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!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Guide to the Blog

I established this blog some 4 years or so ago in order –
  • To try to make sense of my various endeavours in the fields of social justice and organisational change in Scotland (in the 1970s and 1980s) and of institution-building in transition countries where I have lived for the past 22 years.
  • To have a record of some of the good and insightful writing I come across
  • To share some of my passion for places, wine and painting
In my blogpost of 9 January 2012 I tried to take stock of the extent to which my posts were actually contributing to these three objectives.
Lessons from my own institutional endeavoursThe early part of the blog covered the Scottish policy initiatives with which I was associated between 1970-90 such as social dialogue, open-policy-making and social inclusion – which were excerpted from a long paper available on my website.
More recently, the blog has focussed on my concerns about the technical assistance and institutional building work I have been involved with in transition countries in the past 20 years – which are captured in the paper I gave at the 2010 Varna Conference of NISPAcee.
In autumn 2011, I had a string of 15 or so posts trying to make sense of the training work which has been the focus of recent assignment.
However my more ambitious venture to bring all of this together in one paper is not yet realised. A very early draft can be seen on my website.

Sharing the insights of others - In the din of communications, many sane voices are drowned out. And there are also a range of linguistic, professional, academic, commercial and technical filters which get in the way of even the most conscientious efforts to seek truth(s). We have slowly realised how the google search engine has an element of “mirror image” in its search – giving us more of what it thinks we want rather than what is actually available. And the specialisation of university and professional education also cuts us off from valuable sources.
I’ve been lucky – in having had both the (academic) position and (political) incentive for more than 15 years to read across intellectual disciplines in the pursuit of tools to help the various ventures in which I’ve been engaged.
I belong to a generation and time which valued sharing of knowledge – rather than secreting or mystifying it which has become the trend in recent decades. And copy and paste and hyperlink now make this sharing much more possible than it was in the past!
Most of the blogposts contain several such links – in a single year probably 1,000 links. That’s not bad!
Life’s passions - Clearly the blog has shared several of my passions – eg painting, places, reading and wine – and has given a good sense of the enjoyment from simple activities such as wandering.
Originally the Carpathian reference in the title was to location only – it did not promise any particular insights into this part of the world. But, in the past year, my musings have broadened to give some insights into life in this part of the world…
That was a year ago. What about the last year? Has the focus of the blog changed in any way? A quick analysis revealed that the last year has seen very few posts on the first of the three original objectives. Almost half of the posts have been sharing the reading I’ve been doing – and one in four posts are now about events in Bulgaria and Romania (like the last one) and about art and paintings in these two countries.
Every now and then I let off about such subjects as privatisation; corporate power; media and democracy; and europeanisation (lack of).
And I actually did about 10 posts on Scotland (inspired no doubt by the short visit I made last May) 

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