development & design

How to deal with cultural emissions

Does tourism kill the toured? An unexpected overnight in Barcelona at the weekend reminded me that cities should be be careful what they wish for. Barcelona is the most-quoted example in the world of a city that has used design and creativity to make itself attractive to tourists. But having come in their hordes, they […]

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How to rebuild, or how to be?

The papers today say that rebuilding after Katrina will cost the same as the war in Iraq. In the unlikely event that so much money is forthcoming, what will it be spent on? Are new freeways and malls the wisest way to rebuild? Before firms like Halliburton start pouring concrete, a moment’s pause is in […]

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The limits of Live8

Overheard in The NYU Bookstore, Washington Place: Girl on cell: ‘So I went up to my Professor just now? And I was telling him I’ve chosen a country for my project. He was like,”Africa? That’s not a country.” I was like, “Come on, what was all that Live 8 stuff about, then?”. He was just […]

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Disruptive behaviour

A breathless email from Tony Perkins invites me to Stanford to watch lions eat Christians. Or so it sounds. Tony writes that his conference, Always On, is about “the sweet spots in the technology markets…where innovation is disrupting behavior and creating new business opportunities”. His website concludes, “come play in our spontaneous and uncensored arena”. […]

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African response to G8

A range of African NGOs and organisations has expressed frustration and concern in response to statements from G8 that world leaders would solve Africa’s problems with limited debt relief and increased aid. Writers and campaigners from a range of African countries have expressed their views in the Alternatives Commission for Africa report. For most of […]

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Dealing with good and bad news

Someone told me (offline) that my reaction to Live8 yesterday was unduly critical. Isn’t it better for people to be charged up and optimistic about a big challenge, such as poverty, rather than overwhelmed and demotivated? It’s a tricky call. I still agree with George Monbiot that Live8 will have done more harm than good […]

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How good it feels to feel

“Everyone is, suddenly, globally, politicised” froths an embarassing article about Live8 by Euan Ferguson in todays Observer. Puleese.The atmosphere this morning reminds me of Princess Diana’s funeral. The emotions released yesterday are heartfelt – but narcissistic. It feels good to feel. Watching a rock musician in a London park is not an optimal position from […]

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One-dimensional Doors?

At deBalie in Amsterdam, a conference called Incommunicado is debating issues to do with information technology for development (ICT4D). I could not stay for today’s debate, organsed by Solomon Benjamin, on “culture and corporate sponsorship in the ICT4D context” – so I make this contribution remotely. Benjamin, quoting as one example Doors 8 in Delhi […]

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Small is not small (cont.)

Build a bus stop in an urban slum and a vibrant community sprouts and grows around it. Such is the power of small interventions into complex urban situations. Small Change by Nabeel Hamdi is another of my ‘finds’ in Seattle’s anarchist bookshop – although on closer inspection the book was not published out of a […]

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