Archive for May 2007
Video is really starting to take off, here is more in the way of video outlets (see our previous post on this here), this could be good if done right: “The Global Health Council announces the launch of Global Health TV, a new web-based video site bringing brief news clips from experts and civil society on the major health issues faced by people throughout the world.
The Global Health TV website, http://www.globalhealthtv.com, will bring viewers three streams of information, including news and global health policies, highlights of international conferences, and voices from people working on health issues at the community level.”
It is time for another reality check (I post these occasionally). I try to focus the blog on solutions, ideas, and how various sectors/disciplines are impacting the global health arena. I am not particularly fond of re-hashing intellectual and armchair debates, you can read plenty of that elsewhere. However, once in a while, a dose of cynicism and a reality check is needed.
In light of the NYC exhibit and NY Times coverage, Design for the OTHER 90%, I thought it would be good to post another perspective that I originally saw at Small Shift. It is great that this exhibit has been brought to the public and equally important it is necessary to discuss why some of these amazing technologies may never be used to their full potential (infrastructure problems, poor design, politics, disconnection from the end users, etc. etc.). Kenyan author, Binyavanga Wainaina has written a scathing opinion about “pure products” that are meant to save the world and how they eventually fade from sight/use. The most relevant excerpts (reprinted in Harpers magazine) are below:
“Biogas. A windup radio. A magic laptop. These pure products are meant to solve everything. They almost always fail, but they satisfy the giver…I am sure the One Laptop per Child initiative will bring glory to its architects… To the recipients, the things have no context, no relationship to their ideas of themselves or their possibilities…”
“Freeplay Radios still exist. You will find them among new age fisherfolk in Oregon; neoblue collar sculptors working out of lofts in postindustrial cities; Social Forum activists and neoGrizzly Adams types everywhere. Angst-ridden victims, all…They are the only people who can find nobility in a product that communicates to its intended owner: you are f#@ked.”
“With a network of over 11 million professionals spanning the globe, LinkedIn is an immensely powerful platform. A few of us here decided that we should be doing more to leverage the network to promote positive social change, and LinkedIn For Good is our first step in that direction.” (via a new blog I discovered, Small Shift)
“Each October, more than 550 convene in Camden, Maine, to explore the social impact of innovative technologies, breakthrough scientific discoveries and original approaches to tackling humanity’s toughest challenges. Pop!Tech’ers include preeminent and emerging leaders in science, technology, business, social entrepreneurship, the arts, culture and media…All come together to peer into the future, find inspiration and discover connections to create positive change in the world. ”
“Haiti Innovation is a 501(c) 3, volunteer organization that helps development organizations in Haiti obtain funding for projects by linking them to our network of aid donors through the world wide web.”
“Hot Ideas/Cool Projects is a blog about Global Development Marketplace, an annual competition hosted by the World Bank that awards grants to the best innovative small-scale development projects around the world.”
The NY Times ran a story on BoGoLight today [“Solar flashlight lets Africa’s sun deliver the luxury of light to the poorest villages“] . Solar-powered flashlights may sound excessive until you try buying decent batteries for your flashlight on a typical villager’s income. The BoGoLight project sells two of their lights for $25 – one to the purchaser and the other for a short list of secular and religious charities and US military missions. the BoGoLights are also sold in Whole Foods.
The NYT article immediately brought to mind other non-battery powered flashlights: the shake flashlight and the wind-up flashlight ($8 and up and $5 and up on Google Products). I found the wind-up flashlight available for 25,000 Ugandan shillings (US$14.70) last summer when a traveling salesperson brought them by the Mbarara University. Pricing still leaves these lights out of reach for many and the designs leave something to be desired if they are to serve as regular indoor lighting rather than handheld lanterns. Maybe carbon credits could help subsidize the cost?
There are numerous implications for health and health services: reduced indoor soot, fewer carbon emissions, improved nighttime health services, and many additional applications rich countries take for granted.
If anyone has information on product durability for solar, wind-up or shake flashlights, let us know.
For readers who happen to be in New York, the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum has an exhibit running May 4 to Sept. 23 on designs for development. FrogDesign and SmallShift have more on the exhibit. Everything from the $175 laptop and KickStart’s MoneyMaker Pump to water filters, food coolers, energy systems, and the Jaipur foot prosthesis. From the exhibit’s webpage:
Designers, engineers, students and professors, architects, and social entrepreneurs from all over the globe are devising cost-effective ways to increase access to food and water, energy, education, healthcare, revenue-generating activities, and affordable transportation for those who most need them. And an increasing number of initiatives are providing solutions for underserved populations in developed countries such as the United States.
Encompassing a broad set of modern social and economic concerns, these design innovations often support responsible, sustainable economic policy… These designers’ voices are passionate, and their points of view range widely on how best to address these important issues. Each object on display tells a story, and provides a window through which we can observe this expanding field.