Archive for August, 2005

Open Letter to George Galloway (2)

Sunday, August 28th, 2005

Dear Sir:
I was pleased to see that you vigorously condemned last week’s terrorist attacks by jihadists in Bangladesh.
As I’m sure you know, today — less than a week after Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip — a terrorist attempted to blow up a bus in the Israeli city of Be’er Sheva. According to press reports from Israel, some 48 people have been injured, some seriously.
It is believed that the terrorist who undertook this attack was a member either of Hamas or Islamic Jihad — both groups which are closely identified with the groups which carried out the attacks in Bangladesh (and London last month).
I was wondering when we could expect to see your condemnation of today’s bombing?
Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

China’s two revolutions and the international labour movement

Tuesday, August 16th, 2005

Business Week recently devoted an entire special double issue to India and China, and surprisingly (for Business Week) had a relatively sympathetic account of the problems faced by workers in the latter country. Quoting from sources at the China Labour Bulletin, the magazine came up with an estimate of tens of thousands of industrial actions taking place in China every year. And in the same issue of the magazine, it reported on the spectacular growth in Internet use in China as well.
So in China you have two revolutions taking place at once — a huge surge of worker unrest at the same time as there is a massive increase in the number of Internet users and websites. The China Labour Bulletin is, of course, taking advantage of this with its excellent website, but what about the various international institutions of the labour movement?
Amazingly, none of them has yet produced a Chinese language edition of its website.


Writing web pages for workers

Monday, August 15th, 2005

Jakob Nielsen is a name that will be familiar to those of you who design web pages. Nielsen is the world’s leading expert on website usability. Thanks to his efforts, a lot of websites are a lot easier to use these days. (One of his fortnightly columns on the subject of “why frames suck” is one of the reasons why so few websites use frames anymore.)
These days Nielsen has been writing about other aspects of usability, including how to write for the web. He taught thousands of web designers that it’s not enough to design a clean and attractive website — the site has to be written for an audience which tends to scan, rather than read.
Now Nielsen has explored the question of designing websites for “lower-literacy users”. Nielsen estimates that some 30% of Internet users in the United States today fall into this category and expects that number to rise to 40% within five years. It goes without saying that many of those “lower-literacy users” come from the working class and the poor.
This makes his recommendations for designing websites for such audiences particularly relevant to trade unions — but I wonder how many union websites come close to understanding the issues involved.


Online organizing

Wednesday, August 10th, 2005

Unions that want to recruit new members will make it as easy as possible to join. In this century, that means allowing people to join unions online.