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Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture
World of NewsThese are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

So Software Has Eaten the World: What Does It Mean for Human Rights, Security & Governance?
Human Rights Watch
In 2011, Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor Marc Andreessen famously wrote the startling essay, Why Software is Eating the World, in which he described how emerging companies built on software were swallowing up whole industries and disrupting previously dominant brand name corporations. Andreessen was prescient and almost giddy, in anticipating the dramatic, technological and economic shift through which software companies would take over large swaths of the global economy. What he did not anticipate was the extent to which software would also eat up the realms of governance, security and human rights. Digital technology has disrupted multiple dimensions of governance related to national security, including protection of human rights.

Digital Globalization and the Developing World
Project Syndicate
Globalization is entering a new era, defined not only by cross-border flows of goods and capital, but also, and increasingly, by flows of data and information. This shift would seem to favor the advanced economies, whose industries are at the frontier in employing digital technologies in their products and operations. Will developing countries be left behind? For decades, vying for the world’s low-cost manufacturing business seemed to be the most promising way for low-income countries to climb the development ladder. Global trade in goods rose from 13.8% of world GDP in 1985 ($2 trillion) to 26.6% of GDP ($16 trillion) in 2007. Propelled by demand and outsourcing from advanced economies, emerging markets won a growing share of the soaring trade in goods; by 2014, they accounted for more than half of global trade flows. Since the Great Recession, however, growth in global merchandise trade has stalled, mainly owing to anemic demand in the world’s major economies and plummeting commodity prices. But deeper structural changes are also playing a role.

Is Democracy in Decline?
Democracy & Society
To understand the condition of democracy in the world today, one must begin by situating it in the context of its global fortunes over the past two centuries. The most illuminating account of democracy’s historical trajectory was put forward by Samuel P. Huntington in his 1991 book The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century. Huntington finds that democracy’s advances have occurred primarily in three waves—periods in which the number of democratic countries in the world has risen substantially, with transitions to democracy considerably outpacing breakdowns of democracy.

A new deal or a new global partnership for conflict-affected states?
Brookings- Africa in Focus
Created within a year of each other, the World Bank and the United Nations were born out of a shared response to the Second World War. The war created a constituency willing to invest resources and ideals in a system of multilateral cooperation. In the words of one of their architects, these institutions were to create a “New Deal for a new world.” Today we face another period of global disorder. The number of armed conflicts worldwide has tripled from four to 11 since 2007. 2014 was the most lethal year since the end of the Cold War, according to the Uppsala Conflict Data Program. In the same year, the total number of deaths from terrorism increased by 80 percent, to close to 37,000, the largest yearly increase in the last 15 years, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace. The fallout is clear.

Wikipedia Doesn’t Realize It's the Developing World’s Internet Gatekeeper
The Wikimedia Foundation and Wikipedia editors are trying to stop Angolan pirates from using a free Wikipedia product as a clandestine filesharing service. But the remedies being discussed, some of them in response to a Motherboard report from Wednesday, involve more policing of the platform, a solution that serves only its existing user base in the developed world and ignores the fact that Wikipedia has become many Angolans’ only point of access to the internet. If you’re just catching up, Angolans are using free access to Wikipedia and Facebook to trade copyrighted movies, music, and television shows, a development that is decidedly against Wikipedia’s rules. The product is called Wikipedia Zero, which “zero rates” all data going to and from Wikipedia websites from mobile phone users in 64 developing countries, meaning the customer doesn’t pay any money for it. In Angola, 50mb of mobile data normally costs $2.50; the median annual salary is $720.

10 Types of Narrative Conflict You Can Use in Content Creation
If you’re in the business of content creation, consider that you are also a storyteller. You aren’t just whittling listicles or carving out intriguing essays for your client. At heart, you must emotionally engage with your audience in such a way that they want to read on or keep watching. To do this well, you need a hero in your story. You want your audience to feel connected to that hero and, in turn, cheer for him or her. And equally as important: Heros must be challenged in pursuit of their goals.

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Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomit

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