miércoles, 20 de septiembre de 2017

"The rise and fall of American growth" - Robert Gordon

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil WarThe Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War by Robert J. Gordon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We live under the impression that never before growth of the economy and the standard of living have been so high, and we are wrong. As a matter of fact, we are in a declining phase. This is one of the central lessons of Robert Gordon´s book, which is focused in the US case but could be applicable also to the majority of the western nations. We are still leaving under the spell of what has happened between 1870-1970, the phenomenal change from a live without electricity, gas, water and communication networks to our fully connected society.

However, the second lesson of the book is the excepcionality of the century between 1870 and 1970. Growth may has declined since 1970, but has virtually no exist before 1870. The rise of growth has happened due to the great inventions of the first and second industrial revolutions, the steam machine and electricity, that has bring us the full set of facilities we enjoy in our dailiy routine and we would not be able to put aside: cars, washing machines, fridges, cheap clothing, ....

Finally, there is a warning for us. Although it looks us the other way around, ICT has not bring us as much growth us we think, except for a brief period between 1996 and 2004. Since them, after the main novelties were integrated in home and offices (PCs, Internet, substitution of the papers by bits, ...) growth has decline both in productivity and standard of living. The fall of innovation rythm has been a cause, but also the rising inequality, the demographics changes, the imbalances in the access to the different level of education, the downsides of globalisation and the failure of enviromental policies. The author undelines that unless we change these trends, growth will not return.

But the book is something more than just another book of an economy expert packed with graphics and figures that support his ideas. The book is also in great part a picture of how life was in the different periods it covers. The description of rural life by the end of the XIX century, the evolution of the urban areas, the changes in the entretaintement industry, the vanishing of horses as the main companion of human life, the blurring of distances brought by trains, planes and telecommunications, ... This is also the book if you want to get information for writing any social or non fiction paper which is set in any period after 1870.

In spite of its length, you will enjoy the book. It is going to consume may hours of your life its reading, but you will not repent. Final tip: if you are short of time, read at least the pages of conclusions of each chapter.

View all my reviews

miércoles, 13 de septiembre de 2017

The rising importance of free flow of data (II): How to

So data is important for growth and employment, and it is also important to promote the free flow of data in order  enable the sharing and aggregation of data  needed for the new services and products. Data and its free flow would also help for increasing the social well being through a new generation of health services and the digitalisation of government services. Therefore, it is needed to deploy the mesaures to tear down the barriers that stop the circulation of data between jurisdictions.

The European Commission is focusing on the supression of the restrictions on data localisation across the Union. The general idea is that there are unjustified legal restrictions on where the data could be stored and that these restrictions are different in each different Member State, so there is a need of a legal instrument to harmonized these restrictions. It is difficult to oppose these rationale. However, exceptions on the free flow of some kind of data is needed to be introduced. For instance, for national security reasons or maybe even taxation information.

But in spite of what many people looks to think, the elimination to localisation restrictions should be accompanied by other measures. Because the most important thing are enabling trust among the parties who intervene in the data economy and facilitate equal opportunities for all to jump on the data economy wagon. For enabling trust, on one hand, there is a need of cibersecurity standards on data storage and, in the other hand, a legal framework that defines who has the right to use, share and reuse data and under which conditions.

But we also need to establish a level playing field with the above mentioned conditions. It should be prevented that data could be used as a tool for unfair competition. We can oblige all to share data but there should be transparency on the conditions each one establishes and these conditions should be universally applied without discriminations. Also some kind of data should perhaps be universally made availaible, for instance, those generated around public and general interest services.

So, although supressing the restrictions for data localisation is important, it is difficult to imagine that data economy could flourish without accepted security standards for its storage and clear and fair conditions on the access, use and reuse of data. Free flow of data would never happened without all these things puting on the table at the same time.

miércoles, 6 de septiembre de 2017

The rising importance of free flow of data (I): Why

Enabling Free Flow of Data (FFD) in the European Union has jumped from a marginal note to a first rank priority on the European Digital Agenda. In order to appreciate this change, it is enough to compare the space dedicated to the issue in the policy documents published by the European Commission. While in the communication "A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe" the issue was described in few more than a paragraph; in the recently published "Mid-Term Review on the implementation of the Digital Single Market Strategy A Connected Digital Single Market for All" the item was described with greatest detail accross several pages.

Why the issue of free flow of data is so important? A few figures taken from recent studies are enough to provide the big picture. On one hand, the McKinsey Global Institute has estimated a growth of 45 fold of data flows which have boosted the world GDP by 10% since 2005. On the other hand,  according with a study on the European Data Market it is expected that the value of the data economy in the EU will be around €739 billion, 4% of the GDP.

Besides the economic figures, there are also political reasons. Enabling FFD is required to updating the European project. The basis of the European Union are the so called four freedoms: the freedom of movement of services, products, capital and people.  In an increasing digitalised world, the above freedoms heaviliy depend on the free movement of data. FFD has become the 5th freedom to guarantee for an ever closer Union. 

And it spite of its importance on the digital era, only 87% of the European companies shared data with other companies. This is what can be called an economic blindness. The value of data growth with its aggregation and processing, following a recursive pattern. Therefore, promoting the sharing of data is critical to reap the full of the data economy and the distrubution of its benefits among the whole society. Namely, the dat economy enable more innovation, new business models and accessing to new markets, and better welfare services based on policy evidences.

So far is what we can obtain from the data economy and the free flow of data. What we can do for the creation of the right environment for a thriving data economy will be the focus of the next post


domingo, 20 de agosto de 2017

Políticas trans. Una antología de textos de"Políticas trans. Una antología de textos desde los estudios trans norteamericanos" - Pol Galofre

Políticas trans. Una antología de textos desde los estudios trans norteamericanosPolíticas trans. Una antología de textos desde los estudios trans norteamericanos by Pol Galofre
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Un libro necesario, aunque cuyo título puede resultar equívoco. No esperen encontrar en el mismo un análisis de necesidades de los colectivos trans* y políticas públicas para su resolución. Si es un compendio de análisis de las identidades trans* desde distintas ópticas políticas, y, sobre todo, debate de modo recurrente la compatiblidad de las reivindicaciones feministas con el reconocimiento de las identidades trans*. Diversos autores aportan también perspectivas históricas de las identidades trans* y la relación del fenómeno con el mundo de la asistencia sanitaria.

La compatibilidad del reconocimiento de las identidades trans* con el feminismo, contrariamente a lo mantenido por otras autoras, figura como elemento central o auxiliar en varios artículos. Muestran el equívoco de considerar las identidades trans* como una ocupación machista del feminismo, rebatiendo el argumento de no considerar a las mujeres feministas trans* como un artificio. En un paso más allá, son varios los autores que consideran el activismo trans* como una palanca final para acabar con las discriminaciones de género de todo tipo, buscando en algunos casos incluso una ruptura del binarismo hombre-mujer.

Es interesante también el debate histórico de las identidades trans*. Dejando a un lado la óptica de análisis marxista de Feinberg que lo situa en el contexto de la lucha de clases, es relevante la negación de las identidades trans* como resultado de la evolución de la tecnología médica, al englobar no sólo transexualismo sino también transgenerismo. La presencia de la disconformidad con los roles de género y la variedad de expresiones de género no sólo en otras culturas, sino incluso en la cultura occidental, son las muestras de un colectivo que ha existido desde la noche de los tiempos.

Otro aspecto que es estudiado es la visibilización frente al ocultamiento. En general, aunque es comprendido como una actitud de búsqueda de la aceptación, se realiza una crítica de la no visibilización posterior a la transición. En cierto modo, tratar de pasar como mujer u hombre en la esfera pública una vez realizada la transición, es visto como una ruptura de los principios del transgenerismo, ya que supone asumir un binarismo y una denegación de la historia propia y la existencia de cuerpos diferentes dentro de un mismo género.

Por su óptica excepcional dentro del libro, probablemente también por mi condición de hombre, me ha capturado el texto de Patrick Califa que debate el concepto de "hombría". Subrayar cómo considera en parte fracasada su búsqueda de conceptualizaciones diferentes para hombre y mujer. Las cualidades por las que ambos géneros (y los otros géneros) debían ser juzgados deberían ser los mismos. El autor confiesa en un momento dado cómo al final de la transición espera encontrar la misma persona.

Un libro para teorizar sobre las identidades trans*, pero también para analizar la relación que uno mismo tiene con el género en su más amplio sentido

View all my reviews

miércoles, 16 de agosto de 2017

"Trans*exualidades. Acompañamiento, factores de salud y recursos educativos Trans*exualidades. Acompañamiento, factores de salud y recursos educativos" - @platerin

Trans*exualidades. Acompañamiento, factores de salud y recursos educativosTrans*exualidades. Acompañamiento, factores de salud y recursos educativos by Raquel (Lucas) Platero
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Un libro enciclopédico sobre las identidades trans*, introduciendo un concepto que va más allá de la visión tradicional de la transexualidad como el paso de un sexo a otro a fin de adecuar en ser con el sentir. Las identidades trans* se presentan como construcciones sobre la disconformidad con el concepto de género y su relación biyectiva con las características biológicas del binarismo sexual. Sobre esta definición, se presenta la vivencia en primera persona de las personas que se identifican como trans* y quienes más directamente les rodean, sus familas.

Lucas construye un libro que resulta una guía de viaje al interior de los conceptos de sexo, identidad de género, expresión de género e identidad sexual. Es una hoja de ruta para la reflexión sobre cuatro conceptos que la normatividad nos presenta como un bloque, binarios y con blancos y negros acompasados. Sin embargo, las páginas del libro nos muestra las evidencias de las disonancias entre ellos y los grises en cada uno de ellos. También introduce la necesidad de acercarse a las identidades trans* desde una perspectiva no patologizadora, más relacionada con la conciencia personal que cada uno tiene de si mismo.

Más allá de la presentación de conceptos, Lucas presenta los retos a los que se enfrentan las personas autoidentificdas como trans* en distintos ámbitos. La vivencia infantil de la creatividad de género en los entornos educativos, su prolongación hacia el entorno afectivo y social y la integración laboral son tratados de modo profuso, permitiendo escuchar sobre la realidad a quién quiera escuchar. La transfobia como lacra social y ramificación de la intolerancia hacia la diversidad es el corolario de la aproximación del autor.

El libro quizás peca por exceso con su segunda parte, de interés tan sólo para quien tenga una aproximación a las identidades trans* con objetivo netamente formativo y de intervención social. No deja de ser material de interés, especialmente su glosario, pero quizás serían útil una edición menor sin las páginas amarillas de cuaderno de ejercicios.

Un libro imprescindible en tu biblioteca sobre asuntos sociales. Para leer tanto si las identidades trans* te son cercanas en primera personas o en tu entorno familiar o si te aproximas a ellas para entender más la realidad humana.

View all my reviews

miércoles, 26 de julio de 2017

Google case

The biggest fine in competition ruling history. That's the notice that Google received a couple of weeks ago. 2,4 € bn for having given its price-comparison shopping service preferential treatment in its search results over rival offerings. But there are doubts about the solidness of the rationale of the fine.

The Commission said that the company systematically manipulated its results page to promote its own Google Shopping service and push smaller rivals down its search rankings. Even it provided some figures of the outcome of Google´s strategy, It is said that "since the beginning of each abuse, Google’s comparison shopping service has increased its traffic 45-fold in the United Kingdom, 35-fold in Germany, 19-fold in France, 29-fold in the Netherlands, 17-fold in Spain and 14-fold in Italy,” 

Some eyebrows have been raised after the fine has been imposed. There is a misunderstanding how Google could be fined for e-commerce activities without a dominant position in the electronic shopping sector. But this is a misunderstanding of the Google Shopping business. Google Shopping is nothing more (and nothing less) that an kind of advertisement service, the so called Product Listing Adds. So the fine is for taking advantage of its position in the web ads market and taking the information obtained from other services (search, mail, ...) to create and advertisament formula that its rivals can not match.

But also this argument has a flaw. As the economist said, the EC has failed to prove that there is a correlation between its behaviour and the poor performance of competing comparison-shopping services after 2008. It is difficult to estabish if Google Shopping has beat its commpetitor for its own merit or due to the tight integration of Google Shoping with the rest of Google´s service. 

So apart from establishing clearly that Google has a dominant position in the search market and this may help its dominance in other markets, few new things has came with the sentence. It is no surprise that in order to discover new facts for future investigations the EC has opened a call for monitoring Google´s algorithm.

miércoles, 12 de julio de 2017

EU Gigabit Society: Upgrading policy tools

Last september, the European Commission proposed a full renewal of the Union connectivity goals. Under the umbrella of the Gigabit Society the new targets included that all European households, rural or urban, should have access to connectivity offering a download speed of at least 100 Mbps by 2025. This means a significant upgrade regarding the target set in the Digital Agenda for Europe, which established that by 2020 internet speeds of 30 Mbps or above should be availaible for all European citizens.

For the purpose of achieving the connectivity goals of the Gigabit Society, the European Commission started the review of the European telecommunications legal framework. The proposed European Electronic Communications Code is supposed to include the adequate legal measures to boost the investments needed for this objective. But beyond the legal framework, other policy instrument should be deployed.

To begin with, the European Commission estimates  that €500 billion investment over the coming decade is needed in order to achieve ultra high speed broadband connectivity. This means that some kind of public intervention will be needed. Using again the European Commission figures, the needed public investment is likely to be a €155 billion.However, the EU Guidelines for the application of state aid rules in relation to the rapid deployment of broadband networks are still waiting a renewal. 30 Mbs is still the speed reference for the definition of which areas state could intervene without distorting compentence.

But there are other policy instruments where the connectivity speed goal taken as a reference should be renewed. It is also obvious that we need to renew the indicators used to follow the European progress on digitalisation. Nenvertheless, the connectivity dimension of the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) still does not include the measurement of the availaibility and usage of 100 mbs connection.

So for achieving the Gigabit Society not only setting targets and creating a new legal is needed. Other policy instruments should be in place, and right now it looks that the European Union are still not thinking on it.
palyginti kainas