Creative and hardworking entrepreneurs wake up every morning and fill the sidewalks of Yangon, Myanmar’s capital. Their personalized stands provide all the daily goods and services that the people of city might need: a trishaw ride to the market, a game and an ice cream in front of the school […]
In 2011, Indian activist Anna Hazare set up a campaign to fight corruption across his home country. When he asked supporters to back his efforts via SMS, he received over 80,000 messages. Not completely satisfied, he asked again for support, this time in the form of a missed call. He […]
For millennia, herds, flocks, and schools have zigzagged the planet to find food, warmth, and a cozy place to procreate. Yet the natural instincts that tell animals where to zig and when to zag remain a total mystery to humans. How do butterflies that live for just weeks know to […]
Guatemala, like much of Central America, has spent its last few generations besieged by violence. A civil war ripped through the country for the 36 years leading up to the 1996 Peace Accords, which did little to ease old tensions. In 2009 and 2010, it registered more civilian murders than […]
In back alleys, street markets, and hidden workshops around the world, microentrepreneurs churn out new ideas and products to help them get by or improve the world around them. We could philosophize on this all day. But here in Observed, we ask our correspondents to say nothing. For the next […]
What happens when a group of people band together? It depends. The organization of a crowd, the tools it uses, and its culture all determine its impact. Is it structured to collaborate or fight? Does each node have ways to connect with and trust the others? Do its members require […]
Mangoes, mobiles, money exchange, Nollywood DVDs, eyelashes, and weaves.
You can find it all at Ziyad’s Cash & Carry, a multi-shop storefront occupying a sweet, sprawling, 1,600-square-foot corner spot on Rye Lane in South London. Ziyad, a confident 16-year-old from Afghanistan, manages the property after school and on the weekends.
In China, it is said that there are two types of slaves: those who make Apple products, and those who buy Apple products. Shangkun, a teenage boy from Anhui province, represents the latter. In April 2011, he let a surgeon remove one of his kidneys so it could be transplanted […]
A tit-for-tat, a rub of the back—things don’t change hands without a reason. And they don’t move freely or fairly without trust. Here, we explore the agreements that make trade tick. From street-market haggling techniques to global supply chains and treaties, the nature of exchange comes down to the decisions […]
Down an unlit side street in Khartoum, Sudan, a crumpled, dirty note slides out from under a rotting rubber band. Then another. And another. A hand counts the notes on the receiving end. A gift of cash from abroad has both travelled a thousand miles and yet not at all. […]