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Hi all,

It's really starting to feel like autumn as all of my favorite pet/animal/zoo social media accounts feature mammals munching on pumpkins...groundhogs, otters, red pandas, beavers, possums, porcupines...if it has reasonably sharp teeth they get sunk into the orange veggie :).
That shouldn't distract us from the realities of another week in #globaldev which, incidentally, also includes exotic fruits, but also serious journalism from Libya, on the Gates foundation, UN feminism, TikTok vs Instagram in India & a manual on how to ingrain power asymmetry in global health research...and fridge magnets!

Enjoy!

My quotes of the week
arguing that the lack of secrets at the foundation somehow justifies its undemocratic power. And it’s built on a patently false premise: the idea the Gates Foundation is transparent. The foundation’s CEO, Mark Suzman, has stated that its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion depends on “transparency and accountability,” yet neither he nor the foundation responded to multiple inquiries from The Nation, including basic queries about the racial composition of the groups it funds or its staff, or requests to discuss its work on race and equity. (The Gates Foundation Avoids a Reckoning on Race and Power)

Facebook’s expansion strategy involved courting upper-class and caste influencers, who set the tone for a very different online space. Critics say that Reels has replaced the textured, complex, and often inclusive creator community on TikTok with bland, aspirational content: an advertisement for a middle-class lifestyle unobtainable for Indians from marginalized communities, like the Mahtos.
“Instagram has been the place for a … fantasy of a better life; of fashion and better aesthetics,” said Divya Kandakuri, a 24-year-old anti-caste activist from Andhra Pradesh. “TikTok was a more democratic space, more acceptable to change.”

(Instagram has largely replaced TikTok in India, and erased working-class creators)

Development news
There is no mercy’: Refugees in Libya desperate for help as thousands rounded up
Refugees and migrants in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, are appealing for help after at least 5,000 – including torture survivors, pregnant women and children – were rounded up in raids over the past six days and detained indefinitely.
Libyan authorities say they are taking action against illegal migration and drug trafficking. Photographs and videos taken during the raids showed those detained being beaten or sitting on the ground, with heads bowed and hands tied behind their backs.
The raids have confirmed the fears of refugees in Tripoli, many of whom were trapped in a cycle of trafficking and smuggling, detention and exploitation for years before they were freed.
Sally Hayden for Irish Times continues her reporting from the frontlines of the Libyan refugee crisis.

How we helped investigators in the WHO sex abuse probe
While we are encouraged that the commission confirmed the findings of our investigations – and some much-needed reforms may arise – we are still concerned that there remains a fundamental misunderstanding about the role journalists should play after uncovering such abuse.
Because of our commitment to keep reporting on these abuses, part of this involves asking follow-up questions long after we publish our stories.
In this case, that meant asking the commission about progress in the investigation, how the investigation was being conducted, the methodology, the number of investigators being deployed, languages spoken; and, critically, what would be done to protect victims.
Asking those questions did not mean we were questioning the independent commission’s competence – we know that many of its members have far more experience in investigating these claims than we do – but we have also reported on botched investigations.
Paisley Dodds for the New Humanitarian shares some reflections on the relationship between journalism and the WHO investigation which was featured in last week's link review.

Fruit sculptures in Hackney honour Windrush generation
Ryan’s three sculptures of Caribbean fruits – Custard Apple (Annonaceae), Breadfruit, (Moraceae) and Soursop (Annonaceae) – in bronze and marble were installed in Narrow Way Square on Mare Street on Friday morning.
“I was invited to make work about Windrush because it’s so complex,” Ryan said. “I grew up in the 1950s. My parents moved between London and Watford. I remember some of the complexities my parents had during the 1950s. I remembered my mum and some of her friends discovering Ridley Road market, and my mother bought fabrics and threads. I remembered some of the fruits and vegetables.”
The use of fruits ties into the narrative of migration and movement, she added.
'It's underwhelming': Hackney residents divided as Windrush sculptures are unveiled
Speaking to Hackney local Martin, who is looking and touching the fruit, he says he "is grateful for the colours and the change to scenery in Mare Street".
"I don't think it screams out that it is for Windrush," he said. "I was just passing and thought let me check it out.
"It is quite a nice thing to have some exotic fruit around here. I just don't think it tells a story, they could have put it on a pedestal.
"I think there's something quite underwhelming. Ultimately, I'm quite undecided about it."
Aamna Mohdin for the Guardian & Ayokunle Oluwalana for My London on the new artwork commemorating the Windrush generation

Facebook’s role in Myanmar and Ethiopia under new scrutiny
In her testimony Haugen blamed engagement-based ranking for “literally fanning ethnic violence” in countries like Ethiopia. “Facebook … knows, they have admitted in public, that engagement-based ranking is dangerous without integrity and security systems, but then not rolled out those integrity and security systems to most of the languages in the world,” Haugen said. And that’s what is causing things like ethnic violence in Ethiopia.”
Emmanuel Akinwotu for the Guardian on Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen's testimonial before the US Congress.

The Data Manipulation Scandal That Could Topple the Heads of the World Bank and IMF, Explained

Beyond that, what can the Bank do to restore its credibility? Paul Romer has proposed outsourcing the research department entirely. Devesh Kapur and my colleague Arvind Subramanian have a forthcoming op-ed arguing this scandal reinforces the case for meritocratic hiring, and the end to the US-EU deal to monopolize leadership of the Bank and Fund. In a recent external panel review of Doing Business chaired by Mauricio Cárdenas, a group I participated in proposed a variety of more modest internal safeguards and transparency measures. But those measures may be little match for deliberate manipulation ordered from the very top. For that, there seems to be little alternative but to gather all the facts and hold those responsible accountable.
Justin Sandefur for CGD with all the background to the 'Doing Business' data scandal & the bigger crisis of trust in Word Bank research.

How do visual representations of refugees affect viewers of different political sensibilities?
Simply put, these results suggest that any visual representation campaign will change public views and support for refugees only among those on the right of the political spectrum, and only if images centre on vulnerable children.
(...)
Simply put, participants with right-wing political sensibilities are as sensitive to images of children in groups as they are to images of individual children. These results raise questions as to the boundaries of the identified victim effect, and point to more research being need as to when groups of children are perceived as units.
Delia Dumitrescu & Erik Bucy for Media@LSE; very important, nuanced new research with interesting implications for journalists, #globaldev comms + fundraising!
Breaking the Class Ceiling
Class is about economic power, but it is about so much more, notably the way that money is transformed and consolidated through society and culture into a myriad of different ways in which people differentiate themselves. The way we speak, the way we eat, the clothes we wear, our views and understanding. The social networks, the friends, the connections. The multiplicity of ways in which we differentiate ourselves from one another in terms of our socio-economic background. How these multiple signals conspire to project a negative picture of those from the working class, form a barrier to access, and justify privilege. In this way I think class is a far richer frame of analysis than terms like ‘the rich’ or ‘the poor’ or even ‘elites’.
Max Lawson for fp2p with interesting thoughts on the class question-and how to include it in a meaningful way in #globaldev organizations & their work.

The Gates Foundation Avoids a Reckoning on Race and Power
It’s an odd logic, arguing that the lack of secrets at the foundation somehow justifies its undemocratic power. And it’s built on a patently false premise: the idea the Gates Foundation is transparent. The foundation’s CEO, Mark Suzman, has stated that its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion depends on “transparency and accountability,” yet neither he nor the foundation responded to multiple inquiries from The Nation, including basic queries about the racial composition of the groups it funds or its staff, or requests to discuss its work on race and equity.
The Gates Foundation is testing the limits of its power by refusing to engage with the rapidly expanding conversation around decolonization. Scholars, writers, and activists are publishing on this topic in Forbes, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and elsewhere, and the growing debate will continue to pressure the foundation to justify the logic of its power. To explain the collateral damage in its bullying crusade to help the poor. To reckon with the difference between giving away money and actually sharing power.
Tim Schwab for the Nation; Gates has become a bit like Facebook-a global platform for reflections, discussions, expectations & more on what philanthropy could, should, perhaps even must like in the 21st century...

An American Feminist, Honored by France, Carries On a Tireless Global Fight for Women’s Rights
I was part of the campaign when I worked in the UN to get an assistant secretary-general for human rights in New York, and while it sounds bureaucratic, I think it was one of my team’s most significant accomplishments. The voices for human rights are stronger than they used to be in the UN, but they are still not strong enough. Human rights is cited as one of the UN pillars, but it has yet to be fully integrated into the UN mindset. Too often it is seen as problematic and inconvenient, destructive rather than complementary of the other work of the UN. Respect for human rights is fundamental and critical to sustainable peace and development — while at times in the UN, these goals are set against each other; in the long run they are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. Dismissing human rights concerns for reasons of political expedience may seem like an easier route at times but I think has long-term consequences that far outweigh any short-term advantage that may be perceived.
For UN Women, I think it needs to play a more effective role inside the UN, and it needs to be more of a bridge for women outside the UN, women who are working independently of their governments in NGOs and otherwise and who need more support.
Barbara Crossette talks to Jessica Neuwirth for PassBlue; interesting long-read on feminist work around UN institutions & more!

The Activist, and why we must consider the cultural footprint of our work
The Activist wanted to “inspire real change”, but they decided to do this by further reinforcing values such as wealth, through their focus on celebrity, public image, through their focus on individual changemakers, and success, through their focus on competition and ‘winning’ (this is perhaps hardly surprising, considering the organisation behind the show is Global Citizen, but that’s a whole other blog post!). They purposefully designed a show to engage these values, in the hope that they would generate support for social and environmental causes. From an understanding of values, we can see how this is harmful. Anyone wishing to help overcome the world’s most pressing challenges, would do well to consider the wider cultural footprint of their work and think carefully about the values they are foregrounding.
Ruth Taylor for the Common Cause Foundation continues the debate on the quick rise & spectacular fall of 'The Activist'...

Tech Localisation-Why the localisation of aid requires the localisation of technology
Even in a future in which we can imagine communication not just as aid, but as a right for disaster-affected communities, the Rohingya population is still excluded in every way. Instead of being a success story of digital democratisation, this is an example of communities communicating to the world in spite of the lack of trust in those tools used to share news and images, the bureaucracy, censorship, xenophobic policies, and great economic and cultural-linguistic challenges. This ideal of equal accessibility and engagement through technology is, and will remain, only a myth if none of the supporting systems are designed to work for them.
Dragana Kaurin for the CDAC Network with a short, food-for-thought-packed paper!

‘It’s given me love’: connecting women from refugee backgrounds with communities through art
Drawing on existing skills, learning new skills and gaining confidence encouraged the women to sell their work in various local markets and pop up shops. One woman became known in the broader community for her excellent dressmaking skills and set up her own business. These new initiatives presented a way forward for women who had previously been denied employment opportunities.
Mandy Hughes, Barbara Rugendyke & Louise Whitaker for the Conversation with a positive story on refugee 'empowerment'.

Our digital lives
Instagram has largely replaced TikTok in India, and erased working-class creators
At its peak in 2020, TikTok had 200 million users in India. What made it remarkable was the opportunity it offered for creators like the Mahtos, economically downtrodden and from marginalized caste backgrounds, who were otherwise invisible on the Indian internet. It allowed them to become bona fide pieces of the nation’s digital culture, and to build a career online.
That was taken from them when, in June 2020, the Indian government banned the platform, along with 58 other Chinese-owned apps, in retaliation for the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers in a border clash.
What was a gutting blow for Indian creators has transpired to be a gift for Facebook, whose Instagram Reels, a competing short-form video platform, has grown swiftly to fill the vacuum. But Facebook’s expansion strategy involved courting upper-class and caste influencers, who set the tone for a very different online space. Critics say that Reels has replaced the textured, complex, and often inclusive creator community on TikTok with bland, aspirational content: an advertisement for a middle-class lifestyle unobtainable for Indians from marginalized communities, like the Mahtos.
“Instagram has been the place for a … fantasy of a better life; of fashion and better aesthetics,” said Divya Kandakuri, a 24-year-old anti-caste activist from Andhra Pradesh. “TikTok was a more democratic space, more acceptable to change.”
Yashraj Sharma for Rest of World on what 'ICT4D' really means in 2021...

Fridge Magnets and Memory: Part 1
During the 1970s, refrigerator magnets shifted from somewhat-novel to totally ubiquitous, the kind of thing that everybody owns and that nobody actually notices without conscious effort. In the process, the American refrigerator its transition from smooth-surfaced kitchen appliance to an early form of social media, a collective family bulletin board. Zimmerman’s Magic Magnets, Hardcastle’s Ad Specialties, and the Chinese and Japanese magnet-makers were just one of hundreds of companies seeking to capitalize on the Nixon-era magnet rush.
Faine Greenwood for substack on the history of fridge magnets-the sort of stuff the Internet was initially invented for...

Publications
Twenty steps to ingrain power asymmetry in global health biomedical research
Toward expanding footprint, take key and costly pieces of equipment from your original Partner Country for servicing and then reallocate them to your Next Favorite Country, where they will be more useful because of Partner Country reagent procurement difficulties. The tent sheltering hazardous waste should remain in Partner Country, so that you can continue to present your field lab as a regional center for excellence. Even though they have never designed a study, adapted a protocol, or communicated on the work with anyone but you, your Guys are on the verge of becoming leaders in the field, thanks to the capacity you built.
Iruka N. Okeke for Plos Biology with a great example of how irony/humour/satire should play a much larger role in academic publishing!

How shadow states threaten democracies
Call them illiberal democracies, elective dictatorships or 'no-party' politics, the global tide of authoritarianism with constitutional characteristics has been welcomed, sometimes pioneered, by some governments in Africa.
Mobile telecommunications and broadband internet have ended state monopolies on information and have been taken up by activists. They have also pressured more governments to organise elections with a patina of credibility, or as a senior diplomat put it, to show that 'an election-like event has taken place'. In many ways, the pandemic and accompanying public health and financial crises have exacerbated these trends.
Africa Confidential with an open access piece that summarizes recent work of how political leaders are subverting constitutional rules across the continent.

Explicability of humanitarian AI: a matter of principles
our analysis highlights the potential harm to people resulting from algorithmic opacity, either through removal or obfuscation of the causal connection between triggering events and humanitarian services through the so-called black box effect (algorithms are often described as black boxes, as their complexity and technical opacity hide and obfuscate their inner workings (...). Recognizing the need for a humanitarian ethics dimension in the analysis of automation, AI, and ADMs used in humanitarian action, we endorse the concept of “explicability” as developed within the ethical framework of machine learning and human-computer interaction, together with a set of proxy metrics.
Giulio Coppi, Rebeca Moreno Jimenez & Sofia Kyriazi with an open access article for the Journal of Humanitarian Action.

What we were reading 4 years ago

(Link review 209, 25 November 2016)

Lessons the BBC learned from innovating with African start-ups
Although the BBC is becoming better at being more agile in digital innovation, it is still a huge global organisation and things take time; sometimes longer than in smaller companies. Our average time between staging a hackathon and putting a pilot into a live environment was over six months. Companies that want to work with us need to manage their expectations – we are trying our best, but things like contracts, information security clearance and publishing to live environment do take time.
Dmitry Shishkin for BBC with interesting reflections on developing products which still sounds pretty realistic today...

Founding an Organization Remotely via Skype Chat
We had to chat. What’s amazing about chat – the reasons which we learned later on – is that it’s extremely participatory, extremely efficient, and extremely supportive of all the people in the team. The way that happens is as follows, in Skype for example when you write a message and you’re watching someone else write a message, you’ll see the little pencil moving.
Let’s say I’m chairing a meeting with a bunch of people here. I have an agenda item which is to discuss the time that we suggest or what we feel about raising money through certain means? Then we have a discussion about that. As the moderator of that discussion I don’t move on until I see that pencil stop moving, disappear for example.
Christian Kreutz for crisscrossed on organizational development through Skype Chat which sounds strangely anachronistic & intriguing four years later...

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