Archive for the ‘Notizie e politica’ Category

International Alliances: Whatever You Do, Wherever You Work, Find a Better Phrase than “Developing Countries” – Now   Leave a comment

First, go watch this. And I say “watch” as in “look at it moving”… click the “play” button and see the world unfolding.

Oh, I do hope you were sitting. With any luck, “comfortably” will come back soon.

See the huge red ball fluttering around and literally bouncing hard on the floor between 1958 and 1961?
Now, that’s really the best part of this world by some very significant measures, as we all know- today, that is.

If you watch closely it bounces up much before hitting the bottom of the chart – mercifully.
I shiver to the thought of what must it have been like, and I do so watching this graph much more than when I read gut-wrenching accounts of that story over the last few decades.

International alliances are probably among the easiest varieties of international work, and the lesson that Professor Hans Rosling’s  Gapminder drives here feels like applying to many of the most complex kinds too, from trade and manufacturing, to cooperation, to aid, to finance and diplomacy.

I start from alliances for a very personal combination of reasons. For now, let’s just say

  1. it was a long time alliances colleague and friend pointing me to this,
  2. surely alliances must be across borders and so international, or what are they? 
  3. it looks like Gapminder can help us see the limits of some myths shaping how we act – internationally.

In his donation request, professor Rosling calls them “devastating myths”.
If you find this a bit too strong, go to the link here at the top and just watch the ball pinball around, bounce hard, then float up left. Safely, I am sure we all hope, since the vertical axis is labeled “life expectancy”. 

There’s plenty more myths where this comes from, and plenty more devastation. I so hope alliances, too, can help improve on some.

How Do You Say “Freedom of Speech” in Social Media-ese?   Leave a comment

The Economist’s “Babbage” blog just posted a great introduction to a thoughtful Foreign Affairs feature by Clay Shirky on The Political Power of Social Media.

Time matters. Freedom of speech on the Internet before social media is different from of speech on the internet with social media. Freedom of speech before Wikileaks published quite a few confidential comments by members of diplomacies is different from the same after those comments were published.
Ask Mr. Shirky, who does point to Wikileaks as one of the places where valuable political conversation and coordination happens, likely before the recent highly visible wave of leaks.

Luckily, this coincidence fully supports Mr. Shirky’s very point: to determine how the Internet helps freedom and civil rights, and to help this process, focus on long-term (“environmental”) actions and effects, rather than short-term (“instrumental”) pressure to fight individual censorship acts such as tracking and punishing bloggers, or blocking access to international news.

Much better to support access to conversation than access to information: it allows long term mutual education and sharing, and it enables networked coordination, independent from hierarchies. Freedom of speech here is more about building an environment for civil organization and collaboration than individual tools. Conversation (“debate”) in these environments is what historically has shifted the balance of power between civil society and governments.

I find this notion a very effective simplifying tool to assess the value of media, including social digital media, for building freedom. Do check out the original article for much deeper and richer insight.

Update: for a likely more sobering view, see the Economist’s review of Evgeny Morozov’s book “The Net Delusion“. Based on the review, the book appears to support Mr. Shirky’s recommendation  mostly by highlighting how much the Internet can actually help authoritarian regimes track and crush opposers.

According to the review: <<“The internet”, Mr Morozov argues, “has provided so many cheap and easily available entertainment fixes to those living under authoritarianism that it has become considerably harder to get people to care about politics at all.”>> Perhaps even more importantly for how democratic governments and communities can contribute: <<Authoritarian governments are assumed to be clueless about the internet, but they often understand its political uses far better than their Western counterparts do, Mr Morozov suggests.>>

Personal request – Milan Residents Please Consider Signing   Leave a comment

This petition is for a cause dear to me personally. I believe it is beneficial to my community.
If you are an Italian citizen, please review it and consider seriously signing it.
http://www.firmiamo.it/difendiamo-i-centri-di-aggregazione-giovanile
 
For the rest of you, www.firmiamo.it – Italian correspondent to www.livepetitions.com, interestingly teaches you how to leverage your social network by promoting petitions you signed through it in this way and others.
 
     

Posted April 5, 2008 by Gianluca Marcellino in Notizie e politica

07-07-07: what has happened since 7th July 2007 – che è successo dal 7 Luglio 2007   Leave a comment

One key question around most proposed conservation actions – biofuel from corn rather than sugarcane being a paramount example – is how really helpful a given behaviour is when one takes into account its multiple implications. Further instances are biodegradable plastics, throwaway versus washable, reusable towels and many others.
 
Since 7th July 2007 I have personally adopted two very simple behaviours that appear to have a clearly positive, if absolutely minimal, net contribution on resource conservation.
 
First of all, I drink water. Tap water as a first option, bottled water in the largest-size bottles available as a second option when tap water is difficult to get or at odds with party behaviours, other drinks only in special occasions where a social value is attached. Beyond the economical and health value, this has implied carrying a canteen around most of the time. This in itself, including the thought of when to fill up, when to drink up and refill or carry along what I have got, has raised my attention to the basic issue of provisioning of water even where it is both plentiful and cheap. A completely new line of thought to consider in my life, making ordinary work days more similar to hiking than I realized before.
 
Second, when washing hands I wipe them with my own handkerchief I carry along rather than with disposable towels or air dryers. Another reminder of the logistics of carrying things around and the benefits of a little planning when moving around.
 
The lesson so far is twofold: first, whatever little it does, it helps you pay attention to important things all the time – such as raw materials. Second, a different behaviour from the general habit can be made much, little or no apparent at all and drive different discussions depending on how apparent it is. Any such discussion is useful in getting friends and colleagues to think, as long as zeal is limited.
One of the most interesting learnings from such discussions was that a 12-years old today can come up with the old objection adults used to make to youngsters’ conservation ideas when resource limits were a new notion – the days of the Club of Rome in the mid Sixties last century: "what difference does a single person make anyway?"
 

Posted January 3, 2008 by Gianluca Marcellino in Notizie e politica

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