Impact Stories: SOAS PhD Student Robtel Neajai Pailey Uses Innovative Methods to Tackle Corruption…

first_imgIn this latest Impact Story profile in ASAP’s Impact: Global Poverty project, Elaine Kellman speaks with Robtel Neajai Pailey, a Mo Ibrahim Foundation Ph.D. Scholar at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, who is battling corruption in Liberia. While still a doctoral student, Robtel Neajai Pailey has emerged as a globally influential voice on poverty, corruption and related issues. In a career that already spans work as a practitioner, journalist, government staff member and academic, she has published articles or comment pieces in The New York Times, Africa Today, The Guardian and many other outlets. She has also covered news out of Africa as an assistant editor of the Washington Informer Newspaper, worked in capacity building for the Foundation for International Dignity (a refugee rights organisation), taught and developed curriculum at the Robben Island Musem in Cape Town, South Africa and the Buduburam Refugee Camp School in Ghana, and has collaborated with or consulted for a range of NGOs and philanthropic agencies.It was while working as a government aide in Liberia that Pailey became aware of allegations that Liberia’s government-administered scholarships were being sold to the highest bidder and / or given to relatives of government officials. Outraged, she formulated a transparent system of awarding scholarships to the best applicants, which has now been fully implemented by the Liberian government.In addition, Pailey has devised and written a children’s book, Gbagba which was published by www.onemoorebook.com in 2013. Exploring issues of integrity, accountability and corruption, Gbagba (loosely translated in the Bassa language as ‘trickery’) follows a few days in the life of Liberian twins, Sundaymah and Sundaygar, who leave their hometown of Buchanan to visit their aunt in Monrovia, facing tough decisions and challenges along the way.Last year, Pailey’s research on Liberia and her work to tackle corruption was formally recognised, as she was selected as one of the most influential foreign policy leaders under the age of 33 by global affairs magazine Diplomatic Courier and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy. Pailey was recognized in this list as a “shaper”: that is, someone who changes the public discourse on an aspect of foreign policy or raises awareness of a critical issue.Here, Pailey discusses with ASAP the challenges and rewards of her impact work in Liberia, as well as her future plans, and offers advice to others who may be seeking to make an impact through their research.Details on ASAP’s Impact: Global Poverty project are available at: link: http://academicsstand.org/projects/impact-global-poverty/If you would like to nominate an impact-oriented academic for an Impact Stories profile, please contact Luis Cabrera at a.l.cabrera@bham.ac.ukASAP: What made you decide to write a book like Gbagba, addressing corruption and aimed at children?RNP:  I got really frustrated with all the rhetoric about fighting corruption in Liberia, and wanted to start a national conversation with children. After teaching in two of Liberia’s universities and working in policy spaces in national government, I realised that integrity must be strengthened at the earliest stages in a child’s life in order to mitigate the practice of corruption in the next generation. So, I wrote Gbagba, creating a narrative that Liberian kids could see themselves reflected in, thereby increasing their love of reading. It’s virtually impossible to expect that an 18-year-old approaching adulthood is all of a sudden going to develop scruples, especially when his/her society does not value honesty. Eight to 10-year-old children are the perfect targets because it is at this stage that they begin to form an ethical core. In writing Gbagba, I imagined myself a proverbial anti-corruption pied piper, without the instrument of doom.ASAP: What were the major challenges in getting Gbagba published?RNP: I was very fortunate in that I didn’t have hurdles publishing Gbagba. My publisher, Wayetu Moore, of One Moore Book (OMB), approached me in early 2012 about a Liberia Signature Series that she was publishing in 2013 featuring Liberian veteran writers Stephanie Horton and Patricia Jabbeh Wesley. Wayetu asked if I could be the third Signature Series author, and I jumped at the opportunity because I had already conjured up Gbagba in my head. Wayetu, a young Liberian social entrepreneur and writer based in New York, was enthusiastic about the concept of the book from the very beginning. She founded OMB in 2011 with her four siblings because they wanted to revolutionise the children’s book industry by producing stories for children from underrepresented cultures. Wayetu was the perfect ally in giving life to Gbagba. So, too, was Chase Walker, my illustrator, who had been drawing subversive cartoons for months in Frontpage Africa Newspaper, a local daily in Liberia.  A self-taught graphic designer and artist, Chase provided such depth to my twin protagonists, Sundaymah and Sundaygar, that their personalities jumped off each page of the book!ASAP: What has the response to Gbagba been like in Liberia?RNP: Gbagba has received nothing but goodwill in Liberia. I’ve done readings of Gbagba followed by discussions with children in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, and was struck by how astute they are. They understand issues of integrity better than we adults do, and are able to articulate themselves with such bright-eyed innocence. Before conducting a workshop and preview reading of Gbagba at a local elementary school in Monrovia, one girl told me, “Corruption is breaking the Ten Commandments and hurting people.” This young child understood so fundamentally the intrinsic value of accountability. This is why I wrote Gbagba, to give young children the verbal tools to question the confusing ethical codes of the adults around them. Beyond the children of Liberia, adults have also responded in kind. Most parents I come across want copies of the book in their homes, and teachers want to use it in their classrooms. In 2013, the Liberian Ministry of Education placed Gbagba on its list of supplemental texts for 3rd to 5th graders, although I am aiming to get the book in the formal curriculum for these grades. The UNESCO office in Liberia also devised a values education curriculum proposing Gbagba as a core text, and this proposal is under consideration. And most recently, the Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA) approved a grant to donate 1,500 copies of Gbagba to schools across the country. With this grant, we’ll be commissioning Luckay Buckay, one of Liberia’s premier Hip-co artists, to write and produce a Gbagba song that will be released sometime this year.ASAP: What might you say to others who may want to pursue broadly similar projects in countries like Liberia?RNP: Do your research. Countries like Liberia are not tabula rasa; they are incredibly complex with often competing realities. Understanding the local context is absolutely crucial in making positive inroads. Speak to a diverse range of stakeholders. Ask what the needs are, and try to figure out if your potential intervention is required or even desired. Too often, we conjure up grand plans that sound fantastic, but have no relevance for the contexts in which we want to work. It’s better to join forces with already existing local initiatives than to reinvent the wheel for personal aggrandizement.ASAP: How did you become involved in Liberia’s International Scholarships Scheme?RNP:  My involvement was based on a conversation that I initiated with Liberia’s President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in 2009. At the time, I worked as a mid-level aide in her office. I had been collecting news clippings from a recurring exposé in one of Liberia’s local dailies, In Profile Daily, alleging that Liberia’s bilateral, international scholarships were being sold to the highest bidder as well as given to the relatives of government officials. I approached the President concerned about the implications of this exposé, given that Liberia had major gaps in capacity in crucial areas that international scholarships could help fill, such as engineering, agriculture, and medicine. President Sirleaf noted my concern and asked me to do a formal investigation and come up with a list of recommendations, which I did. After discovering that the allegations in the exposé were true, I recommended that the government of Liberia appoint an ad-hoc scholarships committee to overhaul and reform the entire bilateral scholarships scheme, making it merit-based, transparent, and gender-balanced. The President appointed me chair of the committee, and within months we devised a bilateral scholarships policy and began vetting scholarships in a transparent manner. The first batch of scholarships under our supervision was awarded to some of the brightest young people I’ve ever met in Liberia.ASAP: What made you decide to try to reform it?RNP: I’ve been on merit-based academic scholarships in the US and UK since I was 15. My working class parents always stressed the value of hard work and scholastic achievement. They gifted me with an insatiable love of knowledge and ambition to succeed. If not for the scholarships I received from high school through my current Ph.D., I would not be where I am today. I thought it was incredibly important for the best and brightest in Liberia to have the same opportunities I had, so that they could meaningfully contribute to the country’s post-war reconstruction process upon completion of their studies.ASAP: What were the major challenges you faced in your reform effort and how did you address those?RNP: The first major challenge was gaining public confidence in the new scheme. The scholarships process had been hijacked by those with money and power for so long that the average Liberian had lost faith in it, thinking it was a foregone conclusion that you could pay your way through the system or use your political affiliations to secure awards. To address these negative public perceptions, I conducted a series of radio interviews with scholarships recipients who had gone through our new and improved system, to give people first-hand accounts of the many reforms we had made. The second major challenge was maintaining our high standards and ensuring the process was merit-based despite attempted interference from private citizens and government officials. To address this, my committee and I made it clear to anyone trying to intrude that our final decisions were final, and that only those who had passed our very rigid guidelines would be invited for interviews and written exams.ASAP: Your reforms have now been adopted by the Liberian government. What are the biggest implementation challenges that you can see remaining?RNP: The major challenges are maintaining the selection criteria and standards we set, and ensuring that those who return from studies are placed in government agencies where they can meaningfully contribute to Liberia’s development.ASAP: Based on what you have learned in your research for the book and related work, what do you think are the key challenges facing Liberia, now and in the future?RNP:  Liberia’s historical and contemporary challenges are two-fold. First, we lack systems of true merit, where people are promoted or appointed (whether in school settings or in job settings) based on what they know not who they know. This leads to disincentives for personal achievement and low levels of productivity. It also fuels patronage and corruption. Our second major challenge is reconciling what I call an ‘external agenda for Liberia’—based on the whims of donors, multi-national corporations, and the UN—with a clearly defined ‘internal agenda for Liberia’—based on the aspirations of Liberians themselves. Too often, the external agenda supersedes the internal agenda, thereby fomenting domestic angst.ASAP: You have been named one of the most influential foreign policy leaders under the age of 33. What do you think that kind of visibility might be for your impact work?RNP: The award has definitely provided me with increased visibility and legitimacy to fulfill my life’s work, transforming Liberia for the better.ASAP: How do you balance your impact and commentator work with your doctoral studies?RNP: My doctoral thesis addresses the ways in which citizenship in Liberia has been reconfigured across time and space, and what implications this has for post-conflict reconstruction. My impact and commentator work are extensions of my doctoral studies and vice versa, so I don’t consider them mutually exclusive.ASAP: How has your work outside academia figured in your research?RNP: I was born in Liberia, but grew up in the U.S. because of the 14-year conflict in my country. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always had a metaphysical connection to Liberia, and have been obsessed with trying to figure out what it means to be Liberian across varying landscapes. Most of my life’s work inside and outside academia has focused on creating pockets of transformation for those who may not be able to speak truth to power, particularly in Liberia.ASAP: What are your own aims and ambitions for the future, both in your research work and your impact work?RNP: I plan to delve into a full-time writing and teaching career after completing my Ph.D., with a series of Gbagba books serving as my first major foray into book publishing. In addition to children’s books, I intend to write academic articles and books, beginning with the publication of a book version of my Ph.D. thesis. I also plan to freelance for magazines and newspapers on a range of contemporary development issues facing sub-Saharan Africa. And finally, I intend to teach qualitative research methodologies as well as English composition and literature in Liberia.ASAP: What advice would you give to a university looking to encourage academics to make an impact at an early stage of their careers?RNP: Universities should adopt SOAS’ ethos of encouraging academics to be fully engaged with the world around them, rather than just pontificating about it in the ivory tower. This can be done by placing an emphasis on evidence-based research that has policy relevance and ultimately affects practice.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

PAC examines fiscal red flags raised by Auditor General

first_imgAudit report…Region 7 commended on spendingIn a rare occurrence, officials from a region were commended by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) when they appeared to defend certain red flags raised in the 2016 Auditor General’s report.Officials from the Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) administration, including Regional Executive Officer (REO) Rodrick Edinboro and several of his regional officials, were questioned by the Committee on several fiscal matters.Opposition Member of Parliament Pauline Sukhai, who was acting as Chairperson of the PAC in the absence of substantive Chairman Irfaan Ali, noted the seriousness of instances where contractors were overpaid back in 2016.Opposition Parliamentarian Nigel Dharamlall noted that maintenance works in the region had amounted to $307.4 million, with almost all of that money being spent. Citing this and other examples, the MP enquired how the region was able to keep so close to their planned expenditure.In response, the REO noted that planning had much to do with it. At the same time, however, he disclosed at the prompting of PAC member Volda Lawrence some of the issues the region faces with clearing cheque orders.“The geographic location and distance to deliver plays a part in that,” he said. “We also have problems with the availability of the item, if it’s not within the local borders. We also have problems when seeking duty-free concessions.”“Also, there is the stringent adherence to the release of one cheque until another is cleared. By the time you’re ready for that one, there’s also a problem with that. But the cheque order system, as it is, was really designed to deal with cash payments to employees,” he related.Sukhai ultimately commended the regional authorities for the improvements they had made in their systems.“There seems to have been somewhat of an improvement in the region and I will ask that some of the areas that we have had some prolonged questioning,” she said. “That you, take note of those and make sure that you come prepared in the future because I am sure we will see you back in the stipulated time and thank you again for the engagement here, you and your team.”On other matters relating to expired drugs, the region also conveyed to the Committee it had a clean bill of health.For instance, the 2016 report had noted that audit checks had revealed there were 23 types of expired drugs in the regional administration’s possession, which are still to be destroyed. But since there was no value stated on the documents for the items, a total cost of all drugs destroyed could not be ascertained.PAC Member Juan Edghill had raised concerns over whether expired drugs were being distributed to hinterland residents. According to Regional Health Officer, Dr Edward Segala, however, the expired drugs were not being distributed. Dr Segala also noted that the drugs have been destroyed. But all is still not well with the system.“The system is a challenging one. For example, at the level of a hospital where you have a pharmacist… it is much easier to notice and to tell whether a particular medication is going to expire within a certain timeframe.”“The challenge though would come from the far-flung areas, in our case, Upper Mazaruni and Middle Mazaruni where there is no pharmacist… so supervision can be quite challenging,” he had noted.last_img read more

Wednesday schedule for the Dawson Creek Exhibition

first_img8:00 PM Schilds Kurjata Kids Calf Scramble – Grandstand  Wednesday, August 10, 20113:00 PM Fair Grounds Open (No Admission Charge) 4-H Exhibits Accepted to 8:00PMChuckwagon Races (Admission Charge)  6:30 PM World Professional Chuckwagon Assoc. Races  5:30 PMCrazy Cowgirls Trick Riding Kids Wild Horse Race Western Chuckwagon Assoc. Races center_img 4:00 PM Waterin’ Hole Opens  8:30 PM Deere John Band performs in the Waterin’ Hole – Advertisement –last_img read more

Exclusive – Christian Benteke good enough to play for the ‘best’ teams, insists Aston Villa legend

first_imgAston Villa favourite Martin Laursen believes Villans striker Christian Benteke has the quality to play for the best teams, amid rumours that the Belgian could join Liverpool this summer.The 24-year-old had a stunning second half to the season, spearheading Villa’s charge to Premier League safety under Tim Sherwood with 13 goals in his final 14 games in all competitions.Benteke has reportedly been identified as one of Brendan Rodgers’ key targets in his plans to revamp his Liverpool squad, and Laursen feels the striker is good enough to thrive at a higher level.“I’m sure that there are many, many teams in the Premier League that are looking to sign him. He’s good enough to play in the best teams,” said the former Villa defender.“He is vital, that’s for sure. He has scored a lot of goals and is great to watch. I hope that he will stay and do well for Villa, but they can also get a lot of money for him.”Villa face Arsenal in their first FA Cup final in 15 years on Saturday, and Laursen is wary of the threat the Gunners pose as they look to retain their trophy.He said: “I don’t think they [Aston Villa] are favourites to be honest. They’ve had a difficult time against Arsenal this season.“It’s pretty much like playing Barcelona or Spain. If you give their players time on the ball then they can be impossible to play against. One the day of course they can win, but I think Arsenal are favourites.”Listen to the FA Cup final between Arsenal and Aston Villa on Saturday from 5:30pm live on talkSPORT.last_img read more

Man told Gardai “I’ll f****** burst you” after being released from custody

first_imgA 56-year-old Letterkenny man told Gardai ‘I’ll f****** burst you’ as he was being released from custody.Joe McGill, of 29A The Maples, Lismonaghan, Letterkenny was bring released from Letterkenny Garda Station on 7 November, 2016. McGill was informed that another person had not been released when he became ‘abusive and threatening’ as Garda Quinn directed him to leave the foyer.Garda Sean Grant told Letterkenny District Court that McGill said ‘I’ll f****** burst you’ and ‘other obscenities’.McGill was also charged with the theft of a Juice Audio Speaker from Tesco, Letterkenny, on January 26, 2018. A Tesco security guard followed McGill to the bus station before Gardai intercepted McGill and the property was recovered.McGill told Judge Paul Kelly that he was engaging with the probation service.Solicitor for McGill, Kieran O’Gorman said his client had a ‘serious problem’ with alcohol, but was ‘off the drink for quite a while’ and was ‘doing his best’.Judge Paul Kelly adjourned the matter to the May 17 sitting of the court for a community service report to be prepared.Man told Gardai “I’ll f****** burst you” after being released from custody was last modified: April 14th, 2018 by Staff WriterShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Garda QuinnInspector Sean GrantJoe McGillJudge Paul KellyletterkennyLetterkenny District Courtlast_img read more

Buncrana Pier Tragedy: First Garda on scene says he had to get on his knees to help victims

first_imgOne of the first Gardai on the scene of the Buncrana Pier tragedy in Co Donegal has told how he had to get down on his knees to stop himself slipping because of the thick algae.Garda Seamus Callaghan, of Buncrana Garda station described a scene of carnage when he arrived on the shores of Lough Swilly on March 20th, 2016.He told how when he arrived he saw a woman being given CPR. He went down the slipway to assist but revealed “I had to get down on my knees to assist because it was just so slippy.”The area was then sealed off and the pier was cleared to give the deceased some dignity, he added.He then revealed how he stood and watched as the bodies of the remaining people in the jeep were taken ashore.“Four more persons were taken from the water and blankets were placed over the bodies. Prayers were said over each of the bodies and a priest blessed the bodies,” he said. He said he also noticed a woman nursing a baby in a car, a woman he later found out was Stephanie Knox, the girlfriend of Davitt Walsh.Garda Callaghan added that he also noticed empty baby milk bottles and food cartons as well as a baby bag.“It was clear that the baby had been very well looked after,” he said.Buncrana Pier Tragedy: First Garda on scene says he had to get on his knees to help victims was last modified: November 24th, 2017 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:buncranaGardainquestpierSlippylast_img read more

Humboldt Crabs surrender early 5-0 lead in loss to Lincoln Potters

first_imgDamian Henderson sent two over the fence to help give the Humboldt Crabs an early advantage but it would prove inconsequential as the Crabs dropped game one of its three-game series against the Lincoln Potters 11-7, Friday night at McBean Stadium in Lincoln.Henderson’s first home run — a three-run bomb — came in the first inning and put the Crabs ahead 4-0. In the third inning Henderson did it again, sending a solo-bomb over the wall to put the Crabs comfortably ahead 5-0.But Potters would …last_img read more

South Africa and US collaborate on medical research

first_img16 April 2015The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and the American National Institutes of Health (NIH) are awarding 31 grants to American and South African scientists to support research targeting HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and HIV-related co- morbidities and cancers.The NIH is a unit of the US’s Department of Health and Human Services.Totalling $8-million in first-year funding, the awards are the first to be issued through the South Africa-US Program for Collaborative Biomedical Research. The programme, which was established in 2013 with funding from NIH and SAMRC, is designed to foster and/or expand basic, translational, behavioural and applied research to advance scientific discovery among American and South African researchers working collaboratively in the areas of HIV/Aids and TB.The new awards will support research conducted at eight South African institutions and link scientists at these institutions with American researchers at more than 20 US-based research organisations, including the NIH.“South Africa is a major partner in the fight to end both HIV/Aids and tuberculosis,” said Anthony S Fauci, the managing director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is part of the NIH.Scientific collaboration“These new awards tap the scientific expertise of both of our countries in an effort to further key research in these disease areas. We are particularly gratified to work with the South African Medical Research Council given its history of visionary leadership and outstanding commitment to fostering biomedical research excellence and innovation.”Among the newly funded research projects are those targeting HIV prevention, particularly among high-risk young women; identifying HIV-infected individuals and determining how best to link them to and retain them in medical care; developing strategies for optimising the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of HIV-associated cancers; and addressing scale-up of TB prevention and treatment strategies, particularly among TB-infected mothers and children.Twelve of the awards will support two years of research; 19 awards will fund five- year collaborative projects. The list of initial 24 awards will be updated to include the seven remaining projects once they are awarded.In addition to NIAID, other NIH institutes and centres participating in the South Africa-US Program for Collaborative Biomedical Research include the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Fogarty International Center and the Office of AIDS Research.It is anticipated that NIH and SAMRC will solicit additional applications for the programme in two years.American partnersNIAID conducts and supports research — at NIH, throughout the US, and worldwide — to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses.NIH is the US’s primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.Source: National Institutes of Healthlast_img read more

Ohio Ag Weather and Forecast, January 10, 2019

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Strong north winds coming around the backside of Low pressure, right across the Great Lakes yesterday kept more snow around than we had hoped for. Today. We should see north winds subside, and that should allow clouds to mix with more sun. However, cold temps stay, keeping us near normal today and tomorrow. We will continue to keep an eye out for a few flurries up north, but really think that we see mostly dry weather today and tomorrow. Snow is still on the way for the weekend. Snow may sneak into far western or southwestern parts of Ohio overnight Friday night, but this really is more of a Saturday-Sunday event. We are going to leave our snow forecast alone this morning. We are expecting 1″-4″ over a large part of Ohio this weekend, and we wont rule out the potential for slightly higher totals in south central and southwest Ohio. Much like our forecast from yesterday, we think the heaviest action will be near the Ohio River. Track still is key, but this looks to be a good, solid snow event. Moisture looks to be a little more impressive on some models today, but less impressive on others, which is why we are net unchanged on our forecast. On Sunday, we see light snow and flurries end NW to SE across the state as the day progresses, and may see some minor additional accumulations in central and southern Ohio before sunset. The map at right shows snow potential from Friday night through Sunday night. Dry weather returns for the first half of next week. Monday may still be a bit of a transition day, with some sunshine up north, but more clouds holding on over the southern half of the state. Then, high pressure moves in for Tuesday. Wednesday still should bring sunshine. Clouds will increase on Thursday. Our next system arrives on Friday, or perhaps overnight Thursday night in some areas. This brings mostly snow, but perhaps a bit of rain as well in southwest Ohio. Moisture totals do not look too dramatic, but we won’t rule out .3” of an inch of liquid equivalent, particularly in the far south. Coverage will be around 70%. This system is slowing this morning and arrives about 18 hours later than we were seeing yesterday. That system and the days follow start to show some dramatic differences between models. The American model initiates a very, very active pattern and suggests significantly more moisture. This starts coming as rain in the Thursday night and Friday system, and then a very strong snow storm for the 19th and 20th. The Euro is much drier but brings faster moving little waves of moisture. With these differences, and no consensus for the extended period at this time, we will leave our 11-16 day forecast alone this morning. We look for the best moisture to be in for Saturday the 19th. There still is the potential for that event to end as snow, as cold air blasts in behind.  From there we remain cold with snow and flurries possible for the 22nd – 23rd – 24th. We become very cold through that period with temperatures moving to well below normal temperature levels.last_img read more

The 5 Biggest Tech Flops in Modern Video Production & Filmmaking

first_imgNot every technological innovation can change the world. Here are a few of the most recent video product fails.It seems like every week there’s a new camera, lens, or piece of equipment that is making a splash in the filmmaking industry. In a lot of ways, it’s never been a better time to be a gear lover. However, every now and then a new piece of equipment will flop harder than 47 Ronin at the box office. In honor of all things terrible (and lest we forget), let’s take a look at some of the biggest technology flops in the filmmaking industry from the last few years. If you can think of any other flops that we forgot, please share in the comments below.1. The AJA CionWhen the AJA Cion was announced at NAB 2014, it looked like a very promising camera that could potentially find a home in the professional video production world. In fact, AJA’s background in video technologies is very similar to that of Blackmagic Design — but the Cion had major problems from the beginning. First and foremost, the camera was delayed six months. In an industry that is constantly changing, a six month delay is a lot of time.Blackmagic announced their URSA Mini just a few months later at NAB 2015. It had better specs than the Cion at a fraction of the price. In order to compete with the URSA Mini, Cion dropped their price from $9,000 to $5,000, which was viewed by many to be a sign of desperation. Furthermore, AJA started offering free ‘test drives’ of the Cion so that filmmakers could try it out before they bought it. But what may have been a genuine attempt to put the Cion in the hands of filmmakers was quickly perceived as a desperate move to get rid of the cameras.Adding insult to injury, when Cinema5D did a comprehensive review of the Cion it was revealed that the camera only had 8.2 stops of dynamic range instead of the advertised 12. Currently there have been no talks of a new AJA camera, so the AJA Cion may very well be the first and last camera the company ever produces.2. 3D TelevisionWhen talking about 3D, James Cameron said “We’ve solved the technology.” But did we really ‘solve’ problem? Despite having the ability to watch 3D sports, movies, and television in your home, audiences simply aren’t consuming 3D content. Maybe it’s the fact that you have to wear glasses. Maybe it’s because there isn’t much 3D content to watch. The Wire put it best when they said:3D TV Is DeadNot much wiggle room there. Despite investing billions in the technology, TV manufacturers have opted to focus on 4K rather than 3D. That’s not to say that 3D technologies are dying… far from it. But development of flat 3D TV screens for in-home consumption appears to have virtually stopped.3. FCPXIt’s hard to think of a software fail more epic than the launch of FCPX. Despite having loyal users and one of the best NLEs on the market, Apple’s FCPX release was so bad that some were speculating that the software might die off it not updated. Of all the problems with the initial release of FCPX, the most notable design feature/flaw was the introduction of the magnetic timeline, which was supposed to replace traditional track-based timelines. This was a radical departure from the workflow of earlier Final Cut Pro versions and many editors simply couldn’t get on board.FCPX wasn’t intially released with other little features like multi-camera editing or broadcast monitoring. But then again, when would you ever need to edit a project with multiple cameras?This is a Google Trends report for search popularity. The blue line is Final Cut Pro and the red is Premiere Pro.  The spike in 2011 signals the release of FCPX (more online searches during that time).Since its release in 2011, FCPX has been updated over a dozen times. It’s now fully functional as a modern NLE – the first Hollywood feature cut on Final Cut Pro X was released this year. Yet its popularity (according to search data) is still in decline. Did the botched FCPX release set the software on a course for disaster? Only time will tell.There’s some additional interesting numbers on the Final Cut Pro X userbase over on Creative Cow.4. GoPro SessionGoPro is all the rage right now. From action videos to immersive 360 VR experiences, GoPros are the camera of choice if you need a small action camera capable of producing better-than-average video. However, their latest camera, the GoPro Session, is severely underperforming in sales, leading many analysts to declare that the camera a flop.GoPro’s stock prices since its IPO in June 2014.From the outside, it would seem like the GoPro Session is a great idea — but consumers just aren’t buying the camera. As a result, GoPro’s stocks (as of October 7, 2014) are at a record low and the company’s future has been called into question.5. Curved TV ScreensWhen you’re standing four feet from a TV at Best Buy there might be a split second where you might think a curved screen is a good idea. But curved TVs have major flaws that have left consumers asking a very important question: why would anyone want to buy a curved TV?One of the biggest marketing selling points for curved TVs is that they will increase immersion for the viewer, as if the slight curve will create a pseudo-VR experience. This doesn’t make sense, but you don’t need me to tell you that. David Katzmaier from CNET puts it best when he said:In no case did I notice the increase in “immersion” supposedly brought on by the curve. The image seemed no more immersive than any other 65-inch TV, either in isolation or in a comparison lineup.One of the biggest problems with curved TVs is the fact that if you are viewing the image from anywhere but directly in front, the picture will begin to distort. There’s also the problem of a higher price. While TV salesmen may be able to trick some consumers into buying curved screens, the technology is flawed and isn’t getting great reviews. It’ll be gone faster than you can say “gimmick.”Can you think of any other technology fails from the last few years? Share them in the comments below!last_img read more