January 6, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Enjoyed this piece by NYT’s Roger Cohen on device addiction and how conversations are perpetually disturbed by those who cannot leave their devices alone.
He says there is “Now near-universal irritation of finding conversations interrupted by a familiar glance toward the little screen, or conversations deadened by the state of near-permanent distraction from their immediate surroundings in which people live.
“Inhabiting one place — that is to be fully absorbed by and focused on one’s surroundings rather than living in some diffuse cyberlocation composed of the different strands of a device-driven existence — is a fast-dwindling ability. This in turn generates a paradox: People have never traveled as much but at the same time been less able to appreciate the difference between here and there.
“To be permanently switched on is also to switch off to what takes time to be seen. A lot of good ideas, as well as some of life’s deeper satisfactions, can get lost that way.
It’s the start of a new year, a time for resolutions. To each his own, but I know this: Nobody will ever lie on his or her deathbed and say: “I should have kept my device on longer.”
January 6, 2012 § Leave a Comment
“He says it is $4,000 a month and one year up front”. Jesus, this wasn’t mentioned in the guidebook. It would appear that renting in Dar es Salaam – the capital of the country 155th in the Human Development Index – seems to be more expensive than Chelsea and Kensington. We’ve only been here two days and spent our first looking at what we couldn’t afford with ambassador and mineral worker neighbours, often in compounds with a view of cement rather than the sea, and then made another plan. We found a house up the coast in Mbezi beach which is next door to this place which should be good to pop into for pizza, tennis and borrowing their wifi. It’s a third of the price, is short of furniture and will mean a bit of a daily battle with the commuters heading in to town but it will be great to be able to see the sea and then just walk out of a small gate and go for a swim and settle. The kids should enjoy it too. Jimmy is happy digging and Edith swimming, or at least avoiding drowning. Getting a house is a big breakthrough, feels like we can begin to settle, get other bearings and think about making the most of being here for the next six months.
December 19, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Really struck by these 5 regrets of the Dying by Bonnie Ware particularly the number 3 “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings”. It’s been a very rough year for friends and family. Talking honestly, without distraction and going into the difficult areas is something I am really committing to for this year; not easy but better than saving it for the death bed.
December 19, 2011 § Leave a Comment
This week, former World Heavy Weight boxer, Vitali Klitschko will throw his weight not into punching someone, but into winning the election as Mayor of Kiev. His “Punch” party is new to the political fray but he is committing himself to reform. “I am drawn to politics because Ukraine has struggled to break free of massive cronyism and corruption under existing politicians, to establish a vibrant democracy where any citizen has a fair chance to prosper,” he said.
People’s of corruption and kleptocrats has driven the revolutions this year. This has led to a vast range of new actors and parties stand for power as the old exit stage left. While the Muslim Brotherhood look set to gains in elections in Egypt, in Europe the public are turning to anything, as long as it looks different. “Finally: Some Normal People” was the slogan that helped the Pirate Party in Germany hold the balance of power in Berlin’s Parliament with their agenda for free local transport, demands for transparent government as well as polygamy.
Citizens dissatisfaction is driving new demands for better, cleaner more transparent democracy. And big shifts in global power are likely next year as elections take place in France, US, Mexico and India. In France, Avaaz is polling its members and is organising a campaign to clean out corruption in the country for the election and Avaaz is supporting opposition groups in Yemen and Syria so that when the revolutions are secured, a new democracy can set root. If 2011 is the year that the people roared, will 2012 be the year that politicians listened.
September 5, 2011 § Leave a Comment
This is what jumped out for me as being important / interesting this weekend, designed for a different audience but have tweaked to share it here.
I really enjoyed the FOOC by Kevin Connolly on buying shirts in Libya and also curious to know how much a picture of Gwyneth Paltrow puts on sales-wise, Indie, Obs & Sunday Times went for it this weekend.
1) The New Middle Classes Rise Up: First the fight against corruption / Next the fight for Democracy
This article really struck me as one of the best things I have read for a long time. It talks about how the M/Classes in 13 emerging economies are growing in their activism against corruption (eg India & Anna Hazare / China & the rail crash) and how it could migrate from a protest force against corruption into a political force for democracy. Also interesting to note that in China, the protest in Dalian against a fire was the biggest the country had seen since Tiannamen Square.
Some fascinating polling research in here and it brought together lots of loose strands and placed it under a compelling narrative; 1 off corruption protest leads to campaigns for better governance. As an aside, also fascinating to read about Sina Weibo & its 140 mn users (mainly m/class) as a social media means for us to consider in our comms into the country
2) The Economy / Taxing the Rich
“Obama’s f*cked if the economy’s f*cked” is one of the things that struck me from a conversation I had recently with a White House watcher. The signals are that with jobs flat lining in the US, Europe likely to do more country bail outs, Britain now considering more fiscal stimulus & a Double Dip really on the cards means for making the most out of another good crisis and going beyond the Robin Hood Tax. One answer to this could be Taxing the Rich. Interesting to see French Govt looking at this (albeit slowly), head of Ferrari in Italy wanting to be taxed more, right wing Tory MPs in the UK saying this should happen in Britain following Buffett / others opening the debate on this issue, one to watch.
3) Climate Change – The Economist
Great summary on prospects for Durban – which are pretty bleak – here which could see EU back down from 30% cuts to 20%, Canada won’t hit its targets and many others looking to go backwards.
Also, as an aside, the BBC weather programme (just happened to be on last night) was talking about 200 temperature records were broken in 2011 (eg wettest in 11 years this summer in the UK / a new high of 26 degrees in Sydney this winter / a new temp record of 47 in Childress in US / 80 cm of snow in Atacama desert); the debate with no urgency seems to need a hefty injection of it.
4) Murdoch: The Autumn Prequel
Interesting to read of splits in family (Elisabeth not wanting to step up to board / cross with James) and also seeing new people on the Board (eg Jim Breyer who is biggest investor in Facebook) as they try to de-murdoch-ify it. They have all turned down big bonuses (James has at least) and October 21st is a date we should have in the calendar as that’s there annual meeting
… for those that missed it, it seems to be blowing up in Australia with Gillard / News Intl there, Sept 13th will see the Greens put down their amendment
December 15, 2010 § 2 Comments
Trying to get hold of Eric Cantona with an idea which will hopefully be more succesful than the bike heist. Only trouble is Eric la Red doesn’t seem to answer his phone. Too busy trawling for sardines.
October 6, 2010 § Leave a Comment
The news that the Gates Foundation have now done a deal with ABC in the US and the BBC is really interesting. I for one, welcome increased coverage on development. The foreign / Africa based coverage is on its knees with CNN – despite their excellent editor Kim Norgaard – unable to cover stories out of S Africa and Nigeria. The Guardian now often ask for costs to be covered for stories to be printed, such as this one here http://bit.ly/b56uvi was underwritten by the Global Campaign for Education. Coverage on development is really important to give people a rounded view of the world and we wrote a report on this recently that shows that the “foreign world” of coverage is now shrinking dramatically. W Africa and Latin America appear like exotic rare creatures on British TV, and are even rarer in many other parts of the world. Providing a rich area of information on these issues while the media’s business model suffers is helpful. However does this mean that it leads to:
- All development news to be in the margins of a niche site rather than in foreign / political which is where more influential audiences reside
- Would it be better – like the Girl Effect now no longer sponsored by Nike – for this to be seen as not having a heavy stamp from the BMGF on it so it has more credibility than “assumed advertorial” and give sites kudos for such investment.
This is a good / rounded exit strategy for Katine for The Guardian and not many other organisations could afford to do this. With a trend now set, should INGOs now look to consider “buying” The Independent’s for a £1 to get is message out or bailing out Le Monde’s foreign pages as a more cost effective comms model.
Will INGO multi-media press officers become the new journalists, should INGOs rethink themselves as media organisations in their own right.
At Oxfam we had 20 press officers which may now be bigger than many newsrooms these days.
Being timid, relying on the trusted and being too busy to change is a trap that so many press offices – no matter how talented – fall into. Media departments should be considered in the same light as programmes, comms needs to sit up front in an organisation and be free to innovate and challenge old habits. Rather than relying on the machine to print the news, machines should be built in house and with the Gates Foundation taking the lead, others need to move quickly. The landscape is now changing very quickly.
September 27, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Enjoyed this piece by Harriet Sherwood. She’s one of the friendliest & brightest Foreign Editors I’ve worked with, this is a really candid insight into the day to day tensions of how to start your day, when to sit tight on phones and when to chase and what social media to engage with. I have just come out of the Oxfam world of pretty much 7 hours of back to back meetings to a much smaller organisation where I now manage small handful of staff and my own time. It’s such a refreshing shift in responsibility and makes you realise how the culture of meetings & internal conversations that can prevent getting more interesting things done.
August 12, 2010 § 1 Comment
Credit to David Cameron and the upper echelons of the Conservatives in backing 0.7% aid commitments left by Labour. It was an easy cut to make and supporting development overseas runs against many of the basic instincts of high toryism. It sits on the untouchable shelf along with health as the issues that are not having to keep returning to the treasury with evidence of bloody cuts.
On education, DFID have been excellent in supporting the 1GOAL campaign and setting standards in training some 100,000 teachers and paying for 5 million children to go to school every day. Last month Andrew Mitchell said; “Making sure education is no longer a privilege for some but a reality for all would truly be a legacy from the World Cup to be proud of.” It was all looking very good until today a leaked document from DFID suggested the opposite could be about to happen.
Education and Britain’s commitment to get an extra 8 million children into school has been deprioritised as has its pledges to increase the amount of clean water to those who drink filthy water from rivers, puddles and pits. While some would argue that commitments to reduce road traffic incidents are right to review. I am big supporter of doing all we can to reduce disease and maternal health but fighting poverty needs to be holistic and reducing DFID to being the Department for Malaria and Mums – the proposed two priority issues of DFID – is making it very niche.
This announcement sneaked out through the leftwing blog, LeftFootForward and was shared by a disgruntled member of DFID staff annoyed at the new direction the department was taking. Education doesn’t get effected by ideology in the same way that health systems do with both left and right agreeing that the basic right of access to education should apply to all. In response to today’s leak, Joseph O’Reilly, Chair of the UK Global Campaign for Education said:
“This is deeply worrying document. If the commitment to doubling aid to education is scrapped it would undermine years of good work by campaigners and the public to put education in developing countries on the government’s agenda. Developing countries could be currently losing out on as much as $70bn a year in economic growth by not offering quality education to all citizens, so to scrap plans to double aid for schools is economic short-termism of the highest order. David Cameron must resist this cut, and re-state his commitment to International Development and education in particular.”
The argument to cut education funding is based on the difficulty of measuring learning outcomes. This is a narrow argument and the investment in education over the past ten years has seen a further 40 million children have access to a classroom. Money and investment in education works. Both David Cameron and Andrew Mitchell know this and would not be where they are today if it had not been for their own educations.
Yet they are on the brink of denying it to others. While it’s still possible that these priorities will be revised, Britain stepping back from its leadership role in this area at a time of the global economic crisis is biting deep when African countries are facing cuts of some $4.6 bn to their education budgets is a great tragedy which could leave scars for many years to come.
June 27, 2010 § Leave a Comment
1) Thinking differently: Enjoyed reading Making Ideas Happen for anyone struggling with completing / finishing. It’s a touch smug but I was particularly struck by phrases such as “life is just about following up” and “good judgement comes with experience and experience comes from poor judgement”. Story of the past two months for me. The perils of “creators immediacy” is also something that is my own personal working bindweed; must turn email off, must turn email off…
2) Rolling: The Argentinians rolling around after claiming to being fouled was the best I have seen for years; I didn’t think it happened any more but it was back tonight and great to see. Must have been at least 7 by one chap moving some 2 metres across pitch like a pisshead in a sleeping bag.
3) Skype: Living in South Africa and skyping home was slightly frightening in that I can now see that the high meat, no walking, odd bun approach to life is having a definite impact on my shape. I could soon turn into this fella, no buns this week.
4) Mother Jones: Just came across this weekend and really enjoyed it, find New Yorker too poncey / hard to get into but the stuff on democrats prepping for the US campaign, Murdoch going green and wikileaks was excellent and full of food for thought.
5) Podcasting: Interesting to see Monocle now doing their weekly podcast as there approach to stretching their engagement with their readers. Good mate Steve Bloomfield – who can now never be out of office – will be taking the reins as Foreign Editor. It’s a good idea and shows how all media is changing; too many good causes have weak or bland personalities and no reason why others such as avaaz, oxfam or save could do a whatscomingup discussion of similar quality. Must be a piece of pish to do, just needs time, bright ideas on idiot proof software to get started would be welcome.
That’s it for this week. At work coming up we have a fair amount on; hoping for a Eusebio visit to Mozambique to his old school before the weekend, Mokoena’s first interview post World Cup with 1GOAL on Wednesday and lots of preparation for a returning Shakira.