Great stuff: Digi-library of European heritage

A few hours after the launch of the European hereritage digi-library a few weeks ago its server crashed: more than 13 million Europeans per hour wanted to have a look at iconic images from European history. It came back online mid-December. is a collaboration between universities, research institutes and content providers. The site is a prototype that will be developed in response to users’ feedback and made operational in 2009.

I tested the prototype search to check on Marius Bauer, whose paintings and etchings from India I love. It resulted in seven of his paintings in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Great stuff! And stuff that is usually in the depots of the museum!

Continue reading

Will economic stimulus packages benefit water and sanitation investments?

In various countries hurt by the economic crisis discussions emerge about speeding up infrastructure investments in public works to stimulate the economy. This will create jobs and lead to assets that contribute to the social and economic prosperity of a nation. Each US$ 1 billion invested in water and wastewater infrastructure projects generates more than 47,000 jobs. “Hopefully, this emerging trend to stimulate economies through infrastructure may also directly benefit water and sanitation,” writes my colleague editor Pamela Wolfe in her commentary in World Water and Environmental Engineering of November/December 2008.
Continue reading

A water shortage warning from the CEO of Nestlé, bio fuels adding another drain

“I am convinced that, under present conditions and with the way water is being managed, we will run out of water long before we run out of fuel.” Nestlé chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe argues in the “The World in 2009” of The Economist (page 108) that water shortage is an even more urgent problem than climate change.

In 2009 the world needs to reflect on the underlying causes of the food crisis and start addressing structural factors, in particular the link to bio fuels and water. Since 2003 the trends in water have changed, but not for the better, Mr. Brabeck-Letmathe argues. And the craze for biofuels has added to the urgency of the water issue.

Continue reading

The media and influence of lobbying

Last week I blogged about the role of the media  in the Mumbai terror and Venice flood, as reported by De Volksrant. This time the role of De Volkskrant itself is being questioned, interestingly by one of its columnists: Frank Kalshoven. Every Saturday he writes an interesting political economy column on the Economy page entitled “Het spel en de knikkers”, literally meaning ‘the game and the marbles’. Kalshoven argues that the impact of the financial crisis on the Dutch economy and incomes is less dramatic than De Volkskrant is presenting. He also accuses De Volkskrant of falling for the lobby and self-interests of the building world.

Continue reading

Earth 3.0: Energy vs Water

Energy versus Water is flagged on the first cover of Earth 3.0, a new magazine published in America by the Scientific American in September 2008.

Catch-22: Water vs. Energy is the title of an interesting article by Michael E. Webber on fierce competition for water between Georgia, Alabama and Florida. Water is needed to generate energy. Energy is needed to deliver water. Both resources are limiting the other—and both may be running short. Is there a way out?

Continue reading

The role of media in Mumbai terror and Venice flood

The role of the media featured in two stories next to each other on the foreign page of De Volkskrant last Friday. The media and all anti terrorism experts are part of the terrorism problem, according to UK terrorism expert Paul Cornish in an interview on the Mumbai terrorist’s attacks.

“Can you please write that we are not drowning here?”, asked a hotel manager in Venice from the Volkskrant correspondent. “The whole world thinks that Venice is flooded for days, as the media only report that the city is flooded. They don’t mention that this only lasted a few hours, by the evening the water had receded.”

Continue reading