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European Democracy at Work!

On 7 June, I joined citizens across Europe by going to the ballot box to elect the European Parliament for the eighth time; although sadly more than half of the electorate stayed at home. Before the vote, the political chatter had focused on what the reaction of the electorate would be to the economic crisis and how the centre-right EPP grouping (the largest in the Parliament) would fare. The UK Conservatives had announced they would be splintering off from the group with like-minded parties from the Czech Republic and Poland in the new Parliament.While the exact make-up isn’t yet clear, from the provisional results the biggest themes seem to be a dramatic loss for the centre left and a growth in fringe parties. The EPP held its own despite the loss of their UK and Czech chapters. In many countries, the ruling parties were punished in the polls in what is seen as a reaction struggling economies across Europe. That being said, centre-left governments seem to have suffered more. The UK and Portuguese governments were heavily defeated while the opposition Popular Party beat the ruling Socialists in Spain. In contrast, the EPP-affiliated governments in France, Germany, Italy and Poland more than held their own. The far right and anti-immigration parties made significant ground, returning MEPs in the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Slovakia, Hungary and the UK. Read More »

Old MacDonald had….broadband

OK, I admit it — I’m a Brit abroad and I’m addicted to the BBC website. There’s something very homely about reading stories about the UK, whether it be to commiserate Manchester United’s failure to get over the final hurdle or the latest story about Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent. I was flicking through the site this morning when I came across this piece about broadband ‘not-spots’ in the UK and it set me thinking. There seems to be a growing recognition that everyone needs to have a broadband connection, or even in some quarters that broadband should be considered a ‘right’ for our citizens. But what is it all about? While it may be taken as a given in our tech community, why do we think about it in these terms? Read More »

Technology’s Role in Earth Day

Earlier today, I listened to former President Clinton speak in honor of Earth Day. He was at Fortune Magazine’s Green Brainstorm conference on the importance of upcoming climate change talks (to take place on Copenhagen later this year). He called on everyone in the audience to focus on the economic impact of managing our energy and environmental challenges.He said we must prove it is good economics to change the way we produce and save energy. This made me think more about the role technology can play in doing so.. Read More »

First Latin American ICT Think Tank Takes Momentum

Less than two years ago a small group of academics from the leading ICT Research Centers and Universities from Latin America organized a regional conference on ICT. At the end of the conference in Buenos Aires I mentioned to two of the organizers; Professors Hernan Galperin from Univerisdad de San Andres and Raul Katz from Columbia, that by putting together the conference they had built the foundation to create a regional Think Tank on ICT.And certainly, they did. The small group now transformed into a network of more than 30 world class institutions that seek to advance knowledge on the social, economic and political impact of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the Americas. The network, called ACORN-REDECOM will have the III regional conference in Mexico City next month (May 22-23). The program and speakers are outstanding and I am sure it will be a total success.The value ACORN-REDECOM brings to the region … Read More »

Chimpanzees smarter than undergraduates and college professors?

As part of our policy work, I regularly share with governments statistics, studies and other research that help to bring across the need to effect change in a country. Quite accidentally, I recently came across these two video clips featuring presentations by Dr Hans Rosling that blew my mind away about how such data can be presented. In the video, Dr Rosling compared and contrasted national statistics of different countries in a graphical and animated way which I thought brought across his points very well and was most effective in busting some of the commonly held myths about developing countries.Clip 1Clip 2Particularly relevant to our work is the last set of statistics that he showed on Internet penetration in Clip 1 (about 18 minutes into the 20-min clip). His graph showed a correlation between Internet penetration and GDP, and the steady growth of Internet penetration trending towards the flattening of differences between the developed and developing countries. He presented it quite briefly, but you get the idea of how this can be used to draw other conclusions from data presented this way.Why do I raise this? Read More »