On inequality

Inequality is inevitable (because we’re all different), and it isn’t necessarily wrong (if we value the freedom to make meaningful choices) and doesn’t necessarily have to be corrected (because we value diversity). Once we’re clear on this, we’re forced to…

The Onion (3): exemplar interesting problem – learning to read

Problems gain (or lose) interestingness as their context and scale changes. Take teaching a kids to read as an example. It’s almost inevitable that a child will learn to read given the following ingredients: A supportive family A strong reading…

Econtalk: Mauricio Miller on Poverty, Social Work, and the Alternative

This is a really interesting episode of Econtalk, and worth a listen. Highlight 1: Accurate description of poor communities A couple of things here really resonated with my experience of living and working in low-income communities in Jakarta: Miller’s descriptions…

Kicking cans: job descriptions versus culture

A few days ago I watched a schoolboy kicking a can down the road. He kicked it a couple of times and then miskicked, sending the can flying into the road, where it landed at the feet of an off-duty…

Debt to society

If you want to talk about our debt to society – the question of what we owe the other people who share our culture, and share the planet with us – it’s helpful to start with this: without other people,…

Riches: second best coffee press

I broke the glass on our cafetiere / coffee press this morning. You’re rich when you react to the breaking of the glass by saying, “Never mind – we’ll get some new glass.” You’re really rich when you can add,…

One type of rich…

… is when you have multiple solutions to everyday problems comfortably within your grasp. The journey to “What will my family eat?” from “Will my family eat?” is the journey from poverty to prosperity. The additional step – to “What…

The haves and the have-laters

Kevin Kelly’s take on how technological development plays into the future of poverty and inequality – and why he’s not worried about unequal access to tech: Inequality won’t be eradicated in fifty years. So I tend to think of the…

Technology marches towards the poorest

I recently listened to a talk given by Iqbal Quadir, founder of Grameenphone, at the Long Now Foundation in 2008: In the early nineties I had a budding investment career, that’s where I discovered a decentralising force – namely Moore’s…