Infographic: Mass Production

Infographic: Mass Production

Sharing, forking, xeroxing: we have innumerable ways to copy what others have originated. Duplication has been core to modern civilization, allowing our ideas go viral in increasingly tall spikes. But along the way, credit can fall by the wayside, forcing profit-seeking inventors to invest beyond their means in legal protection. […]

Observed: Copycats

Observed: Copycats

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala Daniele Volpe The backdrop of a US skyline enhances portraits for residents who often lack the means to travel. Djabal Refugee Camp, Chad Glenna Gordon Using a wood pen with ink and water, Koranic verse is copied in Arabic calligraphy. Residual water and sometimes the paper itself […]

Straight to DVD

Straight to DVD

Loud music blares from speakers perched just feet away from a main road, covering the busy marketplaces of Ajah, Lagos in sound. Passersby stroll past dozens of clothing stalls, fresh produce stands, and shops with CDs and DVDs in bright paper sleeves strewn along the ground and arranged on crowded wooden walls. This particular […]

Deep Cover

Deep Cover

An arm sliced off just above the elbow sits in a glass display case in the dimly lit office. Its white skin gives to the touch, and the palm lines are so clear a fortune teller could predict its future. Bone shards and sliced muscles protrude at the arm’s end, […]

Call to Action

Call to Action

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 […]

Clocking the Flock

Clocking the Flock

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 […]

Mob Justice

Mob Justice

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 […]

Observed: Crowds

Observed: Crowds

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 […]

Infographic: Counting the Crowd

Infographic: Counting the Crowd

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 […]

Little Lagos, Legit in London

Little Lagos, Legit in London

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.