Review: Digital Humanitarians – How Big Data is Changing the Face of the Humanitarian Response

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Patrick Meier

5.0 out of 5 stars World-Changing Book Documenting Intersection of Humans, Technology, and Policy-Ethics, February 2, 2015

This is a hugely important work, one that responds to the critical needs outlined by Micah Sifry in The Big Disconnect: Why The Internet Hasn’t Transformed Politics (Yet) and others such as myself writing these past 25 years on the need to reform the pathologically dysfunctional US secret intelligence community that is in constant betrayal of the public trust.

Digital Humanitarians are BURYING the secret world. For all the bru-ha-ha over NSA’s mass surveillance and the $100 billion a year we spend doing largely technical spying (yet only processing 1% of what we waste money on in collection), there are two huge facts that this book, FOR THE FIRST TIME, documents:

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Feb 2

Review: Partnership for the Americas – Western Hemisphere Strategy and U.S. Southern Command

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James Stavridis

5.0 out of 5 stars Our Best Thinking to Date — We Can Go Much Further, December 24, 2014

This is the pre-cursor book to The Accidental Admiral: A Sailor Takes Command at NATO which I have reviewed most favorably and strongly recommend. This book — while free online as are all NDU Press books, is a very high quality production with some complex graphics and color photographs. It is fairly priced and absolutely recommended in print if you favor books you can hold in your hands.

There have been other books by military commanders but to the best of my knowledge only General Tony Zinni, USMC (then commanding the US Central Command with two wars and 12 task forces) and General Wesley Clark, USA (then commanding NATO during the Kosovo mess) have risen to what this book strives to be, a gold standard for whole of government multinational engagement.

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Dec 24

Review (Guest): The Tyranny of Experts – Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor

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5.0 of 5.0 Stars Why development takes place (or doesn’t) By Mal Warwick on April 3, 2014

This book is full of surprises.

In The Tyranny of Experts, the author of the seminal book The White Man’s Burden drills down into the history of economic development around the world in search of its causes. What he finds has little to do with any of the factors bandied about among contemporary development professionals.

“The conventional approach to economic development, to making poor countries rich,” William Easterly writes, “is based on a technocratic illusion: the belief that poverty is a purely technical problem amenable to such technical solutions as fertilizers, antibiotics, or nutritional supplements . . . The technocratic approach ignores what this book will establish as the real cause of poverty — the unchecked power of the state against poor people without rights.”

Instead, Easterly maintains, the fundamental pre-condition for successful development is democracy paired with deep understanding of local history. He calls the establishment of the World Bank “the moment of original sin . . . in which the Bank disavowed the ideals of freedom . . .”

Academia has been good to William Easterly. Presumably, when he was forced out of the World Bank because of his outspoken criticism of the Bank’s support for corrupt regimes and pro-Western favoritism, he was looking for a platform on which he could continue his campaign to shift the consensus among development professionals from top-down “solutions” to support for bottom-up, grassroots initiatives. He’s gotten that platform, but his position on the faculty of New York University has also moved him to dig more deeply into the intellectual roots of his thinking. The Tyranny of Experts is one result.

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Apr 26

Review: In An Unspoken Voice – How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness

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Peter A. Levine

5.0 out of 5 stars Demands Careful Reading, A Capstone Book that Emphasizes BALANCE, April 21, 2014

I read this book at the same time as Cyntia Sue Larson’s Quantum Jumps: An Extraordinary Science of Happiness and Prosperity and E. Graham Howe as edited by William Stranger, The Druid of Harley Street: The Spiritual Psychology of E. Graham Howe. In line to be read as part of this series is also Guy Muchie’s The Seven Mysteries of Life: An Exploration of Science and Philosophy.

This is by no means an easy read but its bottom-line (bearing in mind that the author has been writing many books on this theme, this is the latest) is clear: Sound Mind in a Sound Body. Others would add Sound Soul and Sound Heart at well. In other words, the mind is carried in the host, the body, and the totality of the nervous system, the skeletal system, the muscle system, the bio-chemical soup system, are all critical to how well the mind functions and how well the mind — including the unconscious — heals in the aftermath of trauma.

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Apr 21

Review: The Technology of Nonviolence

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Joseph G. Bock

5.0 out of 5 stars Pioneering Work, Deserves a Great Deal of Attention, April 29, 2013

I am shocked that there are no reviews of this book. Brought to my attention by Berto Jongman, one of the top researchers in Europe with a special talent at the intersection of terrorism and related violence (e.g. genocide) and Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), he knew this is an area that is of very high interest to me.

The book passed my very first test, with more than ample references to Dr. Patrick Meier, a pioneer in crisis mapping, SMS translations and plotting by diasporas, and humanitarian ICT generally. I strongly recommend his blog and expect him to produce a book of his own soon.

The primary focus here is on social media via hand-held devices. It assumes a working Internet and does not have a great deal of focus on the urgency of achieving an Autonomous Internet, and more fully exploiting Liberation Technology and Open Source Everything (OSE), the latter my special interest along with M4IS2 (Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing and Sense-Making).

Use Inside the Book to see the chapters and appendices. The author makes clear two major points early on:

01 Grassroots is where its at, not top down macro

02 Technology alone is not enough, organizing — the hard long road of grassroots organizing — is essential.

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Apr 29