If you only read one thing this week…

Innovating for the world’s poor by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
May 31, 2007, 7:30 pm
Filed under: Articles, Development theory, If you only have 15 mins

A New York times article highlights an exhibition currently showing in New York that profiles innovations and inventions targeted at the world’s poor. The article has great pictures of some of the inventions currently under design or being rolled out. As the author notes – many of the solutions are so simple that you wonder why no one thought of them before. It is an interesting article and hopefully will get our creative juices flowing!


The Next 4 Billion at the Bottom of the Pyriamid – what happens next? by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
May 31, 2007, 7:26 pm
Filed under: Articles, Book reviews, Development theory, If you have 30 mins

The base of the economic pyramid (BOP) refers to the four billion people—more than two-thirds the world’s population—who live on annual incomes of less than $3000. A newly released study by the International Finance Corporation and the World Resources Institute entitled The Next 4 Billion: Market Size and Business Strategy at the Base of the Pyramid makes a compelling case that this large segment is full of untapped potential for both companies and low-income consumers. Increasingly, these organizations say, market-driven approaches offer the best opportunity to provide services to the poor that are both scalable and sustainable.

With a global consumer market estimated at five trillion dollars, a growing number of companies are taking notice and exploring new strategies for reaching bottom of the pyramid consumers. Continue reading

Feeling overwhelmed by email? Declare bankruptcy! by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
May 30, 2007, 4:38 pm
Filed under: If you only have 15 mins, Time management

The Washington Post is running an article here about people who have gotten so far behind, and so overwhelmed by the volume of email that they get that they have erased it all and either started over, or sworn off email altogether.

“Last month, venture capitalist Fred Wilson … declared a 21st century kind of bankruptcy. In a posting on his blog … Wilson announced he was giving up on responding to all the e-mail piled up in his inbox.

“I am so far behind on e-mail that I am declaring bankruptcy,” he wrote. “If you’ve sent me an e-mail (and you aren’t my wife, partner, or colleague), you might want to send it again. I am starting over.”

Stanford University technology professor Lawrence Lessig publicly declared e-mail bankruptcy [a while back] after being deluged by thousands of e-mails. “I eventually got to be so far behind that I was either going to spend all my time answering e-mails or I was going to do my job,”

“I’d get to work and start answering e-mail — three hours later, I’d say, “Oh, what was I supposed to do today?” Knuth said that he has no regrets.

Of course, if you don’t want the public shame of bankruptcy, you could always declare a hard-drive crash!

13th Century Poems for the Modern Age by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
May 15, 2007, 3:41 pm
Filed under: Book reviews, If you only have 15 mins

We don’t often put poetry on this site but I have just come across some of the poems by a Sufi poet called Hafiz/Hafez who was writing in the 14th Century at about the time that Chaucer was writing in England. Hafiz is the term given to Muslims who have memorized the Qur’an. The translation by Daniel Lidinsky in The Gift is beautiful and very modern. I found the poetry very moving and modern and a very different face to some of Muslim literature that is being presented in the media, that polarizes different religious perspectives. If you are interested in reading more about Hafiz’s life Wikipedia has an interesting biography. Read on for a couple of poems from the book that particularly caught my eye: Continue reading

Is the world is turning too fast? by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
May 15, 2007, 3:40 pm
Filed under: Development theory, If you only have 15 mins

Check out this 8 minute presentation on glumbert.com about Globalization and the Information Age. Glumbert appears to be an alternative to YouTube and posts all sorts of different videos. This presentation, set to music, contains some surprising facts about the pace of growth (both literally and in terms of information) globally today. It literally made my mind boggle. Take a look and let us know whether you agree or disagree with the facts presented – here’s one to get you going:It’s estimated that a week’s worth of New York Times . . .Contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century.

Accountability – is it a good idea? by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
May 15, 2007, 3:39 pm
Filed under: Development theory, If you have 30 mins

The Humanitarian Practice Network has recently published a paper entitled: Concerning Accountability of Humanitarian Action. This is an interesting, and somewhat contraversial paper: in the current climate of increased demand for accountability among humanitarian actors, the authors ask us to step back and question whether accountability is really making us more effective and efficient. It argues that our unquestioning assumption that more accountability will lead to more effective programs can be damaging. It also points to the fact that there is no consistent understanding of what accountability means – on page 3-4 they highlight at least 5 different definitions. A table on page 9 is worth printing out for above your desk as it points out the multiple layers of accountability within any particular context: to governments, communities and individuals, to your professional standards etc. While the article doesn’t make me personally want to throw out all the accountability initiatives that we are undertaking right now, it does convince me that we need to a) be much tighter in our definition of what it means and b) closely monitor whether these initiatives really are leading to better programming or not.