These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data
A NEW commodity spawns a lucrative, fast-growing industry, prompting antitrust regulators to step in to restrain those who control its flow. A century ago, the resource in question was oil. Now similar concerns are being raised by the giants that deal in data, the oil of the digital era. These titans—Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft—look unstoppable. They are the five most valuable listed firms in the world. Their profits are surging: they collectively racked up over $25bn in net profit in the first quarter of 2017. Amazon captures half of all dollars spent online in America. Google and Facebook accounted for almost all the revenue growth in digital advertising in America last year. Such dominance has prompted calls for the tech giants to be broken up, as Standard Oil was in the early 20th century. This newspaper has argued against such drastic action in the past. Size alone is not a crime.
Pathways for Peace : Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflicts
World Bank/United Nations
The resurgence of violent conflict in recent years has caused immense human suffering, at enormous social and economic cost. Violent conflicts today have become complex and protracted, involving more non-state groups and regional and international actors, often linked to global challenges from climate change to transnational organized crime. It is increasingly recognized as an obstacle to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. This has given impetus for policy makers at all levels – from local to global – to focus on preventing violent conflict more effectively. Grounded in a shared commitment to this agenda, Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict is a joint United Nations and World Bank study that looks at how development processes can better interact with diplomacy and mediation, security and other tools to prevent conflict from becoming violent.
The Stories Behind the Data
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
We are launching this report this year and will publish it every year until 2030 because we want to accelerate progress in the fight against poverty by helping to diagnose urgent problems, identify promising solutions, measure and interpret key results, and spread best practices. As it happens, this report comes out at a time when there is more doubt than usual about the world’s commitment to development. In our own country, Congress is currently considering how to deal with the big cuts to foreign aid proposed in the president’s budget. A similar mood of retrenchment has taken hold in other donor countries. Meanwhile, most developing countries need to do more to prioritize the welfare of their poorest citizens. In 2015, the member states of the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which together paint a picture of what we all want the world to look like in 2030. However, if we don’t reaffirm the commitment that has led to so much progress over the past generation, that world will remain out of reach. Leaders everywhere need to take action now to put us on the path we set for ourselves just two years ago. This report tracks 18 data points included in the SDGs that we believe are fundamental to people’s health and well-being. To complement the data, we’re also telling the stories behind the numbers—about the leaders, innovations, and policies that have made the difference in countries where progress has been most significant.
How do you cool 7.5 billion people on a warming planet?
When Rutam Vora was growing up in Vadodara, a city of about 2 million people near the western coast of India, his parents kept cool each summer by drenching bedsheets in water and hanging them in the windows of their house. When the scorching westerly wind known as the loo swept in and hit the sheets, the evaporating water absorbed the brunt of the heat. White chalk spread on the roof reflected the sun and dropped the temperature further. They were old methods of coping with the heat, like drinking lassis or chaas when “struck by the loo,” and they were effective. But the weather, already hot, has been getting hotter. In the summer of 2015, it hit 114 degrees Fahrenheit in nearby Ahmedabad, where Vora works as a correspondent for The Hindu. The next summer, it passed 122 degrees, a record. It’s not uncommon for people to wrap their faces in wet cloth when venturing onto the furnace-like streets, and the wind is so hot it feels heavy. “For about a decade, the temperature has been going up,” Vora said. “But now, the last couple summers have been extreme, going beyond normal, bearable conditions.” Earlier this year, Vora’s mother came down with a bacterial infection, and part of the doctor’s prescription was to stay cool. When the meteorological department warned of yet another punishing summer on the way, Vora decided it was time to buy an air conditioner.
Communication and conflict in transitional societies – Integrating media and communication in development cooperation
Media, Conflict, and Democratisation
The project ‘Media, Conflict and Democratisation’ investigates the role of traditional media and ICTs in conflicts that accompany and follow transitions from authoritarian rule to more democratic forms of government in Egypt, Kenya, Serbia and South Africa. It focuses on the three main stakeholders in those conflicts – governments, civil society actors and journalists – and aims to understand the dynamics of conflict by analysing the communications of these actors in key conflicts that highlight contested issues during transitions. This paper juxtaposes findings from the MeCoDEM project with current media development practice. By doing so, we hope to advance the ongoing discussion about the role of media development aid in volatile contexts.
Top 10 Powerful Moments That Shaped Social Media History Over the Last 20 Years
Do you remember your first social media profile? Or, how about your first social media post? My first profile was on Myspace, my first friend was “Tom from Myspace,” and my first post was something like, “Myspace is awesome!” The rest is history. Social media has changed and evolved so much since the early days, it’s almost hard to believe how far we’ve come. How people use social media has changed as well. Gen Zs (now beginning to enter the workforce) only know a world with social media, compared to their counterparts – Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers – who can still fondly remember back to the days of snail mail and dial-up modems! Here’s a look at 10 powerful moments that shaped the social media history. Let’s dive in!
Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomit
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