These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
The Challenge Of Connecting The Unconnected
Every time we return to or sign up for an Internet service (e.g. Facebook, Google, Gmail, YouTube, etc.), we rely on what UX experts call a “mental model” for navigating through the choices. A mental model is essentially a person’s intuition of how something works based on past knowledge, similar experiences and common sense. So even when something is new, mental models help to make sense of it, utilizing the human brain’s ability to transcode knowledge and recognize patterns. For instance, most of our grandparents can hit the ground running with changing the channel or increasing the volume when handed the remote control for the latest television available in the market today, squarely because of a well-developed mental model for TV remote control units. But our grandparents may not have the same level of success when using Internet services, smartphones or tablets. Under-developed mental models in these domains are their primary obstacles
Beyond Magic Bullets in Governance Reform
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Domestic reformers and external donors have invested enormous energy and resources into improving governance in developing countries since the 1990s. Yet there is still remarkably little understanding of how governance progress actually occurs in these contexts. Reform strategies that work well in some places often prove disappointing elsewhere. A close examination of governance successes in the developing world indicates that effective advocacy must move beyond a search for single-focus “magic bullet” solutions toward an integrated approach that recognizes multiple interrelated drivers of governance change.
ITU commits to bringing 1.5 billion online by 2020
The United Nations' International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has committed to its plan of bringing a further 1.5 billion people online by 2020, as part of its 2014 Plenipotentiary Conference Connect 2020 Agenda resolution. The 2014 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2014, which wraps up today in Busan, South Korea, after more than two weeks of multilateral discussions, saw member countries unanimously adopt the organisation's global agenda to "shape the future of the ICT sector".
You're Growing Older ... Is Your Life Getting Better Or Worse?
Robert F. Kennedy once said that GDP, or gross domestic product, "measures everything ... except that which makes life worthwhile." GDP, in case you weren't paying attention in Econ 101, looks at economic activity as a way to size up how a country is doing. RFK has a point. The status of a country amounts to more than the number of goods it produces and sells. Psychology professor Arthur Stone says, "Right now, there's a lot of dissatisfaction in using GDP as a measure of a country's progress." So then what do you use? For several years now, scientists have been grappling with this question. A study published this week in The Lancet uses levels of personal satisfaction to examine global well-being. Stone is one of the study's authors — and the director of the University of Southern California's Dornsife Center for Self-Report Science.
How technology can weave development’s ‘golden thread’
It wasn’t hard to find references to technology at yesterday’s (10 November) annual conference from Bond, the membership body for organisations working in international development. It was a well-attended meeting, with Bill Gates and Justine Greening, UK secretary of state for international development, among the speakers. So it was great to see technology being discussed. The first nod to technology came in the keynote address from Jay Naidoo, who led South Africa’s reconstruction and development programme under Nelson Mandela between 1994 and 1999. Alluding to the trend within development for NGOs to quantify their projects’ impact, Naidoo emphasised that real development means giving people “opportunities and hope”, which he said are “intangibles – not deliverables that can be captured in logframes”
The G20 is powerless in the face of radical global disruption
As world leaders gather in Brisbane this month to tackle an increasingly fractious global economy, let’s cast our mind back exactly one hundred years. In 1914, the world was about to plunge into a period of unprecedented disruption. The disruption, global and bloody, saw old empires torn asunder by forces outside their control. Alliances of great powers with quaint names such as the Triple Entente tried to stem the tide, seeking to preserve the 19th century ways of thinking and doing. With the benefit of hindsight, we wonder why they bothered. Why didn’t they see the inevitability of a new order replacing the old? After all, new modes of economic production as well as new social and political movements -- too nimble, different and diverse to be controlled by the old, static order -- were emerging for all to see. Fast-forward a century and we are experiencing a similar, if not more profound, disruption. And we’re witnessing a similar level of disconnect in the way the G20 -- the 21st century’s version of the Triple Entente -- is dealing with it.
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