Category Archives: Publishing

Oops: there goes the blog in 2012

I knew I was neglecting my blog in 2012, but I did not realize just how much until I received WordPress’ year in review for 2012 (Feel free to take a peek at it). The line that stopped me dead was “In 2012, there was 1 new post”. Sure enough – one post it was.

Well, this blog might be comatose, but I am not dead. In fact, quite the opposite, so busy that there is very little time for crafting articles.

Continue reading Oops: there goes the blog in 2012

Is the Internet good, bad or bits of everything? – Weinberger/Keen debates

Two books, two views – no agreement, but certainly a lot of sparks. Is the Internet full of junk and by killing off the conventional media we are loosing all our good information sources? That is a point of view of Andrew Keen, author of the book Cult of the Amateur. On the other hand Weinberger, with his own book Everything is Miscellaneous, agrees that there is a lot of bad stuff on the Internet, but argues that there is a lot of good stuff too. More importantly, new mechanisms are being developed that would allow us to find good stuff faster and ignore bad stuff easier. In fact the Internet may make good stuff easier to find than currently possible outside of the internet.

Both authors have argued their points separately and against other people. But now they have squared-off against each other and the sparks are flying. The full text of one of such debates has been published by the Wall Street Journal. Earlier, they also argued at the Supernova conference and the video recording of that debate has been published.

For myself, Weinberger’s argument makes much more sense. I don’t really care about sports, popular music or so called ‘Entertainment’ industry, so most of the content produced by the off-Internet media is of no value to me and often is actually annoying. On the other hand, Internet allows me to track and participate more fully in topics that are actually of interest to me, my work and my research.

Still, even with my alliances so clear, it was fascinating and educational to read and watch both debates. They certainly make you think.

(Update: August 17)

David Weinberger has written a great and  very well thought out follow-up article on the issue. I agree with it completely and just wish I could argue the topics as well as he does.

Is it a crime to learn a foreign language?

These days, learning a foreign language is considered a useful thing. The advantages are many: from travelling to foreign countries to getting a preferential treatment in the ethnic restaurants of your own to keeping the dementia away.

This was not always a case though, at least for China. Until 1844, it was illegal for a foreigner to learn Chinese. That changed for America, when Caleb Cushing had negotiated the Treaty of Wanghia, which made it possible for Americans – and Americans only – to learn Chenese. Later, the privilege was extended to Britain and other countries.

This whole story comes up, because China has a new project of translating Chinese classics into modern Chinese, English and – potentially – other languages. This Library of Chinese Classics spans 5000 years of Chinese culture and includes all the famous works.

It should be useful for language learning as well as for general reading pleasure, as it will come with original and English text on the facing pages.

It would also be very interesting to find out what other languages are planned and in what order. Russian used to be a language that many official documents got translated to early on. Would Russian be even on a list now? Would Esperanto, still one of the transmission languages of the China Radio International?