IDRC paper development workshop or "Nerds at work to find solutions for some big problems" Day 3

Wow! Only day 3, it feels like we have been here much longer and that I have known these funny and intelligent people for a few years, not a few days.

I am going to start back to front - the end of the day to the beginning. We went for the big dinner tonight, and again, it was another totally delicious meal. It was a traditional restaurant (of course I can't remember the name and I didn't pick up a match-box (sorry Mom) even - so maybe someone will write it in comments) and it was so good. First the mezze, hot and cold and fresh bread (the hollow kind) with seaseme seeds on it. There was even ketchup, must have been there for Anglophones - but really is a sign of a well run place if you ask me! Then the grillades or grilled meat, then watermelon that was so tasty you could smell the goodness from the plate - then Turkish coffee - pain!

It was friendly meal, and the the ladies were sitting on the comfy bench against the wall - self-segregation I guess :) After this most amazing meal we all got back on the bus and went to a famous dessert place - the kind with cheese in it - well TWO kinds - and wow - I was supposed to be on a diet :) Impossible in Jordan!

I would like to say a quick word about the woman/company who organised our stay here. Professional, friendly, bright, hard-working (no I am not getting a kick-back for saying this!). Hadeel Hasan is the Deputy General Manager of TravelMasters and I strongly reccomend, if you have a trip or a confrence or an excursion to plan in Jordan, contact this woman!

It was another excellent work say though (ok, I woke up with a fever and was a bit low energy - everyone asked how I was though, which is beyond sweet). And we had time to work in our teams and I think we have the outline and the tests and the literature we need to include - and that is a relief really :)

We started the day talking about opportunity recognition and that really it is a process - one that the use of networks helps with - or could help with. We talked about the data and that while not perfect, is quite important - no one has this - and we are the best positioned to learn from it, obtain understanding and then recommend policies to help ellivate the crushing unemployment in parts of the MENA region.

I thinkthere are many great things about listening to other teams' presentations, first learning from these super smart people, most of them very senior, second, thinking of the data and our own research questions in a differnt light, and third, listening to the debate and the genuine desire of everyone to do the best job possible and find the most meaning possible with this data set.

I was also struck by two seperate ephipanies if you will (well, stuff I already knew, but I wrote it down this time so I would remember it).
  1. Scientists/researchers need definitions - we seem to feel naked without them. It is our first step in understanding, defining the problem, defining the terms - all to ensure that what we say is accurate, honest to the best of our knowledge and work - and not keeping within our boundaries.
  2. Science /research is not about making sweeping statements and generalisations - it is about understanding the small bit of the pie so that we can go on to the next - but the process gets easier - the second piece of the pie takes shorter to understand and the third, etc. But there are no simple answers...
The afternoon presentation was about the structure of firms and networks - or do networks have an impact on the number of owners, etc. They used a vareity of methods to present the data -

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