Longitude #29

July, 2013


Big Data

by Stash Luczkiw

Big data has already changed much more than just the global economy. Now it is rapidly transforming how we experience reality. As the power of computers reaches a critical mass, technologists and those at the mercy of technology will be forced to reevaluate what it means to be human.

Big Data does it better
by Christopher Caldwell

There are certain tasks, such as national security, that the government is expected to do best. In the age of internet, however, some elements of those tasks can be done more efficiently by private entities. No wonder the government is looking for collaborators.

Push-button democracy
by Enrico Verga

Imagine Election Day with no queuing up, no polling stations and no never-heard-of-them-before candidates. With internet technology citizens of democracies can now make informed choices with a few simple clicks.

by Angelo Baiocchi

The internet has forced political parties to learn how to manage their cybernaut constituency. They must weigh the noisy influencers against the actual mood of the population and fit it into the equation of how to govern effectively.

The robots are coming
by Moreno Zani

Robots doing work that only humans could do has long been a reality – especially in the manufacturing sector. Now, spurred more powerful computers and their ability to process information, the robotics industry is set for a boom.

Japan’s recovery roller coaster

Stuck in a quagmire
by Lanfranco Vaccari­­

After two decades of battling slow growth and deflation, Japan is discovering that an ageing and shrinking population is at the heart of the matter. A warning the rest of the West cannot ignore.

Abenomics: three hurdles and the moment of truth
by Yoshinori Fukushima

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is doing his best to revamp his country’s economy. So far, his three-pronged plan has been greeted with enthusiasm that the country has not seen for more than two decades.

Japan’s ups and downs
Map by Marie Joveneau
Japan’s lessons for Europe
by Giuseppe Pennisi

Europe is now staring at the prospect of lost decades similar to what Japan has only just begun to exit. Many of Japan’s policies to combat stagnation should be implemented by the eurozone as well.

Smoldering societies

The streets defy political correctness
by Mario Sechi

Before the riots broke out, Sweden and Turkey were held up as models of integration: one as a social welfare paradise, the other as a successful expression of Islamic democracy. And then, for some reason, they burst into flames.

A tale of two Turkeys
by Valeria Biagiotti

Since the uprisings in the Middle East began, Turkey has played the role of stable democratic interlocutor in the region. Now the unrest has spread to its own population and its much-vaunted political model is being put into question.

Times of protest
Map by Marie Joveneau
Bridge to Utopia
by Stefano Cingolani

The Swedish model of a comprehensive welfare state is not what it used to be. In fact, Sweden has recently become a hotbed of perceived inequality, racism and discontent – all in a country whose economy is still the envy of Europe and much of the world.

New president

Yes, Iran can. Maybe
by Giancarlo Loquenzi

Hopes that the new Iranian president will augur an era of change in the Islamic Republic may be overly optimistic. Nevertheless, there is potential for positive development.


Afghanistan: what’s next
by Stefano Stefanini

The NATO forces that have been engaged in Afghanistan for over a decade are now preparing to leave. With negotiations set, it is imperative that the country not fall into another cycle of ruinous civil war.


Thirst and power
by Maurizio Stefanini

A projected new dam on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia is expected to diminish Egypt’s water supply by up to a fifth. Is this a casus belli for Egypt or an opportunity for greater cooperation among African countries?


Barack goes back to Africa
by Anna Bono

On Obama’s first trip to Africa as president in 2009, he used his status as “African son” to criticize many of the continent’s shortcomings. On the second trip everyone will be asking how much, if at all, the continent has improved.

Warming bloopers

When the ice melts, expect rain
by Silvia Vaghi

Europe has been hit with one of the wettest springs in its history. The connection with climate change exacerbated by human interference is now unavoidable and protests are beginning to include climate activism in their platforms.