development & design

Open letter to Dr Solomon Benjamin

Dear Solly, My attention has been drawn to your post of 28 March on the Sarai Commons-Law mailing list. I am usually pretty relaxed about criticism. After all, if our events failed to provoke discussion and disagreement, they would be feeble events indeed. One reason I was so happy to be introduced to your work, […]

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“Small is not small”

A session at Doors 8 on service design for emerging economies left a tricky question unanswered: how do we determine when is a market is ‘emerging’ – and when it has emerged? And, is it possible to design the relationship between small pilot projects, as potential tipping points, and large scale system or market change? […]

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How digital rights management will harm the developing world

India-bound Michael Coburn draws my attention to a paper by Cory Doctorow on how Digital Rights Management will affect the developing world. The piece is written for an International Telecommunications Union report aimed at telecoms regulators in national governments around the world; they are trying to figure out which DRM to adopt. Doctorow questions the […]

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Design in development (cont.)

A large meeting last week at the Tropen Institute in Amsterdam marked the launch of a new project, Dutch Design In Development (DDiD). Participants ranged from young designers struggling to make a living by importing textiles from Africa, to eco-tourism marketeers, and consultants who advise global companies how to behave responsibly. My own contribution was […]

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Want to be a knowledge superpower?

According to an India survey in Britain’s New Scientist magazine, ‘if the sub-continent gets everything right it will have the third largest economy in the world by 2050, after China and the US. India is not yet a knowledge superpower, but it stands on the threshold’. Is this a good place for India to be? […]

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On natural and man-made disasters

The spectacle of Bono and other glossy celebs singing for tsunami victims was a somewhat quease-inducing sight on the box the other night. As P Sainath points out in indiatogether,”Number of homes damaged by the tsunami in Nagapattinam: 30,300. Number of homes destroyed by the Congress-NCP Government in Mumbai: 84,000. The elite wants a society […]

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So Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the Media Laboratory at MIT, is to bestow laptop computers on poor people for just $100. To the punters in Davos, where Negroponte was promoting his project, $100 probably sounded cheap: many were paying $100 an hour to be there. But in Mali, where 90 percent of the population lives […]

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Spooks: why you have to be in Delhi for Doors 8

By 2020 globalization is likely to take on much more of a non-Western face. So says the US National Intelligence Council (NIC), a think-tank that advises the CIA on the likely course of future events. A new report called The Contradictions of Globalization says that Asia will “alter the rules of the globalizing process”. The […]

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Wrongly developed design?

I’ve been asked to give a lecture on ‘design in development’ at a conference in Amsterdam on 8 March. It will be an interesting opportunity to test the waters in Europe ahead of the main event of Doors 8 itself. I’m more than a little uneasy about the word ‘development’: it implies that we advanced […]

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