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Flat out

“I’m exhausted just writing about this” says Thomas Friedman on page 170 of The World is Flat. The book does move swiftly along, but I’m sure its author is perked up by today’s news that he has won $50k as winner of the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs business book [continue …]

2005-11-22T08:08:31+00:00November 22nd, 2005|development|

How to deal with cultural emissions

Does tourism kill the toured? An unexpected overnight in Barcelona at the weekend reminded me that cities should be be careful what they wish for. Barcelona is the most-quoted example in the world of a city that has used design and creativity to make itself attractive to tourists. But having [continue …]

2005-09-19T09:21:44+00:00September 19th, 2005|development|

How to rebuild, or how to be?

The papers today say that rebuilding after Katrina will cost the same as the war in Iraq. In the unlikely event that so much money is forthcoming, what will it be spent on? Are new freeways and malls the wisest way to rebuild? Before firms like Halliburton start pouring concrete, [continue …]

2005-09-08T11:28:36+00:00September 8th, 2005|development|

The limits of Live8

Overheard in The NYU Bookstore, Washington Place: Girl on cell: ‘So I went up to my Professor just now? And I was telling him I’ve chosen a country for my project. He was like,”Africa? That’s not a country.” I was like, “Come on, what was all that Live 8 [continue …]

2005-07-21T08:06:07+00:00July 21st, 2005|development|

Disruptive behaviour

A breathless email from Tony Perkins invites me to Stanford to watch lions eat Christians. Or so it sounds. Tony writes that his conference, Always On, is about “the sweet spots in the technology markets…where innovation is disrupting behavior and creating new business opportunities”. His website concludes, “come play [continue …]

2005-07-08T07:22:18+00:00July 8th, 2005|development|

African response to G8

A range of African NGOs and organisations has expressed frustration and concern in response to statements from G8 that world leaders would solve Africa’s problems with limited debt relief and increased aid. Writers and campaigners from a range of African countries have expressed their views in the Alternatives Commission [continue …]

2005-07-07T12:16:32+00:00July 7th, 2005|development|

Dealing with good and bad news

Someone told me (offline) that my reaction to Live8 yesterday was unduly critical. Isn’t it better for people to be charged up and optimistic about a big challenge, such as poverty, rather than overwhelmed and demotivated? It’s a tricky call. I still agree with George Monbiot that Live8 will have [continue …]

2005-07-04T13:23:43+00:00July 4th, 2005|development|

How good it feels to feel

“Everyone is, suddenly, globally, politicised” froths an embarassing article about Live8 by Euan Ferguson in todays Observer. Puleese.The atmosphere this morning reminds me of Princess Diana’s funeral. The emotions released yesterday are heartfelt – but narcissistic. It feels good to feel. Watching a rock musician in a [continue …]

2005-07-03T23:32:21+00:00July 3rd, 2005|development|

One-dimensional Doors?

At deBalie in Amsterdam, a conference called Incommunicado is debating issues to do with information technology for development (ICT4D). I could not stay for today’s debate, organsed by Solomon Benjamin, on “culture and corporate sponsorship in the ICT4D context” – so I make this contribution remotely. Benjamin, quoting [continue …]

2005-06-17T10:22:56+00:00June 17th, 2005|development|

Small is not small (cont.)

Build a bus stop in an urban slum and a vibrant community sprouts and grows around it. Such is the power of small interventions into complex urban situations. Small Change by Nabeel Hamdi is another of my ‘finds’ in Seattle’s anarchist bookshop – although on closer inspection the book [continue …]

2005-06-09T08:20:05+00:00June 9th, 2005|development|

So you want content?

We have posted several more of the presentations from Doors 8. Among these are a text from Ezio Manzini in which he develops his critique of “the tunnel that a mistaken idea of comfort, and an equally mistaken idea of economic growth, have driven us into”. He proposes a [continue …]

2005-04-25T12:38:55+00:00April 25th, 2005|development|

Open letter to Dr Solomon Benjamin

Dear Solly,
My attention has been drawn to your post of 28 March on the Sarai Commons-Law mailing list.
I am usually pretty relaxed about criticism. After all, if our events failed to provoke discussion and disagreement, they would be feeble events indeed. One reason I was so happy to be [continue …]

2005-04-06T17:55:25+00:00April 6th, 2005|development|

“Small is not small”

A session at Doors 8 on service design for emerging economies left a tricky question unanswered: how do we determine when is a market is ‘emerging’ – and when it has emerged? And, is it possible to design the relationship between small pilot projects, as potential tipping points, and large [continue …]

2005-03-30T10:49:18+00:00March 30th, 2005|development|

On natural and man-made disasters

The spectacle of Bono and other glossy celebs singing for tsunami victims was a somewhat quease-inducing sight on the box the other night. As P Sainath points out in indiatogether,”Number of homes damaged by the tsunami in Nagapattinam: 30,300. Number of homes destroyed by the Congress-NCP Government in Mumbai: [continue …]

2005-02-17T10:52:59+00:00February 17th, 2005|development|

Manna-ware

So Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the Media Laboratory at MIT, is to bestow laptop computers on poor people for just $100. To the punters in Davos, where Negroponte was promoting his project, $100 probably sounded cheap: many were paying $100 an hour to be there. But in Mali, [continue …]

2005-02-14T15:08:13+00:00February 14th, 2005|development|

Design and disaster (cont.)

Many architects are eager to help with post-tsunami rebuilding in Asia, but “now’s not the time for them to switch off their computers and rush for the next flight to Indonesia or Sri Lanka. They’d have little to offer, and would be just more mouths to feed. My advice to [continue …]

2005-01-10T07:26:34+00:00January 10th, 2005|development|

Design and disaster

Our partner in the organization of Doors 8, Aditya Dev Sood, was in Phuket, by the sea, with 15 members of his family, on a post-wedding vacation, when the tsunami struck. Thankfully Aditya and his family, at least, are safe. So, too, so far as we’ve heard, are other friends [continue …]

2005-01-01T11:11:51+00:00January 1st, 2005|development|

From new economy to anti-economy

“In our economy, everything has a price – but nothing, it seems, has a value. We find it hard to really tell whether the things we value are growing or dying”. So begins an excellent interview by Joe Flower with “anti-economist” Hazel Henderson. The yardsticks we have chosen to measure [continue …]

2004-11-23T17:40:27+00:00November 23rd, 2004|development|

Emergent Economics

m. kennedyI’m delighted to report that Margrit Kennedy, a world authority on complementary currencies, has agreed to join us at Doors 8 in New Delhi. www.margritkennedy.de
Non-cash economic systems are, for me, where a genuinely new economy is being born. And where so-called emerging economies [continue …]

2004-10-30T09:44:46+00:00October 30th, 2004|development|

Bangalore diary

Writing from India, where he encounters designers, digerati and Bollywood producers who want to put him in a movie, John Thackara considers the potentially thrilling future of IT in the subcontinent.
To Bangalore, India’s IT city, to speak at the first India Design Summit. The event is organized jointly by the [continue …]

2003-01-22T17:28:07+00:00January 22nd, 2003|development|
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