Top 9 political risk hot spots of 2008

In a series of nine reports, Eurasia Group identifies the key regions around the world where political risk will be especially acute in the coming year. Locations include the usual suspects including the US, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan/Afghanista, Russia, South Africa + Turkey. They also flag up some red herrings in the risk survey!  In addition, they look at several long term risks that they view as emerging political risk trends.

PricewaterhouseCoopers and Eurasia Group have also developed a more comprehensive, systematic approach for evaluating a country’s political stability and risk. Below you will see Screenshots from the online country stability ranking web tool: have a look yourself


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Death in the Wrong Place: altered lifescapes of the 2001 Foot & Mouth Disease disaster

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Foot and Mouth Disease Lifescapes’ – Maggie Mort, Institute for Health Research, Lancaster University

In May 2003, two years and three months after the outbreak of the world’s worst epidemic of Foot & Mouth Disease, a small group of people gathered on a bleak windy former airfield site to commemorate the slaughter and burial of more than one million farm animals. Great Orton was the largest disposal site in Cumbria, the county in Britain worst hit by the disaster. The former airfield became the scene of a massive disposal operation in 2001 after the British army was brought in to handle a crisis prompted by the sheer scale of the slaughter. The mass slaughter, often of healthy animals taken out under the contiguous cull, ‘dangerous contact’ rationales, or simply misdiagnosed, was all the more horrific because of its being out of place and out of time. This talk explores some of the alterations and disruptions to places, and the sense of place, enforced by the 2001 disaster. Such alterations involved both the symbolic/exotic, as in the memorial site at Great Orton or the acquisition of the ‘culled’ identity, and the everyday nexus of people/place/work routines. Combined, such disruption to so many aspects of individual and community lifescapes created a deep sense of disorder:

“There was no normality, normality had gone.” The term lifescape is used as a vehicle for the complexity of spatial, emotional and ethical dimensions of the relationship between landscape, livestock, farming and rural communities.

Download >The Foot & Mouth Disease Lifescapes presentation

Design -Introductory workshop – 4-5 Oct 2007 – Day 2

Gerd Kortuem (Computing, Lancaster University)

Reporting on a collaborative project (Nemo) that uses pervasive sensing technologies for industrial environments. We all work on computers, but many other people work physically. For instance, vibration exposure is a serious problem. It can lead to ‘vibration white finger.’ How can technology be brought in to improve the current practice? Understanding the organizational context requires an inter-disciplinary approach. The project has introduced technologies that measure vibration for individuals. They indicate when people have exceeded their daily limit. There is a whole system that streams the information all the way back to the enterprise using wireless networking. This is an elaborate surveillance system. Case studies of workplaces at different sites have been used. Video prototypes of technologies were shown to managers and others. What was learnt? Vibration is like smoking: action is difficult to connect to effects. So making visible the information collected is really valuable. People often don’t use safety equipment because it makes them feel work. So invisibility of the technology could be a goal of the system. Learning from other people might be more important than rules imposed from the top down. Who are we designing for anyway? The organisation, the worker, etc? What are we designing for? Protection, enforcement or empowerment? Finally, there is the question of surveillance and panoptic effects [see image below]. How to avoid this? We do do this, but try to anticipate the impacts of the technology. Informed design will hopefully make a difference to this.

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The panopticon: A type of prison design in 1700s by Jeremy Bantham that allowed observers to observe prisoners without them being able to tell if they are being observed or not. Creating permanent sense of paranoia and invisible omnipresence.