Category Archives: Innovation & Creativity

My heart’s with Ethan

 Chris Jordan, Cell Phones, 2007 (courtesy: http://www.chrisjordan.com/)

Ethan Zuckerman remains my No. 1 favourite blogger of all times, and given how much I struggle to update GlobaLab at least 2-3 times a week, while trying to work and retain a decent social life, I am in awe at his amazing prolificacy.

A quick browse at his last few entries would be enough to feed an average person’s brain for 6 months. Over the last few days, he’s been busy reporting from the PopTech conference, which he describes as “the annual three-day gathering of scientists, inventors, geeks, philosophers and thinkers in coastal Maine“. The event is a catwalk for amazing projects and ideas that are truly transforming the world. If you haven’t followed the event, you can read Ethan’s posts on some of the most interesting presentations, including (but there are more):

It took me good part of the day to read them all, and there are many more celebrity bloggers who reported from the event, including BoingBoing, Next Billion, and a few (but not many) non-English speaking bloggers.

If this isn’t enough for you, check out Ethan’s earlier post about a new initiative to fight counterfeit pharmaceuticals in Ghana (hopefully soon the whole of Africa), mPedigree, which will use mobile phones to track drugs from their original producers all the way to the pharmacy shelves, allowing each buyer in the chain to ensure that they’re dealing with a legitimate product. Or check out the entry in which he takes a good shot at unravelling the complex situation in Somalia, in response to the Onion’s eye-opening video Situation in Nigeria Seems Pretty Complex, a must see for all Africanists:

In The Know: Situation In Nigeria Seems Pretty Complex

What can I say? Ethan, you are my personal hero!!!

How many bricks to build a World Digital Library?

The Washington Post showcases an amazingly visionary project, the World Digital Library, which plans to digitize the accumulated wisdom of humankind, catalogue it, and offer it for free on the Internet in seven languages:

The World Digital Library will make available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from cultures around the world, including manuscripts, maps, rare books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, photographs, architectural drawings, and other significant cultural materials. The objectives of the World Digital Library are to promote international and inter-cultural understanding and awareness, provide resources to educators, expand non-English and non-Western content on the Internet, and to contribute to scholarly research.

They don’t come more visionary than this one…

[via Jon]

Blog Action Day

Like almost 10,000 other bloggers, I am taking part in Blog Action Day on 15 October. For once, the blogosphere will resonate with one, common topic: the environment.

It’ll be interesting to see if and how this will work, and whether it will have a lasting impact. Personally, I have always been fascinated by how the blogosphere can become a social mobilisation tool, so I’ll be posting and checking the results closely.

Claudio Ethos in Grottaglie

Paintalicious writes about Claudio Ethos, the talented graffiti artist who was recently filmed (above) while working in Grottaglie, Italy:

We are entering into an incredibly productive phase of urban street art, where talented artists like Brazilian Claudio Ethos are creating stunning and dramatic artworks. Ethos’ artworks contain sharp social commentary obviously inspired from the “sprawling metropolis” of Sao Paulo – the new “shrine to graffiti”. While many street artists today prefer the stencil method, Ethos prefers to paint using freehand style to create these unique figurative paintings. They would indeed enrich the surrounding of any living space.

You can find most of Claudio’s work at ekosystem.org. Unfortunately, street art is usually short lived, gone within days or certainly weeks after it is completed. The only permanent record of these works are photographs. Here are [28] more photos for the record, capturing ethos’ spectacular ephemeral pieces… more…

[via Wooster Collective]

A fourth sector?

 The Fourth Sector Network (courtesy: http://www.fourthsector.net)

While we’re still struggling to get the third sector officially recognised in most policy circles (the European Commission, for one, has no Directorate General dealing directly with this ever-expanding sector), there are some who are already envisaging the rise of a fourth one:

Over the past few decades, the boundaries between the public (government), private (business), and social (non-profit/non-governmental) sectors have been blurring, while a Fourth Sector of organization has been emerging. The archetypal Fourth Sector model is sometimes referred to as a For-Benefit organization, and the sector itself is also referred to as the For-Benefit Sector. There are a wide variety of other Fourth Sector models and approaches, bearing different names and emphasizing or embodying different aspects of the For-Benefit model.

Here‘s a comprehensive list of what typology of organisation is included in the sympathetic patterns of the fourth sector. The idea has triggered over-excited reviews in the American press, interest from educational circles, and of course the odd glance from the donor community.

Personally, I like the term and its ideal mash-up of exciting initiatives (triple bottom line, Open Source, sustainability, social enterprises, etc.) that are transforming the way the third sector operates. Yet, it is not very clear why an entire new classification is needed, especially for organisations like cooperatives and social enterprises, which have been around for ages.

Are we witnessing the rise of an entirely new sector, or the slow and painful transformation of the old third sector? And if a fourth sector were to emerge, shouldn’t we be more clear about which parts of the third sector are excluded, and why?

JR: Photography as Social Activism

JR - 28mm project (courtesy: http://www.jr-art.net/)

On Africa Visual Mediaitself a really interesting blog on African and Africa-related cultural artifacts in film, photography, television, and print– I came across a post about a visit that photographer/street artist JR made to the banlieues or ghettos that ring Paris after the 2005 riots. The upclose portraits (blown up to poster-sizes) of the young men and women whom he photographed were then pasted across Paris, an open-air (and illegal) exhibition entitled ‘28mm – portrait of a generation‘ that – in Kamau Mucoki’s words – brings the gallery to the street and forces Parisians to confront the images of these youths who are usually depicted as rioting, violent hoodlums.

Below is an excellent video of the shooting and pasting of the portraits he took in collaboration with Ladj Ly:

This is not the first time JR uses photographs as a social mobilisation and activism tool. He was also behind the Face2Face project, on which I blogged in the past. With a number of other artists – such as the Bolognese graffiti creator BLU, with whom he collaborated on the Outsides project in Wuppertal, and to whose genius I will dedicate another post soon – he wants to use public spaces as vehicles for his strong political messages. Thus, breaking the ostentatious separation between ‘art’ and ‘life’, he transforms his pictures into posters and makes open space photo galleries out of our streets.

Simply amazing.

JR - Lilou on Sao Paulo Roff tops (courtesy: http://www.jr-art.net/)

Global Icon

Planete, courtesy of benjamin.becue.free.fr

Via maestroalberto, an image by someone who clearly doesn’t see the world in very positive terms.

I suppose I am still an optimist. Maybe I spend too much time reading amazing stories about people trying to make the world a better place, and not enough about those who are trying to destroy it…