Should We Be Vacationing in Haiti Right Now?

Cruise ships continue to dock on Haiti’s north coast. Is that morally acceptable?

Royal Caribbean cruise ships continue to dock at Labadee on Haiti’s north coast. Some passengers are frightened and upset by this, and media outrage is already starting.

No One Needs Your Old Shoes: How Not to Help in Haiti

Not all forms of emergency aid are equally useful - donating things instead of money, or showing up and trying to help, often do more harm than good.

1) Don’t donate goods. Donating stuff instead of money is a serious problem in emergency relief. Only the people on the ground know what’s actually necessary; those of us in the rest of the world can only guess. Some things, like summer clothes and expired medicines are going to be worthless in Haiti. Other stuff, like warm clothes and bottled water may be helpful to some people in some specific ways.

David Brooks Wants to Know Why Haiti is Poor

David Brooks starts out strong in an NYT article asking why Haiti is so poor. Unfortunately, things go downhill rapidly.

David Brooks starts out strong in a New York Times editorial asking why Haiti is so poor. He makes the very good point that development economics has remarkably few consistent ideas on how to bring about growth. Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse a couple of paragraphs later.

UNAIDS and the Millennium Villages

A new effort from UNAIDS and the Millennium Village Project to prevent the mother-to-child transmission of HIV is intriguing.

I just saw this interesting press release from UNAIDS, discussing a joint Millennium Villages Project/UNAIDS effort to fight mother-to-child transmission of HIV. I am intrigued.

Mobile Design. Sans Frontieres.

Although I find myself intrigued by the convergence of computer science, human computer interaction (HCI) design and international development, it’s not often that I find myself in a room of experts. They’re just not places I tend to mix, most likely because I have no professional IT qualifications, let alone a computer science degree, and I’ve done most of my own software design off-the-cuff, much to the dismay of people who hoped there was a robust process behind it.

Ninja Turtles a problem in UK

Ninja Turtles, taken as pets when the series was hot, are now being disgarded into lakes in the UK, just like their chipmunk brethren before them.

The BBC is reporting (

It’s not a black and white photo

Before I went to El Salvador in 1991 (read why in my earlier post here), I had never traveled outside the US. I had read lots of articles about the country’s Civil War and intense poverty in the LA Weekly, a lefty newspaper in Los Angeles where I went to school.  I imagined El Salvador as a somber, high contrast black and white photo, with some thick red paint dripping down it to represent the bloodshed and suffering of a noble people being crushed by US Imperialism.  (yeah, pretty dramatic)

Social mobile gets its own “roadmap”

After three workshops on three continents, conversations and meetings with countless NGOs, academics, researchers and technologists, and many hours of conference calls, W3C this week released their “Mobile Web for Social Development Roadmap”, a comprehensive document which sits at the heart of the wider work of the Mobile Web for Development Interest Group (MW4D).
According to the Roadmap document, its purpose is to help:
“… understand the current challenges of deploying development-oriented services on mobile phones, evaluate existing technologies, and identify the most promising directions to lower the barriers of developing, deploying and accessing services on mobile phones and thereby creating an enabling environme

Enabling the inspiration generation

During one of my many epic walks around Palo Alto last week, I stopped and tapped this into my phone:
Let me explain.

Computer science, meet global development

What happens when you put computer scientists, user interface (UI) specialists, human-computer-interaction (HCI) designers and non-profit work together? You get ICT4D, surely? Well, maybe not as it turns out.

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