Economic development aside, one of my many passions is photography. While partial to black and white images, I can't help but share this with you. Glenna Gordon is a photojournalist who keeps a blog out of Uganda called Scarlett Lion. She also keeps a professional website on which she has the most amazing collection African images I've seen in some time. Two of my recent favorites:
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
A big 'thank you' to Ethan Zuckerman for stirring my thinking on the advantages and disadvantages of development technology this morning. Writing on Apple's introduction of the iPhone in Egypt (and the Egyptian government's subsequent suppression of the Maps application on the grounds that GPS is a military prerogative), Zuckerman asks:
whether technologies inherently help confront and change authoritarian regimes, or whether these regimes are more successful at adapting to and repressing speech via new technologies.This is an interesting question with seemingly no clear answer. In China, for instance, the government has mastered the art of permitting certain technologies while suppressing others. The result is a populace somewhat falsely empowered with a sense of information, making marginal progress in the way of reform, and a government that isn't going anywhere anytime soon. A similar analysis may be offered in the case of Russia, and Venezuela, to a degree.
Switching gears a bit, I began exploring the various information technologies (broadly speaking) emerging across Africa. Here, the issue is perhaps not so much changing authoritarian regimes (though that certainly wouldn't hurt), but engendering sustainable development. A few interesting projects caught my eye:
- A small NGO in Nairobi called ALIN (Arid Lands Information Network) is working to connect rural communities via community knowledge centers by running solar powered VSAT dishes
- A web-based reporting tool - Ushahidi (which means "testimony" in Swahili) - is allowing Africans caught up in political unrest to report incidents of killing, violence and displacement. Its goal is to create a simple way of aggregating information from the public for use in crisis situations. It has been recently used in the Democratic Republic of Congo
- Wikiforets is a living dictionary and encyclopedia, bringing together French speaking Africans who can share their knowledge of the indigenous forests in West and Central Africa with the aim of conserving the forests in which people live or on which they are dependent