Erenlai - Commitment to Freedom 以自由之名
Commitment to Freedom 以自由之名

Commitment to Freedom 以自由之名


There are the rights we are entitled to exercise, and the inner freedom we struggle for throughout our existence. Freedom, in the diversity of its social and personal manifestations, is something we all cherish and strive for. How can medias, politics or schools nurture liberty humanism and pluralism while adapting to new technological and social conditions? Here we explore how to make proper use of the freedoms we all value so much.

人權、學習權、言論發表權、投票權,這種種自由與民主的產物讓人學會了什麼?又遺忘了什麼?當我們一心爭取這可貴的各種權利時,我們的對己身的責任、他人的尊重以及社會的參與同樣也提升了嗎?

Friday, 16 July 2010

La liberté religieuse aujourd’hui

Le 7 décembre 1965, par 2 208 voix contre 70, le Concile adoptait la déclaration Dignitatis Humanae sur la liberté religieuse. Le texte devait beaucoup à un théologien américain, John Courtney Murray. La méthode d’approche privilégiée par ce dernier représentait une innovation dans la pensée et la culture de l’Eglise : il s’appuyait fortement sur la tradition constitutionnelle américaine - distinction entre État et Église, dans leurs objectifs, leurs méthodes et leurs structures : théorie du gouvernement limité ; affirmation de la compatibilité de cette tradition constitutionnelle et de la philosophie politique d’inspiration chrétienne.

La déclaration conciliaire s’inscrit dans l’histoire, reconnaissant le désir croissant des individus d’agir en fonction de leurs options, de leurs responsabilités et de leur conscience. L’homme moderne souhaite « que soit juridiquement délimité l’exercice de l’autorité des pouvoirs publics.... Cette exigence de liberté dans la société humaine regarde principalement ce qui est l’apanage de l’esprit humain, et au premier chef, ce qui concerne le libre exercice de la religion dans la société».

La vérité de la religion chrétienne, poursuivent les Pères conciliaires, ne s’impose que par la force de la vérité même qui « pénètre l’esprit avec autant de douceur que de puissance. » Option déterminée par la reconnaissance que la liberté religieuse est un droit : « Le droit à la liberté religieuse a son fondement dans la dignité même de la personne humaine. » Droit naturel, la liberté religieuse a vocation à s’inscrire en un droit civil, par des lois justes et tous autres moyens appropriés. « Le pouvoir civil dépasse ses limites s’il s’arroge le droit de diriger ou d’empêcher les actes religieux (…) Il n’est pas permis au pouvoir public... d’imposer aux citoyens la profession ou le rejet de quelque religion que ce soit, ou d’empêcher quelqu’un d’entrer dans une communauté religieuse ou de la quitter... À fortiori est-ce agir contre la volonté de Dieu... que d’employer... la force pour détruire la religion ou lui faire obstacle. »

La liberté religieuse de l’individu se développe en une liberté raccordée aux groupes religieux dès lors que les exigences de l’ordre public ne sont pas violées. D’une certaine façon, le Concile reconnaît déjà les limites à la liberté religieuse que pourraient nécessiter la lutte contre les dérives sectaires : « Dans les pratiques religieuses, on doit toujours s’abstenir de toute forme d’agissements ayant un relent de coercition, de persuasions malhonnêtes. »

D’une importance particulière est la partie de la déclaration qui médite sur la liberté religieuse à la lumière de la révélation : « La révélation découvre dans toute son ampleur la dignité de la personne humaine, elle montre en quel respect le Christ a tenu la liberté de l’homme dans l’accomplissement de son devoir de croire à la Parole de Dieu. » Liberté humaine qui se manifeste d’abord dans la liberté de l’acte de foi : « Le Christ notre Maître et Seigneur, doux et humble de cœur, a, dans la patience, attiré et invité les disciples. Certes, il a appuyé sa prédication et il l’a confirmée par des miracles, mais c’était pour susciter et fortifier la foi de ses auditeurs, non pour exercer sur eux une contrainte... Reconnaissant que de l’ivraie avait été semée avec le froment, il ordonna lui-même de les laisser croître l’une et l’autre jusqu’à la moisson, qui aura lieu à la fin des temps. » Exemple suivi par les Apôtres, attentifs aux faibles et pourtant capables de s’opposer avec force aux contraintes injustes édictées par les pouvoirs publics. Dans le cours de l’histoire, poursuit le texte, l’Église, respectueuse de la liberté de l’homme, revendique la même liberté pour elle-même. En même temps, elle demande aux fidèles d’agir envers ceux du dehors avec amour, prudence et patience.

La conclusion du texte déplorant que tant de pays ne respectent pas la liberté religieuse, s’inscrit dans un contexte historique précis. Nul doute que la situation des pays de l’Est ait été essentielle dans la façon dont l’Eglise a ainsi fondamentalement remaniée sa position quant à la liberté religieuse. L’une des faiblesses du texte est d’ailleurs de ne pas offrir une relecture de ses pratiques et positions au cours des siècles. La tâche était sans doute impossible à l’époque, mais elle a été poursuivie jusqu’aux déclarations de repentance de Jean-Paul II. Document novateur, le texte a sans nul doute nourri la réflexion à la source des textes juridiques ultérieurs (nationaux et internationaux) qui se mesurent avec la liberté de conscience, la laïcité, les limites du prosélytisme… Il a notamment fortement influencé la rédaction de l’Acte Final de la Conférence d’Helsinki (1975).

c_phiv_cemetery_pere_lachaise2Pour partie, le texte garde une actualité immédiate. De la nécessité de ses rappels et de ses combats témoigne par exemple l’encadrement sévère des groupes religieux en Chine au travers de pratiques en contradiction flagrante avec les principes de droit naturel et civil énoncés dans la déclaration. Les persécutions survenues au Soudan ou encore l’interdiction de conversion signifiée aux fidèles en droit islamique montrent assez que le clair et simple rappel des droits liés à la reconnaissance de la liberté de conscience demeure un impératif. En même temps, depuis 1965, les situations se sont considérablement modifiées et complexifiées : l’évolution des termes du débat sur la laïcité, le réveil de l’Islam, le développement des « nouvelles spiritualités et religions » (ou des groupes proprement sectaires), la sophistication croissante des manipulations idéologiques, une modernité plus « individualiste » encore dans ses aspirations qu’à l’époque de la rédaction du texte… tous ces développements devraient sans doute amener à déplacer des accents, revoir des formulations, introduire des développements nouveaux… Surtout, le texte a peut-être manqué d’une dimension proprement politique : pas de réflexion sur l’Etat moderne, lequel ne se veut ni chrétien «ni « païen », alors que c’est cette forme politique qui est spécifiquement en charge d’assurer et encadrer l’exercice de la liberté de conscience. Les normes régissant la participation de l’Eglise dans le débat politique de l’Etat moderne ne sont pas spécifiées, et elles poseront question au cours des décennies suivantes à l’occasion des débats sur l’école, la morale privée, le travail dominical… En bref, poser comme un principe indépassable la « dignité humaine », c’est énoncer une affirmation non seulement théologique et anthropologiques mais aussi proprement politique, et le domaine du politique est celui des médiations. L’ambiguïté et la diversité des situations politiques concrètes illustreront de façon récurrente à la fois la grande force et les points obscurs de Dignitatis humanae.

Reste l’intuition fondamentale, dont la force traverse et dépasse le texte : la liberté de l’homme participe de la liberté de Dieu. Pareil message est inséparable de l’ensemble de la bonne nouvelle proclamée par l’Evangile. Il fonde la place de l’Eglise dans le monde - l’Eglise tout à la fois servante et libre -, comme le combat poursuivi pour que la liberté de croyance reconnue à tous soit au fondement d’un dialogue vrai au travers duquel l’humanité poursuit sa quête.

(Photos by C.P.)

 

Friday, 26 March 2010

"Silence in the library, please!"

Paul Farrelly from eRenlai is a fan of information technology and of libraries.  He is yet to work out how the two can most comfortably coexist.

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Tuesday, 15 September 2009

自由、人权才是分级制度的精神

图片提供/This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
本文亦见于2009年10月号《人籁》论辨月刊


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五年前,政府制定《出版品及录影节目带分级办法》,规定业者须为出版品进行分级,并禁止未成年人阅读限制级出版品。这项立法至今仍不时引起争议。究竟在保护儿少与维护言论自由间,是否有更完善的作法?而限制阅读,是否是保护儿少的唯一途径?
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关于图书分级制度,早在2004年「反对假分级制度联盟」就已经对这个制度的诸多问题分析透彻。下面我先谈图书分级制度的真与假,再谈青少年性权与资讯权。


一、图书分级制度:真的还是假的?
为什么要有图书分级制度?

第一,真正的图书分级之目的,是不必再为了所谓「保护儿童」而变相取缔任何出版品。第二,真正的图书分级之核心精神是保障成人阅读色情的权利。第三,真正的图书分级制度之建立是为了废止与取代原来查禁色情的法律,也就是刑法235条。

开明进步国家的分级制度都是为了促进言论与创作自由、出版与阅读自由,也就是不因为保护儿童,而变相查禁任何一本书;希望透过分级制度使创作者能百无禁忌的驰骋想像,使最冒犯大众的言论与影像能够发行,使出版者不会像在专制时代被反色情法律迫害,使读者有权利阅读世界上所有可能存在的观念。分级制度的理想精神是自由,而不是限制;是人权,而不是法律。分级制度必须承认而且保障成人有观看色情淫秽品的权利,否则根本不需要分级制度。如果没有同时废除查禁色情的法规,分级其实是一种假分级,只会更进一步地制造混乱与妨害资讯流通、增加成本、图利管制者。


二、青少年性/资讯权
首先,我们必须区分幼儿/儿童/青少年的差异。

襁褓幼儿无法阅读或有意义的接收资讯,所以根本不必加以保护。
青少年已经具有性意识与性能力(而不是在18岁前夕的一夜之间才具有),对于性资讯与性满足均有需求,此时青少年需要多元价值观的性资讯来丰富眼界,也需要自慰时的色情材料来增进愉悦能力,毕竟追求性满足是其不可剥夺的性权(愉悦与满足,而非痛苦与压抑,才能造就健全人格)。学习多元的性资讯有助于青少年形成自我认同(不会自我怀疑、自我否定、自认变态等),培养性愉悦能力有助于青少年适应人际的性关系与避免负面的性心理。一言以蔽之,图书分级制度要保障青少年的性权与资讯权,尊重青少年的自主追求、自由发展、自我选择。社会要做的是提供良好的教育与资讯环境,让各种多元观点平等并陈,以辩论取代定于一尊,鼓励批判反思而非教条教化,这样的教育与资讯环境才能培养与强化青少年的自主能力与学习选择。

最后,对于儿童的保护,不是由国家、而是由父母来决定儿童的保护,我认为这种保护不应该是采取欺骗、恐吓与抹黑的手段,而是从旁协助儿童选择出版品,与儿童讨论商议。我会建议父母不要禁止天才儿童的自主阅读。图书分级制度要在上述的精神下设计,给予开明父母足够的弹性,国家不能干预或妨碍父母教育子女的方式。

总之,图书分级制度如果没有同时废除取缔色情的法律,就只是假保护儿童之名,而限制成人与青少年的阅读权利,而形成假分级制度。



更多关于出版品分级的讨论,请看

附加的多媒体:
{rokbox}media/articles/NingYingBin_children_freedom.jpg{/rokbox}

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

自由、人權才是分級制度的精神

圖片提供/This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
本文亦見於2009年10月號《人籟》論辨月刊


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五年前,政府制定《出版品及錄影節目帶分級辦法》,規定業者須為出版品進行分級,並禁止未成年人閱讀限制級出版品。這項立法至今仍不時引起爭議。究竟在保護兒少與維護言論自由間,是否有更完善的作法?而限制閱讀,是否是保護兒少的唯一途徑?
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關於圖書分級制度,早在2004年「反對假分級制度聯盟」就已經對這個制度的諸多問題分析透徹。下面我先談圖書分級制度的真與假,再談青少年性權與資訊權。


一、圖書分級制度:真的還是假的?
為什麼要有圖書分級制度?

第一,真正的圖書分級之目的,是不必再為了所謂「保護兒童」而變相取締任何出版品。第二,真正的圖書分級之核心精神是保障成人閱讀色情的權利。第三,真正的圖書分級制度之建立是為了廢止與取代原來查禁色情的法律,也就是刑法235條。

開明進步國家的分級制度都是為了促進言論與創作自由、出版與閱讀自由,也就是不因為保護兒童,而變相查禁任何一本書;希望透過分級制度使創作者能百無禁忌的馳騁想像,使最冒犯大眾的言論與影像能夠發行,使出版者不會像在專制時代被反色情法律迫害,使讀者有權利閱讀世界上所有可能存在的觀念。分級制度的理想精神是自由,而不是限制;是人權,而不是法律。分級制度必須承認而且保障成人有觀看色情淫穢品的權利,否則根本不需要分級制度。如果沒有同時廢除查禁色情的法規,分級其實是一種假分級,只會更進一步地製造混亂與妨害資訊流通、增加成本、圖利管制者。


二、青少年性/資訊權
首先,我們必須區分幼兒/兒童/青少年的差異。

襁褓幼兒無法閱讀或有意義的接收資訊,所以根本不必加以保護。
青少年已經具有性意識與性能力(而不是在18歲前夕的一夜之間才具有),對於性資訊與性滿足均有需求,此時青少年需要多元價值觀的性資訊來豐富眼界,也需要自慰時的色情材料來增進愉悅能力,畢竟追求性滿足是其不可剝奪的性權(愉悅與滿足,而非痛苦與壓抑,才能造就健全人格)。學習多元的性資訊有助於青少年形成自我認同(不會自我懷疑、自我否定、自認變態等),培養性愉悅能力有助於青少年適應人際的性關係與避免負面的性心理。一言以蔽之,圖書分級制度要保障青少年的性權與資訊權,尊重青少年的自主追求、自由發展、自我選擇。社會要做的是提供良好的教育與資訊環境,讓各種多元觀點平等並陳,以辯論取代定於一尊,鼓勵批判反思而非教條教化,這樣的教育與資訊環境才能培養與強化青少年的自主能力與學習選擇。

最後,對於兒童的保護,不是由國家、而是由父母來決定兒童的保護,我認為這種保護不應該是採取欺騙、恐嚇與抹黑的手段,而是從旁協助兒童選擇出版品,與兒童討論商議。我會建議父母不要禁止天才兒童的自主閱讀。圖書分級制度要在上述的精神下設計,給予開明父母足夠的彈性,國家不能干預或妨礙父母教育子女的方式。

總之,圖書分級制度如果沒有同時廢除取締色情的法律,就只是假保護兒童之名,而限制成人與青少年的閱讀權利,而形成假分級制度。



更多關於出版品分級的討論,請看

附加的多媒體:
{rokbox}media/articles/NingYingBin_children_freedom.jpg{/rokbox}

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

過與不及,都不符合兒少利益

圖片提供/Mandy Goldberg
本文亦見於2009年10月號《人籟》論辨月刊


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五年前,政府制定《出版品及錄影節目帶分級辦法》,規定業者須為出版品進行分級,並禁止未成年人閱讀限制級出版品。這項立法至今仍不時引起爭議。究竟在保護兒少與維護言論自由間,是否有更完善的作法?而限制閱讀,是否是保護兒少的唯一途徑?
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2004年政府訂定完成「出版品及錄影節目帶分級辦法」,據以進行出版品限制級內容之定義與推動業者自律。當時行政部門說明,推動分級制度的目的在保障兒童及少年身心健全發展、維護憲法保障的言論出版自由、保障成年人閱讀權益、維護民主多元創作空間。不過這些所謂良善美意卻也因為誰能代表國家認定限制級內容,以及檢警調查緝人員的執法技術等問題,使得相關措施惹來將「兒童及少年福利法=惡法」的汙名。而事實上分級制度的推動,過與不及都不符合兒少最佳利益。


建立言論自由的界線
無論是倡議兒少身心權益保障的兒少團體,或是主張言論自由權的成人團體,立場的衝突點主要在於言論自由是否能高於兒少保護權益,以及兒少保護是否可以無限上綱到侵害成人的閱讀權益,並據以被裁罰。而這之間還有一個測不準的定理,也就是如何證明色情暴力等十八禁出版品,是否會對兒童及青少年身心健康有直接的影響與戕害。那麼既然測不準,是否就無需加以規範或保障?0─18歲的未成年兒少,身心的發展歷程有不同的階段,加上家庭、學校與社會教育的影響,其實並非同質性高的族群,但共同任務便是發展身分認同與界線,界線的建立往往是兒少工作的核心任務,因為藉由界線的建立可使兒少學習到如何保護自己尊重他人,進而能享受言論自由的可貴。


審議機制的重要性
目前出版品管理辦法最大的問題與挑戰,也就在於如何判定不當資訊以及未成年兒少取得相關資訊管道的管理與查緝。個人認為在內容判定上應當要有更加符合多元民主精神設立之審議機制,如現行之「中華出版倫理自律協會」為出版業者組成之自律機制,其下設諮詢委員,委員組成就相當多元,並訂有明確之審議流程,可提供業者相關專業見解並據以提供司法單位參考。此外在相關不當出版品的流通與管理上,成效不彰主要在於警員查緝手法上的粗糙或過當,以及非法流通管道掌握資訊之不足。該部分除了加強勤教與內規管理外,也應強化與供應商體系的合作與協調,尤其是在出版品專櫃、專區的陳列與設計上,我倒認為可以有更創意性的做法,甚至可以邀請青少年參與研討與設計,相信更能發揮保障兒少權益的效果。



更多關於出版品分級的討論,請看

附加的多媒體:
{rokbox}media/articles/YeDaHua_children_freedom.jpg{/rokbox}

Thursday, 18 June 2009

電子城牆守護台灣?──監視器是權力的電眼

圖片來源:nolifebeforecoffee(flickr)
本文亦見於2009年7、8月號《人籟》論辨月刊


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台北市日前宣布將投下十六億,打造全台規模最大的電子城牆。警政署則計畫在五年內完成監視器「全台連線」,讓犯罪者難以遁形。但監視器資料之取得與流通,仍有侵犯人權之疑慮。究竟電子城牆是打擊犯罪的利器,還是侵害人權的「權力之眼」?
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監視系統無法可管
九一一事件發生之後,英美國家以對抗恐怖主義為名,施行犯罪零容忍的警政制度,其中廣設監視器就成為政府的重要政策之一。台灣也以維護治安、防災為名,不斷增設監視器。台北市將投資十六億經費,年底前在全市設置一萬三千六百支新型監視器。內政部也計畫在五年內,動用二十餘億,將監視器全台連線,以打造「電子城牆」。

監視器真能改善治安?以監視器密度最高的英國為例,倫敦的五十萬個監視器並沒能阻止造成五十人死亡的炸彈攻擊。有的研究發現,設置監視器後犯罪率降低了,但也有研究發現沒有影響,也有研究發現犯罪反而增多了。也就是說,監視器在改善治安的效果上,仍然未獲證實。大體而言,監視器比較能做到的是部分重建犯罪現場,但是對於犯罪行為的事前預防與當場介入,成效非常有限。

全台的監視器越設越多,但是取用監視器資料的規範立法卻停滯不前,以致於大多數的監視系統其實是無法可管的。舉例來說,如果監視系統有車牌辨識功能,可以追查贓車的下落。但是現今,我們常常見到警察帶著媒體一起到掃蕩色情場所的現場直擊,政府要如何保證它不會用來鎖定政治對手或異議人士的車牌號碼,甚至洩漏其行蹤給媒體?人民可有明確的監督系統與投訴的管道?

再者,此種昂貴而影響深遠的政策,是否曾進行徹底的事前評估?以台北市的預算十六億為例(還不包括以後每年的系統維護與更新的經費),如果一名警察的月薪以五萬元計算,十六億可以雇用約兩千六百名警察值勤一年。警察巡邏和監視器,哪一種策略對於維護治安比較有效呢?


誰來定義壞事?
此外,都市最可貴之處就在於各式各樣、充滿差異的人可以在都市公共空間中直接互動。然而監視器卻可能讓人失去與陌生人相處的能力,並且增加人際的不信任與隔離。

但儘管有侵犯人權的疑慮,但除了人權團體之外,一般市民對於普設監視器似乎漠不關心,甚至認為「你又沒有做壞事,為什麼怕人家看?」問題是,壞事是由誰來定義的?在老師眼裡,看漫畫書、玩線上遊戲是壞事;在父母眼裡,學生交男女朋友是壞事;在政府眼裡,在街頭抗議政府政策是壞事;對男人而言,單身女子在公園發呆是壞事;對異性戀而言,兩個男生在街上牽手是壞事。監視器,始終是握有權力者進行社會控制的工具。

總之,改善治安與裝設監視器是否有絕對的關係,值得進一步研究;但是電眼可能帶來的侵犯隱私、由權力中心掌握個體的行動等問題,卻不能沒有更清楚的釐清與討論。



更多關於電子城牆的討論,請看
電子城牆守護台灣?──非萬靈丹,但有藥效

附加的多媒體:
{rokbox}media/articles/BiHengDa_monitor.jpg{/rokbox}

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

電子城牆守護台灣?──非萬靈丹,但有藥效

本文亦見於2009年7、8月號《人籟》論辨月刊


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台北市日前宣布將投下十六億,打造全台規模最大的電子城牆。警政署則計畫在五年內完成監視器「全台連線」,讓犯罪者難以遁形。但監視器資料之取得與流通,仍有侵犯人權之疑慮。究竟電子城牆是打擊犯罪的利器,還是侵害人權的「權力之眼」?
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以監視器控制犯罪率
由於政府面對犯罪問題產生的政績壓力,以及警察人力資源的有限,利用CCTV(Closed-Circuit Television, 閉路巡迴電視,俗稱監視器)協助進行預防及偵查犯罪是許多國家採取的策略。而監視器是否真如預期可有效控制犯罪率?最簡單的驗證方式便是藉由裝設前與裝設後的對照分析中進行比較。

以我國嘉義市之實證研究為例,嘉義市警察局於2002年9月至2004年9月在182個犯罪熱點安裝724部監視器,比較期間為2001年至2004年間。在統計P值設定為小於.05情況下,二者差異為:裝設監視器對預防普通竊盜與汽車竊盜有明顯助益,對預防機車竊盜沒有發現有明顯助益,研究推論是機車竊盜者犯罪後戴全罩式安全帽可避免監視器的辨識。

在澳洲和歐洲國家,讓人特別注意的是:安裝監視器後逮捕率與起訴率產生的差異。澳洲黃金海岸自1999年3月起實施黃金海岸安全監視網(the Gold Coast Safety Camera Network)計畫,安裝66具監視器於重要路口及事故常發生地點,以確保「衝浪者天堂」美譽不被酗酒及毒品敗壞。

此計畫發現:由監視器所進行的逮捕當中,能見度高的案件(如打架滋事)多於能見度低的案件(如毒品交易)。裝設監視器後,逮捕率提高了14%,且成功起訴率明顯提升,而這點較之於14%逮捕率的提升,更具意義。此外,民眾的被害恐懼感亦顯著降低。


監視器對不同犯罪控制,有不同效果
上述數據顯示,監視器對犯罪控制,至少是某一類型犯罪控制是有成效的。在民主國家刑事政策的制訂中,不可能有一項策略能全面有效解決犯罪問題。犯罪之於社會猶如生病之於身體,當我們上醫院求診時,不會期待醫師給我們一顆萬靈丹可以治癒所有疑難雜症;同樣地,一種犯罪預防或偵防策略也往往對某一類型犯罪特別奏效,其他犯罪則沒有明顯差異。

以犯罪最常區分的暴力犯罪與財產犯罪而言,公共空間設置監視器對暴力犯罪的性侵害罪不會產生明顯差異,但對財產犯罪的搶奪罪則具有成效。因此,問題假如是「監視器的廣泛設置能否降低犯罪率?」這不應為一項是非題,因為對某種犯罪率有降低效果,其他類犯罪則沒有因為監視器的設置產生明顯差異。

設置監視器的另外一個問題是:因為犯罪無法消滅,當某行政區域預算充裕廣設監視器後,犯罪現象會不會有轉移鄰近地區的問題?這是可能發生的現象,唯目前國內外文獻尚未發現對此有進行過科學性實證研究。



更多關於電子城牆的討論,請看
電子城牆守護台灣?──監視器是權力的電眼

附加的多媒體:
{rokbox}media/articles/QiuJunCheng_monitor.jpg{/rokbox}{rokbox}media/articles/QiuJunCheng_monitor.jpg{/rokbox}

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Today's challenges for the press

Newspapers are not doing well, it’s been around five years that newspapers’ sales are declining. And since the beginning of 2009, the financial crisis and the shrinking of revenues, the situation has become a lot worse, many newspapers in the US are under the menace of bankruptcy. It’s been the case for example, the Rocky Mountain News, a newspaper founded in 1859. In France as well, daily newspapers have been constantly asking for government subsidies in order to survive. A plan of 300 million euros on 3 years has been adopted in the beginning of 2009, which can be quite dangerous for the independence of the press.

So, as advertisement budgets are shrinking, classifieds have migrated to the Internet, and the movement is amplified by the crisis (newspaper advertising sales in 2008 fell by a record $7.5 billion, or 16.6% in the US). Newspapers used to think that the ad money they lost on the paper version would be compensated by the ad money made on the Internet. They realize now that it is not the case: a reader for an online news website only enables the company to make a few dollars a year.

What can newspapers do to survive in these troubled times?

They should focus on their value, on their unique specificities that make them different from their competitors. Contrary to a lot of Internet content which is accessible for free, newspapers have a price and therefore must provide the readers with a VALUE that is worth that PRICE. A focus on the freshness of information is not relevant today: most of the news in papers is now obsolete when the paper is sold. Information as a pure commodity is not a source of value anymore: with channels of diffusion such as Twitter, information is made universally available and instantaneously.

But newspapers have other advantages to put forward, such as the wide array of information they provide and the coherent way they organize them. Also the prestigious and valuable analysts that they have can make a difference. By a work of selection, an original angle and some unique analyses, newspapers can still create information with added value, that can therefore be monetized. With that in mind, big newspapers can build some successful Internet models by finding a good balance between free contents that help retaining large audiences and paid-for contents which is the value added-part of their content. On this segment, there will be a competition between traditional newspapers and pure Internet players such as the Huffington Post or Slate.

Another way of making money for big newspapers is to monetize their huge archive: something that is being done in France for several years by Le Monde, for instance, whose archives are accessible in exchange of a payment. A step further is to allow other websites to embed some of the paper’s original information: a system that is being experienced by The Guardian, who just launched on March 10th their Open Platform Program. The idea is to allow other websites to use for free a newspaper’s contents, with the consequence of driving huge traffic towards the newspaper’s website. This can be a way for newspapers with huge resources and a good way of classifying their information to reinforce their readership.

{rokbox size=|544 384|thumb=|images/stories/thumbnails_video/BB_press.jpg|}media/articles/BB_press.swf{/rokbox}

Thursday, 09 April 2009

International Events and Urban Development

Large-scale international events, such as World Expos, Olympic and Para Olympic Games, International Fairs, world political or economic summits, have become a leading factor in the shaping of the image of a city as well as on its urban and cultural development. The way a city represents itself and the way other communities look at it are partly linked to these international events and articulate into a “narrative” that, step by step, shape an identity, both local and global. No wonder such events generate a fierce competition among cities and that such events are often awarded at extravagant prize.

Thus, from the start, a cautionary word is in order. If there are indeed a good number of “success stories” linked to the organization of a local event, there are also many stories in which the hassle of the organization process, the exorbitant rise of local axes, debatable urban construction, low attendance and post-event recessions might have on the whole a more negative impact than a positive one.

Furthermore, we are now in the midst of a severe international crisis, and nobody knows how long this crisis is going to last. It might indeed generate extra public spending, but also more parsimony in expenses, both private and public, less international travel, and, on the whole, a cautious attitude of all partners involved. If international events were a fixture of urban development during the last three decades or so, I doubt that it will truly keep this function in the foreseeable future.

Said it otherwise, the problem nowadays is not to replicate success stories, as conditions and contexts are rapidly changing, but rather to reflect on the way international events are presently desirable and, if so, how they can be integrated into an integral and sustainable city development.

An “integral’ development refers to a process in which (a) all parts of a urban territory are treated as a systemic whole and regarded as equals, (b) the interactions of cultural, social, environmental and economic developments are taken into account, paying special attention to the negative aspects that transportation planning for instance could have on habitat, tradition and ecology; (c) the actors share a long-term vision of their common future that does not rely on events and deciders from the outside. In other words, integral development fosters the inner vitality of a territory. As to “sustainable” development, it refers to a time concept: whatever the attractiveness of such or such event, or of a strategy of rapid development, the basic question that animates the decision-makers should be: what city are we preparing for our grandchildren? It is surprising to see how this simple question might sometimes change the perspective, and weigh on the course of action that was originally planned.

Large-scale international events and the shaping of urban culture

For some time now, it has been recognized that an international event taking place in a given city is truly successful if and only if the city population feels truly involved into it and plays the role of actors in the preparatory process as well as during the event proper. The Olympic Games of Sidney certainly were remarkable on that respect. International events should help in the fostering of a participatory local culture.

The question remains: what is a participatory local culture, and how requiring should decision-makers and actors be if they truly want to make sure that their city becomes a model of local democracy in all preparatory and implementation processes?

The point, here, is not only that there is a moral and political imperative to require citizens’ approval on the choices that ground their future, it is rather that active citizens’ participation is favorable to higher-quality local development. Ensuring a continuous flux of information and feedbacks, enlisting the cultural riches of actives, informed citizens, diversifying the resources that contribute to a more balanced model of development, all of this has remarkably long term effects on a city’s overall health and level of consent. Citizens’ participation is per se a factor of sustainability: it reduces risks of corruption, hasty decision or dominance of industrial lobbies. It ensures that concerns about air and water control, schooling and quality of life are sufficiently taken into account. It helps to envision a larger array of alternatives on developmental issues and to balance the economic, social and cultural dimension, all of these dimensions being necessary for achieving humane, integral growth. Finally, citizens’ participation raises their overall level of satisfaction, as participants feel that the city that takes shape under their eyes is really theirs, and that they are the actor of the public space in which they work and live.

Said in another way, the first asset that a city should make use of, when planning for its future, is the cultural diversity that exists in its midst. Enhancing diversity is the best strategy for fostering sustainability. Now, international events can be a positive factor for enriching this participatory local culture - or they can impede its healthy development. I suspect that often such events have been an impediment, whatever the discourse on citizens’ participation. First, most of the time, citizens are not consulted when it comes to cities applying for hosting such or such an event. Second, they have no say in the budgetary choices that are subsequently made. Third, their participation is often reduced to playing tour guides to the international guests who will come to the event.

On the other hand, the hosting of international events indeed enriches the worldview of local citizens confronts them to a variety of experiences, and makes for a richer, prouder local consciousness. At the end, the quality of the event (the way manifestations are managed and enriched, the meaning of the event taking place, its inclusion into the public space and respect for the history of the place and the memory of its inhabitants) is what will help a city to nurture a richer and livelier local culture through international events. Let me stress that international events per se are not sufficient for enriching local culture. Quality management is truly the key. And quality management is largely independent from budgetary investment. Conceptual imagination is the rarest and most precious resource. In that sense, the sooner you make citizens participate in the event, the richer the event might become. Therefore, it is better to plan citizens’ participation from the start rather than limiting it to the implementation of the event proper.


Large-scale international events and public constructions

The set of principles I just sketched out when it comes to local cultures largely applies to public constructions. The principle of “sustainability” has special relevance when it comes to building for international events. Looking back at previous large-scale international events, it is obvious that the improvements most beneficial on the long term to ordinary citizens were the ones linked to investments in the transportation system.
When we look at developed Asian cities today, we see that the network of public transportation is fairly well planned and advanced, even if much work is still to be done. But, obviously, a change of framework and priorities is neither desirable nor feasible. Furthermore, it does not seem that these cities are lacking much in large-scale public buildings. Where is the need most pressing? It is in the field of private buildings that would be ecologically friendly and aesthetically harmonious. It is in the reworking of our public space around residential and industrial areas at the periphery of the centers of power. In other words, the bettering of our urban environment goes through a series of small-scale improvements, oriented towards green buildings and modern industrial zoning. If this diagnosis proves to be true, then it becomes quite difficult to discern in what way international events are truly helpful in the process of the integral and sustainable development.

Large-scale international events and regional cooperation

One of the most interesting developments in the history of international events is the association it sometimes creates among what I would call a “network of territories.” After all, the virtualization of the world also positively affects international events. Conferences, summits, or even international trade fairs can happen simultaneously in various parts of a country, or even various parts of the world - sharing events, using large screens, exchanging data and news, sharing costs and benefits also. One of the best recent examples has been the European Football Cup jointly organized by Switzerland and Austria. Let us also remember the World Cup jointly organized by Korea and Japan.
Cities should look for opportunities to organize exactly this kind of cooperative, regional events while conjointly asking themselves “what kind of international events will prove to be more meaningful on the long run?” Let me just mention a few field around which the future of humankind might be at stake, and which may be subsequently privileged when sponsoring international events:
- green buildings, and environmental innovations and regulations in general;
- the future of islands and coastal areas in face of global warming;
- the social responsibility of entrepreneurs;
- conflict resolution and peace building;
- the follow up of the Millennium Objectives, especially in the field of access to clean water and quality medication to all;
In other words, it is not enough to organize international events, the point is to show a real international spirit, one oriented towards global challenges and creative ways of tackling them.
International events are meaningful and helpful as long as they promote three basic objectives:
- cultural diversity and creativity;
- sustainable development
- citizens’ empowerment.

International events should not be looked after for the sole objective of enhancing a city’s visibility in the international arena. The first step in the process should be to look whether the planned event fosters indeed the objectives just mentioned and to decide accordingly. This way, much waste could be avoided, the events’ implementation would be creative and participatory, and the efforts finally deployed would prove to be truly fruitful


Wednesday, 08 April 2009

Civil Participation, starting with Taipei County

An example of civil participation in Taipei County during the promotion of the Jhong-Gang Drainage Channel.

Attached media :
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Monday, 23 March 2009

A little less perfection, and a little more imagination

I have noticed that Taiwanese tend to have goals that are consistently unrealistic and out of reach. I believe this is caused by an educational system which compels students to pursue perfect test scores on tests which are exceedingly difficult. The volume of material that needs to be memorized and the tricky nature of the multiple choice tests make acing a test next to impossible, yet it remains the students’ goal.

This attitude carries over into the work place as employees are constantly looking to move up the ladder in order to, of course, make more money. I ask them how they intend to move up this ladder they say:
1. They just wish or hope it happens
2. They hope someone will quit or get fired.
3. They try to work hard in the hopes that their boss will notice them

If they really don’t see any possibility of promotion they resolve themselves to the idea that they have no choice and that nothing will change in their lives.

Now it is easy to say that most people want more money for one reason or another but here it seems that money is viewed as a “reward”, and it is the only one they can hope for. There is nothing resembling the satisfaction gained by achieving a greater level of responsibility, respect or achievement. Invariably, if a promotion is achieved, the stakes get higher and the pressure to excel seems to increase, the climb steeper.

In school, neither the parents nor the teachers give what I have come to know as “positive feedback”, nothing is said or done to affirm the efforts made by the students, there is only the push to do better and punishments if expectations are not met. I have never heard a student say their parents were proud of them. I have only rarely heard an employee say they were proud of themselves. And only seldom does a parent demonstrate the awareness of this issue and accompanies with it with the intention to change the system.

附加的多媒體:
{rokbox size=|544 384|thumb=|images/slideshow_en.jpg|}http://www.erenlai.com/media/articles/JuliaAnderson_imagination.flv{/rokbox}

Tuesday, 03 March 2009

全球思考, 在地教育

教育局长与我们分享他的观点与想法:
如何在兼顾健全面向与个人己身利益的前提下,均衡地对异文化敞开心胸

附加的多媒体:
{rokbox size=|544 384|thumb=|images/slideshow_cn.jpg|}media/articles/Her-ranLiou_editofeb09.swf{/rokbox}

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