My last name maybe Varsavsky but I live in Spain, a country of Fernandez, Perez, Dominguez, Martin (yes my name is much common as my last name here), in short a country in which probably 50% of the population shares 10 last names. And Spain is not alone in this. China and Korea for example are notorious for having very few last names that millions share. Why is this a problem? The obvious answer is the internet. On Facebook alone see what happens if you try to find a certain Carlos Garcia, or a Juan Fernandez, and the same is true in Google searches. Now being this the case isn´t it time that governments make it easy for people to change their last names? Will we see any Juan Fernandezz popping up soon? I don´t know but I am happy to be the only Martin Varsavsky in the world. I would be uncomfortable if there were thousands of people with my name.
The City of Geneva and FON have officially announced a joint project to provide WiFi access to the city’s residents and visitors. Starting next week, 500 La Fonera WiFi Routers will be distributed to residents who have a broadband connection.
Residents who want to become Foneros and share some of their broadband with the rest of the FON Community will gain free and unlimited access to more than 250,000 FON Spots around the world. Once the 500 La Foneras have been installed, Geneva’s residents and all of your Foneros visiting the city will enjoy WiFi coverage.
This project is part of FON’s strategy to provide WiFi coverage in major cities worldwide, such as Tokyo, San Francisco and Munich. This initiative together with ChuecaWiFi in Madrid and FON’s partnerships with BT in the UK and Neuf Cegetel in France, give Foneros even more FON Spots around the world to connect to and give non Foneros more reasons to join the FON Community.
And here´s some more news. If you live in Geneva and you face a busy street please send me a picture of your view to firstname.lastname@example.org and your address and I will send you a free fonera and fontenna. I have spent a significant amount of time in Geneva and I love the city.
I was just reading in La Nación an interview with Cristina Krichner, the newly elected Argentine president, and when asked which country she’d like Argentina to emulate, she answered Germany. This is both a good and a bad answer.
What’s good is that she didn’t say that Argentina should be like Venezuela where a neo-militarist uses the country’s wealth to empower himself in the region while his people live in poverty (the average Venezuelan has half the income of the average Argentine). But the bad part of her answer is that it reflects a grave misunderstanding of international politics. After having been in Germany more than 50 times and having built companies there with mixed results, I can simply say one thing about Germany: Germany is successful in its own way, but Germany is so incredibly different from Argentina and Germans are so very different from Argentines that it would be almost impossible to even begin comparing the two.
Cristina Kirchner would have shown a greater sense of understanding having said that Argentina should follow Spain’s model, an objective that could perhaps be met after a 20 year investment in civic education. Plus, being like Spain with all of Argentina’s natural resources wouldn’t be a bad thing at all. Presently, the problem with trying to copy Spain’s model is that Spain, as we know it, may cease to exist in 20 years. The paradox is that Argentina is a country that went from being rich to poor and yet Argentines are all proud of being Argentine. On the other hand, Spain has lived the undeniable success of transforming itself from a third to a first world nation, and yet many Spanish people dream of being citizens of a separate nation.
In June when I visited Facebook and concluded that Facebook was going to be worth over $10bn many friends told me I was crazy. The funny thing is that when I told this to Owen, Chris Kelly and other Facebook top managers they also laughed and told me I was out of it. I guess after the Microsoft $240M investment I wasn´t so out of it. And I am not surprised that it was Microsoft who paid that “crazy” amount of money as my friends at Google have seen the social network fashions come and go and would have not paid that valuation. Having said this Facebook plus $240M = serious damage.
I just came back from San Francisco. The Fon office in San Francisco is near Union Square one of the most commercial parts of San Fran but also an area that is populated by a lot of homeless people. Tonight, at dinner table in Madrid I was telling my 3 older children about this tragedy and how difficult it was for me to understand why USA, the richest country in the world, had such an enormous amount of homeless people. My kids themselves remembered being shocked about this phenomenon in their latest visit to NYC. During dinner we all tried to figure out why large US cities had such vast homeless populations. We could only come up with two answers, one is that while Spain has an average income that is half of that of USA this income is much more evenly distributed and few people fall through the cracks. But the second one that we felt it was more important was family ties. It is very unlikely that a Spaniard would let a relative be homeless. Even Spain´s junkies, and there are many of those, mostly live with their families.
This article would be especially funny, if it weren´t so likely to be true.
Dell has recently come up with a commercial that includes the catch phrase “In the Real World Goliath wins”, a pretty convincing argument to buy their servers. But some conservatives are pretty unhappy with this ad because it seems to imply that if this is true then the Bible is not the real world. Personally I find it hard to believe that somebody would think that the Bible is the real world, as real say as running into a friend going down the street. But it seems that a lot of people seem to believe that the characters of the Bible are as real as you and me and therefore the Bible is the real world. I hope even those still judge servers by their quality and price and not their Biblical connotations.
Are we all into vanity searching? I am. I want to know what people are saying about me. But googling myself just does not do it. The problem with googling myself is that I get over half a million results and the top 50 rarely change. So no matter how absurdly vain I am I just don´t have the time to look at how my personality evolves in Google over time. And I have not found alerts of the kind as “a certain result has made it into the top 25 in your search”. I also have a Google alert on Varsavsky (there are of course other extremely accomplished Varsavskys but we are all the same family and when they show up I also like to hear about them) but one of the annoying things that happens with google alerts is that I tend to get alerts notifications that are either very late or repeat alearts of articles that have been written ages ago. The Technorati alerts work better but they only alert you on what the blogosphere is saying about you, which is fine but not enough. And then there´s google news, which tells you when news articles appear on you. And that works pretty well but it´s only news. So in the quest for the perfect vanity tool I came up with UnfoldingNews, the vanity search engine….at least for me. What I did with unfolding news is ask my developers to help me with a search engine that draws from different sources but tells you about all the very recent stories that blogs and news sources have about you. I launched it a week ago and in my Spanish blog which tends to get many more comments than my English blog we got many sugestions to improve it. And we did. Now if you share this desire to follow how the news on you unfold or the news on anyone you like or care about, I recommend you try it out.