miércoles, febrero 25, 2009

London calling

Next Thursday I will be attending a software conference in London: Software Craftsmanship, hold at the BBC Media Center.

It's a conference about Agile methodologies and test-driven development I know, buzz words. In case you want to know more about it, please check the following links:
Surprisingly it's going to be my first time in London, which in addition means one new spot in my Facebook map :) As I told a friend today, most people when go to London feel excited about seeing Buckingham Palace, or getting to London Eye. The only thing I have done so far was locating some good Chinese/Japanase restaurants and the Chinatown, hahaha. Well, after the conference, I think I will have time enough for planning a nice route around the city. Any recommendations will be more than welcomed. Actually, I want to take a one-day trip to Oxford or Cambridge.

And worst of all, tomorrow is a bank holiday in Pontevedra, and my flatmate has just convinced me of going out tonight. She finally twisted my arm. I just hope I wake up tomorrow on time (I suddenly started thinking of my old friend Dan and his failed trip to Paris...)

sábado, febrero 21, 2009

Global voices

Since a few months ago I wanted to write something about Rebecca MacKinnon and Global Voices, but because of one thing or another I never find a gap to do it...

Rebecca MacKinnon is a well-known journalist with an extensive background in Asia. Although she was born in America, she spent almost all her childhood traveling across Asia, due mainly to her parents academic research (her father was a Professor of Chinese History). Then she moved back to the States for high-school and college, where she graduated from Harvard with a B.A in Government (magna cum laude). After graduation she was granted a Fullbright scholar in Taiwan.

After that she joined CNN Asia, working in Beijing, as assistant, correspondent and chief officer. Later she would move to Tokyo under the same charge. Nowadays, she works as a professor at the Journalism and Media Studies Center at the University of Hong Kong.

Rebecca MacKinnon speech at the Web 2.0 Summit 2008, mainly focused on Chinese media censhorship

I think that a character like Rebecca is very unique and that's what make her special. She has spent almost all her life bound to Asia and that gives her a deep understanding on the region and how it has evolved. At the same time, she has been educated in the Western culture and, at least for what I can infer from her writings and dialogs, she seems to value tremendously the importance of freedom of speech, privacy, individualism, etc, some values that somehow collide with the more Asian values of strong sense of duty, extreme humility, filial piety, etc (most of them got theirs roots in Confucianism)

On her blog, Rconversation, she usually talks about politics, journalism, and freedom, mainly focused in China, a type of blog that is hard to find in Hong Kong. In addition, Rebecca has also participated very actively in the foundation of Creative Commons Hong Kong.

On the other hand, Global Voices Online, Rebecca co-founded website together with Ethan Zuckerman, is a collaborative blog contributed by thousands of citizens spread all over the world. It's the idea of every person being a source of information and knowledge. It's the same idea as OhMyNews, but with a different set of goals and scope.

There is still a hot debate about citizen journalism as a valid formula and the impact of new publishing tools on mainstream media. It seems traditional newspapers profits are dropping as more and more young people tend to consume their news via the internet. Some have started considering switching to micropayments as an income source.

The fact is that future is all about the unknown, and the only thing we can do to build new things is to innovate and experiment. Initiatives like Global Voices are the ones that make things go forward, time will prove if they were right or wrong.

domingo, febrero 01, 2009

Medicines, no fakes (part II)

On a previous post, Medicine, no fakes, I reviewed the poisoned milk scandal that shocked China last summer. With that post (in Spanish) I wanted to highlight the lack of regulation in mainland China as well as the low requiring standard that population demands on goods and products. At the same time, I took the chance to make a sour critic to the vast majority of the Western media that covered the new. Their opinion tended to be superficial, being eager to criticize a country which they barely understand how it works.

Last week Chinese justice came up with a final verdict. As an outcome, two of the responsibles have been sentenced to death and another jailed for life. Maybe they are just scapegoats...If there is anyone to blame firstly is the government for having silence the incident as the Olympics were approaching. The first baby died on July 6th and only till middle August when a New Zealand milk company complained, the production was stopped.

To add injury to the insult, just four years before another baby milk scandal ashamed the country as 13 babies passed away this time for being feed with milk with no nutrious value. At that time, the government promised to make milk safe, but that never happened.

Last January 23th, BBC podcast "From Our Own Correspondent" covered this piece of news, reviewing all the events around it from the very beginning to the recent judgment. It's maybe the best analysis I listened or read about the scandal. You can find it here (it lasts just for the first quarter of the program). It's worth listen it.