Monday, December 31, 2012
Friday, December 28, 2012
Friday, December 21, 2012
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Friday, November 23, 2012
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Could this be applied to intangible forces as well? I was reminded of Newton's 3rd law as I was reading about how the M23 rebels seized Goma in DRC, which was previously controlled by the ruling government with support from the United Nations.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
So far I've discussed 4 different parts/characters of risk:
- The resulting condition/situation causing risk.
- The risky "stuff" itself, that is danger or harm.
- The initiator(s) that causes the condition/situation (aka the risk initiator).
- The other constituents affected by the risky condition.
The responsibility of the other constituents dealing with the risk rests on the initiator.
Monday, November 12, 2012
Some points of data for media analysis might be:
- Most frequent word in headlines
- Most frequent subject/topic in headlines
- Most frequent personality appearing in headlines
- Number of articles per day
- Diversity of topic areas covered per day
- Total number of people affected by each day's news
Some factors influencing media critique might be:
- Truth: To what level can facts be verified?
- Setting: What is the geographic spread of reporting?
- Process: How was the information collected?
- Sources: Who or what was consulted to gather information?
To my seemingly (and possibly intentionally) non-existent audience: Your feedback is welcome! Otherwise, more on this soon.
Friday, November 2, 2012
"Traditional medicine is popular in rural and urban communities due to beliefs. High cost of living, which has made medical treatment unaffordable to many people, is another reason for the popularity of the customary medicines. Other factors notwithstanding, long distance to a local health facility has also pushed many people towards traditional medicine, which to most rural people, is more readily available.
"It is estimated that over 80 per cent of rural people in Tanzania depend on traditional healers for their primary health care needs. Since the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in the country allowed treatment through traditional medicines, clinics and shops, which give that service are increasing daily. Healing is done through a balanced diet like eating a good meal, fruits, plants and roots medicine, and drinking a large amount of water."
I find that the juxtaposition of the two - traditional medicine and science - is too harsh. Can't traditional medicine be considered a science of its own? On a broad level, it involves making a hypothesis, testing these hypothesis with a method and is open to being proven wrong. There may be differences at a particular, practical level, but I would argue that the overall motivation to learn about curing based on certain metaphysical assumptions is consistent.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Today I came across an interesting BBC article about language studies on Twitter:
"The question of how language changes and evolves has occupied linguistic anthropologists for several decades. What determines whether an innovation will propagate throughout a culture, remain just a local variant, or be stillborn? Such questions decide the grain and texture of all our languages – why we might tweet “I’m bored af” rather than “I’m bored, forsooth.”
Nice! Full article and links here.
Friday, October 26, 2012
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
1. Provide customers with a statement of account when they demand it. The statement, similar to a bank statement, would clearly show all transactions, including money out and money in.
2. Provide customers with the ability to create a savings account, where money left in a certain "box" would recieve interest if left alone over a given period of time.
Through both these services - providing statements and allowing for savings - many more innovative message techniques could be devised.
Sunday, September 30, 2012
But since then, the word has stuck. And it is as if I am re-learning the word. I have found myself dropping it in different correspondences and writings.
Officially, the Oxford mini dictionary (7th ed) tells me "comrade" means "a fellow member or soldier". When I use it, I seem to think of the unity the word expresses a lot more than the person who embodies it. That is, "comrade" reminds me of a sense of belonging and a sense of duty a member of a large group inherently carries.
And since it is a name bestowed onto someone, they don't really have a choice in how it is applied. It is applied because of the perception the caller has of the called.
Maybe I will write on this more later. But for now, this will suffice to enter it into memory.
Monday, September 24, 2012
But does everyone saying something at one go (say, in response to a particularly popular blogpost) help to decipher the overall sentiment? If they are all displayed in a chronological string, not really. But if they are grouped together somehow - given keyword categorization or user voting as two examples - it would probably make the message much more friendly to understand. (Thanks OA!)
Thursday, September 20, 2012
I met an interesting man from Manila on the news today. One day he decided to give away his books in honor of promoting the act of reading. After leaving his less-than-100-book collection outside his house, he found that people not only borrowed books, but brought more books back. He's now running an open library that spreads across and inside his house where, in his own words, "there are no rules".
Meet Nanie Guanlao here on BBC's website.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
- Wayne Marshall on Musically Expressed Ideas About Music
(Thanks SS and TZHH!)
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
What if we designed a system of instruction that combined both, local language and international languages? The core curriculum would be taught in the local language of Swahili - as is the practice in most countries - but if students and teachers wanted to talk or listen in English there would be ways to do so; either through extra overtime classes, or through a dedicated course on the English language, or through the use of subtitled text on screens (and other translation technologies).
In order to even entertain the idea of this kind of system, resources would need to be invested. Teachers in particular would need to be prepared (and willing) to have an instructional command in both languages and institutions in general would need to be prepared (and willing) to invest in extra time and technology spent on exploring both.
At the end of the day however, when it comes to learning, people should have the capability to learn in whatever language they are most suited at using. Otherwise, the process of education becomes trancedental; it is brought from an unknown place and imposed on a population. If people speak, listen, interact in a medium of instruction that they are brought up with, they are better able to understand and react to concepts, even when they are translated into local vernacular.
Friday, September 7, 2012
From a song, Meu Caro Amigo, by Chico Buarque. Lyrics found when reading about Augusto Boal and Theatre of the Oppressed.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Maps provide locational data that is important for many reasons. A few of them are: Being able to also map out specific stops (and other travel-related spots) along routes; timing route/journey durations; providing distance/time information to travellers; and eventually even providing such information to city planners who can then dedicate specific space on roads just for public transport.
Exciting stuff! Thanks Anson.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Thursday, August 23, 2012
But there is only so much time in one day, only so much money to go around one university, and only so much one person can think about in terms of how their job relates to their ideals.
So, considering the scarcity of resources, institutions cannot help but restrict learning. At least, this is true for resources directly handled by those who manage learning.
When, then, can be said about resources that are seemingly and willingly abundant, uncontrollable and left up to the learner to handle? Such as those that live in open-source environments?
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Side note: Patrick Clifton - or Postman Pat - always had his cat, Jess, with him. While Jess could never speak to Postman Pat in his human language, Postman Pat could understand Jess' motions and reactions. This helped them work as a team; more importantly, a team that Postman Pat's customers/clients would probably not understand. If e-mail service providers play the part of Postman Pat today, who plays the part of Jess?
Thanks Brink of Bedlam for the nostalgic image!
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Friday, August 17, 2012
It could mean "You're crazy!" in the sense that what you are saying or doing is impossible. It is impossible because it is at odds with the laws of nature.
Or, it could mean "You're crazy!" in the sense that what you are saying or doing is not something conceivable. It is not conceivable because it does not readily appear to fit in the state of affairs around you.
In the first case, well, you're probably crazy. In the second case, you aren't crazy, but you need to try and express yourself a bit more, and where this proves impossible, you need to try and do and see for yourself.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
No more frantic double, triple, seemingly-infinite clicking.
Monday, August 13, 2012
But we are growing increasingly aware that peoples' actions do not always reflect their ideal desires (thanks UK and Nudge). In light of this awareness, it appears that the question we should be asking is, rather than what do people want, what do people do?
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Does this mean we should shy away from expressing our metaphysical beliefs through our actions in life?
And when instinct speaks loud from within, is this even an option?
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Friday, August 3, 2012
Though we no longer live in the same city and can no longer enjoy a game of Monopoly together as easily, I am lucky to still be in touch with Adil. He is now working as a teacher and scholar with the Ismaili community in Canada and recently published a paper titled Rethinking the role of religious education in a knowledge society: A Shia Ismaili Muslim perspective.
Yesterday I caught up with Adil over e-mail and asked him five questions on the paper. He was kind enough to respond. Here is what he said:
1. This knowledge society; does it just have to do with the physical production of knowledge or are there intangible aspects to it?
Knowledge societies do not just have to do with the physical production of knowledge but they also ought to consider how to use that knowledge towards the greater good of its society, and from a global standpoint, the entirety of the human race.2. Compared to teachers from Dar al Hikma, why do you think we've arrived to a state in the world where we specialize in particular subjects, rather than having broad "encyclopaedic" knowledge?
I think it has to do with how knowledge itself has been understood in certain parts of the world. What has happened is that societies whose sole focus was to achieve greater economic gain saw knowledge not as a whole but in parts and therefore many fields of knowledge became specialized. Focusing in one subject area would make you an expert in your field but what we are seeing now is a knowledge gap where various fields of study have become overly specialized and are therefore alienated from each other. This again begs the question, what is our purpose behind the pursuit of knowledge? and to what end?3. Secular and Religious Education; need they be separate? Why so?
Some would argue yes, presumably as an extension to the belief in the separation between Church and State. Though this is not the case all around the world, some societies do not see them as binaries, politically or educationally speaking. In terms of Education I would recommend that they be taught in harmony with each other because religions have existed throughout our history and in many facets of human life. Omitting this convergence in the education system suggests to our younger generations that we can pick and choose what we (in the present) want to say about the world which I believe distorts a real and meaningful understanding of our world to our students. If we distort history then students will have difficulty in understanding how the world has come to be the way it is. Dichotomizing secular and religious education within our learning system inadvertently says to the student that these two do not belong together nor have they ever belonged together, of which the opposite is true.4. You mention Paolo Freire while discussing cosmopolitanism (p. 10). Is a transformation in the way young people are educated needed? If so, what would this transformation look like, and how would it help?
This is but one argument in a very large discussion but I would be remiss if I did not say that we should evaluate how religious education is taught amidst the influences of secularism, both from a curricular and pedagogical standpoint. What we, as educators, should be asking is: "how can I teach and inspire my students to live their lives by contributing to the betterment of society through ethical principles and actions while pursuing economic betterment?"
I think I addressed some of this in the previous question but what I will say is that in addition to changes in how we educate young people we should seek to achieve a transformation within the student. In other words, developing their potential to contribute to the world in which we live in meaningful ways and with greater purpose is what Freire reflects upon. In connection with cosmopolitanism, diversity of peoples in our countries, cities and neighborhoods is a well known fact but how we develop individuals that will see this diversity as a strength and build upon it is of primary concern to educators as it ensures the safety and interactive growth of our species.5. If you had the chance to be heard by all the teachers in the world, what would you say?
In addition to the question I posed in question 3, I would ask "how are you creating a space wherein students can look at the world through multiple lenses be it philosophical, scientific, religious, artistic or otherwise? And, how do you ensure that these multiple ways of understanding become a source of strength in your classroom rather than a burden?"Adil can be emailed at adil(dot)mamodaly(at)gmail(dot)com. Thanks chief!
Sunday, July 29, 2012
On a recent album release by Nas called Life is Good, Anthony Hamilton sings “The world is an addiction / serving up a fix”. The track goes on to discuss the dangers of selling out in pursuit of irrational dreams; indeed, “you gain your life just to lose your soul”.
Sometimes I wonder if Tanzania is losing her soul. Perhaps – as time passes – it is me growing more conscious, or media becoming more pervasive to drama. But it seems like this country is chasing grandeur that is alien to her history and at odds with what she needs today.
Her history and her needs; what do these mean? For the purpose of this post, I am pointing to Tanzania’s historical pursuit to be an independent nation-state, free of international dues and reliance on help. I am also referring to her current state of affairs, mainly consisting of an inefficient system of education coupled with an unbalanced system of trade.
There are a few examples which seem to show that Tanzania is not independent at all and is ignoring her own real needs. I will highlight five here.
1. Defense and policing
Under the pretense of training, the Tanzania People’s Defense Force (TPDF) is taking lessons from foreign interests. It is great to exchange strategy and know-how (TPDF has trained African National Congress and Congolese armies in the past), but knowledge should also be customized to local needs. Yet, the TPDF hardly has its own website, and most of its news flows through AFRICOM and Wikipedia pages. Do we not have our own platforms from which the Tanzanian people can learn and engage with their own defense apparatus? As for civil policing, it is getting eery. A recent op-ed raised alarming questions about the fluctuating loyalty of our police forces. The op-ed was prompted by selective actions pursued by officers during the recent doctors strike, many actions of which people find difficult to trust.
The security and environmental policies around Geita and North Mara mines have mirrored the selective action by civil police forces. Directives appear to come from high-level authorities, far removed from the interests of ordinary citizens. There have been numerous stories about the irony of Geita’s awkwardly benevolent slogans and North Mara’s shooting of “trespassers”. Yet, to the rest of the world, what matters is the “efficient” allocation of resources such that share prices increase; and it appears Tanzania wants to satisfy this allocation. Uh, which Tanzania do we mean here? The ordinary citizens’ Tanzania, or the rest of the world’s Tanzania? Are these the same?
You might be thinking “Well, of course, a country belongs to its citizens!”. Sure, I would like to believe that. But even for Tanzania’s state of agriculture, it is not so easy to tell. In the 1970s, Tanzania provided land to refugees who escaped war and genocide in Burundi. A few years ago, this land was agreed to be used by a US-based company to advance Tanzania-based Kilimo Kwanza initiatives. The agreement was reached by multiple parties, and arrangements had been made to relocate the refugees who had settled in this land over the years. Whether this has been done in the interest of farmers, the refugees and/or Tanzania is still not clear, but this lack of clarity is glaring proof that the agreement was simply not reached in consultation with citizens. What is strange is that this year citizens of Iowa, a state in the US, meet their local authorities to discuss Tanzanian human rights (even though the reallocation of the refugees from Burundi had been planned sometime in 2011). What happened to us sitting down with our local authorities? What does this one case mean for Kilimo Kwanza as a whole?
4. Fishing, wildlife and tourism
The fix appears to be served beyond land, into the deep blue as well. Last year, Tanzania exported about $173 million worth of fish products. What was her revenue from these exports? About $3.7 million (less than 3%). A government website states that fisheries is a source of “employment, livelihood” to people and constitutes about 30% of protein intake in the population, but still we are trying to combat illegal leaks in the system (which begs the question, where is it all leaking to?). Meanwhile, back on firm land, some of Tanzania’s wildlife are being exported under the table, while she sets up large boundaries called “reserves” (some of the largest in the world) where animals are supposed to live freely so she can make a bit of change from tourism. It’s not like Tanzania does not make money from tourism – the numbers show potential – but who is benefiting?
Mwalimu Nyerere once said “our education must counteract the temptation to intellectual-arrogance”. I interpret intellectual-arrogance to mean serving up the fix; being high on an illusion that is distant from reality. Previous reports about whether Tanzania is learning are sobering. But whether or not we choose to improve the state of education within this country, the knowledge the world has about her is distorted, and we seem to encourage it. Perhaps it is time Tanzania made room for more traditional ways of learning.
Whatever we decide to do, Nas sums it all up for everyone with a fix: “We all need faith cause the world keep changing / Let go of the illusion, start some restraining”. Tanzania was never founded on an illusion; rather she was borne from a liberating reality. But whether she sells this reality in pursuit of some quick relief at the expense of her own health or whether she stays grounded with her people is up to those who make the decisions for her.
This post was inspired by Solo Thang’s Miss Tanzania and Bahati’s UtandaRhymes series.
Selected links in this article:
Saturday, July 28, 2012
[Verse 1 extracts]
When you’re too hood to be in them Hollywood circles
And you’re too rich to be in that hood that birthed you
And you become better than legends you thought were the greatest
And out grow women you love and thought you could stay with
Life become clearer when you wipe down your mirror
And leave notes around for yourself to remember...
...Nasty the nicest, I’m somewhat of a psychic
Just one minute after it’s heard
You all excited, you all repeat it
So call me a genius, if you didn’t
Now that I said it I force you to think it
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Doesn't this run the risk of shortening the experience of life itself? Is this even a risk at all? (Thanks, Ender.)
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Here's one more: Heros and Villians.
The other day at work (feels good to be back at home doing this thing called 'work') my coworkers were discussing the show Heros. It got me thinking about every hero I had come to admire in my life, from the fictional ones like Jerry, Liono and He-Man, to the real ones like Mother Theresa, Gandhi and Mandela. The list is pretty long, but what stood out is that these heros championed causes, fought obstacles and stood their ground... against other actors.
In the case of Jerry, his opponent was Tom. For Liono it was any ally of Mumra, while for He-Man it was any ally of Skeletor. In real life, Mother Theresa fought poverty; Gandhi and Mandela both made substantial moves against inequality and injustice.
Can there be hereos without villians? If so, what would justify their existence, knowledge, and identity?
Generalizing these questions to wider binary oppositions, can one exist (at least as an independent idea) without the other? If the answer is yes, then why do the opposites still exist as ideas? If the answer is no - that is, binary oppositions cannot exist without one another - then what implications does this have on everyday actions?
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Insofar as thinking and acting are seen as two departments, two worlds, two states of being, their combination seems difficult. Insofar as they are thought of as one seamless process, one world, one way of being, their interdependency becomes clearer.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
The problem with contemporary information systems for the public sector is that they rely on older models of "new public management" that rose around the turn of the century.
New public management was a field where the affordances of technology were combined with the objectives of public administration.
Two concerns follow from this theoretical combination: First, how has the distribution, production and consumption of new media and information technology systems evolved since the year 2000? Second, how are public values translated into technology rules?
The challenge of contemporary information systems for the public sector lies in these two concerns.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Friday, May 11, 2012
Amartya Sen  outlines five critical functions of the media in society:
- To enable direction contribution from the public;
- To enable information to be disseminated to the public;
- To protect public voice;
- To facilitate the formation of public value; and
- To enable public reasoning.
Even here, however, we need to check ourselves. Let us consider an example of a "truly" participatory approach. In this case, is it possible to envision systems of communication where factors such as agenda-setting, management, technical-knowhow, etc. are perfectly available in the public sphere? Habermasian  derivations of the Public Sphere define three characteristics:
- All participants have equal access to the sphere;
- All participants have the right to question activities and discussions in the sphere;
- All participants have a right to suggest modifications to activites and discussions.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Yet, we leave development practice in the abstract. We stop short at revised theory, and consult with practice initiators who attempt to materialize the abstract. Even there, we treat attempts as cases, and recriticize to align with still revised theory.
It's time the field of communication for development confessed its efforts to change market-based activities. It's also time that it confessed that power in the market is strong, and at most times, stronger than the power of discourse.
Instead, the field of communication for development should hold strong to the assumptions that structuralist development practice has not worked. That's that. Why go further to assume that a new theory is needed, or what a new theory would mean for people's quality of life? Some of this is readily documented in market research on the use of mobile phones, radio broadcast interaction, broadband usage, etc.
The pursuit of how communication helps development becomes much simpler with just one assumption. From there, a world of activities come into view. And yes, while these activities are mixed - some are formal businesses, some are public initiatives, some are in between and some are mysteriously everywhere and nowhere - they are embedded in culture.
The pursuit for participatory, community-based approaches to communication for development encourages this as well - to seek culture as a means to understand modes and structures of communication. But it tends to revolve around conceptual arguments made by an academic community, not the community using and engaging with the communication system.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Monday, May 7, 2012
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Monday, April 30, 2012
- Media technologies and the social contexts they flow through are inextricably linked.
- You learn when you feel and say that you have learned.
- Instinct is usually the most reliable source of verification for decisions. There may be two levels of instinct - one that is akin to short-term realities, and another that is longer-term. TBC.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Friday, March 9, 2012
Now, let's consider that these lines of communication are different in nature from one another. The way in which I use my Facebook account may not reflect the same motives or activities as the way in which I use my mobile phone. Nor my postal service. This is probably because I communicate with different people depending on the line I'm using.
With these two considerations, one question current bugs me: Why would we still want to maintain one outlook on the ways in which we communicate?
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Time and knowledge are like pools into which we are born. How much time we save or how much knowledge we gain are not necessarily races, yet we treat them as such. I am taught to assume that my ancestors knew less then I do today, and time has moved forward. Yet, I find that my ancestors' values went deeper than mine today, to a level that I can only try and imagine.
In short, we move within time and knowledge at different instances, not along it.
Friday, February 10, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
The timing of this coincidence could not have been any better (no pun intended).
An extract of one of my favorite articles within this guidebook:
"What is striking about this arrangement is how much it differs from the vision of time put forward by all the major religions. They have always pictured free time differently. For them, there is nothing inherently wrong with having an appointment. It does not, by itself, spoil time. The key detail is that we should have an appointment with something important – which for them means something related to the needs of our souls. Here, in particular, religons differ from the secular world. Most people today picture an appointment as something they might have in an office with a few people around a table talking about a spreadsheet. It is working life, and the capitalist version of it, that dominates this thinking about appointments. For religious people, however, appointments are occasions when they can reconnect with the divine; something they feel the need to do about as often as others think of watching the news."
Read the rest of Alain de Botton's article Scheduling in the Sublime here. The entire guide was put together by The School of Life.
Whose time matters most? If not now, when? If not us, who?
Sunday, January 22, 2012
What is economic complexity? The authors explain that "society functions because its members form webs that allow them to specialize and share their knowledge with others." The Atlas focuses on exported goods (not services), tracking how easy it is for an economy to leap from the simple (growing cotton, or making steel) to the complex (manufacturing garments, or building cars). The easier it is for a nation to diversify exports and, in turn, produce skilled workers and pricy exports, the more complex it is. Thus economic complexity, per Hausmann and Hidalgo, "reflects the structures that emerge to hold and combine knowledge." Notably, this includes demographic trends and social networks -- the webs and serendipities often lost in pure GDP analysis.
One question this article made me think about is the following: Is it perfect information which is one aspect of Economics, or is Economics itself evolving based on how much information people have access to today?