Your first course shall be this article on Africa. I'm glad my roommate has a subscription to National Geographic - I can't wait to get home and read it now...be sure to follow the links in the article, kids:
Fortunately, this National Geographic issue has brought my attention back to this continent in a fresh way. Visually stunning as always, this September issue is a relatively easy entry point into some of the positive, as well as disturbing, themes and developments in parts of Africa. With a tag-line, "whatever you thought, think again" -- if I can be so bold, quite Worldchangingesque in attitude! -- the issue tries to dispel some of the conventional perceptions and assumptions we have about Africa, i.e. it's going to hell in a hurry. While I'm no expert on Africa (we have Ethan Zuckerman in that department), I think they mostly succeed.
Before we continue, I just have to share - there's some great new music out there. In addition to the previously mentioned Kanye West ("Touch the Sky" is one of the best new dance/hiphop tracks of the year), the new Atmosphere is pretty good, as is a new release by a rapper named Cyne. Hot stuff over yonder in indierockland we have the New Pornographers and the Oranges Band. As for dance-ish stuff (not new, but recently discovered, so it's new to me!), I've found Quantic's "Apricot Morning" (almost better than Mint Royale, but not quite), and Rae and Christian's "Northern Sulp" (though it's no "Another Late Night").
Okay, back to Worldchanging articles. There's a good one on secure designs for disasters (which sounds weird, but makes sense):
# Be decentralized, and thereby less likely to be rendered inoperative by damage to a centralized facilities, etc.Okay, that's enough for now, maybe I'll post later today, but don't get your hopes up...
# Be in the hands of the general public, so as to leverage technology that is already in use and that people are likely to have with them when disaster strikes, so they can get up-to-the minute information.
# Be two-way, so that the general public and/or responders who may be the first to come upon an emerging problem can feed information back to authorities.
# Be redundant, because various technologies have distinctive strengths and liabilities that may render them unusable, or, make them crucial fall-back options.
# Allow dissemination of information in advance, so they can be quickly activated and/or customized in an emergency (instead of requiring massive data-dumps in the midst of a crisis).