Davos Newbies Home

Not easy 

Richard Gayle gets better and better at describing the challenges of biology to laypeople like me. “Mice with exactly the same genetic makeup respond in wildly different fashions to exactly the same amount of drugs, even when kept in environments as similar as possible. If we can not get identical mice, housed under identical conditions to react to a drug identically, how will we be able to arrive at a world of truly personalized medicine? Greater minds than mine will have to figure this out.”

Change of perspective  

Giles Foden discusses asymmetric morality with regard to Africa. “How to fix Africa? This is the weightiest moral problem of the world. Weapons of mass destruction (phantom or otherwise), Bin Laden, Palestine, all these are feather-burdens by comparison. Thus the rage felt by many about claims to virtue made by western governments concerning Iraq and the “war on terror”. The problem is not asymmetric warfare, it’s asymmetric morality.”

One of the important points Foden makes is how, whatever we may think, we are inextricably tied to Africa. “For ecological, political and social reasons, we are in coalition with Africa whether we like it or not,” he writes. In my World Economic Forum days, we were determined to get Africa on the agenda for Davos. But for all our efforts, it proved incredibly difficult to attract the non-South African CEOs to participate. More of them should read Foden.


According to Newsday, there could be two Supreme Court retirements in the near future. I’m hoping to see the end of the Bush administration and its extraordinary incompetence in 2004. I can sometimes convince myself that even 2008 isn’t that far away. But adding two Bush appointees to the Supreme Court means the frightening attitudes of this administration will persist for years and years to come.

They’ve seen the future 

More and more interesting information is coming out about South Korea, the country with the world’s highest penetration of broadband networks.

Dan Gillmor writes about Ohmynews: “OhmyNews is transforming the 20th century’s journalism-as-lecture model, where organizations tell the audience what the news is and the audience either buys it or doesn’t, into something vastly more bottom-up, interactive and democratic.” I’d already noted the reports that the Internet — and Ohmynews in particular — had been a significant influence in the Korean presidential elections. There’s clearly a lot more to come.

And games developer Greg Costikyan has some astounding data on massively multiplayer games in Korea. According to Costikyan, total annualised dollar gross of Korean MMGs is probably larger than the US market. And he notes, “One Korean game, Legend of Mir III, claims 700,000 simultaneously online users in China. (It’s rare for [EverQuest] to have more than 100,000 online simultaneously).”

Now with pictures 

Bloggus Caesari now has pictures. Great stuff.

Opening up 

Doc Searls provides the definitive argument for opening up newspaper archives to the freely accessible Internet. The conclusion: “In the age of the Web, the practice of charging for access to digital archives is a colossal anachronism. It’s time for The New York Times and the other papers to step forward, join the real world and correct the problem. Expose the archives. Give them permanent URLs. Let in the bots. Let their writers, and their reputations, accept the credit they are constantly given and truly deserve.”

I’d go further and advocate opening up the papers who are hiding behind subscription firewalls, like The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times. See, for example, Brad DeLong’s lament that he doesn’t read Martin Wolf enough now that his column is hiding behind the (badly designed) firewall. If it makes commercial sense for them to require subscription, allow open access after one day. Then the commercially valuable information (timeliness is all) can be protected, but the wider reputational ripples can also reverberate.

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