Category Archives: People

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!!!

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What will drive change in the next 50 years?

From globalisation to nanotechnology, vote here for the Drivers of Change that you think will influence your area of work.

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]

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/)

nonprofits, teens, and blogs

Below, I am reproducing an extract from a really interesting post on Studio 501c – a blog devoted to exploring ways in which new ICTs can benefit social organisations – on organizations that have sponsored a youth or teen blogging project. Some examples are well known, other new to me and worth investigating. The full post can be accessed here.

“[…] Britt Bravo wrote of one organization that has a blog on which teens post but which, because of safety reasons, prefers not to be publicized widely. Britt also mentioned:

Beth Kanter kindly posted my email query to her blog and suggested these resources:

In response to her post:

Michaela Hackner of World Learning wrote, “We’re in the process of developing strategies for this, starting with our study abroad blogging pilot this fall. We also host a Serbian youth program that we are planning to introduce to Vox.”

Lisa Canter said to “take a look at this dynamic NY youth organization” — www.girlsclub.org (Click on “A Day in the Life.”)

Nick Booth shared www.frankleytalk.com, which is “just getting started and is based in a neighbourhood in Birmingham (England).”

Marshall Kirkpatrick shared the resources below and suggested I look at “variations on this query” at http://snipurl.com/1qexf (danah boyd’s blog).

[…]

nonprofits, nota bene: Michaela’s idea of using Vox for a youth project is a great one. This free platform allows bloggers to create members-only groups called “neighborhoods.” Users can log onto the neighborhood page to see recent posts from all other members. As the Vox site says, “You can choose the privacy level for every post, every picture, every sound clip, every video. Put up posts for the world. Put up posts for just your family. Or just your friends.

ShareIdeas.org and Focuss.eu

ShareIdeas

Two excellent Web 2.0 initiatives for development and social change that that embody all that is exciting about this new collaborative technology:

ShareIdeas.org is an online community and a wiki for sharing ideas on how to use mobile communications for social and environmental benefits. ShareIdeas.org belongs to the growing global network of individuals and organizations that use this virtual gathering place to communicate – and collaborate.

Focuss.eu provides a high quality search engine for practitioners, researchers and students in the area of global development studies. Other than generic search engines, like Google and Yahoo, focuss.eu indexes a specific choice of electronic resources, selected by librarians, researchers and practitioners working in participating institutions. The resources are selected based on their relevance for the development studies and the quality of the information. Since its inception in October 2006, a number of development-oriented academic centres and organisations have started adopting and promoting this tool more widely.

Beyond Good Intentions

Via Natasha Hanshaw’s blog, Exploring Development, I found out about Tori and Eric’s project ‘Beyond Good Intentions‘, a documentary film about inspiring stories of international aid. Here’s the trailer.

And from their website, an outline of their project:

We are currently living in an age where endemic poverty, natural disasters, and war are defining factors in the lives of much of the world’s population. However, we are also living in an age of extreme generosity in which the desire to help others who are less fortunate is quite strong. Perhaps even you have been compelled to donate your time or money to help people in remote parts of the globe. But have your good intentions been enough to produce effective changes for those who need it most?

We are two filmmakers who are embarking on the journey of a lifetime to look beyond good intentions to discover what really works in international aid.

Our documentary film is taking us around the world to ten different countries over the course of a year including Colombia, Peru, Argentina, India, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mozambique, and South Africa. We are actively seeking out effective examples of international aid and inspirational humanitarians who are making the world a better place through their work.

Our film will document a remarkable journey of discovery as we attempt to answer the question, “What really works in international aid?” We are ready to be inspired. Are you?

Tori Hogan, co-founder of Beyond Good Intentions, spent the last three months of 2006 filming and interviewing aid organizations and inspirational individuals in Colombia, Peru and Argentina. The trailer is a rough cut of this filming and an introduction to the documentary.”

The Village – Saving the World through MMOG

The Village - Homepage image 

Via the Charity Blog I came across the Village, an online massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) that immerses the player into the role of an entrepreneur building companies to bring prosperity to the villages of the Third World.

Inspired by the logic of Kiva – the micro-credit organisation that allows people to select projects they want to fund through an online database of micro-entrepreneurs – the Village aims to bring the real world of social entrepreneurship and the virtual world of online gaming closer together.

This is a good idea, but still doesn’t answer the question that has been bugging me for the last 6 months: could these two worlds – the real and the virtual – be brought even closer together, and integrated with the increasing universe of mapping tools that are being developed for non-profit organisations and NGOs?

Google Earth in defence of Amazon tribe

The Peruvian Amazon Basin - by Sunvil

Via the PSD Blog, here’s a story about how Google Earth has come to the aid of a Brazilian Amazon tribe fighting for its rights against loggers and miners:

[…] “The Amazon rain forest and its indigenous peoples are disappearing rapidly, which has serious consequences both locally and globally,” said Google Earth spokeswoman Megan Quinn. “This project can raise global awareness of the Surui people’s struggle to preserve their land and culture by reaching more than 200 million Google Earth users around the world.” This is not the first time Google Earth has helped environmental or humanitarian causes. Last year, the Mountain View company joined with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to map out destroyed villages in Darfur, with the Jane Goodall Institute to follow chimpanzees in Tanzania, and with the U.N. Environment Program to illustrate 100 areas around the world that have been severely deforested.

In the case of the Amazon, Almir says improved satellite images would not only keep tabs on loggers and miners but would also help strengthen Surui culture by cataloging medicinal plants, hunting grounds, ancestral cemeteries and sacred sites. […]

Read the full article here.