In superheated London, where stratospheric land values beget accordingly bloated developments – authorities are allowing planning policies to be continually flouted, affordable housing quotas to be waived, height limits breached, the interests of residents endlessly trampled. Places are becoming ever meaner and more divided, as public assets are relentlessly sold off, entire council estates flattened to make room for silos of luxury safe-deposit boxes in the sky. We are replacing homes with investment units, to be sold overseas and never inhabited, substituting community for vacancy. The more we build, the more our cities are emptied, producing dead swathes of zombie town where the lights might never even be switched on.
's architecture and design critic Oliver Wainright
discusses housing development policy in London and the new city it is ushering in. [more inside]
Consider an arthouse, darker, noir version of Men in Black
with secretive alien refugees trapped in Manhattan, tentacle sex and concept art by H. R. Giger
. Clair Noto's The Tourist
could have been transformed into a great movie in the right hands. Instead, it has languished in permanent development hell
since the 1980's. Some call it "the greatest scifi screenplay never produced" (Article, part 1
.) Decide for yourself and read Noto's original screenplay
. [more inside]
San Francisco must change.
"...the current state of permitting regulations for building and the glacial pace of infrastructure projects in San Francisco benefit very few people and risk turning it into a caricature of its former self for tourists and residents rich enough to live in a fantasy, not a living city. If there was ever a time when San Francisco needed to embrace a dynamic, expansive policy for building housing, offices and transportation, it is now." (Previously: 1
In his new book Ciphers
, German photographer Christopher Gielen
) reveals haunting images of our endlessly repetitive development through aerial views of American urban sprawl. [more inside]
The OECD has for a long time offered up measures
of human wellbeing
across a range of indices. Now they've taken the resolution a step further, providing measures of well being at a regional level for 300 regions/provinces/states across the developed world
. How does your neck of the woods fare? What other part of the world is comparable to where you live? Allow your location and see.
"[S]tock jobbers[,]... confidence men,... an impecunious transportation entity", politicos, judges, scoundrels and Jackie O.: the near-death of Grand Central Terminal, and how it foretold the 2008 financial crisis
. [sl Harper's]
is best known for their spin-offs of Walt Disney Animation Studios films, like the Tinker Bell
series, or the execrable string of direct-to-video sequels to Disney movies released from the mid-nineties to mid-2000's. But around 2005, they had a different spin-off in development: an epic, dark prequel
to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Can Atlanta Go All In on the BeltLine?
That magical TOD experience came courtesy of the BeltLine: Atlanta's multibillion-dollar, 25-year project to transform 22 miles of railroad and industrial sites into a sustainable network connecting 45 inner-city communities. The project envisions wide walking and biking paths, access to nearby neighborhoods and businesses, parks and green space, and new homes, shops, and apartments.
Somaliland is an odd land. In global limbo
since its birth, it continues to develop economically and socially
in a reasonably stable and secure
environment. Recently, the British town of Sheffield was the first to recognize its very existence
as an independent country. In the meantime, the capital Hargeisa city, which has only one paved road, recently installed streetlights
for the first time, and an enterprising entrepreneur returned home from Australia to start a familiar city service
- the yellow cab. Investors
and businesses have started paying attention
while the major powers still prefer to pretend
it doesn't exist. Even while experts debate whether their model can be utilized
in far more volatile Somalia, Hargeisa's residents want you to know
they are Happy.
Jared Rosen offers a postmortem of GAME_JAM
, a failed reality show about game development produced by Maker Studios and sponsored by Pepsi. Contestants Adriel Wallick
, Robin Arnott
, and Zoe Quinn
also offer their perspectives.
Free Money for Everyone
- "A wacky-sounding idea with surprisingly conservative roots may be our best hope for escaping endless, grinding economic stagnation." (via
) [more inside]
Talking gender to Africa
International donors have sought to improve the social, political and economic position of women in Africa through an approach known as “gender”. This donor-driven strategy is failing. The jargon of gender programmes is ambiguous and easily misunderstood. It fosters inaction and lip service on the part of patriarchal African governments and civil servants. Gender has become the preserve of the educated elite. The voices of African women have been lost. [more inside]
Time-sink alert: The Cutting Room Floor is a site dedicated to unearthing and researching unused and cut content from video games. From debug menus, to unused music, graphics, enemies, or levels, many games have content never meant to be seen by anybody but the developers — or even meant for everybody, but cut due to time/budget constraints.
With 53 self-immolations since 2009, these Chinese villagers might bring to mind the self-immolation by Tibetans
, but the Chinese villagers are highlighting a different issue. The rapid urbanization of China is having a number of impacts across the country, with rural communities being demolished to build new urban centers. While many people are moving from rural farms to cities to find more lucrative jobs, some are fighting back to keep their rural communities intact, or to retain their family farms. When other options are gone, desperate villagers turn to self-immolation
(NPR). [more inside]
Why is Zambia so poor?
"I’m not going to tell Zambia how to run itself, what it needs to fix and in what order. The explanations I heard, they aren’t the whole puzzle, they aren’t even the biggest pieces. The only thing I’m able to conclude after my trip here is that it’s incredibly difficult for a poor country to go about getting un-poor. Just when you think you’ve got the right narrative, another one comes bursting out of the footnotes. It’s the informality. No, it’s the taxes. No, it’s the mining companies. No, it’s the regulators.
And that’s what makes fixing it so difficult."
This landlocked country in Sub-Saharan Africa isn’t a failed state in the traditional sense: There’s no dictator, no child soldiers. But most of its 14 million people live on less than $1 per day. How did things get this way, and can they ever get better?
To a Chinese Scrap-Metal Hunter, America's Trash Is Treasure:
Johnson Zeng is a Chinese trader who travels across the U.S. in search of scrap metal. By his estimate, there are at least 100 others like him driving from scrap yard to scrap yard, right now, in search of what Americans won’t or can’t be bothered to recycle. His favorite product: wires, cables, and other kinds of copper. His purchases, millions of pounds of metal worth millions of dollars, will eventually be shipped to China. [more inside]
How development leads to cultural change, and not the other way around.
Korean economist Ha-Joon Chang shatters stereotypes, showing how common descriptions of the Germans, Koreans and Japanese right before their nations' intensive economic development mirrors current slurs against workers from African and Latin American countries today.
"Trusting your child with someone else is one of the hardest things that a parent has to do — and in the United States, it’s harder still, because American day care is a mess.
About 8.2 million kids—about 40 percent of children under five — spend at least part of their week in the care of somebody other than a parent. Most of them are in centers, although a sizable minority attend home day cares.... In other countries, such services are subsidized and well-regulated. In the United States, despite the fact that work and family life has changed profoundly in recent decades, we lack anything resembling an actual child care system. Excellent day cares are available, of course, if you have the money to pay for them and the luck to secure a spot. But the overall quality is wildly uneven and barely monitored, and at the lower end, it’s Dickensian."
Davis and Ma wrote up a long list of one-paragraph game pitches to prototype. They would be small, manageable games that two people could complete on their own. The game they chose to go with would have to be finished within a year, because that was all they had budgeted for. Among the pitches inspired by board games, roguelikes and all the genres that excited them was a 2D, top-down management game called FTL. The Opposite of Fail
- The making of FTL
A brief history of the Chinese growth model
[note: not so brief] - "the Chinese development model is an old one, and can trace its roots at least as far back as the 'American System' of the 1820s and 1830s. This 'system' was itself based primarily on the works of the brilliant
first US Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton..." [more inside]
The African King With A Multi-Billion Dollar Empire RBH functions as a communitybased investment company whose primary investment aim is to generate the income required for the funding of sustainable projects. Income generated from RBH’s commercial interests is invested in infrastructural development, as well as in the members of the Nation itself. Over the past decade, more than R4 billion ($475 million) has been spent on roads, utilities, schools, clinics and other public amenities. This has benefited not only the Bafokeng, but other people living in the North West Province of South Africa, the area which the RBN calls home.
A polemic against NGOs and the destruction of local innovation However, one issue that has received relatively scant attention is the way in which the notion of civil society has been reduced to being synonymous with non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This is one area that can have malign and far-reaching negative impacts, which I’d like to explore here.
And here's another view
, this time from India.
The poor in America: In need of help Some 15% of Americans (around 46.2m people) live below the poverty line, as Ms Hamilton does. You have to go back to the early 1960s—before Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programmes—to find a significantly higher rate. Many more, like Ms Dunham, have incomes above the poverty line but nevertheless cannot meet their families’ basic monthly needs, and there are signs that their number is growing.
Once upon a time the fates of these people weighed heavily on American politicians. Ronald Reagan boasted about helping the poor by freeing them from having to pay federal income tax. Jack Kemp, Bob Dole’s running-mate in 1996, sought to spearhead a “new war on poverty.” George W. Bush called “deep, persistent poverty…unworthy of our nation’s promise”.
No longer. Budgets are tight and the safety net is expensive. Mitt Romney famously said he was not “concerned about the very poor” because they have a safety net to take care of them. Mr Obama’s second-term plan mentioned poverty once, and on the trail he spoke gingerly of “those aspiring to the middle class”. “Poor” is a four-letter word.
In a few weeks, ground-breaking will begin on the far West Side. The project: Hudson Yards, the largest real-estate development ever undertaken in the city's history, an enormous mini-metropolis whose planning might have left even Robert Moses dumbstruck.
- Wendy Goodman [more inside]
Knee Deep in a Dream: The Story of Daikatana [more inside]
Recent developments in online learning have increasingly democratized the exchange of information in higher education: the launch of University of the People, a tuition-free online university
; Khan Academy's acquisition of SmartHistory
and its growing emphasis on humanities
and liberal arts
; the University of Reddit
's crowd-sourced lessons being taught in real-world classrooms; Skillshare
creating a community marketplace for teachers and students; Lore opening its doors to learners
from all walks of life; major institutes in India putting every class lecture on YouTube in English
; LectureFox collating together free university lectures from across the web
. Of course not everyone is happy with the way things are going
This is just the top 30, what I consider to be the most likely candidates for actual new programming jargon based on community upvotes, not just "funny thing that another programmer typed on a webpage and I felt compelled to upvote for hilarity". Because that would be Reddit.
Coding Horror presents the top 30 Stack Overflow New Programming Jargon entries.
for the future of multilateral action on the environment are fading
, the draft negotiating text
of "The future we want", the Rio+20
declaration was leaked
, showing where the US delegation was seeking to remove
any and all references to equity.
“Sexual orientation does make you poor,” says Manohar Elavarthi, a community organizer with Sangama in Bangalore. “Poverty is not just economic – you miss access to so many things: ration cards, inheritance rights, voter ID cards.” In several South Asian countries, there are reports that LGBT people have even been denied access to disaster relief. And homophobia is intricately connected with other divisions in South Asian societies, particularly around gender but also religion and caste.
Yet I saw many signs of hope and change in both India and Nepal. Those transgender sex workers in Chennai have organized a coalition, called V-CAN, of every single community-based organization in the state of Tamil Nadu that serves homosexual or transgender people. Working with the NGO Praxis, they have been able to gain access to some public benefits, such as pensions and registering as “third gender” on government ID cards. Activists in Nepal’s Blue Diamond Society have achieved similar results and more.
~ World Bank blog post
prospects in the field
are incredibly high
, recent trends, such as "tools grow[ing] more advanced"
(see Adobe Flash Builder
or MS Visual Studio
) have had people wondering over the past few years if computer science has much room for growth left. Some question whether it is alive.
Others, such as Carnegie Mellon
, say not so fast. In any case, employment has been a bit iffy
). There is the possibility that Computer Science is simply growing up (PDF)
, then again the U of Florida decided to say good bye to it this past week.
But hey, if you are not going to that University, and still are shooting for computer science, here are some tips
:: user-contributed scenes from the sometimes frustrating world of software and web development.
India tells Britain: We don't want your aid According to a leaked memo, the foreign minister, Nirupama Rao, proposed “not to avail [of] any further DFID [British] assistance with effect from 1st April 2011,” because of the “negative publicity of Indian poverty promoted by DFID”. But officials at DFID, Britain’s Department for International Development, told the Indians that cancelling the programme would cause “grave political embarrassment” to Britain, according to sources in Delhi. Further embarressment ensues
. Emma Boon, campaign director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It is incredible that ministers have defended the aid we send to India, insisting it is vital, when now we learn that even the Indian government doesn’t want it.”
Malaysia is proposing a Computing Professionals Bill
, based on the Registration of Engineers Act
[.PDF] which makes it mandatory for all practicing "computing professionals" to be registered with a government body. Dealing in the IT industry, including sending “proposals, plans, designs, drawings, schemes, reports, studies or others to be determined by the Board to any person or authority in Malaysia” without being registered
will incur a fine not exceeding RM20,000 (~US$6380) or 6 months in jail. Malaysian IT professionals
are up in arms, and similarities have been drawn to Nigeria's law on computing professionals
The Millennium Villages
, launched in association with the Millennium Development Goals
) adopted by the UN
in 2000, recently received a grant of $72 million to continue its work. In a post on the always interesting Guardian Poverty Matters blog
, a group of poverty researchers has recently summarized their findings
that the project did not plan for a rigorous evaluation, and thus we will not know if they worked. Jeff Sachs, the scholar most strongly associated with the MDVs, disagrees
. The blog Development Impact
(which, in fairness, is basically all about
randomized controlled trials in development) weighs in here