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[liberationtech] International Development Design Summit at MIT

James Davis davis at
Mon Jul 14 14:54:19 PDT 2008

If you aren't familiar with Amy Smith's work, her TED talk will give you 
some idea of the kinds of projects she works on.

While on the topic of TED talks, I make my class watch these two, so I 
suppose I'll recommend them to y'all as well.

Hans Rosling - Visualizing world income distributions, health, and other 
statistics over time. This is perhaps my favorite talk ever because it 
dramatically illustrates how good use of visualization can change 
perception about the degree and nature of a problem. In the context of 
this group, I think the question is what exactly would we keep 
statistics on and then visualize, and how would we expect that to 
influence the thinking of policy makers or the public.

Bjorn Lomberg - Of course he's a controversial guy, but he gives a good 
argument about the need to set priorities in dealing with problems. If 
you don't know the work from Copenhagen Consensus its an interesting 
look at one attempt to prioritize. Importantly, liberation tech, does 
not come out near the top of the list, so I suppose this begs the 
question of articulating and backing up with numbers that this is indeed 
a good agenda to pursue.

-james davis

Yosem Companys wrote:
> About 60 people from 20 nations will descend on the MIT campus July 
> 14th for the second annual International Development Design Summit 
> <> to begin an 
> intensive month-long process of creating technological solutions for 
> the needs of people in the world's developing nations. The goal of the 
> program is to develop simple, inexpensive devices 
> <> that in some 
> cases can be produced locally and make a real difference for people 
> and communities. The event is the brainchild of MIT Senior Lecturer 
> Amy Smith 
> <>, 
> a returned Peace Corps volunteer and a past winner of the MacArthur 
> 'genius' grant. Previous products of Smith's design class include a 
> bike-powered corn sheller, a metal press that can make clean-burning 
> fuel out of agricultural waste, and an electricity-free incubator. The 
> workshop promotes a shift in focus among companies, universities, 
> investors and scientists toward attacking problems that hamper 
> development <> in 
> the world's poorest places. 'Nearly 90 percent of research and 
> development dollars are spent on creating technologies that serve the 
> wealthiest 10 percent of the world's population,' Ms. Smith said. 'The 
> point of the design revolution is to switch that.'
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