Tendências emergentes, factos e dados reveladores da evolução dos media, cultura, economia e sociedade. Impacto social, económico e cultural da tecnologia.


sexta-feira, setembro 29, 2006

World military forces face overstretch


In United Nations operations alone, the number of military and police peacekeepers has trebled in 10 years to almost 75,000 at the end of August, with only 2,200 then in place of a Lebanon force that could grow to 15,000. The UN has also mandated a 17,000-strong force for Sudan, not yet deployed because the government has refused to allow them in.

Military analysts are talking of overstretch in the world's largest military: the US has more than 140,000 troops in Iraq at least into next year, and 20,000 in Afghanistan. But the word is now being widely used elsewhere.

Jeremy Black, a professor of history at the University of Exeter, says Britain's forces are overstretched. "There has been a mismatch between [government] aspirations and the ability to execute," he says.

Senior military officers describe the UK military as stretched by commitments that include 8,500 troops in Iraq and the Gulf, 5,600 in Afghanistan and 8,500 in Northern Ireland. The new chief of the army last month described it as "running hot" and a quarter of the 102,000-strong army was deployed on operations and other military tasks, according to a July parliamentary report.

Britain's defence ministry has admitted that it is breaching its own guidelines that call for a two-year gap between six-month overseas deployments. Illustrating the pressure that some personnel such as helicopter pilots and communications experts are under, a squadron of light dragoons that left Iraq in November will head to Afghanistan next month, a gap of only 11 months.

A similar debate is under way in France. Bruno Cuche, chief of staff of the army, said last week that his force - which has committed 1,750 troops to Lebanon - was being "pulled about", adding: "In some places, we are stretched. And we are looking to see if it is possible to reduce numbers."

France has 36,000 troops outside mainland France out of a standing army of 122,000. Some 16,500 are in French overseas territories, 5,300 on long-standing deployments, mostly in Africa, 6,600 in shorter-term bilateral deployments, including the Ivory Coast, and about 8,000 in multi-lateral engagements under banners that include Nato, the European Union and the UN.


Nato officials say European members of the alliance have made demonstrable progress since Lord Robertson, then Nato secretary-general, said in 2003: "One-point-four million in uniform, 55,000 in operations. That equals overstretched?" But most analysts agree that the ratio of tooth-to-tail - combat-capable troops to the rest - is still far too low. From a Nato perspective, too many uniforms are stuck at headquarters or defending territory unlikely to be attacked.

But Bruce Jones, co-director of the Center on International Co-operation at New York University, says the issue is not just a shortage of capable troops. More important is a lack of strategic assets, such as transport aircraft and helicopters, to get troops into theatre and to get them into the right places. "This is the single greatest problem we face," he says.

However, some recent developments, he says, may signal changes ahead. Many UN deployments have historically been financed by industrialised countries and staffed by south Asian armies: Bangladesh, Pakistan and India, which have found the funding a useful contributor to hard-pressed budgets. There has also been an unwritten rule that the permanent members of the UN Security Council do not make large troop contributions to UN missions - though they often support them.

Yet, in a remarkable shift, China has offered 1,000 troops to the Lebanon force and France 1,700. Mr Jones says the contributions from France and Italy signal the return of European forces to UN peacekeeping.

The success or otherwise of European participation could, in the medium term, have significant influence, for better or worse, on future European peacekeeping commitments, he says.

In his view, governments in the medium term will be pushed to reshape their militaries as they come to see stabilisation missions as central to their security. "What we have seen over the last four to five years is a growing recognition in the industrialised countries that peacekeeping is not the voluntary extra stuff that we do. Peacekeeping is part of a broader security response."


FT.com / World / Asia-Pacific - World military forces face overstretch

sexta-feira, setembro 22, 2006



The New York Times has appointed a Futurist-In-Residence, which sounds awfully cutting edge. But apparently it isn't.

Other organisations which have already adopted the position include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, American Demographics magazine and a bunch of US think-tanks.

But at the forefront is our own BT Group, whose futurologist Ian Pearson has been predicting the impact of technological advances on BT and its customers for years.

One of his ideas is for a super-computer that builds itself from a yoghurt-like bacterium by multiplying and replicating its DNA. There is an abundant source of more such genius for futurists-in-residence everywhere. It's at your local library, in the science fiction section.


FT.com / Home UK / UK - Behind the times

There You Go


People around the world are coming together on Friday to celebrate the world wide web.

Susan Crawford, the founder of OneWebDay, said she wanted people to reflect on how the web had changed their lives.

The day will be marked with events taking place around the world, together with online activities.

The organisers are planning to create what they hope will be the largest global online photo collaboration.

Web users are being asked to tag their pictures with OneWebDay and upload them to photo-sharing sites Webshots and Flickr, to create global photo albums.

The organisers are also encouraging people to post entries to their blogs on Friday which reflect on how the web has changed their lives.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Global web celebrations under way

La Universidad de Yale ofrecerá cursos gratis mediante vídeos 'on line'


Este proyecto piloto, de 18 meses de duración, suministrará imágenes, apuntes y transcripciones de siete cursos que comenzarán en el año académico correspondiente a 2007. Algunos de los cursos 'on line' ofrecidos son "Introducción al Antiguo Testamento", "Fundamentos de física" e "Introducción a la filosofía política".

No obstante, estos cursos impartidos a través de Internet no contarán con un título de Yale y no sustituyen a la enseñanza presencial en la propia universidad.

Se espera que los estudiantes de Yale —una de las universidades más exclusivas de EEUU— gasten cerca de 46.000 dólares por la matrícula, alojamiento y comida este año.


La Universidad de Yale ofrecerá cursos gratis mediante vídeos 'on line' | elmundo.es

segunda-feira, setembro 18, 2006

FT.com / World / UK - User-generated content is king in 2006

FT.com / World / UK - User-generated content is king in 2006: "Fastest growing online brands in UK - 2006

1. YouTube

2. Flickr

3. MySpace

4. American Express

5. Photobucket

6. Mozilla

7. Vodafone

8. Bebo

9. Odeon

10. B&Q


1. Piczo

2. American Greetings

3. Shopzila

4. Starware

5. Limewire

6. Odc

7. Wikipedia

8. Skype

9. Nickelodeon

10. Blogger

Source: Nielsen//NetRatings"

domingo, setembro 10, 2006

Cartoons row hits Danish exports


Publication of the cartoons in a Danish newspaper in September 2005 sparked mass protests among Muslims worldwide.

In January, Muslims in a number of countries were urged to show their anger with unofficial boycotts of Danish goods.

Incomplete picture

National statistics show that exports to Denmark's main market in the Muslim world, Saudi Arabia, fell by 40% following the boycott, while those to Iran - its third largest market - fell by 47%.

Exports to Libya, Syria, Sudan and Yemen also suffered big falls.

The cost to Danish businesses was around 134 million euros ($170m), when compared with the same period last year, the statistics showed.

Food companies, particularly those selling dairy products, were among the worst affected.

"There is little doubt that this is a result of the caricatures crisis," Peter Thagesen, head consultant of Denmark's industry federation, Dansk Industri, was quoted by the Ritzau news agency as saying.

"This is serious for the affected businesses," he added.

Dansk Industri said it would still be some time before a complete picture emerged of how much the boycott had cost the country.


BBC NEWS | Europe | Cartoons row hits Danish exports



Through MySpace, personal blogs, YouTube and the like, this generation has seemed to view the notion of personal privacy as a quaint anachronism. Details that those of less enlightened generations might have viewed as embarrassing — who you slept with last night, how many drinks you had before getting sick in your friend’s car, the petty reason you had dropped a friend or been fired from a job — are instead signature elements of one’s personal brand. To reveal, it has seemed, is to be.

But alas, it turns out that even among the MySpace generation, there is such a thing as too much information.

That threshold was reached, unexpectedly, earlier this week when the social networking site Facebook unveiled what was to be its killer app. In the past, to keep up with the doings of friends, Facebook members had to make some sort of effort — by visiting the friend’s Web page from time to time, or actually sending an e-mail or instant message to ask how things were going.

Facebook’s new feature, a news “feed,” does that heavy lifting for you. The program monitors the activity on its members’ pages — a change in one’s relationship status, the addition of a new person to one’s friends list, the listing of a new favorite song or interest — and sends that information to everyone in your circle in a constantly updating news ticker. Imagine a device that monitors the social marketplace the way a blinking Bloomberg terminal tracks incremental changes in the bond market and you’ll get the idea.

But within hours of the new feature’s debut, thousands of Facebook members had organized behind a desperate, angry plea: Make it stop.


When Information Becomes T.M.I. - New York Times

sexta-feira, setembro 08, 2006

Cheap labour

The US is a classic liberal market economy where almost 37 per cent of the labour force can be categorised as "cheap labour". But the social market economies of western Europe are not that different. Indeed in Germany the number (43 per cent) is higher than in the US, and even Sweden records almost 34 per cent for aggregate cheap labour. Clearly, Europe's social market economies have as much need of cheap labour as the liberal market economies.

Unfortunately, data on legal and illegal immigrants are non-existent or unreliable. Our expectation is that including reliable measures in our analysis for immigrant workers would only increase the percentage of cheap labour in EU countries, thereby reinforcing their similarity with the US.

So why does it matter if a high level of cheap labour comes from non-standard employment in Europe? It matters because the rise of new outsiders challenges political parties across the ideological spectrum, in three related ways. First, parties of the left might traditionally have sought cheap labour's votes but worry about alienating their core supporters who feel economically vulnerable. Second, parties of the right have been tempted by the rise of cheap labour to cater to populist anxieties about legal and illegal immigration.

Last, and more important, cheap labour workers, condemned to milling around in this ideological vacuum, may feel increasingly marginalised from the normal routes of political assimilation and integration. The structure of the labour market may turn those in the non-standard categories away from democracy by eroding its legitimacy as a system associated with economic protection and political inclusion.

These divisions will soon be tested politically, for instance, in the forthcoming Swedish general election and next year's French presidential election. The political dilemma facing parties of all persuasions involves the choice of model to promote. In many ways, the existing options have proven unsuccessful. The liberal model fails because cheap labour is integrated into standard employment but remains unprotected, and the social model fails because, so far, it has promoted the difference between insiders and outsiders and equated cheap labour with second-class citizenship. Resolving the dilemma posed by cheap labour is the challenge facing governments of all industrialised democracies.


FT.com / Home UK / UK - Cheap labour is creating an outsider class in Europe

domingo, setembro 03, 2006

the emergence of the empowered fan represented “the slow death of programmed content


The customizable online radio networks of the current crop are still far too small to be direct competitors, but Mr. Owens acknowledges that they “have the potential to change the game to some degree.” As for listeners, he said, “If you don’t continually challenge them in some way, and provide some degree of unexpectedness, inevitably it’s going to lead to an erosion.”

IN the next phase of the battle over who determines what’s hot, combat is about to cross from the desktop to the street.

New generations of wireless Internet-connected devices will vault the Web’s customized radio services into places where broadcast radio is still dominant: in cars for example. “All of a sudden the competition for your ear there changes dramatically,” Mr. Westergren said. “The FM station then has to compete with a personalized service that you’ve crafted for yourself. That’s a watershed moment.”


The New Tastemakers - New York Times

Getting Skype Off the PC

Use Skype? Millions of people do, but they typically need to have a personal computer up and running to take advantage of the phone service that can be free or low-cost. That's about to change.
On Aug. 31, electronics giant Philips (PHG) is introducing a phone for Skype that doesn't require users to have a PC at all. Plug the Philips VOIP841 into a broadband connection and traditional landline, and you can make calls using Skype—as well as a regular landline—with a single device. The model, expected to become available in late 2006, is the first Skype cordless phone that doesn't require support from a booted-up home PC.

Getting Skype Off the PC