New Burkina Faso parliament building “responds to needs of the people” says Diébédo Francis Kéré

Burkinabe architect Diébédo Francis Kéré explains how he is rebuilding his country’s National Assembly to be “more than just a simple parliament building”.

In 2014, the Burkina Faso parliament building was set ablaze during the country’s revolution, putting an end to 31 years of dictatorial rule. Kéré is now leading the scheme to build a new National Assembly on the site in the capital of Ouagadougou.

Talking to Dezeen at the Serpentine Gallery – where he has just completed this year’s pavilion – Kéré explained the ideas behind his giant ziggurat structure.

The Swings

Beth, age 8, had to write an opinion essay for class, identifying a problem at her school and offering a solution. Although she only had to write one solution, she wrote three, and her solutions are simple examples of answers to most community and governance problems.

Her text is below, exactly as she wrote it, including misspellings and grammatical errors, and then what I said to her about it.

The Swings

Half the people at recess want to go on the swings, but they don’t always get to. We have rules about the swings but they ar'nt being followed, many people are hogging the swings, sometimse even when people ask they won’t get off!

You mite say: “Oh, well it can’t be to big a problem because I don’t see any people trying to get on the swings,” but realy, that’s just because they’ve all given up!

The problem: community resources (swings) are not being used fairly. Apparently, some people have dismissed the problem without full consideration of all community members.

There are diffrent solutions for this, the first is: we could have limited time on the swings. If someone asked to get on and your time was up, they'ed get on, if it was not, they'ed wait. A teacher would make sure this hapend.

This would be fairness through law: equal limits respected by the community and enforced by the government (teachers).

The second solution is getting another swing-set. It could be smaller than the one we already have, but this mite be more fair than limeted time on the swings.

By increasing the number of resources available, this would improve access for community members.

The third solution is much more simple then the first two, it is: well, because most of the people who hog the swings get out to recess first, we could just make sure that nobody got on the swings intil everyone was outside.

Some people have the unearned privilege of faster access to the resources. This solution would eliminate privilege by giving everyone the same starting point.

This is a school, where kids learn, I hope they’re not learning to hog! Only one person from my whole writing class thinks that hogging the swings is not a problem, that’s proof of how unfair it is to the people who arn’t hogging them!

Here, she recognizes that allowing an unfair system to continue is not good for the community — and that the vast majority of the community also recognizes the problem.

This is'nt the bigest problem but it should be fixt, I hope the school can find the best solution and put it in action.

Finally, she recognizes the scope of the problem in light of all the other potential issues facing the school.

As her dad, I think the swings aren’t really that big of a deal. But these approaches to community problems — law and enforcement, increased available resources, and elimination of privilege — are solutions that adults try when dealing with community issues. I told Beth it was pretty amazing that she thought of all three on her own, and suggested she remember these approaches, because she will encounter them throughout life.

The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.  To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.

—  Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

page 375 - the roof of the Economian parliament features architectural features derived at least in part from inferior goods. The features look nice, but people hung up on respect for the institutions of government are uncomfortable associating the government with the word inferior. They try to downplay that aesthetic heritage and focus instead on the parts of the roof derived from normal goods.

Those who believe government does nothing but add friction to what could otherwise be a perfect economic system love the inferior curves. On the second Saturday of every month Inferior Helicopter Tours are provided by a free market economic think-tank that allows like-minded people to circle the parliament building and laugh. The tours also fly over a nice municipal park and federally protected forest.

I distrust the extremes. Scratch a conservative and you find someone who prefers the past over any future. Scratch a liberal and find a closet aristocrat. It’s true! Liberal governments always develop into aristocracies. The bureaucracies betray the true intent of people who form such governments. Right from the first the little people who formed the governments which promised to equalize the social burdens found themselves suddenly in the hands of bureaucratic aristocracies. Of course, all bureaucracies follow this pattern, but what a hypocrisy to find this even under a communized banner.

Frank Herbert, God Emperor of Dune

It doesn’t matter if you are documented. You have rights in this country.

Hundreds of Central Americans and their supporters gathered in front of the White House on Wednesday, 30 December to protest the US government’s plan to significantly ramp of deportations, beginning on January 2.

As US Steps Up Deportations, Advocates Push for Refugee Status for Central Americans

“Postmodern IT” and Enterprise Architecture

We all want to know where IT is going in the future, what the trends are, so we can meet our future in it head-on.

CIO Magazine, 1 May 2006, had an article called, “The Postmodern Manifesto”, predicting what the postmodern IT department will look like. 2+ years have passed (a long time in IT according to Moore’s Law), but these IT trends remain solid and true.

  • Business innovation—“IT will assume responsibility for business innovation across the company. IT has spent the better part of 40 years automating business processes…IT’s role in process innovation will only increase…’we’ve gone from being the engineers of new processes to being the movers of innovation across the company,’” says Judith Campbell CIO of New York Life.

This view is consistent with the Federal Enterprise Architecture Practice Guidance, November 2007 that states: “Results-oriented architecture is developed with the context of the Performance Improvement Lifecycle broken down into three-phases: ‘Architect’, ‘Invest’ and ‘Implement’. Each lifecycle phases is comprised of tightly integrated processes which combine to transform an agency’s top-down strategic goals and bottom-up system needs into a logical series of work products designed to help the agency achieve strategic results.”

Bottom line is the IT function and enterprise architecture in particular is viewed as the discipline for business process reengineering, improvement, and the introduction of new technologies, and the measure of success is results—cost-savings, cost-efficiencies, and performance improvements.

  • Federated governance—“IT governance will settle on the federated model and shared services…CIO’s have come to a consensus on the overall model for IT: a mix of centralized and local services known as the federated model, which is governed centrally by a small headquarters staff that gives varying degrees of autonomy to IT groups allied with different business units, functions or geographies.”

This is consistent with the need for IT organizations to be interoperable, secure, share information and services, and be cost effective, yet at the same time stay nimble and allow “unique resources to remain local.”

  • Return on Investment (ROI)—“IT ROI will become even more difficult to prove…Tacit IT is not about automation…Tacit IT is all about decision support, knowledge management, business intelligence and artificial intelligence…And the pressure will be on vendors to make technology think rather than automate.”

IT has always been challenged in measuring return on investment (or in the government return on mission), but it is especially difficult when it comes quantifying the return on an abstract called information.

This performance measurement challenge is manifest in the field of enterprise architecture as well.

At the 1105 Government Information Group Enterprise Architecture Conference in DC this past week, Keith Herrington of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) presented the following:

“• Observation: Within the Federal government there is no observed link between the maturity of the enterprise architecture effort and the performance of the enterprise as a whole.”

I too have personally seen many agencies struggle to quantify the results of their IT and architecture programs and hence, anecdotal evidence, unfortunately continues to prevail as the default “measurement.”

  • Transformation—“CIOs will have to step up…’the concept of providing a secure, stable infrastructure is merely the price of admission,’ says Jeffrey Campbell, CIO of BNSF Railway. ‘[to survive], you have to be a transformational CIO.’”

So true! According to an article in Architecture and Governance Magazine, Volume 3, Issue, “Metrics that Matter”: “IT should measure three types of attributes in what is essentially a modified form of the Balanced Scorecard approach to measure performance and change management. Those three attributes are: strategic value, project management effectiveness, and operational effectiveness. Ironically, while the first two matter the most to executives in most cases, IT typically focuses on the third area, which executives only care about if the IT department has a history of failure and thus needs to be closely monitored on the basics.”

Yes, we need to make sure the IT computer and server “lights” stay on, the network is up and the communications are available, but more importantly we need to take IT to the next level, to strategically partner with the business to architect, govern, and achieve genuine, measureable ROI and transformation!

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Regeneration OR Gentrification?

So the the 7,500 residents of the Aylesbury Estate in south London will soon become 5000 through a multi-million pound regeneration project. However let’s be completely real here, many of the new community will not be the existing residents as the newbies will be first time buyers, shared ownership buyers and key workers. In addition the likelihood that many families will be able to return is rapidly reduced under the new bidding system which many councils now have in place. So what’s the upside of this? Well for many of the current tenants they will get the chance to get out of an estate that is branded by a national newspaper as ‘the worst’ secondly they will be able to move away from a place with huge crime rates and let’s be honest when a teenager can lie dead in a communal garden for over 24 hours, an outsider like me senses fear in the community. In addition like many of the estates in London it is unlikely to be surrounded by the best local services and facilities, but as a person who knows this estate this is not so true. The estate is a little to the back of Walworth road but this is a thriving Market street offering an array of independent and well known chains. As with southwark (unlike Lewisham) they have managed to raise the bar in education with three of the best secondary schools in the borough close by. In terms of transport you have regular buses on the old Kent road and Walworth road and your approximately 15 mins walk from elephant and castle tube and train stations….an area of massive redevelopment….So prime location??? I think so. Many of the young Mups from the local university and art college will be moving into the area then? With the other local council estate going and the encouragement of first time buyers, one suspects gentrification. So this maybe good? Really for whom the new communities receiving the unknown 'problem families’ or the families now forced to wake jonny up an hour earlier to get him to school now that he lives further away? And access to work and your local business? With so many council estates under threat many people on those still existing (at lest I do) are starting to think - us next? We need people to invest in their communities including council estates but how can they and why should we when their so tarnished with stereotypes branded in national newspapers and constantly under the eye of both councillors looking to increase their revenue and developers looking to make a a few bucks? Tell me has no one thought of refurbishment or is that now unpopular too in relation to open spaces on council estates?

Ankh-Morpork had dallied with many forms of government and had ended up with that form of democracy known as One Man, One Vote. The Patrician was the Man; he had the Vote.
—  Terry Pratchett, ‘Mort’

A clear, concise reading of an important bit of late Foucault, explaining  why his work is important for critiques of 21st century capitalism:

As Foucault explained in The Birth of Biopolitics (2008), the rise of neoliberalism—his use of the noun—marked a radical transformation: whereas before, the state, among its various bureaucratic operations, “monitored” the workings of the economy, its “organizing principle” is now the market. Government actually has become business. And nation-states have become holding companies in and for themselves. In the upshot, the categorical distinction between politics and economics, that classical liberal fiction, is largely erased. Effective governance, in turn, is measured with reference to asset management, to the attraction of enterprise, to the facilitation of the entrepreneurial activities of the citizen as homo economicus, and to the capacity to foster the accumulation—but not the redistribution—of wealth. Under these conditions, heads of state begin to resemble, and often actually are, CEOs who treat the population as a body of shareholders…
Once upon a time, antineoliberal theory posited an opposition between the state and the free market, arguing that the antidote to the latter lay in the active intervention of the former. But the opposition is false, just another piece of the detritus of the modern history of capital. As states become mega-corporations (Kremlin, Inc.; Britain, PLC; South Africa, Pty Ltd.; Dubai, Inc.)—all of them, incidentally, branded and legally incorporated—they become inextricably part of the workings of the market and, hence, no longer an “outside,” an antidote, or an antithesis from which to rethink or reconstruct “the neoliberal paradigm.” This, in part, is why government is increasingly reduced to an exercise in the technical management of capital, why ideologically founded politics appear dead, replaced by the politics of interest and entitlement and identity—three counterpoints of a single triangle. And this is why the capillaries of neoliberal governance seem so firmly entrenched in the cartography of our everyday lives, there to remain for the foreseeable future—to the degree that any future is foreseeable.

— John Comaroff, The End of Neoliberalism? What is Left of the Left

(via rhizombie)

In culture governance, just as civil society loses it innocence as the bearer of all that is good, collectivistic and harmonious, so political power is no longer victimised as a uniform and coercive power claiming command and control over all subjects within its territory. Politicising individuals in civil society by inolving them in the rule of expert systems, whether as employees, customers, user or citizens, is articulated positively as a necessary means to survive and develop as an organisation.
—  Henrik Bang, “Governance as political communication,” 2003, page 20. (In this quote, he seems to pretty much lay the groundwork for tying together service design/co-creation/co-production and governance.)
Shifts responsability of social welfare issues

With pressures of economic and demographic change, governments are increasingly tempted to remade national pensions system. It looks like the promise of a secure future, previously issued by the state, is gone; responsability and risk are shifted and citizens are not pleased with this situation. Now is the time to go for anything new to improve the past, catalyzing social change.