J’accuse: Ready, Steady… Focus

gonzi education

This article appeared in today’s edition of The Malta Independent on Sunday

The Five Senses (abridged)

Focus, focus, focus. Your senses will all need to be sharp. The train has left the station – with or without you on board – the year is already in full swing and what a year it promises to be. No matter in which direction you look all you can see is a cloud of news brimming with potential articles and stories. I don’t think that the gaming companies will be taking any bets on this one…. 2009 promises to be superduper special… boy do we need to stay focused. 


We, as in collectively. All of us. Ensemble. Flimkien. Nobody will afford to stay behind and the key to focusing is having information at your fingertips and staying up to date. In a way it was a bit inevitable wasn’t it? We have been blowing the trumpets of change till our cheeks went blue. Now change is here and it is happening fast – before you can say “property market crash” your economic situation could change as drastically as the levels of sobriety at a third year law students party.


The fates have conspired in such a way that the economy is not your only problem. What we meekly call “technology” is advancing in leaps and bounds and does not seem to be daunted by the economic slowdown. Other technologies seem eerily on the brink of a great transformation – the revolution started by Henry Ford seems to be about to take a new greener twist although it might need one final push by circumstance. All that and we have not even mentioned politics yet… which is just as well, because 2009 comes packed with loads of that both national and international. So are you prepared for the ride?



The air is tingling with expectation isn’t it? Last year’s blog of the year awarded at the annual Bobs (the most prestigious world blog awards supported by Deutsche Welle) was a blog called “Generacion Y” by a Cuban woman. She blogs in a strange way by emailing her posts to friends abroad who have access to the blog posting site. In her blog she keep readers up to date with changes in Cuba. Interestingly she wrote about an exchange doctor who went to work in South America as a part of one of Castro’s programmes. One of the things the doctor’s daughter askes him to bring back from South America is a Playstation. Even in techonologically jurassic Cuba the kids grow up dreaming of access to technology and the web. Change is still worming its way up that river.


Meanwhile back in the rich world an organisation called “One Laptop for Every Child” has as its aim the purchase of a laptop for every child in the developing world. They have now come up with an astounding advertising campaign in which John Lennon is electronically brought back to life – both image and voice – in order to promote their cause. You have to hear it to believe. John Lennon who passed away in 1980 speaking about laptops and technology – stuff straight out of Futurama (if you do not know what that was then you really need to jump on the train before it is too late).


Technology and its leaps. Where do you begin? Google is still in the dock with the main accusation being that it is rendering us and all the new Generation Y rather dumb. Yet it remains the most innovative presence on the net. Bit by bit it is revolutionising the way we browse for information. It is smart. So is Apple and its products. The fact that 2009 is the year the “web cloud” will definitely take shape is due no doubt to these gargantuan companies. Information will be remotely stored and no longer reside on your clunky harddrive that seems to shrink daily. It will be time to concentrate on uploading and accessing information from the cloud.


Expect to become more dependent on handhelds. Expect the fixed phone to move towards the abyss of obsoleteness. Expect minilaptops to become more popular. Expect cheaper and more reliable internet accessibility. Expect everyday language to become more affected by the other ways we communicate. Expect to become more reliant on this technology as a way you choose what to do.You think I am joking?


Think again. Have you heard of DLNA? It stands for Digital Living (room) Network Alliance. It is a sort of certification that comes with most of the technoigeek products that are produced today. What it means is that more and more products speak to each other. You’ve already started getting hooked to it the day you bought your “Home Cinema System”. Don’t get too big headed though… Home Cinema System is an embryonic product of the DLNA. Home Cinema is to DLNA as an amoeba is to a human in terms of the evolutionary scale.


Seeing is believing. Let us say you tire of failing miserably at Guitar Hero and admit that you will only ever master Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep till Brooklyn” because you’ve been hearing it since it was out (1986). So you switch on the TV and at that moment they happen to be playing a tune on a music channel but you’ve missed the name. So you turn on your iPhone and use an app to listen to the song and get it identified online. Yes. The iPhone does that too. So you have the name of the song and the artist. You can then go onto iTunes store on your PC (or iPhone or Mac) and buy the song for a pittance. The song is on your hard drive. If you want to listen to it again on your snazzy speakers of your home cinema system all you have to do is activate the PS3 and search the network for mediafiles. Before you know it the song you heard earlier is being read directly by your PS3 and played on your booming speakers.


Cool eh? That’s only the start. Trust me. Time and space constrain me to cut short this ecstatic rush of living room fantasia. Advances I was saying. Microsoft is still catching up with Windows 7. As I have had occasion to mention earlier Windows 7 threatens to sound the death bell for the keyboard as we know it. More and more technology is shifting to touch screen . Whether it is the digital camera’s menu, your smart phone or your new computer, the move to touch screen technology is here and now. Which is causing quite a problem to a particular segment of the population.


Yep. It seems that the visually impaired (or blind as we used to call them before Generation X got all politically correct) are not amused by all this touchy touchy business. It is after all rather different to envisage the braille equivalent of a touch screen. Thankfully Google, Apple and Microsoft all have dedicated departments who are trying to bridge this gap.


I’ll have to postpone more of this techno stuff to another article. Or you can check out J’accuse every now and then since I have started a new rubric on the blog called “Generation Why” about all things technological. There you might even find some good reading about a gadget called a “Kindle” and why the paperback is another consumable that has found its way in the endangered products list. More another time.. now let’s move on to sight…



2009 promises to be a year in which you will see advertisements become shorter and more competitive. Budget constraints mean that the Marketing Departments worldwide will have to do more with less. The experts in the field predict that shorter but sharper messages will pepper the media. Don’t forget that internet advertising is still on the upturn and is still eating into the advertising pie to the detriment of other areas. Net presence is crucial. So will comparative advertising. Expect assertions by companies about their products to become brasher and bolder. Expect dirty comparisons. Which will not exactly guarantee that the consumer is the final winner.


New generation TV will also finally hit your living rooms. We will finally understand why our TVs were HD ready and hopefully, after a few snags and snitches we will settle down to real Video on Demand with HD quality. Blueray will be in the ascendant for 2009 but it is probably a transient trechnology as virtual storage and transfer will probably come out tops. I hate to be the foreboder of bad things but if I was a terrorist of the Al Qaeda kind I would be shifting my attention to mass storage systems to harm the economic world. The World Trade Center of 2009 might very well be a large storage server. God I hope I am wrong.


Speaking of ads and marketing, the latest Focus Magazine issue had two interesting scientific discoveries. The first was related to the attractiveness of the colour red. Apparently if men were to see the same woman dressed in blue and dressed in red they would inevitably always choose the red version because… hear this… red is more attractive. Then there was the other item about sports teams being advised to pick the colour red for their gear. Apparently teams wearing red are more successful (and more favoured by referees). I read all this and then came up with two questions: How do you explain the Labour Party? and… Who will tell Joseph Muscat?


An advertising campaign that relies on anything but brevity and sharpness is the MTA ad promoting Malta. Apparently a lot of cleavage was uncovered for the making of the video. Quite hypocritical for a country that still considers women who sunbathe topless as the spawn of satan. It sort of makes tits out of us all doesn’t it? Finally from the sights and sounds of Malta I really enjoyed the short film clip of the start of demolition services of the Magic Kiosk in Sliema. I have fond memories of the old square as it was when as a kid I used to go visit my dad at work at Saccone & Speed before Mintoff decided to kick out the Brits and Lorry decided to hand a square over to a friend.



The University students are stuck between a rock and a hard head. They are protesting because they want to sit for their exams and they are right. No more stress and hardship should be brought to bear on the poor sods. Give them the education they need and test them for chrissakes. The government must find a way of paying lecturers respectably. UMASA must find a way to ensure that its members live up to the name of the profession and KSU must continue being a general pain in the backside reminding everyone that the students are not to blame. 


It’s not as bad as the goings on in Gaza of course although I wish people would stop writing futile sentences on facebook about the issue. This week the Economist labels it the hundred years war and I am not sure that any kind of facebook group will make it any shorter. Some hope might lie in a combined effort by Obama and the EU. Once Obama settles in to the White House and the EU solves its gas supply problem with the Russkies of course.



“Turiamoci il naso”. Remember those who held their nose and voted Nationalist? Well they will probably not do this this time round. J’accuse will have a special eye on the European Elections. We have been selected by the European Journalism Centre  as one of the blogs to be following the EP campaign closely. We join blogs from every other European country as from the end of January. Speaking of which look out for the revival of The Malta Chronicle with a new line up of contributors for the campaign (hopefully)… the address is here: http://themaltachronicle.wordpress.com.


That’s it for now. Remember… focus… and eyes down for the bingo! (Hear! Hear!)


Jacques is freezing his attributes off in Luxembourg while blogging at https://jaccuse.wordpress.com. Come share some warm thoughts on the site that promises to change the way you think (at least for a minute or two). 



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