international development, technology, & human rights news
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    Of course there is no acknowledgement of the environmental impact of all those mobile phones, servers, and electrical power plants that are required for electronic data collection.

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    From a colleague:

    There is a anti-capitalist critique of RUTF saying that it is a product driven intervention, then there is a critique from the “leftist” NGOs that the RUTF market is corrupt because the production is licensed and purchased by one international body – UNICEF. The NGOs like Valid and Project Peanut Butter want to get into the market – make a little dosh, but their quality standards of RUTF products have not yet passed the test.

    MUAC screening and RUTF treatment of children with SAM works. It is visibly evident in 2 weeks that children come back to an improving state of health. Jerry cans that carry potable water also help children survive. Should we fetishize these jerry cans too?

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    The World Bank also offers 17 different mobile apps on its website

    Is there really that much demand for browsing development indicators on iphones? Tabular data is not easy to use on a small screen.

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      that’s a really great question. it’s not really done as tabular data on the apps, you navigate them through interactive drop downs and such. i downloaded a bunch of their apps and then promptly deleted them. some of the apps are also interactive versions of reports… but really, who has the time or desire to play with world bank reports? both are way more consumable as tabular data or an open access pdf (which is sometimes hard to find on their site)

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    I find it sad that in 2013 ReliefWeb needed “ReliefWeb Labs” to come up with a usable mobile website. Maybe in the next decade their “Labs” will make a modern responsive site.

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    This is a real estate land-grab boondoggle, nothing to do with tech. Silicon Valley wasn’t made by shiny offices, it was made by entrepreneurs, VC’s and Stanford coming together to focus on tech in garages.

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      interesting. land-grab by whom? global tech firms looking for office space in the region? government officials?

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    glad to hear some positives about the situation, but this author is also very critical of the environment that created 3 maps/7 phone numbers and identifies some of the key problems (emphasis added):

    it’s true that some might irresponsibly publicize reporting channels that seem to promise response they can’t deliver, and technology is most certainly something we are now seeing organizations use to make themselves look good even at the expense of the public. We should ask whether there were unnecessary institutional barriers or unethical motivations to any lack of coordination or collaborative spirit, and direct our transparency lens that way. If competition for funding or funder requirements inhibited the social benefit of working together, as it usually does, then these incentive systems should be exposed. Also, the opportunism of pop-up and parachute technology projects just a week or so before the election is a distraction, and there were several of these as well. But what I think we’ve seen here is a partial triumph of civic collectivism over the usual silos created by the donor marketplace, which is why I’m seeing the glass as half-full. It could stand to be filled up all the way.

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    here is some better analysis! (like what we were hoping for!) :)

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    The author nails it when she says “We all knew it. We all saw this coming…” but the subsequent analysis is a little thin. Would love to read a post that delves into the coordination piece, who’s funding these maps, the incentives (financial and otherwise), mapping a planned event vs. an emergency situation, etc.

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      the ihub released a report from their prespective: http://www.research.ihub.co.ke/uploads/2013/march/1363674156__133.pdf

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        thanks for this. funny that ihub’s perspective does not acknowledge any of the other election monitoring projects that were also underway

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          Yes, I noticed that as well. I’m hoping their more comprehensive report in June will address the other projects. Maybe we should encourage the iHub to ask that question in that report? :)

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    Really great examination of the dark side of open data

    Open data undermines the power of those who benefit from “the idiosyncracies and complexities of communities… Local residents [who] understand the complexity of their community due to prolonged exposure.”

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    Why does the post end with a photo of a hat?

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      Ah, the blog post is about the study. Patrick Meier wears that hat, he’s kind of iconically known for it.

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        That is very strange

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          Agreed. He lost it once, and there was a crowdsourced effort to figure out where he left it. (hint: crowdsourcing totally works, because the crowd found it) :)

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    i agree with the author that its really hard to draw conclusions from this, but i find it a very interesting and thought-provoking analysis

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    Sorry, I know this is more newsy than most posts here, but I simply must highlight the name of one of the arrested aides, as it is one of the greatest names I have heard:

    Police on Sunday also raided and searched Harare offices of Tsvangirai’s media and communications unit. Three other members of Tsvangirai’s personal staff were arrested on Sunday morning, the independent Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said.

    They were identified as Warship Dumba, Felix Manditse and Annah Muzvidziwa, all close aides of Tsvangirai.

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    I think he makes a very good point that local data – data that is referenced geospatially – is what is going to get people excited. And governments are very slow to give this away.

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      Yeah thats a great point. Though I hope the excitement about geotagged data calms down a bit. Since there is so little geotagged data, most organizations seem compelled to just put pins on a map for every geotagged dataset and assume its useful. Maybe if more datasets were geotagged we’d see fewer useless maps (as the novelty wears off) and hopefully some maps that enable better insight into the data.

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      I don’t know. Latitude and longitude are just metadata. The data still has to be interesting.

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        The stuff most of us are interested in: who is doing what and who owns what. (With the where of course)