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12 Days of Architecture: Two #GiveADamn Books

This year, Architecture for Humanity released the follow-up to their successful Design Like You Give a Damn book.

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12 Days of Architecture: Five Stronger Schools

Architecture for Humanity opened five schools this year in Haiti, Mexico, and Peru.

It's day eight of Architecture for Humanity's homage to the classic holiday song, and in place of five gold rings, here are fiiiiive stroonnnnngerrrr schooooools.
We opened five schools this year in Haiti, Mexico and Peru: Montrouis, Elie Dubois, 16 de Septiembre, Divino Nino Jesus and Bon Berger Pele. They show the diversity of learning spaces achievable through great design, local coordination, materials and resources. And while they're not "school" schools, P.A.T.E.A., the Sauti Kuu center, Football for Hope in Ghana and Rwanda, the Kitakami youth center, and five other projects we worked on this year also provide education-dedicated spaces. We hope there's enough "oooooo" in "schooooools" to acknowledge them all.

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Talking Book: Bringing Knowledge to Remote Rural Villages

The Talking Book, designed by Literacy Bridge, brings health and agriculture knowledge to remote rural areas through a simple-to-use interface.

Five years ago, we set out to design technology to provide on-demand access to oral knowledge for the poorest people in the world, who cannot read. We did this because we discovered how powerful knowledge can be to farmers living on $1 per day who want to learn how to produce enough food to feed their families and how to protect their children from deadly diseases.
Local experts, such as agriculture advisors and nurses, understand the challenges and know practical solutions for the poorest people living in their region; they also speak the local language. The challenge is making their knowledge available when it’s needed in the remote rural villages that are home to hundreds of millions of the poorest people on earth, who cannot read and often lack access to electricity. To address this challenge, we developed the Talking Book—an audio computer designed for the learning needs of oral people. A recently published evaluation of the Talking Book program showed that farmers using the device to access agriculture knowledge had a 48 percent improvement in crop yield, compared to a 5 percent decrease by their peers without access.
To reach our target unit cost of less than $15 and to improve the robustness of the Talking Book, we designed an interface that uses spoken audio instructions for output, rather than a display. For input, the Talking Book includes a set of buttons for users to press in response to the audio prompts, somewhat similar to the interactive voice response (IVR) systems that most of us have used through telephones. However, during our earliest user testing, we learned that too many levels of hierarchy can be difficult to navigate if you’ve never had any formal education. Our current design prioritizes simplicity: the user presses one button to rotate through categories (e.g. heath, agriculture, and local stories) and another button to rotate through all the messages within that category.

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Lance Armstrong's New Cancer Fight Goes Global

The cyclist is extending his battle with the disease to developing countries-and he wants you with him.

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When we think of what the developing world needs in terms of aid and health, cancer ranks low on most people's lists. But with cancer rates—and cancer deaths—skyrocketing in poor countries, shouldn't it be higher on our to-do list? Yes, says Lance.

When a parent is lost to cancer in the developing world, it often means no school for the kids, no food on the table, and a future in which the only certainty is poverty. In 2010, we'll lose 8 million people as this disease quietly becomes the world's leading cause of death for the first time ever. By 2030, that toll is projected to rise to 17 million in the developing world alone as populations increase. That’s roughly the equivalent of the entire populations of Los Angeles, Houston, and Chicago combined. A health crisis of epic proportions is descending upon the developing world—and not enough is being done to turn that tide.

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