These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
So Maybe Money Really Does Buy Happiness?
Emerging Asian nations are finding out what developed ones did years ago: money--and the stuff it buys--brings happiness. Levels of self-reported well-being in fast-growing nations like Indonesia, China and Malaysia now rival those in the U.S., Germany and the United Kingdom, rich nations that have long topped the happiness charts, according to a Pew Research Center global survey released Friday. It says it shows how rises in national income are closely linked to personal satisfaction. The pollsters asked people in 43 countries to place themselves on a "ladder of life," with the top rung representing the best possible life and the bottom the worst. Pew carried out the same survey in 2002 and 2005 in most of those countries, enabling researchers to look at trends over time.
Telling It Straight: How Trustworthy Government Information Promotes Better Media
In new and emerging democracies, in countries coming out of conflict, in societies in transition where for decades information was repressed, being open with the public through the press and disseminating reliable information in a systematized and responsive fashion is a new concept. Yet, just as the media are crucial to informing the public, so too are governments in getting out information that reporters and hence citizens can use.
A tangled web
THE internet looks like an adman’s dream. Counting how many times an advert on a bus shelter has been viewed is impossible; counting clicks on a blinking banner ad is a doddle. But knowing where each click came from, and how many people are clicking, is harder than it appears. Firms dedicated to click-counting put code on websites that reports the times, origins and frequencies of visits, or get consumers to install it buried in browser plug-ins or mobile apps. These record web-users’ digital calling-cards: the internet-protocol (IP) addresses of the devices they are using. But to assume that each IP address represents a single user in its country of registration is a wild oversimplification.
How Wearables Are Being Used For Social Good
Most wearables are focused on feeding off of self obsession: How many miles you ran in a day, how much stress you're feeling, how many hours you slept last night. And while there's obvious value in tracking personal health, it's a tiny part of what the technology can ultimately do—especially in places where people earn less than $2 a day and aren't thinking about buying the latest variation on a Fitbit. "In the Bay Area, we're pretty myopic about what wearables mean right now," says Denise Gershbein, executive creative director at the design firm Frog. "A lot of folks are just chasing the idea of creating the next Fuelband and selling something big and then getting out." Frog, by contrast, is working with organizations like UNICEF on finding opportunities to use wearables for social good.
The New Challenge to Market Democracies
Throughout the West, the triumphalism of the 1990s has given way to deep anxiety. The particulars differ from country to country, of course. But beneath these differences is the shared fear that an epoch is coming to an end. The policies and institutions that far-sighted statesmen put in place after World War II enabled Europe and Japan to rise from the ashes of war, embrace democracy, and preside over the greatest period of liberty, broad-based prosperity, and peace in human history. But the continuing effectiveness of these institutions is in doubt. The Great Recession shattered complacent assumptions on both sides of the Atlantic. Two decades of economic stagnation, now exacerbated by demographic decline, have left Japan wondering about its future. (Prime Minister Abe’s economic renewal program represents a last throw of the dice for the Land of the Rising Sun.) At the same time, the startling rise of China and equally startling success of Singapore offer alternative models of state capitalism decoupled from democratic governance. As a result, the West has become uncertain of its future.
NETmundial’s promises of grassroots internet governance leave a lot to be desired
The way in which the internet is governed has shifted from technical debates held in obscure committees to a hotly contested field in which various nations vie for influence. Online surveillance, cybersecurity and how to treat undesirable content are now widely discussed topics that affect us all – so it makes sense that this is reflected by including a wider range of people in deciding how the net is governed. The newest addition to the group of internet governance organisations – and one that says it will bring a wider range of stakeholders into the process – is the NETmundial Initiative. Perceptions of NETmundial vary, from a grass-roots discussion forum to a “UN Security Council for the internet”. However, in contrast to its claims to promote citizen participation, the initiative more resembles an attempt by governments and large corporations to maintain their hold on power.
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