Earlier this weekend, I came across this reddit post, entitled ‘Being a black woman in Berlin’. It’s a sad endictment on society here in Berlin that someone is experiencing such awful treatment from those in the city; sadly, though, I’m not surprised, judging from my own experiences. I’m also finding both the original post and the following comments to be revealing about German society in general.
In the original post, an African-American woman describes her experiences of moving to Berlin, and facing constant harassment and racism here in Berlin, specifically while living in Moabit. While obviously I can’t comment on the experience of black women in Berlin, I can from my own perspective as a British-Asian woman living here, and there were a few key things that she wrote that I can strongly sympathise with.
I’ve spent the past week at the OGP Americas summit, in San Jose, Costa Rica. A number of things struck me about the way I personally think about OGP, and about the way that OGP might evolve in the future.
Band Aid 30. It premiered yesterday and I’m just as enraged by it as I have been by the original. I’ve read already a couple of good pieces about why Band Aid 30 is terrible; here are some more reasons I’d like to add to that mix, from the perspective of having grown up in the UK, and having heard that song every, single, Christmas time.
One of my favourite things to do while travelling is to read a fictional novel set in the place I’m travelling in. Whether that be region, country or city, especially in areas I don’t know very well, I’ve found it to be a brilliant way to get a feel for the country. Some of my favourites have included reading Shantaram while backpacking around northern India (there’s nothing quite like sitting in the same cafe as the main character in your book!) - and, more recently, Indonesia Etc while I was in Indonesia last month, which, although non-fiction, is written in a really engaging and easy-to-read way.
So, as I’m travelling to Costa Rica tomorrow, I’ve been looking for books written by Costa Rican women, or set in Costa Rica, that I can download on my Kindle. Somehow, I’m having very little luck! Among all of the books in this Goodreads list of ‘Books set in Costa Rica’ none of them really take my fancy, or they aren’t available on Kindle (or, are written by men- which I’m not reading this year)
I just came across Josh Stearn’s post, Five Kinds of Listening for Newsrooms and Communities. As I read, it struck me that a lot of what is in there could apply almost directly to the global development community, but with some little language changes. So, following Josh’s method of forking other people’s posts, here are five kinds of listening, for global development.
Hedy Lamarr, co-inventor of an early technique for frequency hopping, which was the predecessor for wireless communications, was born 100 years ago today.
I came across Lamarr early this year, after having a very thorough introduction to ‘how the internet came to be’ from some friends of mine. Then, I discovered that Hedy Lamarr’s Wikipedia article introduction barely mentioned her incredibly significant scientific inventions – instead, two paragraphs were dedicated to her “great beauty” and her acting. Needless to say, I didn’t appreciate this; so I changed it. As things turned out though, I ended up making things a lot worse.
Within international development and elsewhere, organisations are moving towards “evidence-based decision making”, or “data-driven” decision making, as a step towards more responsible and effective development programming. Commitments to these kinds of process are, generally, celebrated as an acknowledgement that development needs to take into account what has come before, and react in an iterative and progressive way.
However, I can’t help but feeling that lauding ‘evidence-based decision making’ without questioning how it is being implemented, is perhaps a little naive, and needs to be more nuanced in order to be truly effective. Essentially, there are two main problems that I see.
Firstly, the assumption that we humans are rational beings, who upon being given new information, will act logically as a result.
Secondly, that “evidence”, or “data”, are essentially “truth”, and that making decisions based upon these is unquestionably a route towards better decision making.
I’ve been meaning to migrate my blog off Tumblr for a while now, and on to Github pages. Why? I don’t like the writing/editing interface for text in Tumblr (the window is too small to be able to see much text) - certain bits of html disappear between the visual editor and the html editor - it’s difficult to use images or put code snippets in, and I want to be able to write in Markdown, to name just a few reasons. I also like the idea of creating lists or resources that other people can contribute to - ie. via Github - that can live on my site, and I want to be able to customise it a little more easily than Tumblr offers.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to sit down with a few fabulous ladies who work in international development, to ask them about their experiences as feminists within their sector, and also their opinions on the role of feminism within global development.
The recording of the discussion we had aired last night on Berlin Community Radio (with a short introduction from Kate and I, and some gorgeous tunes from Naomi Wachira), and you can listen to the show below. I also wanted to quickly highlight here a few key points that stood out for me throughout the discussion.
I’ve just spent the weekend at AdaCamp, a two day event aimed at increasing women’s participation in open technology and culture. It was great, and gave me lots to think about, some of which I’ve tried to outline here.