uphold, or cover up a giver/receiver dynamic and what have been severe and damaging power differentials in the international aid and philanthropy sector, are problematic for me as a Director of Communications.
And while we talk about aid lingo & discourses, Jennifer Lentfer shared her reflections on How Matters.

When Doing Good Feels Bad: Why looking away is not the answer
So, here’s what Macy is trying to say to us: If you’re trying to do good and it feels messed up, listen to your feelings. Trust your intelligence. And speak up.
In response, many people will urge you to numb, rationalise, and ultimately deny your experience. Often this is because deep down they are scared of having their world blown apart. They’re imploring you not to rock the boat, because they don’t know if they can handle it.
But many others who share your experience will open up to you, and some will give you courage and inspiration to find your own path trough this and your own answers that live up to your values.
Agnes Otzelberger's post sum up many recent debates from #AidToo to #allmalepanels & more that feeling paralyzed helps 'them' and we need to speak up!

Step One: Know Your Privilege

I discovered my own personal power in moments of real struggle and vulnerability. No matter what your situation, you ALWAYS have some power and privilege that you can tap into. You can be a person of colour who has just come into this country, you’re struggling and trying to make a life for yourself, and, if you look closely, you’ll see you that you have some form of power and privilege that you can tap into. It all depends on the conversation you’re having with and about yourself. So, get clear on the power that you do have and how you can use that power to lift yourself and other people up.
Tori Meyerowitz talk to Karen Craggs.

Is Drake Woke, Or Is He #Woke-Washing?

But is it a good way to distribute charity? And is Drake the best person to decide how money should be given away?
Probably not. People tend to give money to causes that mean something to them, not necessarily which charity is meeting the most urgent needs.
That doesn’t mean an ultimately self-centered music video hasn’t done some good, though. Seeing someone help a stranger makes us more likely to help others. So the thousands of tweets praising Drake’s generosity might not be as empty as we thought — each one of them is now more likely to help someone in need. And now that Drake has got the taste for giving, this likely won’t be his last generous gesture. This time it was his studio’s money. Next time it might be his own.
Nik Parekh for Bright Magazine on the complexities of Drake's recent cash transfer project to the poor...

100 Voices project-001: Tariq Riebl

Tariq has worked in humanitarian response for pretty much every major crisis of the last ten years. He reflects on how he got started, what keeps him going, and how to stay oriented in extraordinarily difficult circumstances.
100 Voices is a podcast series with people doing impactful work for places blighted by serious violence.
Rethink Fragility launches an interesting new humanitarian oral history project.

From North Dakota to Puerto Rico, Controversial Security Firm Profits From Oil Protests and Climate Disasters

As one Blackwater mercenary told Scahill, “This is a trend. You’re going to see a lot more guys like us in these situations.”
Pamela Spees, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights who represents anti-pipeline groups in Louisiana seeking to keep TigerSwan from operating in the state, said that large-scale natural disasters tend to create a vacuum of accountability as private security, military, and police forces descend on ravaged communities. “It raises a lot of concerns when you have this growing patchwork of private and state interests that are basically executing law enforcement and security functions in these settings,” said Spees.
Indeed, at the same time that TigerSwan was promoting its hurricane response work, personnel were jetting off to the Kuwait International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq, where TigerSwan sought some of the $30 billion put up for post-ISIS recovery, yet another conflict wrought by fossil fuel politics.
Alleen Brown for The Intercept with a textbook example of 'disaster capitalism'...

Enter the Room

War is back in cities and civilians are in the middle of it all.
In 2017, ICRC released I saw my city die, a in-depth report looking at the devastating impacts of today's urbanizing battlefield. With 'Enter the room' we are using the latest in augmented reality tech to provide an even more intimate sense of what it actually feels like when war comes to your doorstep.
The ICRC launches a new augmented reality app.

Our digital lives

Tabloid India
Instead, Indian media today report recklessly on ephemera that have no impact on public welfare, and focus constantly on the superficial and the sensational. In doing so, they trivialize public discourse and abdicate their responsibilities as facilitators and protectors of democracy. Far from a call for controls on the free press – no Indian democrat would issue such a call – this is a demand for better journalism. Government needs a free and professional media to keep it honest and efficient, to serve as both mirror and scalpel. A blunt axe serves no society well. If India wishes to be taken seriously as a responsible global player and a model twenty-first-century democracy, we must take ourselves seriously and behave responsibly. Our journalism, a face of India that others see and by which – fairly or not – we are judged, would be a good place to start.
Shashi Tharoor for Project Syndicate on India's changing media landscape.

Who Maps the World?

Another big barrier to women’s involvement in OSM, besides the already vast disparities in the tech sphere, Levine said, is time. All OSM work is volunteer-based. “Women have less free time because the work we’re doing in our free time is not considered work,” said Levine. “Cleaning duties, childcare, are often not considered shared behaviors. When the women are putting the baby asleep, the man is mapping.”
As a designer with DevelopmentSeed, a data technology group that is partnering with OSM to improve its maps, Ali Felski has been interviewing dozens of OSM users across the country about how they interact with the site. Most of them, she said, are older, retired men with time on their hands. “Mapping is less community-based. It’s technically detailed, and there aren’t a lot of nice instructions,” she said, factors that she thinks might be correlated with women’s hesitance to join the field. “I think it’s just a communication problem.”
Sarah Holder for City Lab on the importance of involving women in open mapping projects.

7 Lessons I've Learned as Kiron’s first CTO
Funding is a mess for the technical side of a social startup. Traditional investment doesn't work, because there's no value in the shares. Government funding expects functional work, in the form of projects. The logic doesn't allow for investing in infrastructure or technology for scale. It instead expects an organization - think Amnesty International or Doctors Without Borders - to have an existing IT department in a supporting role in the organizing. The structure does not give room for technology to be a leading force in innovation. Foundations - many of which are closely associated with silicon valley - are another path to go down, but it tends to require visible initial success or a super strong personal network, just like business itself. We need money to get things rolling, but we can’t expect the money up front.
Adam Roe on LinkedIn on how some of the ICT4D challenges of building an educational non-profit.

Welcome to Powder Mountain – a utopian club for the millennial elite

Then he explains how he always sits in the front seat of Uber taxis, talking to dozens of drivers a week, hearing “the most remarkable stories”. He ends up hanging out “with a significant number” of his drivers. I ask how many Uber drivers he’s invited to Summit. He doesn’t say, but instead tells me an anecdote about a chef he invited to Summit after meeting him “at this dilapidated castle in England”.
The conversation reminds me of so many I have had in and around San Francisco, in which millennials made rich through technology relay snippets of revelatory conversations they’ve had with Uber drivers, some of whom live and sleep in their cars. It is as though the taxi-sharing app is one of the last remaining cords keeping the new elites connected to everyone else’s world. When Uber rolls out its self-driving cars, even that fragile connection will be broken.
There is shocking stratification in places such as San Francisco, I say; cities that seem increasingly detached from the real world.
“It is a big problem,” he agrees. “That’s why a lot of successful people like living in New York, because in New York you’re just always in it. You just go down to Manhattan and you’re right there, back in society.”
Paul Lewis for The Guardian on how living in NYC and talking to your Uber driver keeps millennials 'grounded' in the harsh realities of (American) lives...


Advocating "End to Manels," New Report Highlights Persistence of Male-Dominated Conferences

The study—titled An End to Manels: Closing the Gender Gap at Europe’s Top Policy Events (pdf)—looked at "high-level" conferences that took place across the European Union over five years and conducted a statistical analysis of over 12,600 conference speakers. What it found was that these events averaged three male speakers to every woman, a ratio that Heather Grabbe, director of the Open Society European Policy Institute, argues undermines not only women but all of society.
"Diverse views and experiences bring greater wisdom and a better connection with the needs and aspirations of citizens," Grabbe said. "If women are stuck on the margins, policy misses out on many great ideas and insights."
Jon Queally for Common Dreams introduces an new report on #allmalepanels!

Isomorphism through algorithms: Institutional dependencies in the case of Facebook

Algorithms and data-driven technologies are increasingly being embraced by a variety of different sectors and institutions. This paper examines how algorithms and data-driven technologies, enacted by an organization like Facebook, can induce similarity across an industry. Using theories from organizational sociology and neoinstitutionalism, this paper traces the bureaucratic roots of Big Data and algorithms to examine the institutional dependencies that emerge and are mediated through data-driven and algorithmic logics. This type of analysis sheds light on how organizational contexts are embedded into algorithms, which can then become embedded within other organizational and individual practices. By investigating technical practices as organizational and bureaucratic, discussions about accountability and decision-making can be reframed.
Robyn Caplan & danah boyd with a new open access article in Big Data & Society.


The rise of the experience industry on campus
The message from all this is clear: education is not enough. To truly separate yourself from the masses and to snag the elusive full-time job, you must build your experience profile. Your peers are doing it, they are doing more of it, and they are doing it better. You must do more. And if you find this stressful, avail yourself of the numerous resources on campus designed to ensure your positive experience. It’s an experience feedback loop.
This is the paradox: we know that contemporary students are reporting record-high rates of anxiety and depression, yet we continue to push and incentivize them to do more and more. This not only exacerbates stress and anxiety but deprives students of the thing that is essential for their education, maturation and growth, and which is uniquely available in university: time.
Jonathan Finn for University Affairs on the paradoxes of modern university life, experiences and studies.


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