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The world's nomadic economic heart; aid blogging made funny; smartphones and graphs for climate disasters; shifting inequality goalposts; the worst aid promo video EVER: links I liked

July 3, 2012
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After breaking my duck on twitter, I’m starting to use it more and more for tweeting links to interesting stuff. I’ll still use the blog to post the best and/or ones that merit more than 140 characters of explanation, but if you are a true linkhoover, you’d best start following me on @fp2p. Here’s this week’s top picks.

Great Economist graphic on the world’s moving economic centre of gravity over the last 200 years. Two main points: the shift from EastGlobal centre of economic gravity to West and back again, and the rapid acceleration in its movement. Click twice to expand. [h/t just about everyone]

Time for some navel-gazing. The ‘Staying for Tea’ blog is developing a nice line in posts about aid blogging, where it turns out this blog a) has next to no ‘influence on the average person’ and is ‘a bit academic for some’. My elitist little wonk heart glows with pride. First the honest (and painful) truth about the time wasting, futility and existential crises of aid blogging – in charts. Next up, a Who’s Who of International Development Blogging [h/t Gawain Kripke].

Number of climate related disasters 1980-2011 – grim graphs of trends in droughts, storms and floods, c/o  UNISDR

Hardly anyone in poor rural areas of developing countries has a smartphone yet, but they will do in a few years, so this new US smartphone weather alert system could be an interesting addition to disaster risk reduction [h/t Ian Bray]

‘Just as the political consensus might be slowly moving towards addressing [inequality], the stakes have been raised with the inclusion of resource inequalities too.’ Claire Melamed ponders the evolving inequality debate.

Is the worst ever aid promotion video? Thanks to the US Marine corps for graphically demonstrating why we should be worried about the link between aid and counter-terrorism. “We are the first to move towards the sounds of tyranny, injustice, and despair” (image of helicopter gunship carrying boxes labelled “aid”). You think aid workers feel safer with this kind of stuff being broadcast? [h/t NYU DRI aka Bill Easterly’s new blog]

7 comments

  1. “After breaking my duck on twitter”: fabulously culturally specific metaphor, Duncan. Wonder what non-cricket players make of it, especially those for whom English is a second language.

    We should do a collection of them: recently a scientist speaking to agricultural research scientists showed a slide of an elephant eating in the forest as an introduction to his punch-line, ‘now for the elephant in the room’. My straw poll of the participants (abusing facilitator’s rights) showed the level of polite incomprehension you’d expect

  2. oh crikey that video is just awful. really confuses the aid msg even further. it is so offensive to be equating marines with justice and help etc when in reality they are part-responsible for bringing tyranny into people’s lives in the first place

  3. Absent images and weaponry, that video could work for hard core humanitarian orgs, no? That’s some powerful branding: run towards chaos. A few years ago the Prez of MSF spoke at a major gathering of NATO brass. I helped write the speech, and that was one of the opening lines. Something we have in common with the military. Moving towards conflict.

  4. A culturally specific metaphor followed by an almost meaningless graphic – you must be human after all!

    Any graphic that puts the economic centre in the arctic ocean is bonkers to start with. An over exageration of the North-South divide? Combining
    that with a map projection that expands the polar regions so much shows even less of a grasp on how to make data meaningful. As for it being a centre “of gravity” – well then it really ought to be 3D.

    Despite all that, it was strangely intriguing.

  5. Watching that video made me wonder if the US Marine Corps will also be seeking funding from other donors aside from USAID/USG!

  6. The video and the debate on it – a gross oversimplification of the complex relations between military and NGOs.

    The reactions to the video are I feel knee jerks from NGO ‘saints’ who view the military as devils incarnate. There is a need for the military, a need for NGOs and a need for humanitarian space – voicing disgust because USAID and USARMY are linked in a video shows a lack of understanding of the realities of the real world and complex emergencies.

    The worst aid promotion I ever saw was an Oxfam life size poster on a UK high street of a thin African woman standing in a dry field holding a begging bowl out to the viewer. The damage that that kind of ‘promotion’ does is incalculable. I haven’t heard any soldiers complaining though.

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