Monday, June 23, 2014

Cyprus Mass Media at a Glance

Old newspapers dumped in an abandonned building in old Nicosia, Cyprus.
Photo can be reused as long as "Old Nicosia Revealed" ( ) name and link are cited. 

I have been commissioned by CCMC to write a short overview regarding the mass media in Cyprus. I, of course, tried to find such an overview on the web, but I did not manage to find one that would satisfy me - i.e. to give an overall picture to any reader that has no idea about the mass media of Cyprus on what is going on. One, for example, cannot ignore the de facto division of the island and its implications on mass media; the political affiliations of certain media outlets and other aspects.

Also, many times when someone is looking for information regarding media in Cyprus, there are high chances that she/he will stumble upon "official" information, or overviews that either exclusively regard the media landscape in the areas under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus (recognized internationally, except by Turkey), or separately outlining the situation in the northern part of the island (non-recognized internationally, except by Turkey). Needless to say both parts mutually do not recognize each other, this adding to the information "blank".

Thus, in my opinion, if someone wants to gain some understanding regarding the role of mass media in Cyprus and how does everything fit in context, one needs to also look into the antagonism(s) created among (the media) of the two sides of the island.

The authoring of this overview wouldn't have been possible without various sources I have found online (please see links at the bottom of this page), where I used bits and pieces of information to compose a general picture that at least satisfies me and the purposes of CCMC (note: it is for the MediaHackers project).

This overview is definitely not a complete one and once one starts researching about Cyprus and its mass media inevitably more questions are raised. Also, for the purposes of the MediaHackers project, the focus is more on the Republic of Cyprus perspective (e.g. laws and regulations), but at the same time taking in consideration what is going on in terms with the situation in the northern part of the island. Therefore, the intention of this overview would be to serve as a "starting point" to one that does an online research about mass media in Cyprus. I think it serves this purpose fairly decently.


Mass Media in Cyprus at a Glance

Regarding the areas controlled by the Republic of Cyprus, there are 5 daily newspapers in Greek and two in English and a large number of weekly newspapers and periodicals in circulation; 9 island-wide free to air TV channels; 21 island-wide and 34 local radio stations and 1 news agency (Cyprus News Agency).

Broadcast media (TV and Radio) are the most popular and in this segment of Cyprus’ media landscape is comprised by a mixture of state and privately run TV and radio services. The independent radio was launched in Cyprus in 1990 and the first independent audiovisual stations were founded in 1993 following the adoption of the relevant law. Until then, the only station operating in Cyprus was the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC) as a semi-government organization.

The public broadcaster (CyBC) operates 2 TV channels and 4 radio stations. There are private TV broadcasters, satellite and cable TV services including telecasts from Greece and Turkey, and a number of private radio stations. In the northern part of the island there are 2 public TV stations, 4 public radio stations, and privately owned TV and radio broadcast stations.

The channel from the Greek state broadcaster is also available. State-run radio and TV compete with private operators; both sides on the island switched from analogue to digital TV, and Greek, Turkish and other languages stations are on air across the island, as well as accommodating a wide range of options in terms of TV channels through subscription TV platforms. However, the requirement that all television stations broadcast nationally with a digital signal, several local television stations have shut down, unable to afford the cost of nationwide transmission.

During recent years there has also been a fast growing number of online media outlets in Greek, Turkish and English.

Legal framework on Press and Internet Freedom 

The law provides for freedom of speech and press and the authorities generally respect these rights in practice. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combine to ensure freedom of speech and of the press. The press is not subject to intervention or control by any public authority and the circulation of newspapers is carried out unhindered. (note: all these, in the author's opinion, work fairly well in practice).

Individuals and groups can engage in free expression of views via the Internet, where access is unrestricted.There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet and the authorities do not monitor private e-mails and information online without appropriate legal authorization.

There is a wide range of newspapers circulating in Cyprus - both local and foreign - reflecting a wide range of opinions and ideologies. Criticism of persons in office, public figures, state institutions and government policies, and exposing malpractices are performed freely by the media. However, there is a considerable degree of political and partisan affiliations of media outlets that is mirrored on their stance and content.

Journalists have the right not to disclose the sources of their information and access to official information. Under the Law (Press and Radio and Television Station Laws), all journalists, Cypriot or foreign, have the right to free access to state sources of information, freedom to seek and acquire information from any competent authority and the freedom to make this public. The authority concerned must give the requested information unless it pertains to state or public security, constitutional or public order, public morals or the protection of the honour and rights of third parties. However, the is absence of a law specifically serving the general public’s right to access to information held by public authorities is creating problems to access information and in a timely manner - accentuated by the lack of obligation of public bodies to proactively publicise information online (detailed databases, indexed documents repositories etc)

All journalists have the right not to reveal their source of information and to refuse to give testimony without being liable to prosecution for doing so.

Regarding the status in the northern part of the island, there are some press freedom laws but until recently there were numerous examples where authorities where hostile to the independent press, with arrests and trials of journalists. The situation has been improved in recent years.

Implications on Media by Division and Politics

Since the appearance of the first printed press in Cyprus, the role played  by information outlets has been characterised by a degree of exclusivity to their respective communities. Historical accounts of the media emphasise the ambiguous role it has performed on the island, where the first newspapers published were used as a medium of expression for the needs and concerns of the island’s two main communities respectively, mostly emphasising differences as opposed to commonalities.

With some exceptions, this led to focusing on the coverage of events by media within their own community. The events of 1974, which contributed to the physical division of the country, also served to widen the gap between the media and are often the main reference points with regards to relations with the other community.

Media, the economy (and the financial crisis), politics and the Cyprus Problem occupy an important place in the islandʼs daily life, the three are very closely interrelated; political actors are the most prominent on the media stage and the Cyprus Problem is a main topic of discourse. All developments and any references to aspects of the Problem, become news items and give political party leaders and others the opportunity to access the media and present their views and comments. The extend of the political affiliation of e.g. newspapers is demonstrated by the close links to political parties of certain dailies.

The two main communities in Cyprus have been physically separated for four decades and the Cypriot media mirror the island's political division, with each part operating its own press and broadcasters and media institutions, which communicate in two different languages, Greek and Turkish. This applies to the (official) news agencies: Cyprus News Agency - the "semi-governmental" news agency in the southern part of the island, and TAK in the north.

Obstacles to the free flow of news across across the divide weigh heavily on journalists, however in recent years under various initiatives (including the Cyprus Community Media Centre), cooperation among journalists and media across the divide has been rising - still, though, having a small part of the mainstream media discourse.

Links and sources

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What's the future for Community Media in Cyprus? An abstract.

For the last couple of years of my life I am having my head stuck into Community Media and more specifically, the Cyprus Community Media Center or, the shorter, more known version of its name, the CCMC.

Basically, "Community Media" aims to do what "traditional" media -both state-owned and corporate-owned- doesn't: to give a voice to the voiceless, to bring communities closer to media literacy and skills (especially on new media) AND (interestingly) to bring communities and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) closer to the traditional, established media. After all, Community Media does not directly compete with traditional media, in fact they are (or, should be) in a modus operandi I like to call "co-opetion" (an impromptu of "cooperation" and "competition").

But, as you all may know (and we shouldn't even start a conversation on that now!), the financial crisis has hit the media sector in Cyprus - really, really badly. On this, you can see an extensive previous post. Has this also affected Community Media? Well, CCMC does not exist in a vacuum, so yes. 

Moreover, as many NGOs rely on funding (based on competitive and other grants) and right now funding is becoming increasingly scarce and more competitive, the question is, what is the future for Community Media in Cyprus, provided that basically CCMC currently carries Community Media in Cyprus on its shoulders?

Many other questions too: If well-established media are currently facing such hardships, what chances CCMC has (that basically it's just an NGO) to grow, let alone to survive? How can someone study the current environment and come with useful organization strategy when things are in such flux and there is uncertainty, even for the very near future? Are we as insane as in attempting to set sail on the high ghastly dark seas?  

We are working on it. 

For me, personally, I am trying to put a lot of things written so to create a framework for business strategy development for any Community Media organization. It is, after all, also part of my thesis. For this, we work closely with CCMC's management, staff and the rest of the Governing Board (that I am a member of it, representing IKME).

I have put these questions, in a more thorough and formal manner, into the abstract you see below. When I -working with the rest of CCMC- will have some answers, I will keep you posted. I have a deadline in a week. Enjoy and good to luck to us, the CCMC - and me, the Masters student.

Business Strategy for a Community Media Organization in the light of the impact of the Financial Crisis on the Media Sector in Cyprus


Transnational organizations like the European Parliament [1], European Commission [2] and UNESCO [3] have recognized the role of Community Media and called in resolutions for its recognition and promotion as a third sector* of mass media; for stakeholders and the business sector to invest and develop in it; and for the EU member states to accommodate this sector with necessary law reforms (e.g. licensing, regulation etc) and support.

It has been identified as the Community Media sector’s role as a contributing agent Economic Change in Europe and also the importance of Community Media activities such as the increasing of media literacy, in order to foster active citizenship.

For Cyprus, Community Media as a “third sector” in mass media is a novelty. Although in countries abroad Community Media is an established sector, in Cyprus the chance and challenge is given to discover and break new ground for this sector.

The recently established Cyprus Community Media Center is an organization that has been created from an incubator-like scheme, from a competitive grant proposal awarded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Cyprus. In July 2013, CCMC will function as an organization independent from the UNDP grant: it will have to survive, sustained and grow on its own. The transition started in 2012 and the administration of CCMC must make all necessary preparations to ensure the transition succeeds, in order to succeed its sustainability and growth.

For the successful transition and future growth of CCMC, the knowledge and business administration methodologies have been employed in order to meet the following requirements:

a) The review of relevant literature on Community Media, business transition and strategy and apply it in the context of the Community Media sector in Cyprus. The study of previous works, reports, literature review, as well as communiques, directives and white papers from transnational organizations have contributed to identify gaps, research and development needs in the context of Community Media in Cyprus, contributed for the design of a suggested framework for Community Media development, helped to reinforce the business plan for CCMC, as well as to research and display best practices from abroad as recommendations.

b) Based on information from interviews and other sources, an analysis has been conducted regarding the impact of the financial crisis on media organizations in Cyprus and the implications. From this, the role Community Media could play for the “traditional” media has been established, to provide support during the crisis, to establish cooperation (“co-opetion”), to disseminate the strategic use of new tools and techniques (new media) and to act as the “binding” agent, mediating and bringing the communities closer to traditional media.

c) The relevant stakeholders have been identified and research, market/business environment research and study has been conducted needed for a complete strategic business plan for a Community Media Organization in Cyprus.

d) Quantitative and qualitative research have been employed, ultimately contributing to test whether CCMC can have a sustainable future in the current view of economical prospects in Cyprus and most importantly, to help make necessary provisions in the business plan (and adjustments in current operations) in order to mitigate the adverse market climate.

e) A critical analysis of all elements has contributed in the authoring of a well and thoroughly written strategic business plan, coming forward with further recommendations and suggestions -including on the business production processes- and further research questions needed for the new, Community Media sector in Cyprus.

f) The results have been incorporated into a suggested methodology that can be used by community media organizations in Cyprus as a strategic planning framework.

Relevant Documents:

[1] European Parliament resolution of 25 September 2008 on Community Media in Europe (2008/2011(INI))

[2] COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION 20.8.2009 on media literacy in the digital environment for a more competitive audiovisual and content industry and an inclusive knowledge society. - COMMISSION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES Brussels, 20.8.2009 C(2009) 6464 final

[3] UNESCO – UNESCO Chair on Community Media -

* In this context, Community Media acts as a “third sector” in mass media, meaning that it is distinct from state-owned media, as well as from privately-owned and profit-oriented media corporations,with varying differences in terms of ownership, orientation, mission, forms, conduct, format, content, framework etc.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Impact of the Financial Crisis on Mass Media in Cyprus

note: This is a first attempt to gather evidence, views, as well as scholarly sources to outline the impact of the financial crisis on mass media in Cyprus. Additionally, this article has also used information from interviews and discussions with editors, media owners and journalists. 

Combined with my past and present experience working with the media, the resulting article is surely not exhaustive on the matter and more aspects regarding the impact of the financial crisis on mass media in Cyprus are yet to be explored.

Useful information and opinions were also gathered during a round table discussion organized by Politeia: “Crisis, Media and Democracy”, 19 June 2013, with the participation of relevant stakeholders (journalists/editors, media owners, representatives from the Union of Cyprus Journalists, Advertisers associations, academicians, bloggers etc). 

The OSI Reports (Footprint of Financial Crisis in the Media, analysing the sutuation in several Eastern European countries) have been especially helpful. Paragraphs and chunks taken from those reports seem to be eerily prophetic and needed very little editing from my behalf to match with an estimating opinion on how the future could unfold for the media in Cyprus!

Impact of Advertising Drop: not just profits

In the words of Antonis Makrides, president of the Union of Cyprus Journalists, “Advertising is the blood donor of media”. As spending on advertising and marketing has dropped in the last years, the financial woes of media organizations have deepened.
At a round table discussion (organized by Politeia (2013) regarding the Impact of the financial crisis on Press and its implications on Democracy), editors and journalists, media owners and managers, academicians, representatives of advertising companies unions and other stakeholders, have come together to examine the depth of the problem, establish a common understanding about it and its implications and ways to tackle them.
The round table discussion was based on the assumption that the financial crisis, causing a drop in advertising revenue that the bulk of media organizations' survival depends upon, will cause media to shrink with a lot of outlets shutting down and subsequently the media will not be able to perform their duty to society: to investigate, analyse and reveal and present the facts to the public, thus to help the public articulate informed opinions and make informed decisions. A blow in the media's ability to perform this role will lead to uninformed citizens, prone to manipulation, false information and superficiality in the news, thus based on information of poor quality, to make wrong decisions and this becoming a blow to democracy itself.
Of course, the impact of crisis on media and subsequently on democracy is neither unique to Cyprus, nor new to the world. Reports and papers presented here, that have studied the cases of other countries, outline and describe similar findings. Though there are disparities of the urgency of the situation among countries: For example, the serious, prolonged financial crises in several of the eastern European countries (crises that have pre-existed that of Cyprus) have far more serious implications on media and in the societies (see report of OSI, 2010) rather than e.g. western more well-off European countries. However, what is worrying, is by deducting the differences of those countries with Cyprus and by combining them with the patterns of the downward spiral effects of severe financial crises, a conclusion to be drawn is that the Cyprus media will soon face the same difficult situations and ailments of media in Easter European countries.
From a point of view, advertising revenue is of utmost importance for the independence and impartiality of media organizations (Reuter, Jonathan, and Eric Zitzewitz, (2006)). Advertising revenue allows media organizations to be as such, because then they do not need to endorse practices of political affiliations and rely on corporate and other external vested interests that would want to control media's opinion and direction by having them relying on their sponsorship and financial support. Thus, media organizations that are more independent (and, therefore, more reliant on advertising revenue), are in even more disadvantaged position than media of government (or politically-affiliated) ownership.
With advertising markets still largely at a standstill and people’s purchasing power considerably below the pre-crisis levels, the future will be hard. More cost-saving measures will follow, further withdrawal of foreign companies investing in Cyprus (and providing advertising revenue) is probable and bankruptcies of media organizations seem to be imminent.
The situation has become more difficult not only in terms of generating revenue through advertising but also maintaining advertisement prices.

The effects on the Media Labour Relations and Labour Market

At the early effects of the crisis, most media organizations started by reducing staff in non-editorial departments such as marketing, administration and advertising. But as the issue became more serious, salary freezes, abolition of annual bonuses and wage cuts among editorial staff followed suit and, eventually, lay-offs of journalists. This is a pattern found not just in Cyprus, but in other cases as well (State of the News Media, 2013).
Media organizations are constantly being forced to reduce costs, and the journalists’ salaries remain low, also cutting on the number of staff so as to reduce personnel costs. Despite the cuts, an attempt is made to maintain the level of quality and quantity and the remaining employees are given extra work at the same pay scale.
Consequently, when there are replacements of experienced journalists that have been recently laid-off, many times they are replaced by inexperienced journalists in order to be hired on a lower than usual salary and this is another factor that effects the quality of news coverage. Also, newly-hired (young) journalists are hired under weaker, less favourable labour-regulating conditions: Instead of being registered by their employers to the Union of Cyprus Journalists (that would ensure some privileges like access to trainings and protection as journalists and in their job), they are instead hired on personal contracts that weaken their status as journalists and make them more vulnerable to pressure, sacrificing essential integrity and impartiality.
They are more susceptible to the media outlet’s owner “watchful eye” ensuring the outlet’s news reporting does not deviate from certain lines of interest (for example in Cyprus, politics are often behind business in the media industry), so these journalists are not always given the chance to freely function professionally.
The weakening of the Union of Cyprus Journalists' ability to protect editorial staff from practices of manipulation and interference to impartiality is caused by the stiff competition of journalists trying to simply keep having a job. Not only young journalists that have recently entered the trade are in a disadvantageous position. An eloquent descriptive narrative of the situation by Antonis Markides, president of the Union and senior journalist: “When I was then an editor in newspapers, I had the freedom and security and no fear to investigate and write whatever I wanted. I had no fear that when I was digging and exposing information, someone could tell me “don't do it because of X and Y interests”. If the media owner would ever come to me and say so, I could easily tell him off and tell him where to go! I have done that in a number of newspapers I worked at. Nowadays, I know that, even I, if the media owner comes and tell me “do not write this”, what could I tell him? Without backing and the easiness of being left without a job, how can I resist to him and tell him “no”? I am afraid I do not know whether I have that power any more”.
However, from an opposing point of view, an extensive research by Andreas Panayiotou (2013) suggests that there is substantial evidence indicating that mass media outlets have generally failed to report important news regarding the scandals in the banking sector – or even participated in cover-up of many scandals. The study suggests that banks and political factors have had an influence on media, thus regulating what and how is published.
The use of freelancers by media organizations is a practice that is gaining ground as a way to cut costs. This is, again, found beyond the scope of Cyprus (see study of Cranberg, Gilbert, Bezanson, Randall, and Soloski, John. 2001 for more about labour relations and employment practices in corporate media ownership regime). Freelancers can even be former staff members and even currently working full time elsewhere. This, to some extent, eases the budget conditions of the media, but puts journalists at a greater social risk, as freelance relationship can be terminated without notice and compensation and does not have provisions for sick leave or holiday. Lack of professionalism can be a consequence of that and thus lower output quality.

The Role of Mass Media for the challenges posed by the Financial Crisis

The current financial crisis is rapidly becoming a crisis at all levels, also threatening to become a major social crisis in Cyprus of an unprecedented magnitude – comparable with the social consequences of the war of 1974 – as well as a crisis for democracy itself.
As media plays an important role in the dissemination of information, it also plays an important role on both how analysts and investors look at news information and how the public opinion is shaped on matters beyond the economy. (Brad, and Terrance Odean, 2008).
In fact, media actors at all levels (journalists, editors, owners and others), bear the burden of the big responsibility in their professional capacity, as in these years of crisis they have to play a major role in strengthening the country’s democratic system by informing the public in the most complete and accurate manner.
However, this role of media is very challenging, considering the profound circumstances after the March 2013 Eurogroup memorandum agreement that has sent shockwaves through the Cypriot economy's foundations. This means, journalists and media organizations alike cannot “play” this completely different game with the same rules and modus operandi they used during the previous years.
Now more than ever, investigative journalism is of essence in order for media to be able to scrutinize. But investigative journalism is expensive (Houston, 2010), since it involves a large commitment of reporting staff that are then would not be available to cover everyday matters; also carrying costs in terms of travel and gathering information.
Moreover, media organizations have to take in consideration the fact that nowadays information and different kinds of data (text and audiovisual) constantly stream in every place and in different kinds of devices too: homes, offices, on the road; smartphones, handheld devices – beyond traditional desktop and laptop computers. This means news consumers are getting more demanding not only about the quality and quantity of content, but also about the variety and level of sources: different outlets, but also through social networks – beyond traditional newspapers and magazines. In other words: choice. The latter signifies that delivery of news must become individualized, being custom-delivered based on its weight of relevance on each news consumer. (See also: Westlund O. 2008 ).

Recommendations for Journalists and Media Organizations
As a recommendation, journalists should be trained in business and economy/financial journalism in order to tackle the problem of insufficient coverage of crisis-related issues - to close the gap on lack of relevant investigative skills and understanding of the matter. Media organizations offering targeted support for investigative journalism will help to keep dubious governance practices in public view (Casey, Joseph E. Diego G. and Christopher P. (2010)).
In communities with limited ways to get their voice heard and with low internet skills, a more balanced coverage of local issues and news delivery can be achieved by means of Community Media, i.e.: training, media literacy and skills, collectively using media with new technologies - strategically, for the benefit of the community.
Both the established and new media organizations and outlets have to adopt innovative and flexible media business models to ensure sustainable and diverse news delivery. Sound business models that encompass values of openness and public participation are compatible with today’s “flat” news hierarchies and technological capacity of the modern news consumer.
Journalists should be updated in modern techniques and receive training on subjects like data journalism and data scraping, contemporary online and ICT skills, strategic use of social media. Especially regarding data journalism, journalists should also be trained how to use online techniques combined with strong knowledge on how various Freedom of Information regulations work (e.g. in state, local authorities and public administration levels, EU level and also in various countries) in order to be able to gain quick and full access to information.
Such initiatives will help to ensure that cash-strapped media do not compromise their public function and do not leave citizens poorly informed and prone to political manipulation.

Internet: a ally or a foe for Mass Media?

Although internet is a powerful tool for disseminating information, the crisis in the media in Cyprus is also connected to the diffusion of the Internet. The internet, as a cheap and omnipresent tool able to convey news and information rapidly around the world, has challenged the traditional media that have enjoyed the monopolies on communication information to the public. Media organizations in Cyprus were late to encompass internet and new technologies into their strategic plans and as a result they were not able to fit in the changing marketplace that relies more and more on technology and instantly available information.
As a result, the media outlets have become increasingly deferred with the public’s expectations regarding online experience and thus they have lost market in online advertising. Moreover, the public has started getting news from social networks and international news from websites of foreign media organizations.
In combination with the public’s increasing interest to read the news “between the lines” of what the established media offered, the Internet offered the opportunity to the alienated members of the public to bypass established media outlets and on the other hand it offered the possibility to bloggers, various opinion holders, as well as new outlets exclusively based on the web to “fill the gap” – phenomena particularly among the middle classes and younger citizens (See also World Association of Newspapers, 2012 on how young persons turn to online media).
More active members of the public have turned to alternative media on the internet for news and analyses, gaining greater diversity of opinions and thus enabling them to form a more balanced opinion on a matter, as compared of getting information from a single established media news outlet. Active citizens seek news online from sources beyond established media, as certain news and analyses fall outside the purview of the monitoring of established media and news state agencies (that are more concerned with monitoring traditional mass media outlets). Also, members of the public can access news and information that could not be published by established media, due to controversy or censorship (self-imposed, or state-regulated) (See also an interesting case on how radio offered alternative news perspectives and shaped public opinion by Stromberg, David, 2004).

Online Opportunities exploited

“When one door closes another door opens”, at the same time, beyond the negative effects, the financial crisis has also had certain positive effects on media organizations. It forced outlets to increase efficiency and invest in online presence. It has also increased resourcefulness among audiences with people consuming more sources in order to form their opinion. When comparing with the impact on “traditional media” -e.g. newspapers that rely on expensive printers in order to print daily and TV stations that rely on expensive terrestrial broadcasting- the crisis, has affected media that are exclusively web-based much less and has brought new audiences to the internet.
The rapid rise of Twitter and Facebook coincided with the crisis and -combined with the drop in consumers’ disposable income and the need for traditional media to find new audiences- has led to an explosion of online communities of consumers.
An explosion of blogging, micro-blogging and social networks coincided with the financial crisis constitute one of the biggest recent changes in the media landscape. Some traditional outlets have turned this trend to their advantage, expanding their presence on Facebook and Twitter – some using those social media not as just another way to dispense their information, but to create an online interactive community with the public. The financial crisis has also greatly influenced internet users’ behaviour and preferences especially among the young generation. Generally there is a trend of increasingly turning to the internet as their primary (and many times exclusive) source of news.
Another impact of the financial crisis is that although it has made it difficult for new entrants to enter the news media industry, new technologies, however, can enable much wider new participants in the news media. This could be one of the few overall biggest changes in recent developments in the media sector.
Indeed, not only independent new websites acting as online news portals have emerged, but also blogs, forums and online communities in social media have been established that provide the public with alternative news sources other than the established mass media.
However, apart from some efforts of establishment of quality online news portals that are important to provide alternative options to the public, this increase in amount of information on the internet has not translated into a higher quality of content (supporting this view: PJ Boczkowski, M De Santos, 2007). This is because most of these blogs, forums or portals are ran or managed, for the most part, by inexperienced or non-professionals, and this may lead to misinterpretation and misrepresentation of facts. There is not much original news produced by online portals, sometimes acting as mere news aggregators, or relying a lot on translations from other outlets. That is why most news consumers would rather search for confirmation in the mainstream media, if they have any special topics of interest in the news.

Sources and further reading:
Footprint of Financial Crisis in the Media - Open Society institute - Media Program - January 2010 -
Panayiotou Andreas 2013, Οι Τράπεζες, τα ΜΜΕ και οι προσπάθειες Συγκάλυψης, Μετατόπισης και Λογοκρισίας των σκανδάλων - (Η εισαγωγή, η εξέλιξη και οι αναπαραστάσεις της οικονομικής κρίσης στην Κύπρο), Αντρέας Παναγιώτου
Politeia, 2013: Round table discussion “Crisis, Media and Democracy” organized by Politeia a Civic Organization ( ), 19 June 2013.
Westlund O. 2008: From Mobile Phone to Mobile Device: News Consumption on the Go. Canadian Journal of Communication, Vol 33, No 3 (2008)
Brad, and Terrance Odean (2008) .The effect of attention and news on the buying behavior of individual and institutional investors, Review of Financial Studies 21, 785–818.
Cranberg, Gilbert, Bezanson, Randall, & Soloski, John. (2001). Taking Stock: Journalism & the Publicly Traded Newspaper Company. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press.
Casey, Joseph E. Diego G. and Christopher P. (2010). The power of rhetoric in financial journalism, Working paper, University of North Carolina.
Reuter, Jonathan, and Eric Zitzewitz, (2006) Advertising and bias in the financial media, Quarterly Journal of Economics 121, 197–227.
Stromberg, David, 2004, Radio's impact on public spending, Quarterly Journal of Economics 119, 189–221.
PJ Boczkowski, M De Santos (2007) “When more media equals less news: Patterns of content homogenization in Argentina's leading print and online newspapers” - Political Communication, 2007 - Taylor & Francis, Volume 24, Issue 2, 2007
World Association of Newspapers. 2012. World Press Trends 2012, Paris: World Association of Newspapers.
Brant Houston, 2012. “The future of investigative journalism” Daedalus, Spring 2010, Vol. 139, No. 2, Pages 45-56, (doi:10.1162/daed.2010.139.2.45), American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
State of the News Media 2013: Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism -

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Iceland, Cyprus and the stupidity that follows.

Well, if you have read the news lately, it is now "official": According to the interim report of the "Independent Commission on the Future of the Cyprus Banking Sector", it has been concluded that the Central Bank of Cyprus has been inadequate to oversee the banking system, to enforce the rules of the game (because in the whole money/derivatives-trading/swapping game, yes, there are rules about conduct and risk exposure that Cyprus' Banks and Central Bank were obliged to follow - and didn't) and basically that the Central Bank of Cyprus has been (and still is) a complete failure to do its job - hence partly the reason Cyprus is in the situation that it is now. Thank you, Sherlock.

Coincidentally, a year back, my MBA professor asked my team to prepare a study about what took place in Iceland - with the known results of their own financial catastrophe. It was a bit of a hot potato subject, because back then Iceland was in the situation Cyprus is now: in the aftermath, trying to figure out what had happened, there was a lot digging and discovering (and some times "discovering") taking place about what when wrong, what did not work, who is to blame etc etc.

Well, it seems we did a good job into spherically tackling the subject - after a lot of research we produced a lengthy report with lots on insight on the matter.

The eerie part of the story, is that one year later, this report rings a lot of similarities of what went wrong in Cyprus.

Of course, Cyprus' and Iceland's cases of financial catastrophe do have a lot of differences - but do bare the similarities, especially this one: It has been concluded that the Central Bank of Iceland was also in the same inadequate capacity to properly perform its supervisory and regulatory role - pretty much in the same way with the Central Bank of Cyprus.

Of course, there are many striking similarities in the cases of Cyprus and Iceland, like the sudden extreme ease of getting credit and the subsequent spending frenzy on excesses; the euphoria of the masses that as a consequence all voices of scepticism and warning were suppressed; an elite group of people (about 30 in Iceland) that "took the money and ran"... the irony and similarities go on and on - reminds you of something familiar?

But do pay attention on the issue of the Icelandic Central Bank. As we have illustrated in our report:

"In order to grasp how “big” this credit frenzy was -and how bad things had turned out- it only needs to illustrate that by the end of crisis Icelandic banks' obligations amounted 9 times Iceland's GDP: Iceland’s banks ended up owning 75 billion Euros (a foreign currency in Iceland). This amount was much greater in relation with the population size and, not surprisingly, there were no corresponding funds (neither in Euros, neither in Krona) available in Iceland’s Central Bank as a backup in case of default, which that what was eventually happened at a big scale."

Also, the Icelandic Central Bank was never prepared to work, oversee and regulate the country's economy in a financial environment of high stakes, big money and fast transactions, but most importantly with the radical changes in banking/financial institutions regulation and opening up to international financial products markets (due to the liberalization that had been recently implemented).

The bottom line is, it was a case of "shut up and enjoy the party that never ends". Well, the party did end for Iceland in a very dramatic manner: a shattered economy; a shuttered pride of a nation that boasted independence, self-sufficiency and discipline; a country with one of the highest rankings in the work for its democracy and many times on the top of "best places to live" indexes - despite all that cold! Reminding you that Cyprus was many times one of the best places to live in terms of quality of life - despite the fact that it is a war-torn country.

Again, of course, one cannot easily compare and contrast Iceland and Cyprus as countries: they are indeed too different in terms of culture, years of existence as states and governance styles. Iceland boasts the oldest continuously functioning parliament in the world -the over 500-years old "Althing"-, whereas Cyprus was -no offence- pretty much an "African-style" colony until 1960 and a truncated state (or, "state") since then. Iceland's culture was austere, disciplined with a very organized society, whereas Cyprus... well, you know. Iceland was proud about scoring the very lowest levels of corruption in its governance and state mechanism, whereas Cyprus... no comment "κουμπάρε μου που εν να μου κανονίσεις τον γιο μου στην Κυβέρνηση".

To be fair though one has to give credit to Cyprus that despite all these, it did manage to recover and thrive after a disastrous war and people worked hard to achieve one of the best standards of living in the world. I repeat, "despite all these", somehow (perhaps "with a little help from our friends"), Cyprus' people did that. And now it's gone.

Nevertheless, despite of our differences with Iceland (on one hand, Iceland seemed to have all things in place to continue being a strong and stable county and on the other hand, Cyprus had none of these things in place, resulting an any-time explosion in our faces - that eventually came), still, Cyprus and Iceland are currently pretty much in the same lake of dung.

The questions are: How could we've been so stupid to allow these things to take place - as well as letting incompetent people and crooks run the show. Will Cyprus and Iceland learn from their mistakes? About Cyprus, will justice ever be done - as they are currency trying in Iceland and have some considerable successes in penalizing individuals, politicians, civil servants  and organizations for their wrongdoing? Personally, with Cyprus' state miserable record regarding the ability to bring people to justice and punish them for their crimes against their country (see how many people where eventually punished for the stock market collapse, the 1974 coup, the Mari explosion, the political assassinations and inter-communal violence of the 1960's), I really do not think the latter will ever take place.

And also, is this the fate of a country, that in its course of existence its people must go through hard times and suffer - thus carrying the suffering as lessons and improve in the future? After all, the financial geniuses of today, the Dutch (hello Mister Dijsselbloem), in order to become so wise, they also had to go through a huge financial disaster in 1637 and the "raison de la stupidité" was, believe it or not, not some fancy financial products, but the vicious tulip.

Some of these questions are too philosophical for me to deliberate upon.

Anyway, here is the report in pdf: "The Global Economic Crisis:  Icelandic Saga".


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Published Paper and an Interesting Story (for most people that couldn't care less about papers :))

Some time ago I have authored a paper, titled "The Role of Mass Media in the Settlement of the Cyprus Problem" that has been published in this book: Managing Intractable Conflicts: Lessons from Moldova and Cyprus (.pdf - see page 39 in the book for my contribution).

The book was published in April 2013, by the Global Political Trends Center (GPoT) of the Istanbul Kültür University as a result of a project with APE, EEBB and OSF Moldova. More details about the project.

The purpose of the book was to study, collect various points of view, to discuss various aspects and contrast the differences and similarities of two conflicts, of Cyprus and of Transnistria, and produce some conclusions and recommendations that (hopefully) would help those that somehow influence or contribute in the discourse and politics of the conflict.

Few people in Cyprus are aware that we are in vitae parallelae (βίοι παράλληλοι) with a region "up there", sandwiched between the areas controlled by the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

Fewer people know, about the many times eerie similarities with Cyprus we found out during a study visit to both Chişinău (the capital of Moldova) and Tiraspol in the "Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic" (aka "Transnistria").

Meeting with Mr. Andrei Popov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration  (fifth from the right) and his aide (end right). Both looked like very nice guys. The two worst dressed gentlemen in the photo are the Cypriots.

During our visit we spoke with a lots of officials from the authorities from both sides of river Dniester (that acts as a natural barrier), MPs, ministers, mayors, negotiators, ambassadors and representatives of international organizations etc etc. This included a visit to the "Supreme Council/Soviet" ("Верховный Совет Приднестровской Молдавской Республики" - that's how the Parliament of Transnistria is called and that is not a joke).

The Supreme Soviet building, with full fledged hammer and sickle insignias and a statue of Lenin outside - and this is not a joke either. Transnistria, although pretty much a market economy (with an interesting twist - this you have to research yourself), still carries the styles and symbols of what we knew as the "socialist reality".

This is not part of a museum - this statue of Lenin is outside of the Supreme Soviet of Transnistria. The year is 2012.

There we met with members of the Supreme Council/Soviet. The discussions were not so fruitful in terms of getting information, but they were very fruitful in terms of gaining an understanding of what is going on with the argumentation, rhetoric/polemic style etc.

One interesting member of the Supreme Soviet we met and spoke with was Mr "X" - his party currently holding one seat out of 45. He was not very favourable (in fact, at all) for any possibility for negotiations for some sort of reunification of Transistria with Moldova and made that very clear indeed (and by "made very clear" I mean he was a bit aggressive). After we left the meeting, our Moldovan colleague informed us that Mr X was in fact wanted by Interpol for having shot dead two persons in broad daylight - simply because they had accidentally blocked his way while driving. When I went back to the hotel, I needed to check that.

Welcome to Transnistria. Crossing the checkpoint. Transnistria, although pretty much a market economy, still carries the styles and symbols of what we knew as the "socialist reality". 

The rest of the representatives we met in Transistria and in the Supreme Soviet were more tactful and friendly - we had more meaningful conversations and at least they didn't look like the pistolero kind.

Now, back to those "similarities". We heard so many times in regards with the Cyprus problem: Recognition status, occupation, negotiations, "mother countries", international assistance, vested interests, strategic games in the region of the so-called "big powers" etc etc... After seeing and studying the Transistrian case, well, I guess we are not alone anymore.

You see, both cases of Cyprus and Moldova/Transnistria are categorized as "intractable" conflicts - a fancy name for (excuse me for putting it very simplistically): "what was done was done, they are not shooting each other anymore since a long time, why can't they solve it"?

"Why can't they solve it" indeed. "Why can't we solve our own problem" is our own one million dollar (or euro, or ruble) question. As far as I am concerned, Moldova and Cyprus may be worlds apart in regards of even caring about each other's problems, but at the same time so similar and (from a point of view - use your imagination) so close.

My question was, how can the media contribute in the solution effort, or are media acting as part of the problem itself?

I have to admit, my paper is neither the "best" or most "accurate" or unbiased about this issue. I did my best just to provide a point of view, not a generic analysis. Surely, people will come with different opinions regarding the media - one journalist friend of mine already told me that I painted the darkest picture. Other colleagues liked and agreed with the article.

In fact, I myself have had my share of reservations with some of my colleagues' contributions in the same book - but hey, if we agreed on everything, I guess there wouldn't be a "Cyprus" nor a "Transnistria" problem!

Well, you had your interesting story, if you want, now read the paper.

Peace (literally).

As guests in the Supreme Soviet's meeting hall. My name in Cyrillic characters, but transliterated from English :)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Training needs analysis for the "Integration Program for School Dropouts" Project

I haven't blogged since years.

This is a report I have composed regarding  the training needs analysis for the "Integration Program for School Dropouts" (IPSD) Project.

They are based on various sources I have found on the Internet - they are mentioned at the end of the report.

IPSD is an EU-funded project and the main aims are:
  • develop educational approaches in a supportive environment at work to young people dropping out of school,
  • develop reintegration programs include communications, new technologies, cultural education and socio-occupational training,
  • create thematic network dedicated to training for young workers who work as apprentice.
For more information about the project, please visit

Monday, May 3, 2010

Google Docs και άλλα Δωρεάν Online Λογισμικά Γραφείου

Το να μπορεί ο χρήστης να τρέχει το λογισμικό γραφείου και να αποθηκεύει τα αρχεία αποκλειστικά μέσω δικτύου (χωρίς δηλαδή να χρειάζεται οποιαδήποτε εγκατάσταση του προγράμματος στον Η/Υ του), δεν είναι καινούργια ιδέα. Ορισμένοι αναγνώστες ίσως να θυμούνται παλαιότερα σε μεγάλες εταιρείες όπου οι χρήστες δεν είχαν ηλεκτρονικούς υπολογιστές με δική τους μνήμη ή επεξεργαστή, αλλά "άβουλα" τερματικά (dumb terminals) τα οποία ήταν όλα συνδεδεμένα μέσω (τοπικού -LAN-, ή WAN δικτύου) σε ένα κεντρικό Η/Υ (αλλιώς, σέρβερ). Με αυτό το τρόπο όλα τα προγράμματα έτρεχαν στον κεντρικό Η/Υ και τα τερματικά λειτουργούσαν ουσιαστικά μόνο σαν μονάδες εισόδου-εξόδου δεδομένων. (σημ.: σε αντίθεση με τα τερματικά, τα "Thin Clients" έχουν ένα βαθμό αυτονομίας και δεν εξαρτόνται κατ' ανάγκη αποκλειστικά από το σέρβερ).

Για πολλούς λόγους όμως, έπρεπε να περάσουν αρκετά χρόνια και να επέλθουν πολλές τεχνολογικές αλλαγές μέχρι η ανάλογη εφαρμογή να είναι εφικτή σε επίπεδο διαδικτύου. Σήμερα πλέον, με τις ευρέως διαθέσιμες, φθηνές και γρηγορότερες ευρυζωνικές συνδέσεις (ADSL κ.α.), με πολύ φθηνότερους και δυνατότερους Η/Υ και κεντρικούς Η/Υ (servers) και με τις βελτιώσεις των υφιστάμενων και δημιουργία νέων, καλύτερων τεχνολογιών διαδικτύου και λογισμικού (AJAX, σταθεροί, ασφαλείς και τεχνολογικά υπέρτεροι browser, τεχνολογίες ανάπτυξης διαδικτυακών εφαρμογών κ.α.), η ιδέα του "software as a service" στα λογισμικά γραφείου αναδεικνύεται όλο και περισσότερο σαν ακόμα μία καλή επιλογή για τις μάζες των χρηστών και των επιχειρήσεων.

Πλεονεκτήματα και Εφαρμογές των Online Λογισμικών Γραφείου

Τα πλεονεκτήματα των online εφαρμογών γραφείου. Πρώτον, δεν χρειάζεται οποιαδήποτε εγκατάσταση κάποιου πακέτου λογισμικού γραφείου στον Η/Υ του χρήστη. Αυτό σημαίνει ότι γλυτώνει χώρο και πόρους στον ηλεκτρονικό του υπολογιστή, ότι δεν χρειάζεται να έχει έγνοια για εγκατάσταση σχετικών updates, patches, κλπ, ότι δεν χρειάζεται να προβαίνει ο ίδιος σε αναβαθμίσεις νεότερων εκδόσεων και το κυριότερο, πολλές από αυτές τις υπηρεσίες (μιας και μιλάμε για "software as a service") παρέχονται δωρεάν.

Δεύτερον, ο χρήστης δεν δεσμεύεται σε ένα μόνο Η/Υ για να μπορεί να δουλέψει: σε έναν οποιοδήποτε Η/Υ με browser και σύνδεση στο διαδίκτυο, ο χρήστης δύναται να κάνει login στην υπηρεσία και να έχει πρόσβαση στο online λογισμικό γραφείο, καθώς και στα online αποθηκευμένα αρχεία του. Πόσο σπουδαίο είναι αυτό; Ας δώσουμε ένα παράδειγμα. Καλή ώρα, ο υποφαινόμενος δουλεύει στο παρών άρθρο σε τρεις διαφορετικούς ηλεκτρονικούς υπολογιστές σε τρεις διαφορετικές τοποθεσίες. Εάν δούλευα με το συμβατικό τρόπο, θα έπρεπε να κάνω το εξής: κάθε φορά που έπρεπε να φεύγω από τον ένα υπολογιστή, να φύλαγα το κείμενο που δούλευα πάνω σε μία αποθηκευτική μονάδα USB ("USB Stick"), ή να το έστελνα στο web-based ηλ. ταχυδρομείο μου, ή στο online storage μου. Έπειτα, σε κάθε άλλο Η/Υ που πήγαινα, να έπρεπε να έχω μαζί μου το USB stick, με την προϋπόθεση ότι ο κάθε Η/Υ έχει εγκατεστημένο πακέτο λογισμικού γραφείου (ΚΑΙ Ελληνικό διορθωτή κειμένου), ώστε να μπορώ να φορτώσω το αρχείο εκ νέου και να συνεχίσω τη συγγραφή. Και όταν έχεις να κάνεις με πολλά διαφορετικά αρχεία και πρέπει να κάθεσαι να γυρεύεσαι εάν τα πιο πρόσφατα είναι στον υπολογιστή του γραφείου, ή αυτά που βρίσκονται αποθηκευμένα στο USB stick, τότε με λίγα λόγια (και μιλώ εκ πείρας), ασ' τα να πάνε!

Ευτυχώς τίποτα από όλα αυτά δεν συμβαίνουν στη ζωή μου, επειδή χρησιμοποιώ ένα δωρεάν και πάνω απ΄όλα πρακτικό online πακέτο λογισμικού γραφείου, το οποίο θα μοιραστώ μαζί σας: το Google Docs (, το οποίο χρησιμοποιώ αυτή τη στιγμή για να γράψω αυτές τις γραμμές. Γιατί "πρακτικό"; Κατ'αρχήν η Google δεν είναι η πρώτη εταιρία που ανέπτυξε online λογισμικό γραφείου - κατ'ακρίβεια το Google Docs συναποτελείται από ήδη υφιστάμενα συστήματα εκ των οποίων κάποια η Google αγόρασε και προσάρτησε στα δικά της. Ωστόσο, το Google Docs είναι το πιο διαδεδομένο και επιτυχημένο online λογισμικό γραφείου, αφού κατάφερε να ξεπεράσει διάφορα προβλήματα που είχαν άλλα συστήματα, καθώς και για άλλους λόγους. Να αναφέρουμε ορισμένα. Άλλα online λογισμικά γραφείου προαπαιτούσαν την εγκατάσταση άλλων συστημάτων (π.χ.: κάτι σαν client, ή κάποιο πακέτο το οποίο να μπορούσε να υποστηρίξει την τεχνολογία που έτρεχε το online λογισμικό γραφείου). Το Google Docs μπορεί να δουλέψει σε οποιοδήποτε Η/Υ με μέση διαμόρφωση, χωρίς την ανάγκη εγκατάστασης επιπρόσθετων εξειδικευμένων συστημάτων από τον χρήστη.

Επίσης, άλλα online λογισμικά γραφείου δεν πρόσφεραν μία ολοκληρωμένη λύση η οποία να ενσωμάτωνε όλα τα απαραίτητα προγράμματα γραφείου. Επιπλέον, πολλά από τα άλλα προγράμματα ήταν υποδεέστερα έναντι των βασικών αναγκών του μέσου χρήστη, με αποτέλεσμα να μην υιοθετούνται σαν πρώτη προτίμησή από τους χρήστες. Παράδειγμα, αδυναμίες και περιορισμοί στην εισαγωγή, εξαγωγή και αποθήκευση υφιστάμενων και νέων .doc αρχείων από και προς τον Η/Υ του χρήστη. Από την άλλη, το Google Docs συμπεριλαμβάνει προγράμματα για επεξεργασία κειμένου, δημιουργία Παρουσιάσεων, Λογιστικών Φύλλων και Φορμών, διορθωτές κειμένων πολλών γλωσσών, καθώς και πολύ καλή διαχείριση αρχείων, τόσο σε online επίπεδο, τόσο σε επίπεδο υποστήριξης συμβατικών αρχείων .doc, .xls κλπ. Είχαμε και το άλλο κουφό: ένα online λογισμικό γραφείου ενώ δούλευε μια χαρά σε ένα συγκεκριμένο browser (π.χ. Internet Explorer), σε άλλους browser (όπως Firefox, Safari) έκανε νερά, ή δεν δούλευε καθόλου. Ακόμη και σήμερα, ενώ από τεχνολογικής πλευράς υπάρχουν οι μέδοθοι, ορισμένα online λογισμικά γραφείου δεν έχουν ξεπεράσει αυτά τα κολλήματα.

Ένας άλλος λόγος της επιτυχίας του Google Docs είναι η σύνδεση και η αλληλεπίδραση της υπηρεσίας με άλλες δημοφιλείς υπηρεσίες της Google, όπως το Gmail, Google Accounts κλπ. Γιατί συμβαίνει αυτό; Περίπου ανάλογη στρατηγική είχε ακολουθήσει η Microsoft ώστε να εκτοξεύσει το Microsoft Office ως το πιο δημοφιλές πακέτο λογισμικού γραφείου. Με το να κερδίζει όλο και περισσότερους χρήστες να χρησιμοποιούν το Windows, τότε φυσικό είναι οι χρήστες να προτιμήσουν το Microsoft Office. Έτσι και το Google: με το να καταφέρει να προσελκύσει πολλούς χρήστες να προτιμούν το Gmail (εάν θυμάστε, η πρώτη δωρεάν online υπηρεσία ηλ. ταχυδρομείου που πρόσφερε πολλά πράγματα δωρεάν, ενώ άλλοι παροχείς χρέωναν γι'αυτά), με αυτόν τον τρόπο κατάφερε να πλασάρει το Google Docs σαν τη "φυσική επιλογή" των υφιστάμενων χρηστών του Gmail.

Περαιτέρω, υπάρχουν και άλλα διάφορα Online Λογισμικά Γραφείου, όπως το Zoho Office Suite ( το οποίο παρέχει και άλλες παρεμφερείς online εφαρμογές (όπως CRM, wiki και chat).

Ουσιαστική, Πρακτική, Διαδικτυακά ενδυναμομένη Συνεργασία

Πολλές φορές προκύπτει η ανάγκη να έχουν πρόσβαση ή/και να δουλεύουν περισσότερα από ένα άτομο πάνω σε ένα αρχείο. Παράδειγμα, όταν δέκα συνεργάτες μιας εταιρείας σε διαφορετικές τοποθεσίες πρέπει να συμβουλεύονται ένα .xls λογιστικό φύλο για τις τρέχουσες τιμές των προϊόντων της εταιρείας. Ή, όταν στη δουλειά μου πρέπει να ετοιμαστεί μια πρόταση για ένα πρότζεκτ, με κάποιο τρόπο να μπορούν να συνεργαστούν και οι δέκα εταίροι της σύμπραξης ώστε να συνταχθεί το κοινό .doc κείμενο της πρότασης.

Ο "παραδοσιακός" τρόπος που γίνονται αυτές οι δουλειές είναι το "πήγαινε-έλα" / "στείλε-πιάσε" με το email. Όμως, αυτός ο τρόπος επιφέρει διάφορα προβλήματα και μπορεί να είναι αντιπρακτικός και αντιπαραγωγικός. Ας πάρουμε το πρώτο σενάριο και να υποθέσουμε ότι η εταιρεία στέλνει πέντε φορές την ημέρα μέσω email κάθε νεότερο .xls αρχείο στους δέκα συνεργάτες της. Αυτό σημαίνει ότι κάθε φορά που ένας συνεργάτης πρέπει να δώσει μια τιμή, ή να προχωρήσει προς πώληση, πρέπει πρώτα να ελέγξει εάν του έχει σταλεί ένα πιο πρόσφατο αρχείο στο email του και να το κατεβάσει. Χάσιμο χρόνου. Σημαίνει επίσης, ότι η χρονική διάρκεια μεταξύ ανανέωσης και αποστολής του αρχείου μέσω email από την εταιρεία, αποτελεί ώρα λανθάνουσα. Ακόμη, ως γνωστόν η αποστολή email και συνημμένων αρχείων δεν εγγυάται πρώτον, την άμεση παράδοση προς τον παραλήπτη (υπάρχουν περιπτώσεις όπου ένα email μπορεί να καθυστερήσει ακόμη και ώρες) και δεύτερον, δεν εγγυάται καν την παραλαβή του email (μπορεί π.χ. να καταλήξει στα spam, ή για οποιοδήποτε λόγο να μην παραληφθεί χωρίς καμία μετέπειτα αναφορά σφάλματος).

Με τον παραδοσιακό τρόπο, τα πράγματα περιπλέκονται όλο και περισσότερο στο δεύτερο σενάριο: Τι γίνεται όταν δέκα συνέταιροι πρέπει να συνεργαστούν και να συνεισφέρουν για τη σύνταξη ενός αρχείου .doc; Ποιος κρατά λογαριασμό με την κάθε αλλαγή που γίνεται; Ποιος ενσωματώνει τις αλλαγές στο τελικό κείμενο; Τι συμβαίνει όταν το αρχείο μεγαλώνει π.χ. στα 5 megabyte και τα email των συνεταίρων δεν μπορούν να "σηκώσουν" τόσο μεγάλα αρχεία; Χαμός.

Όλες οι άνω μπερδεμένες καταστάσεις επιλύονται με ένα online λογισμικό γραφείου, όπως καλή ώρα το Google Docs. Οι χρήστες μπορούν να μοιράζονται (σε διάφορες διαβαθμίσεις πρόσβασης ο καθένας) το αρχείο, ώστε να μπορούν να το επεξεργάζονται ή/και να το βλέπουν ίδια στιγμή.

Πρέπει να σημειωθεί ότι αυτή η λειτουργία του online διαμερισμού δεν αποτελεί καινοτομία όπου η Google πρώτη υλοποίησε. Υπήρξαν εφαρμογές στο παρελθόν οι οποίες είχαν το ίδιο σκοπό, οι οποίες λόγο αδυναμιών και περιορισμών δεν κατάφεραν ούτε κατά διάνοια να γίνουν τόσο δημοφιλές όπως το Google Docs. Παράδειγμα, μια δαπανηρή και πιο πολύπλοκη εφαρμογή απαιτούσε συγκεκριμένες υπηρεσίες να τρέχουν σε ένα server στην εταιρεία, οι χρήστες να είχαν τα ίδια προγράμματα στους υπολογιστές τους, ή να στέλνουν ένα "κλειδωμένο" αρχείο σε email, όπου οι παραλήπτες έπρεπε να στείλουν πίσω... Όπως επίσης αδυναμίες που αναφέρθησαν προηγουμένως, όπως προ-απαίτηση συμπληρωματικών συστημάτων, ασυμβατότητα σε διαφορετικούς browser κ.α. (σ.σ.: επιφυλασσόμαστε να αναφερθούμε σε wiki εφαρμογές σε άλλο άρθρο).

Φωτογραφίες: ΛΕΖΑΝΤΑ: Το Zoho Office Suite ( παρέχει και άλλες παρεμφερείς online εφαρμογές που μπορείτε να ελέγξετε (όπως CRM, wiki και chat).

Ορέστης Τριγγίδης | | |