. . . for my kids. . . and good friends

New media, democracy and development

Was this the first discussion of these big issues?  I'm still talking about an event almost exactly 15 years ago in Denmark, that shaped a lot of our subsequent activities. At the time I was running the EU's media development network in the Middle East and North Africa (Jemstone).

Although many participants argued that the priorities for the poor were food or health-care or micro-finance, I'm happy to have suggested, in spring 1998, that:   "investment in information technology may be the best way to bring about development".

It would be good to have thoughts from anyone else who was present; and others. 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 10:38

I really am back now. . .

. . . from an over-long visit to the real world and a prolonged, continuing excursion to the weird world of social media. Plus, somewhat unexpectedly I've had some fascinating and time-consuming work assignments tossed in my direction.

Since I ran out of blogging energy and inspiration I've been to Jordan twice and I've been wrestling with (and privately blogging about) some non-obvious choices concerning my mother now 92 and still fiercely independent.  This is in addition to my seduction into the world of Facebook, which I'd pointedly snubbed for the first nine years of its life (and it only began in February 2004).  As you know, I blame my bedouin friend in Wadi Rum

Does all this mean that blogging is an activity for those with nothing else to do? I'm not sure but at the moment, I'm coming to believe it sits quite comfortably alongside picture-based Facebook -- look at Jordan Holiday Blog in the top right corner above and then compare and contrast with: 


Last Updated on Sunday, 31 March 2013 16:57


I'm just back from ten (non-blogging) days in Jordan during which I've reneged on one of the fundamental tenets of my modern existence. For anyone who's read my recent post "Smart phone, stupid people" it may seem a big betrayal. And I've required some high-end sophistry to explain it to myself.

Gulp; I've joined Facebook. Sorry. I tried to find an alternative, even a surrogate to do the dirty work for me, but it wasn't going to solve the problem. We've been supporting our bedouin friend Saleh in Wadi Rum for nearly four years now; quite successfully. (Have a look!)

However seducing and pontificating can take you only so far. Eventually you need to embrace the unpredicable, uncontrollable, careering world of social media.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 06:33

Health -- why weight?

I think we've had enough "stay angry" for a while; time to concentrate on staying hungry. . . or at least losing a bit of weight. And I have an incredible success story to report, in this second 'health' post.

It required three 'machines' costing less than €100 in total, took five months and produced almost 10 kgs of what seems to be sustainable weight loss. There's no diet involved but no magic either, just a slow shift of life-style. It's not me, but somebody very close to me, who had a good bmi even before this started.

I've certainly benefited as well, and we've been talking a lot about it, trying to understand what happened and why.
Last Updated on Saturday, 12 January 2013 08:52

50 blog posts, in 49 days! A personal milestone

First, I have to say thank you to Ammar and Frits -- this would not have happened without them. Second, I have to make clear it's not their fault! I take full personal responsibility for all the out-pourings, across the three blogs that I started in November.

Ammar is a film-maker, a great photographer, our partner in creating web-sites  and a good friend. He comes from Jordan but travels a lot (see his India and Nepal gallery) and I was lucky to catch him in Amman, soon after I'd met Frits, and for long enough to design and unleash the three blogs;

(see our best example, wadirumtours.com and his own site ammarfakhuri.com)

Frits is a motivator, (see my third post on this blog). I was a bit mealy-mouthed then, as it was still early days. The truth is very plain. I spent four or five years saying I was going to start blogging; I encountered Frits and a couple of weeks later I start blogging. More in the next week or two; meanwhile you'll realise this is not the kind of stuff I normally do;  

have a look at kompasta.nl  -- via Google translator if necessary.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 17:36

Jemstone 'graduates' -- where are you now?

The Arab Spring has demonstrated the power of new media. We produced a session last autumn at the IBC in Amsterdam on the ground-breaking way user-generated content has influenced events and is changing mainstream media. The role of new technology has been litterally pivotal.

We were at least part of the background noise in the Middle East. It's exactly twenty years since the European Union launched its Med Media programme, to reach out to journalists across the Mediterranean. We ran the biggest of the projects, the Jemstone Network, with over 1,500 journalists from more than 60 media organisations. We helped to open a lot of eyes.

This network still has much to teach us all. We want to re-energise it; reconnect you all.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 08:32

What holds all this together?

It occurs to me that this blog may look a bit of a rag-bag. Random would seem to sum it up. In praise of juicers; the impact of globalisation; investing on the AIM; the relevance of Dutch consensus democracy to Lebanon; what next?

I guess you have to regard it as a kind of survival guide to this crazy world, from someone who's still finding every day fun and worthwhile. I'm writing it for my kids (five and two halves of them), for my friends (some of whom I've known for over 50 years) and for anyone else who finds it . . .

So the simple answer to the question above is, me. My interests, insights and obsessions. Stuff I've picked up on the journey, which began a long time ago as an early member of the baby-boom generation.

Last Updated on Friday, 04 January 2013 06:20
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