Blogging and Thinking about the Big Issues
On Thursday, the Managing Globalization blog celebrates its first anniversary. Its started small but has grown into one of iht.com’s most-visited destinations, thanks in part to prominent quests like Jeffrey Sachs, Mary Robinson and Pascal Lamy. And looking back at some of last year’s posts and comments, there are plenty of portents for the future.
Most of the issues I dealt with a year ago still very current. To wit, If you’ve been waiting for an agreement in the World Trade Organization’s latest round of trade liberalization talks, delivery of an Airbus A380 Super jumbo, $40 barrels of oil or the free float of the Chinese Yuan on international currency markets, then you’re still waiting.
In the blog’s very first week, I wrote about the globalization of carmaking, Venezuela’s oil politics and U.S. economic negotiations with China. Next week’s posts could touch one the same topics without seeming out of date.
Yet much also changed during the blog’s first year. The importance-or at least the lip service-given to environmental concerns by companies and governments intensified so much that iht.com began a new blog on the business of green. The European Union started a comprehensive climate-change strategy, and now it is pushing developing countries to cut emissions as well.
In parallel with high oil prices and the emphasis on conservation, several countries tightened their grip on energy resources. Russia used every trick in the book to grab back the oil and gas concessions sold off after the Iron Curtain fell, and Venezuela and Bolivia nationalized their energy projects.
In finance, the booming private equity industry flexed its muscles with high-profile acquisitions like Chrysler, and then China flexed its muscles by buying part of Blackstone Group, the private equity firm. And just this month, the German government took the first steps in a major economy toward the regulation of hedge funds.
Through it all, readers shared their insights, feelings and even expertise. At times, the discussions were animated. Garry Henscheid, who is an American living in Japan, and David Hillary, who left his narrative New Zealand for China, clashed on topics from tax policy to constitutional law. Daug McVitie, an aerospace consultant, hgave a lesson on aircraft manufacturing; Michael Smitka, an economic professor, explained DaimlerChrysler’s mistake; and Ioannis Michaletos, a strategic analyst and former naval officer, answered a post on China’s growing tanker fleet with a master class on business cycles in the shipping industry.
While commenters butted heads and shared their knowledge, was anyone in high place reading?
Apparently so, as an Stephen Adams, a spokesman for Peter Mandelson, the European Union’s commissioners for trade, took issues with the headline “Mandelson: Repent, repent!” He had read it as “Mandelson, repent, repent!” After a short offline discussion of punctuation, Adams contributed a substantive response to the blog.
The blog’s wide readerships came through in the comments, too. I’ll never call Vietnam China’s little brother again, even in jest, after Phan Ho The Nam wrote in about his country’s “distinct character”.
When an editor suggested finding out why so few women left comments by taking the subject on in a post, female “lurkers” immediately made their presence know with varying degrees of indignation. “why indeed are we, as women, only within the widely under-represented?” wrote Laure Kellens, from France. “Is it perhaps because we are to busy managing our profesional lives while also tending to the needs of our children and families, and therefore have little times to leisurely peruse-and even less to comment on-the blog?”
Discussion of China drew in expatriates and locals alike, especially for a question –and-answer session with Zhang Rongde, a Migran worker who discusses his live in my new book. When the blog played host to professors Sachs, Jagdish Bhagwati and Joseph Stiglitz from Columbia University, readers from Africa, South America, Asia, Europe and the United States all asked how their countries could improve their citizens’ livelihoods.
Looking forward, our readers have also hinted at some predictions for our globalizing world. They see China exerting more muscle aboard by monopolizing supply chains, cornering energy sources and gaining influence over politicians. They see cross-border mergers posing an ever-large challenge to nationalist priorities. And they see the most success in poverty reduction coming from locally tailored, entrepreneurial solutions.
All of their insights can be helpful as we try to manage the on going process of globalizations. As we think about the big issues, we see more of how to plan our own economic future: how much we’ll spend on the product we use, what new skills we’ll need, what careers our children might choose.
So in closing, I offer my thanks to all the blog’s commenters, on behalf of everyone who has learned from them-my self included.
Title (article) : Blogging and Thinking about the Big Issues
Managing Globalization : Daniel Altman
- E-mail: email@example.com
Read Daniel Altman’s past columns and join the discussion on the managing globalization blog.
From : International Herald Tribune, Wednesday, May 30, 2007 (page 12)
Internet address: www.iht.com