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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.

What makes people happy and why it matters for development
The Guardian
Happiness economics is a new field that strives to find out what really makes people happy based on surveys asking citizens: "How satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?" or "How happy are you?". Rather than letting experts define what makes for the good life from an armchair perspective, happiness economics allows us to identify the factors that matter for people's wellbeing as they themselves experience it.  When the original millenium development goals (MDGs) were formulated, happiness economics barely existed. Before 2000, less than five scientific articles a year dealt with "subjective wellbeing", academic speak for happiness and life satisfaction. Over the course of the past decade, though, their number has risen enormously. A World Happiness Report launched last year at the United Nations summarises the evidence to date.

The problem with data journalism
Quartz
The recent boom in “data-driven” journalism projects is exciting. It can elevate our knowledge, enliven statistics, and make us all more numerate.  But I worry that data give commentary a false sense of authority since data analysis is inherently prone to bias. The author’s priors, what he believes or wants to be true before looking at the data, often taint results that might appear pure and scientific. Even data-backed journalism is opinion journalism. So as we embark on this new wave of journalism, we should be aware of what we are getting and what we should trust.  Economics blogger James Schneider recently opined on how journalists highlight research, even if it’s not credible, that confirms their argument and ignores work that undermines it.

How sustainable is your smartphone? - interactive
The Guardian
Smartphones are owned by one in five people and have changed how many of the world's most important industries work – from journalism to farming. But their production carries a cost; using more than 40 elements that are mined with untold environmental and social effects on every inhabited continent on earth. Use the interactive below to take a detailed look at positive and negative impacts your smartphone has made on people and planet

2014 Sony World Photography Awards: See All The Winning Photos
International Business Times
The World Photography Organization announced the winners of the 2014 Sony World Photography Awards for the Open, Youth and National Award categories this week. More than 70,000 entries were submitted to the competition from all over the world, according to a statement released by the World Photography Organization. The Open, Youth and National Award competitions were judged based on a single image, with photographers winning prizes ranging from Sony digital imaging equipment to trips to London to attend the Sony World Photography Awards ceremony and gala on April 30.

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The Internet’s Biggest Enemies
Gizmodo
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released its annual "Enemies of the Internet" index this week—a ranking first launched in 2006 intended to track countries that repress online speech, intimidate and arrest bloggers, and conduct surveillance of their citizens.Some countries have been mainstays on the annual index, while others have been able to work their way off the list.

Burma tries to reform its iron-fisted police
The Washington Post
As a mob of angry young men approached a platoon of fresh-faced police recruits on the dusty outskirts of Rangoon one recent day, the officers kept their cool. Even as the crowd started hurling water bottles, commander Thein Toe Zaw attempted to negotiate over a loudspeaker. His men calmly pushed the crowd back until it dispersed — no batons drawn or beatings delivered. Of course, this wasn’t exactly real life. It was a training exercise at Police Battalion Camp No. 8, financed by the European Union, held under the watchful eye of Burmese police brass and European trainers. It was part of an effort to overhaul a police force that was employed by Burma’s powerful military to keep rebels and dissenters in check during years of authoritarian rule.

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Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomite

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