If you only read one thing this week…

Qualitative or Quantitative – which is better? by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek

For anyone interested in understanding the differences between qualitative and quantitative research methods this website hosted by the Web Center for Social Research Methods. All too often we get into fruitless debates about which approach is better, whereas both are equally valid approaches and more important is to determine which approach is better for the research you are looking at conducting. The bite size chunks and easy navigation make this is a useful site to peruse and then bookmark. Highly recommended!


‘Greensumption’? A closer look at shopping to save the planet by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek

The New York Times .earth section is covering a new video from the International Forum on Globalization that looks at “absurdity of the notion that the way out of this planetary crisis — which is deeply rooted in overuse of scarce resources – is to go out and “shop to save the planet”.  Among many “false solutions” now coming at us, it is surely the most peculiar, but so American: every crisis viewed as a new business growth opportunity.  Obviously the better answer is less use of energy, materials, consumption, not more.

It’s a fun five minute satire on the idea that planetary crisis is a great new business opportunity.

Read the interview and watch the video here, and read the transcript of the interview here.

[The IFG] believes that modern economic globalization will not survive the current set of planetary crises, even if all of us naysayers offered no protest at all. At least it cannot survive in anything approaching its current forms and scale. You cant have globalization without digging up the last resources on the earth to feed corporate growth, and to engage in a staggering amount of transoceanic shipping (as the video showed) using fuel which is getting constantly more expensive and dangerous to our survival. The modern economic globalization model (since the 1946 Bretton Woods meetings) depends upon four impossible conditions:  First and foremost, continuous rates of high economic growth for global corporations, and for the overall system itself. That idea is itself preposterous on a finite planet.  The growth itself depends on:  Second, ever-increasing access to supplies of (inexpensive) natural resources, especially cheap energy and inexpensive global transport, arable soils, and water.)  Third, always increasing new markets.  And, Fourth, always expanding supplies of cheap labor. Global corporations had a field day over the past five decades, while all of those things were in abundant supply. But we live on a finite planet: limited resources, limited sinks, limited rates of recovery, limited carrying capacity.  To sustain the voracious appetites of global corporations, at anything like the rate of development over the past half century is impossible on a planet with such clear natural limits.

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design): bringing creative thinkers together by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
January 14, 2008, 8:12 pm
Filed under: If you have 30 mins, Interesting links, Web sites

The TED conference happens annually and brings together leading thinkers from across the globe to share their most innovative and creative thinking on some of the world’s problems. The conference, held in Monterey, USA books up over a year in advance but this year for the first time they have started to podcast the best talks. Each is no more than 20 minutes in length and you can browse the full selection here. Continue reading

Collaborative Learning Projects by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
September 12, 2007, 8:14 pm
Filed under: If you have 30 mins, Interesting links, Web sites

We’ve featured the Collaborative for Development Action before, but Mary’s trip to Portland this week seemed like a good opportunity to showcase some of their recent work. Their website at CDAinc.com is full of fascinating publications (despite the web design!). Highlights include the Do No Harm Checklist and the Do No Harm Workbook (both PDFs) and updates to the Listening Project.

Quantifying ‘peace’ – the Global Peace Index by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
July 11, 2007, 6:13 pm
Filed under: If you only have 15 mins, Interesting links, Web sites

Because peace is such an important component of collaboration between different nations, the Global Peace Index was created to better understand which countries are peaceful and why. Vision of Humanity contains the results from this Index which ranks 121 nations of the world by their peacefulness as well as identifies some of the drivers of that peace. It’s worth a look, and they have some fun resources and ideas for promoting peace.

Mid-life crises and aid workers – a sobering assessment from Aid Workers’ Network by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
June 14, 2007, 7:09 pm
Filed under: If you only have 15 mins, Interesting links

If you don’t frequent it already, Aid Workers’ Network is a bulletin board and discussion forum for aid workers from around the world to chat and discuss their woes. A particularly poignant post was brought to my attention this week, the anonymous ‘Shylock’ posts about the restless feeling of approaching 40, having no home, no stable relationships, and a CV that reads like a litany of disasters. The darkly humorous post goes on to list the options for aging aid workers, from selling out and going to work for the UN, to ending up a bitter cynic propping up the bar in an African capital. Read the post, and respond, if you feel the urge, here.

Putting Assessments in their Place by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek

The Assessment Tools Resource Base, put together by Mercy Corps, is a web page that pulls assessment tools from numerous organizations together into a convenient, searchable location and is available to practitioners anywhere. The tools are grouped into categories of: food security; market analysis; agricultural livelihoods; conflict; health and general tip sheets. Some can be downloaded directly from the site, others link to the sites of other organizations. All are open source. This is a quick, easy to search site that could save a lot of time and resources as we seek to avoid reinventing the wheel. Take a look and then let other people know that it exists.