There are a lot of reasons why I love The Economist magazine and pay over $100 per year for a subscription. First of all, it summarizes all of its news articles, big and small, in the first 4-5 pages of the magazine. Don’t have time to read the entire issue? No problem, how does 20 minutes work for you? Second, it reports news from around the world as if the rest of the world actually matters, whereas every American news magazine I read looks at the rest of the world as an afterthought. You probably know me well enough to know that I travel internationally at least a couple times each year (not Greg Low levels of international travel, but still) and it always surprises my friends abroad that I know whose in leadership in their home country, what their biggest internal issues are, and so forth. Thank you Economist. Third, I like the external viewpoint the Economist brings to American politics. Although it’s has a moderately conservative political leaning, it doesn’t mind poking a finger into the eye of stupid ideas and positions held by any party or politician. Simply put, the Brits behind the Economist don’t have a dog in our fight and so are free to speak their own very well informed mind.
I count the subscription expense towards my professional development because I’ve had no other input that was quite as effective at broadening my horizons, so to speak.
Gosh – I did NOT mean to make this blog post sound like a commercial! My apologies!
What I was getting at in the heading points to another thing I really like about the Economist – very intelligent and well structured debates which the hold on-line every week or two. These debates follow the Oxford style of debate (I didn’t even know there was an Oxford style of debate) with open commentary from us, the public. In their words, “The format was made famous by the 186-year-old Oxford Union and has been practised by heads of state, prominent intellectuals and galvanising figures from across the cultural spectrum. It revolves around an assertion that is defended on one side (the “proposer”) and assailed on another (the “opposition”) in a contest hosted and overseen by a moderator. Each side has three chances to persuade readers: opening, rebuttal and closing.”
One recent debate caught my eye as particularly significant for the IT industry (the heading is a hyperlink):
This house believes Japanese “incremental innovation” is superior to the West’s “disruptive innovation”.
Wow! That’s a broadside if ever I saw one. But a very worthy discussion, especially for me since innovation and creativity in the development process are some of my favorite pet topics. I’ve long believed that DBAs and Developers are much more akin to artists and “makers” than to engineers, so the innovation process is a big deal to me. I wrote about this at length when I was given the opportunity to write a forward to Tom Larock’s (blog | twitter) book, DBA Survivor.
I encourage you to push your intellect a little further and harder. Take a look at this debate and, since their free to the public, subscribe to the RSS feed and see what else comes down the pipeline. There’s a new one just around the corner.