Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Iterative design

Iterative design acknowledges that the world is constantly changing and so are its people. Shifting preferences, lifestyles and work ethics mean that initiatives relying on people need to be designed to accommodate changes. They need to suck up their pride and understand that sometimes, some things will fail. This type of design prescribes a curiosity for the unknown at all times and involves lots of questions on an hourly basis. It also calls for the embodiment and ownership of the design as changing in and of itself.

(Thanks, Twaweza!)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Less is better than more

When designing communication systems - or any system for that matter - it seems better to start with less rather than more. Adding more than what is seen as a basic requirement risks overestimating the value of what is actually needed. It also seems easier to build on something based on new needs, rather than taking out stuff that is never used (humans seems to like hoarding). 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Isaac and Law # 3

"The third law states that all forces exist in pairs: If one object A exerts a force FA on a second object B, then B simultaneously exerts a force FB on A, and the two forces are equal and opposite: FA = −FB." (Source)

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

On risk III

See On risk I and On risk II.

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. 

Risk entails an awareness of causing danger or harm. You cannot cause risk without knowing what kind of danger or harm is involved because in that case you would not call it a risk, but something else. To call something "risk" is to be aware of what danger or harm it brings. 

Now, what happens in a situation where the risk initiator is now aware - but the constituents are - of the danger or harm at hand?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Media analysis and critique

I'm trying to brainstorm what kinds of analyses people want from news media and how these analyses can be useful to them.

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

Is traditional medicine not a science?

On Vijana FM's poll this week, we asked whether traditional healers can work with doctors. So far, most people say "in some ways, sure". Coincidentally, I came across this article today titled Traditional Medicine Excels Where Science Fails. Here is an extract:

"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.