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Weekly Wire: The Global Forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Digital technology means development is now happening outside the system
The Guardian
I recently spent an evening at the University of Sussex talking to students interested in a career in the international development and non-profit sectors. That might not sound particularly interesting at first, except that I've never had a job in either. There's a general assumption – and not an unreasonable one – that if you want a career helping solve some of the bigger challenges facing people and the planet that you reach out and volunteer, intern and work at some of the largest institutions taking on those problems. But there is another way. A few decades ago, if you wanted a career in development you'd have to be a teacher, doctor or build dams. The spread of the internet and the march of the mobile phone have changed all that. Now, anyone with a computer and internet connection can build an app in their bedroom that helps to improve the lives of millions of people around the world, or develop an idea which goes viral. And I speak from experience, developing text messaging platform FrontlineSMS a few years ago with little funding or resources, which now is driving thousands of social change projects in more than 170 countries.

Studies Show: People Want Democracy to Deliver the Goods
Foreign Policy
Does the average person consider governance when they think about the things that affect their everyday lives? In a new Overseas Development Institute (ODI) paper that assesses views on governance based on survey data from around the world, we find that they do. But governance has many aspects, and there are some that are more important to people than others. In general, people seem to be concerned first and foremost about state performance and the ability of governments to deliver on key needs and expectations in areas including economic management, growth stimulation, job creation, health, education, or a more equitable distribution of goods and services. Corruption is a central part of this story, since it has such a big impact on people's satisfaction with their governments and their perceptions of its performance overall.

Why WhatsApp’s founders still carry old Nokia phones
WhatsApp’s founders aren’t Luddites. They also carry other, more modern phones.But the pair—spotted carrying these phones by Tim Bradshaw, a San Francisco-based reporter at the Financial Times—understand that despite the great growth numbers and sales figures of smartphones, older, clunkier phones still rule the world. And they aren’t going away anytime soon. Take the S60 operating system on which Koum and Acton’s phones run. Nokia created it, but no longer supports it. Yet it remains one of the most widely used in India, according to Kavin Mittal, who runs Hike, an Indian messaging app that allows messaging between smartphones and feature (i.e. non-smart) phones too, using ordinary text messages. To crack markets like India, makers of apps must go beyond the worlds of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems and look at what people are actually using.

Search high-res satellite images for missing Malaysian plane
Wired UK
Hours after Flight MH370 and its 239 passengers disappeared off the coast of Malaysia on 8 March, DigitalGlobe had repositioned its high-resolution satellite constellation to capture as much data as possible. On Monday, it posted those images on crowdsourcing platform Tomnod and had 60,000 page views within an hour. It did so at the bequest of the crowd, which came to DigitalGlobe within minutes of the plane being reported missing, asking when a page would launch. But DigitalGlobe is always keeping a watchful eye.

What You Think You Know About the Web Is Wrong
If you’re an average reader, I’ve got your attention for 15 seconds, so here goes: We are getting a lot wrong about the web these days. We confuse what people have clicked on for what they’ve read. We mistake sharing for reading. We race towards new trends like native advertising without fixing what was wrong with the old ones and make the same mistakes all over again. Not an average reader? Maybe you’ll give me more than 15 seconds then. As the CEO of Chartbeat, my job is to work with the people who create content online (like and provide them with real-time data to better understand their readers. I’ve come to think that many people have got how things work online quite mixed up.

15 Theses About the Digital Future
Pew Research Internet Project
The world is moving rapidly towards ubiquitous connectivity that will further change how and where people associate, gather and share information, and consume media. A canvassing of 2,558 experts and technology builders about where we will stand by the year 2025 finds striking patterns in their predictions. The invited respondents were identified in previous research about the future of the Internet, from those identified by the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project, and solicited through major technology-oriented listservs. They registered their answers online between November 25, 2013 and January 13, 2014.

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Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomite

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