Davos Newbies Home

2.6% capacity

Today’s Wall Street Journal has an astounding statistic (unfortunately only available to subscribers). 39 million miles of fiber-optic cables have been laid in the US, at a cost of approximately $90 billion. According to Merrill Lynch, this amazing skein of cables typically runs at 2.6% capacity.


The hijacking of the anti-globalisation movement by anarchists just out for bashing the police was amply demonstrated in the usually calm streets of Gothenburg this weekend. The violence attending the European Union summit in Sweden’s second city really makes no sense.

The dominant mood of the EU leaders is towards extending the social contract between workers and managers. Peter Norman in the Financial Times quotes one EU official as saying, “It’s not as if the EU is pursuing a neo-liberalist capitalist agenda.” On another hot button issue, the environment, the EU in Gothenburg made a further commitment to sustainable development, thumbing its collective nose at the entrenched old energy position of the US administration.


Despite the protests, the EU summit made an unequivocal statement in favour of enlargement of the union, calling the process “irreversible”. One of the sources of discontent with the EU, it has always seemed to me, is the preoccupation its institutions have with matters to which most people are either indifferent or actually hostile.

I’m generally pro-euro, for example, but for most people the currency was not a key issue. The energy spent on monetary integration would have been far better devoted to enlargement, democratisation and (my bugbear) massive reform of the outrageous system of wholly uneconomic subsidies to agriculture (which close off one of the few industries in which developing countries should be globally competitive).

So I feel like issuing a real cheer for the results of the Gothenburg summit, which should help make enlargement a reality.

Let’s play

I only know Doc Searls through his weblog and other writing, but much of what he writes resonates strongly for me. I particularly liked his story about his son Jeffrey.

In a similar vein, I was interested to see the latest comments from an old friend, Mitch Resnick: in Toy Story, he says, it’s the evil Sid who is creative, not the neat Andy. The work Mitch has done at MIT’s Media Lab led to Lego MindStorms. He’s long been an advocate for play that requires creativity and thought. As he said in Davos this year, “Would you rather have your child learn to play the stereo, or learn to play the piano?”

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