what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Monday, August 23, 2010

European conversations


A lot of anxieties have been expressed in books and articles in revent years about what the internet is doing to us eg our minds and relationships – and this recent article gave a good overview.
And Martin Kettle wrote recently about how the Net is increasingly making native English speakers, if not exactly Europhobic, certainly Euro-ignorant.
One of the several excellent bloggers I came across yesterday - John Nnaughton - summarised it nicely -
This autumn we will be bombarded with news about the US midterm elections. Fair enough. These are significant elections in the world's most powerful country. But if we are to be intelligent and rounded beings we also need to be well informed about and engaged with elections in places much nearer to home, and especially those that arguably have more to tell us about the temper of the times in our part of the world – like those in Sweden next month – above all. But that is not going to happen as long as we are voluntarily imprisoned in the Anglosphere. Yesterday, once again, the latest UK generation got fewer A-levels in French, German, Russian and Spanish than the generation before. Next week, there will be fewer GCSEs in modern languages too. The trend is inexorable. We are cutting ourselves off from the world. Another New Yorker cartoon, this time by Robert Mankoff, comes irresistibly to mind. A woman is talking to a man at a cocktail party. She asks: “One question: if this is the information age, how come nobody knows anything?” The answer is simple. They are speaking to us from outside the Anglosphere but we no longer understand them.
And, of course, my own blogroll proves the point. I do have excellent French – and passable German – so there really is no excuse for me. To be fair I did, last week, dowload a couple of German book sites – and do subscribe to Der Spiegel (which sends me daily articles in English); to Eurozine which covers european cultural matters and which have translations of articles from about 70 small european journals; and also to Sight and Sound. ButI need to be more proactive - the least I can do from henceforward is to read more diligently the blog of people like dodo - who is on the EuroTribine website which covers aspects of current affairs in individual Eurpoean nations. Paul Mason of the BBC also seems to roam beyond Britain’s shores – see this piece of his on the Spanish financial situation.
By the way, the dodo link gives an information packed briefing on the development of bullet trains in China – an excellent case study in what that country can achieve when it turns its mind to it. Good pics as well.

I thought I would check what European blogs were on offer on google – and was disappointed initially to find that the blogs which were rated in the 2009 Euro Wiki blog competition were all very glitzy and shallow things.

But I did across this site whose concept is very good – creating a network of people in European cities commited to sharing insights about life where they live. /
The last entry, however, of the Bucharest site was in 2007!
Difficult to find a painting illustrating the internet - the only appropriate one I cd find is this one by Gauguin - gossipers'conversation!

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