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Wikis and consensus

Mark Bernstein on the most recent kerfuflle around Aaron Swartz‘s Wikipedia page:

Let’s face it: wikis are for coherent communities with shared values and possessing some mechanism, explicit or implicit, to sanction bad behavior. Wikipedia has tried to evolve its own community through Wikisym and WikiFest and its own sanctions through its disciplinary process, but neither is entire convincing and both require a huge expenditure of effort in which smart and talented people spend exorbitant amounts of time policing petulant children.

I’ve always hoped that tools for social collaboration, like Wikis, could help to bridge the divide between different communities of thought. But it’s increasingly evident that many people simply don’t want to get along, and technology empowers them to ruin it for the rest of us.

links for 2011-05-31

Why I’ve decided that I need not love what I do (in a nutshell)

Forget passion, focus on process – (37signals)

Part of this is recognizing that, despite its wonders, there are also problems with passion. For one thing, most people’s passions aren’t that unique. That’s why it’s so hard to succeed in the restaurant business or as a professional dancer; You’re competing against everyone else with that same dream.

Also, turning a passion into a business is a good way to kill the passion. You might love music. But become a music critic and you’re going to have to listen to hundreds of albums every month. Including a lot of stuff you hate. By the end of it, you might just discover that you can’t stand the thing you used to love. Kravitz says, “I love reading books, but I would hate to be a book reviewer. What you love to do in your personal life, many times doesn’t translate well into a business.”

A call for papers for the Southeast Asianists out there

Call for papers below. Head to the CASA Website for more info.

Canadian Council for Southeast Asian Studies Conference 2011
Toronto, Canada
14-16th October 2011

Location: Centre for Southeast Asian Studies (Asian Institute)
Munk School of Global Affairs
University of Toronto.


The CCSEAS conference is Canada’s largest meeting of researchers concerned with Southeast Asia and the region’s connections with the rest of the world. The conference will feature leading researchers from across the country and around the world. We look forward to welcoming all researchers, students, and activists with an interest in Southeast Asia. We also welcome specialists of other regions with comparative interests with Southeast Asian countries.

Individual paper submissions for the conference are accepted, but we also strongly encourage proposals for organized sessions. For organized sessions, we encourage organizers to bring together three papers and a discussant, or four papers, per session to facilitate panel coherence and dialogue.

The program committee is also open to proposals for other session formats, such as round-table discussions or cultural performances.  For further details on the submission of abstracts for papers, sessions or panels, go to Abstract Submission.

Information regarding registration will be available shortly on this website.


CCSEAS, in cooperation with the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies (Asian Institute) at the University of Toronto, is sponsoring a dissertation workshop on Transforming Southeast Asia: Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives.  The workshop will be held on October 16-18, 2011 at the University of Toronto.  For more details, see the Dissertation Workshop information page.


Abstracts for papers and sessions can now be submitted on-line. The deadline for session proposal and individual paper submissions will be 1 April 2011.


All inquires and conference correspondence should be sent to:

Programme committee:

Jacques Bertrand (U of T, Chair, and President CCSEAS)
Sarah Turner (McGill University, Vice-President, CCSEAS)
Melissa Marschke (U of Ottawa, Treasurer, CCSEAS)
Joshua Barker (U of Toronto)

Conference logistics:  Jim Delaney
Website manager: Jim Delaney

The UK’s Aid Review – Lessons for everybody else

The ODI has a series of post unpacking the UK’s bilateral and Multilateral aid reviews. I’ll leave comments on the actual reviews to others, but sitting in Canada, one is left to stare in amazement, that a) there is a framework presented for decisions in each of the reviews, and that said framework b) allows outsiders speak to the logic of aid decisions and debate how and whether they are appropriate.

We in Canada could benefit from some transparency, rather than a system in which researchers and other stakeholders can only guess about what our aid agency is thinking.

Overseas Development Institute (ODI) Blog : Unpicking the Multilateral Aid Review

The systematic approach to reviewing performance against a common framework is to be welcomed, even with its caveats. There seems to be a reasonable balance of strategic considerations (a poverty focus and UK development priorities) and organisational strengths (cost consciousness and transparency) in the assessment made of each organisation.

Colleagues at ODI have already noted a possible tension in the MAR methodology for determining the ‘Needs-Effectiveness Index’ which combines contradictory measures of country fragility on the one hand and policy/institutional strength (through World Bank CPIA) on the other. The details of that index and its implications for the review model will need further unpicking, but it was only one of multiple components scored in the review. Even with this tight specification and quantitative evidence, the addition of a criterion on ‘likelihood of positive change’ still gives DFID flexibility to keep faith with some poor performing multilateral organisations if they commit to improving. That is probably sensible and reflects the need for strategic judgements as well as strict value for money concerns.

23 Things they don’t tell you about capitalism

Ha-Joon Chang has a new book out. The Table of Contents speaks for itself. About to download, and will soon have more to say.

23 Things they don’t tell you about Capitalism

Thing One. There is really no such thing as a free market.

Thing Two. Companies should not be run in the interest of their owners.

Thing Three. Most people in rich countries get paid more than they should.

Thing Four. The washing machine has changed the world more than the internet.

Thing Five. Assume the worst about people, and you get the worst.

Thing Six. Greater macroeconomic stability has not made the world economy more stable.

Thing Seven. Free-market policies rarely make poor countries richer.

Thing Eight. Capital has a nationality.

Thing Nine. We do not live in a post-industrial age.

Thing Ten. The US does not have the highest living standard in the world.

Thing Eleven. Africa is not destined for under-development.

Thing Twelve. Government can pick winners.

Thing Thirteen. Making rich people richer doesn’t make the rest of us richer.

Thing Fourteen. US managers are over-priced.

Thing Fifteen. People in poor countries are more entrepreneurial than people in rich countries.

Thing Sixteen. We are not smart enough to leave things to the market.

Thing Seventeen. More education in itself is not going to make a country richer.

Thing Eighteen. What is good for the General Motors is not necessarily good for the United States.

Thing Nineteen. Despite the fall of Communism, we are still living in planned economies.

Thing Twenty. Equality of opportunities is unequal.

Thing Twenty-one. Big government makes people more, not less, open to changes.

Thing Twenty-two. Financial markets need to become less, not more, efficient.

Thing Twenty-three. Good economic policy does not require good economists.

links for 2010-08-28

links for 2010-08-27

links for 2010-08-12

links for 2010-08-03