As a journalist, I spent most of my professional life writing, mainly about economics, statistics and their political implications. I started to have a blog in Italian one year ago, on the political website Terza Repubblica, but I realized that the only way to start a discussion on the topics which interest me is to write in English, even if my command of the language is far from perfect. So, with the support of my elder son Pietro, who knows much more than me about blogs, rss feeds, aggregators etc. I set up this “People and Figures” blog.

What would I like to discuss? I will indicate some issues.

  • I am interested in monitoring the future. I know that it is a contradiction: you can monitor only what has already happened. But to understand what is happening, you need valid instruments of evaluation. Take for example the Millennium Development Goals. It is impossible to make comparisons between developing countries if you don’t have valid statistical instruments. I had the opportunity to do some work in Africa, in the field of statistical dissemination, and I really think that measuring progress (and defaults) is the only way to be realistic in indicating strategies. But statisticians are the first to tell you that statistics are not perfect. Worse than that, figures can be misused. I have met many people, in the fields of economics and statistics, who are genuinely interested in improving our monitoring instruments. Usually their discussions are very technical. I would like to be able to explain the underlying implications. For example, measuring the wealth of a nation using the traditional Gross National Product (Gnp) measurement or some new indicator which takes into account literacy, life expectancy or even happiness makes a lot of difference, even if things are not at all so easy.
  • I also want to discuss who will govern our future. I am convinced that technologies in a few years will change our way to discuss (it is already happening) and also our way to make political decisions. Will we be able in the future, through internet, to do without a class of politicians? I don’t think so, but I am interested in collecting opinions. In my profession I have dealt with many politicians and I do not think that they are much worse than the rest of the population of their country. Politics is not particularly dirty, it’s just tricky and difficult. Will we have better politics (and better politicians) and will citizens be more informed in the future with the help of the Net? That’s a fascinating topic, for me.
  • I am also interested in what is happening to my country, Italy, and to the process of European integration. Many of my posts on these subjects will be on my Italian blog, but if I deal with topics that can have a more general interest I will put them on this blog.

In the Merriam – Webster Dictionary, the word “Figure” has several meanings: number, written character, but also “graphic representation of a form and especially of a person”. For me, Figures deal with Ideas: how we represent them, how we discuss them, how we use them in order to reach a consensus. It’s a fascinating process, that is evolving everyday around us. I don’t pretend to have anything to teach, but I would like to use this blog to find what’s new, to explain it, to get in touch with the people who, like me, try to figure out the process of analyzing our social reality and want to improve it. Knowing that, as I quoted from Albert Einstein in my home page, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”.

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