Term "Third World" is Anti-Second-Hand Propaganda

How "e-Waste Tragedy" propaganda is imprisoning African Geeks, Nerds, and Technicians.

  1. The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either NATO (with the United States, Western European nations and their allies representing the First World), or the Communist Bloc (with the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and their allies representing the Second World).
  2. Third World - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Ok.  So, the number of people who are not aligned with either the Soviets or NATO is... irrelevant.

Now, we all have friends who are overly anxious to impart their trust quickly on the statistic which affirms their bias.   The "bias confirmation" here could be something Eric and I suffer from.

We see that people are being arrested for importing stuff which mostly works.  To us, banning the trade between rich and poor makes as much sense as outlawing the used car market.

Stunning, Profound Ignorance Of International Cultures: 3B3K

I was watching a Nigerian television interview with pop singer Nneka Lucia Egbuna this morning, and making travel plans with Ghana Electronics Technician and new WR3A Board Member Eric Prempeh.   Eric will be attending this year's Resource Recycling E-Scrap Conference in Orlando.

Nigeria has morning news programs, kind of like our Today Show, or CBS This Morning, which people in Lagos watch while drinking coffee in their apartment buildings, getting ready for the morning traffic jams and commute to work.

Over the years, WR3A has sponsored travel to E-Scrap conferences for many international representatives.  Su Fung and Allen Liu of Malaysia, Roberto and Alice Valenzuela, and Oscar A. Orta and Mariano Huchim of Mexico, Wahab Muhammed Odoi of Ghana, Souleymane Sao of Senegal, Hamdy Mousa of Egypt, to name a few.  Eric is special, however.  He's a geek from Accra who was head technician for Good Point Recycling in Vermont for 2 years, and he flew back to Ghana last spring to revisit Agbogbloshie and the tech/repair warehouses in Accra.

Eric Prempeh fixes Good Point Security Camera
Eric will be circulating the #FreeHurricaneBenson petition, and trying to get people to renew their WR3A.org memberships.  He'll also be answering questions about Africa.

No, they don't all have Ebola.   No, they don't pay money to import e-waste for copper value.  Yes, they have had television and computers for decades and generate their own e-scrap. 

Eric is now on a full scholarship for coding at Georgia Tech, but we are looking for people to help us pay him to keep him at least part time working for Fair Trade Recycling.

7th Year Blogging Anniversary Landscape: A Black Sabbath

That's the Landscape in Vermont.

view from the vermont office

I've probably got two times as much unpublished blogging in the drafts folder as I have in the published column.    It's hard to write as an unpaid amateur.  But it's harder for professional writers to write about recycling and other trades accurately and meaningfully.

We occasionally get a rare hybrid, like Adam Minter, who (because he grew up as a child of scrap metal businessparents) had previous exposure to the trade before getting a degree and becoming a writer.   And we have trade journals, like Recycling International, Resource Recycling, and Recycling Today and Waste360 and Scrap, which (if they retain a writer long enough) build enough reference points to amount to expertise.  But they also have paid advertisers.

And we get opinionated profit seekers. I'd point fingers, but know that same finger has been pointed at me.  When most of your money comes from either export or shredding to prevent export, you have expertise and you have bias.

Does anyone play a game they don't intend to win something for?

Black Sabbath.  Clash.  Neil Young.  Woodie Guthrie, perhaps?

This year I decided to improve the quality of the blogs, and as a result I have fewer posts and a bigger "draft" folder.   The drafts are particularly heavy when I decided to attempt something grand, like the "Game Theory" blogs.

"Game Theory" blog drafts have some of the most insightful writing I've had all year, but it's difficult to make it actually readable.  I had about 12 blogs worth of "game theory" insight, weaving the psychology of self-interest into the morality claims on both sides.   It led at times to a rather gruesome truce, more of a free market than fair trade.  If everyone has a way to "win" the game, anyone can try to influence the rules to make them more likely to win.

Game Theory draft blogs were about how people make decisions to do stuff based on their own situation.  At times they factor in the behavior of other people.  In the "e-waste" trade, the decision Africans make is to "get access to mass media".  The way to get TV and computers on  a limited income is to buy used product.  It's exactly, exactly the same as the game theory which predicts USA teenagers buy used cars unless their wealthy parents by new for them.  Africans buy used display devices unless they have wealthy parents buying them new ones.

The theory that the trade is driven by avoided pollution costs in the UK or USA has been completely disproven, but the theory itself has "game theory" value for certain players.

1.  Planned Obsolescence
2.  Big Shred
3.  Dictators (who oppose affordable internet)
4,  Regulators (who want a "crisis" to inflate their budget)
5.  Reporters and Conference Holders (who make money on the "sizzle", not the steak)

It's a powerful set of players. "Evil minds that plot (device) destruction..."

s h r e d     p i g s

How to Use Twitter in E-Waste Research (Fatty Fatty Boom Boom style)

I was a huge skeptic of Twitter when microblogging first came out.  Reading page after page of what people I was "following" were "doing" at that minute?  Writing back what I'm "doing"?   Seemed like a South Park episode waiting to happen (and it was).

Within about 6 months, however, I found out how to use Twitter.   Simple.

Twitter is about its SEARCH BOX.

In the search box, you use keywords, and it greatly multiplies the number of experts and opinions and views that you are exposed to.  And increasingly, you can find the words of African TEchs talking about their own view of the "E-Waste Poster Child From Disney" debates.

Just this week alone:   "The Gaze On Agbogbloshie, Misrepresentation At Ghana's E-Waste Dumpsite" by Heather Agyepong.   Heather is also covered here at Carbon Creative Arts.

“My initial intention was to understand how waste could still be illegally dumped in Ghana and understand the conditions about how people felt. However when I arrived it was nothing of what I had read about the place. It was just super organised and not as dystopic as I thought. From the month I spent with the boys who live and work in Agbogbloshie, I wanted the images to represent that distortion. The images have that cross process look which leaves the images looking apocalyptic. I wanted this to exemplify how the western gaze effects our understanding, not just in Africa but how we can see other issues.”
Through Twitter, you find what Interpol is doing ("Project Eden" seems de-emphasized in this months Interpol Africa newsletter, in favor of wildlife crime... a welcome turn if it's sustained).   More emphasis on putting Elephant Poachers in jail, rather than Nigerian TV repairmen.