It is always a risk going skiing before Christmas, but Kitzbuhel usually has snow when many other places do not. That was certainly the case last week! As the pictures below illustrate, although the valley was snow free for most of the week, there were enough runs open with good snow to enable us to have some great skiing. Skiing in bright sunlight above the clouds down in the valley was amazing, and we only lost one day due to the cloud and rain! It was also just so relaxing walking through the beautiful town in the evenings. Thanks to Jonathan for making all the arrangements, and to everyone else on the trip who made it such a good week!
One of the many challenges of attending conferences is that one usually has to spend around 12 hours a day deep underground in cavernous halls, or in dim windowless rooms watching images and words on large screens! Not only is one left bereft of natural light, but air conditioning is no replacement for the oxygen of fresh air! So after the main activities of ITU’s Telecom World were over today, I took myself back to Doha’s Souq Waqif just to immerse myself in the smells of spices, shisha and the wonderfully rich oud perfumes, to glimpse the rich colours of the textiles and jewels, to hear the laughter of small children and the squaks of parrots, and just to walk among ‘real’ people far from the robots and aggressive capitalism of many in the ICT and telecommunications sector who were expounding the virtues of the latest technologies at the conference! Although this souq is a relative modern re-interpretation of the souq that used to be here, it continues in that rich tradition of sounds, smells, tastes and textures that have always dominated markets in the region. I hope that the pictures below capture something of the reality of this world beyond the virtual!
In recent years, I have become increasingly interested in the interface between humans and machines, and thus the world of cyborgs. This was first formally articulated in my presentation entitled “How will the world communicate in 2113?” given at the Commonwealth Summer School held in Cumberland Lodge on 9th August 2013. However, as part of the ITU’s ongoing discussion on ICTs in the future, associated with the Leadership Summit on the Future currently being held during its Telecom World (#ituworld) event in Doha , I was asked to put together a prediction and a single slide summarising some of my thoughts on the future of communication. So, to give this a little more visibility, I thought I would also post it here:
My actual short quotation was “The future is not so much about the Internet, but rather about the human-machine interface. Cyborgs are already with us. If we do not want humans to be mere appendages of machines, we must act now!””
I have to admit that I found the actual ITU session to be much less inspirational than I had expected/hoped it might be – there was very little new in what was discussed! I was therefore actually rather sad that the presentation that I sent to the ITU for possible inclusion amongst its predictions was seen as being rather too provocative for inclusion!
This evening was the annual fireworks party celebration at the Wentworth Club in Virgina Water. It is several years since I last went, but the display this year was spectacular, and I hope that the images below capture something of the show!
Thanks to everyone who made this possible! It was a fitting evening after the magnificent rugby match at Twickenham between Australia and the Barbarians!
Just occasionally I discover fine wines, great restaurants and lovely places to stay that I feel I just have to write about! On my latest trip to Korea I have found just such a hotel, the Park Hyatt in Busan. On my last visit to Seoul, I remember above all else the hospitality and generosity of our hosts, but coming to Busan I have discovered a whole new side to the country and its people.
The Park Hyatt is without doubt one of the nicest hotels I have stayed in for a long time. The decor is sophisticated and functional; the rooms are beautifully appointed and decorated in pale oak colours – mine looks over the yachting harbour used in the 1988 Seoul Olympics; the staff are all amazingly helpful, friendly and oh, so courteous; there are several different lounges with varying styles and colours, but all very comfortable; the food is delicious (albeit at a price); and the swimming pool is amazing. And, having spent so much time in hotels that charge ridiculous prices for Internet access, it is so nice to stay somewhere that offers free and fast connectivity! On arrival, one is whisked up to the 30th floor where the reception is located, and the rooms are then on the floors beneath. This gives the lounges and dining rooms on floors 30-33 amazing views over the coast and harbour. I hope that the images below convey something of the lovely character of the hotel. Oh yes, and I really got a taste for Dry Finnish!
Nowhere, though, not event the Park Hyatt, Busan is perfect! So may I finish with just a few pleas:
- It would be great to have some chocolate and/or cinnamon on the capuccinos in the restaurant – especially at breakfast!
- The wine list ought to have some reasonably priced ‘house wines’ on it – fine to have the expensive classics, but a really good restaurant also has stunning reasonably priced house wines.
- The menus look delicious, but much of the food is available only for two people, which makes life rather difficult for solitary travellers ;-) !
- Finally, I could not decide whether or not to post a picture, but for those of us from northern Europe who are unused to multi-functional loos, and were brought up having to urinate on the ice in the pan of the outside netty on a frozen winter morning, these devices are really threatening, and it would be great to have some instructions! How is one meant to know which button to push: rear cleansing; soft rear cleansing; front cleansing; dryer; oscillating; pulsating; rhythm; stop? I was too scared even to experiment!
When I was last in Korea in 2013, I had the opportunity to watch some amazing drumming, martial arts and dancing in Seoul. I was therefore greatly looking forward to the celebration of Korean culture that was to accompany the welcome dinner for the ITU 2014 Plenipotentiary conference held in Busan this evening. As I hope the images below indicate, this was a vibrant and energetic performance that showed much about Korean culture, both old and new. Thanks to the people of Korea, and of Busan in particular, for sharing with us just a little bit of their beauty, culture and hospitality this evening.
Just thought I would share some images from the recently completed opening ceremony of the ITU’s 2014 Plenipotentiary meeting in Busan. This featured very sophisticated presentations of the Republic of Korea’s achievements in the field of ICTs, as well as the beauty of its traditional culture and dance. South Korea is certainly an absolutely fascinating place, in which we have been made to feel most welcome. It was good to see the emphasis placed on the use of ICTs by people with disabilities, and also Hamadoun Touré’s commitment to finding ways through which ICTs can be used to help resolve the current Ebola crisis in western Africa (see my regularly updated blog post on ways through which ICTs can indeed contribute).
Sorry I could not post these live during the event, but the WiFi system was down while President Park Geun-hye was in the room. Let’s hope we all have a fruitful and productive Plenipot meeting.