Wikipedia: spreading collective knowledge

The world is constantly evolving, but information does not always move at the same pace. Wikipedia takes this need and makes it its strength: everything you need to know is just a click away. We talked to Pau Colominas, Wikipedian and one of the people in charge of social networks in the Catalan-language version of this encyclopaedia.

 

In a world where everything advances at an accelerated pace, keeping information up to date is practically a luxury exclusive to social networks. With a filter of objectivity (to a greater or lesser extent) and under deontological codes, the media joins in to explain the daily events that happen everywhere. But where is all this information collected? Be it facts, people, concepts, or dates, the scope of information from the internet is so complex that it becomes diffuse and even unreliable.

In a new episode of People, we talk to Pau Colominas about Wikipedia, a free encyclopaedia where many volunteers collect and disseminate all kinds of content in our language. Everything we would find in a printed encyclopaedia is there. With an important nuance: the information can be updated at any time. A milestone that can only be achieved thanks to digitalisation and the efforts of hundreds of Wikipedians who dedicate their time to disseminating knowledge in Catalan to the Catalan and international community.

 

Searches in Catalan and quality

Pau Colominas highlights a crucial fact: “Catalan was the second language to upload content to the platform, after English“. Since then, the creation of content in our language has been on the rise, reaching the 700,000 articles that we can currently find. The impact of our language on the platform is significant, and Colominas highlights, in particular, the quality of this content, which, he says, “is often superior to that of other languages”.

The focus of the problem, however, remains when it comes to doing searches, and he points out that “even native Catalans tend to search the internet in Spanish“. Among the reasons, Colominas identifies the configuration of computers and search engines, and the imaginary of times gone by when the presence of Catalan on the internet was low and with lower quality content.

The involvement of an entire community to disseminate knowledge

A large team of volunteers makes it possible for Wikipedia’s mission to come to fruition. Colominas explains that you don’t need to be a scholar in any of the subjects, but you do need to be willing to dedicate time. He stresses that the dissemination of knowledge does not start from the content, but from the sources: “The guarantee of Wikipedia is the guarantee of the sources you use“.

All the information that Wikipedia collects is characterised by the fact that it has been published before, and this alone reduces the scope for inventiveness. In addition, a team of Wikipedians like Pau filter and identify any content that may be offensive to individuals or groups, or that may represent a conflict of interest.

 

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The International Monetary Fund was founded to promote international monetary cooperation, facilitate global trade and contribute to financial stability. Over time, however, its mandate was expanded to provide “support” to economies experiencing financial difficulties, and it has evolved into a tool at the service of neoliberal interests.

 

On 15-20 April, the annual spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank are being held in Washington. The official purpose of these meetings is to bring together efforts to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity.

This international body was established in 1944 to promote monetary cooperation, facilitating international trade and contributing to financial stability. Since its founding, it has sought to eliminate restrictions that hinder the expansion of world trade and exchange rate stability and avoid competitive currency devaluations between countries.

With the end of fixed exchange rate systems after the gold standard was abolished during the 1970s, its role changed. The advent of neoliberalism in the US and Western European economic policies meant a new role for the IMF, which began to finance nations with trouble paying their debts and balancing their payments.

A lifeline that brings civil unrest and social misery

IMF financial assistance is not free, as is well known, loans are accompanied by strong austerity which disproportionately affects the poorest sectors of the population and often ends up benefiting the elites.

The IMF’s usual mechanism for this is the imposition of conditionalities, such as loan forgiveness for countries needing balance of payments support, or, as in the case of Pakistan, weapons transfers into Ukraine. In other words, the IMF is often used as yet another foreign policy tool of Western corporatocracies.

The conditions imposed on debtor countries open their economies to the introduction of foreign capital, corporations, and investors. This is done by privatising public services and selling off the crown jewels of the countries receiving this “aid”, especially their natural resources and land.

As a general rule, the IMF demands that governments reduce public spending, raise taxes and implement reforms to reduce their debt-to-GDP ratio. Cutting social subsidies on fuel and food or reducing public investment in hospitals, schools, and roads becomes the “new normal”.

These draconian austerity measures provoke demonstrations and revolts among the affected populations, known as “IMF riots”. A term coined to describe the waves of protests that took place in developing countries during the 1980s and 1990s, and which perfectly defines the consequences of the actions of a financial firefighter who starts fires.

The economic crises in Mexico and Greece and subsequent IMF bailouts highlighted the negative role the IMF has played in recent years, nonetheless, the widely documented record of its interventions over the last 50 years has been more than dismal. Although humanitarian organisations such as Oxfam and CAFOD never stop denouncing that the IMF’s “austerity campaigns” severely harm poor countries and that it has played a “devastating” role in the global debt crisis, the international lending agency shows little sign of changing its course.

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Freight transport continues to boom, driven by a globalised economic model. Supply chains have become more complex and greenhouse gas emissions have soared in recent years. Only a change in our consumption habits can reverse the trend.

 

Globalisation and the rise of trade has meant that billions of tonnes of freight are moved around the world every year by trucks, ships, trains and planes. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated in 2018 that this movement of goods generates 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and up to 11% if we include those produced in warehouses. If no action is taken, freight transport will become the most polluting sector by 2050.

Land transport, mainly by lorries and vans, accounts for 62% of these emissions. Although the fuel used in maritime transport is much more polluting, the fact that the carrying capacity per vehicle is much lower in land transport makes it much more inefficient from an environmental point of view. For the same amount of cargo and distance, road transport generates more than 100 times more CO₂ than maritime transport.

Moreover, road freight transport is a fast-growing sector, partly due to the rise of e-commerce and home delivery. And it is the most difficult transport segment to decarbonise, as the use of clean energy is much less developed than in passenger transport.

 

The law of the sea

Maritime transport is the backbone of world trade. In 2018, 11 billion tonnes of goods were transported by sea and related CO₂ emissions amounted to more than 700 million tonnes.

The importance of this sector is such that it was left out of the 2016 Paris Agreement and is projected to account for up to 10 % of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 if no action is taken. Demand for raw materials and container transport is growing all the time. 

Large ships run on highly polluting fossil fuels, especially heavy fuel oil, which contains high amounts of sulphur, ash, heavy metals and other toxic residues.

 

A problem called sulphur

Until 2020, the maximum limit for sulphur in marine fuels was 3.5%, while the EU limit for road fuels is 0.00001%. ‘The Guardian’ published a revealing statistic a few years ago: 15 of the world’s largest ships polluted as much as 760 million cars.

After years of consultation, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) reduced the maximum allowed level of sulphur in ship fuel from 3.5 % to around 0.5 % in 2020. However, the expectation that maritime freight traffic will continue to increase to double 2005 levels by 2050 significantly reduces the scope of this measure.

 

More pollution

IMO reports published in recent years have revealed that, instead of decreasing, emissions from ships have increased by 10% since 2008 and will continue to do so. If all shipping were a country, it would be the sixth most polluting in the world, ahead of Germany. 

The Marine Environment Protection Committee of this organisation proposed in 2020 a partial reduction of CO₂ emissions for this decade and to extend the reduction to 50% in 2050. However, the organisation that regulates international maritime traffic ignored the recommendations and only agreed on short-term, non-binding measures. 

As a consequence of this, CO₂ emissions from cargo ships will continue to grow in the coming years. If the shipping industry does not implement green strategies, its greenhouse gas production will increase by 15% by 2030. And if it follows the IMO recommendations, this percentage will hardly change. 

In this context, the only solution to curb the impact of freight transport on the environment involves changes in our personal consumption habits: above all, reducing the volume and weight of our purchases, and prioritising local products.

 

If you want to wash your clothes without polluting the planet, 11Onze Recommends Natulim.

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The Booksellers’ Guild predicts a record-breaking day for this Diada because there are more book stands than ever before. But among this sea of new books, which ones talk about the economy or address the current economic situation?

ADULT NOVELS

Guerra i Pau

Edicions 1984 reissues this classic by Lev Tolstoy, at a time when it could not be more topical. One of the great classics of Russian literature that delves into the great issues of humanity, as current today as Tolstoy’s Russia. It is a key work, with countless rounded and memorable characters. This is the first translation, by Judit Díaz, made directly from the canonical Russian version. Virginia Woolf said that there was no experience of human existence that did not appear in this work and, perhaps, reading these two very long volumes is a good opportunity to see that neither Russia nor the past are as far away as we think.

Source: Edicions 1984

ESSAY

Tecnofeudalisme

Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek finance minister, launches a very suggestive idea in this essay: the successor to capitalism is what he calls techno-feudalism. Tecnofeudalismo, unfortunately, can only be found in Spanish in a Deusto edition, nonetheless, it is a remarkable work that follows the star of Shoshana Zuboff’s La era del capitalismo de la vigilancia. Varoufakis’s point is so obvious that no one has ever said it before: we have entered an age of techno-feudalism, where Big Tech appropriate our data, just as feudal lords appropriated the fruit of the land. Understanding this astonishing alteration of the social order is key if we want to work towards a more economically just society. And the way out, as the Remenses would say.

Source: Deusto

ESSAY

Ecomitos

Victor Resco de Dios is a professor of forestry engineering at the University of Lleida and has published Ecomitos, with Plataforma Editorial. It analyses the lies about the measures to combat climate change: how can a small percentage of the population pollute so much more than most of the population; are the measures being implemented effective; do they have scientific support or only political support? The fight against climate change is essential, but this book helps us avoid being taken for a ride. The only regret is that despite being a Catalan publisher and a book by a Catalan university professor, there is still no edition in our language.

Source: Plataforma Editorial

YOUNG ADULTS

L’Alè dels Llaurats

After the good reception of Nascuts per ser Breus Toni Mata publishes the second part of this devastating and bloody dystopia that dissects the selfishness, fallacies and hopelessness of today’s capitalism. In L’Alè dels Llaurats, Mata returns to the Eternal City that captivated young people and won him the Joaquim Ruyra, Protagonista Jove and Menjallibres awards. The Head of Content and Communication at 11Onze offers a new dose of moral dilemmas and extractive economics in this long-awaited second part that explores the limits of dehumanisation.

Source: Grup Enciclopèdia

CHILDREN

El refugiat

Maria Barbal, winner of the Premi d’Honor de les Lletres Catalanes and author of the Joaquim Ruyra Prize for “Pedra de tartera”, presents El refugiat. It tells the story of a squirrel who has to leave the forest where he lives because of a fire and ends up in a new place where he has to win over everyone because no one knows him. At a time when war adventurism and rampant xenophobia coexist, Barbal’s proposal is tremendously appropriate to make children understand that nobody leaves home just because they want to.

Source: Grup 62

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The geopolitical tug-of-war between East and West in recent years has revealed a paradigm shift that is becoming increasingly evident. We have returned to a multipolar world where US hegemony is losing strength year by year. We analyse the causes and consequences of this rebalancing and sharing of global power.

 

The world is more interconnected than ever, but power is more distributed. The distribution of power in global geopolitics has historically varied between states. From the bipolar system established during the Cold War period, in which two great powers shared power, a unipolar world emerged after the collapse of the USSR and the communist bloc. This change in the world order established a substantive US hegemony based on two pillars: military and economic power.

Yet the scope and pre-eminence of American geopolitical influence was unique and went far beyond the definition of a traditional superpower. D. Hubert Vedrine, the French foreign minister, coined a new term, hyper-power, to describe a domain of power that not only dictated the global economic, technological or military realm, but also included the cultural imperialism sarcastically detailed by members of the German music group Rammstein in the well-known song Amerika.

That said, the international community was quick to plant the seeds to challenge this new status quo. Emerging economies, such as the BRICS bloc, began to position themselves in an organised way on the international stage, giving meaning to the concept of a multipolar world that defined the foundations of a new political and economic order.

 

The rise of Asia and the decline of the West

In 1988, the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping told the then Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi

that the arrival of the ‘Asian century’ was far from a foregone conclusion until China, India, and neighbouring countries developed. Three decades later, very few doubt that we are living in a new golden age of Asia. Asia is the world’s fastest-growing region and the largest contributor to global GDP, with China as the world’s second-largest economy.

Economic cycles and financial markets are less and less focused on the United States. The use and abuse of economic sanctions against any corporation or country, even allied countries, that does not submit to the interests of the American giant only strengthen efforts by China, Russia, and other countries not aligned to the Western geopolitical bloc to create alternative economic systems.

Beijing, with its focus on gaining technological independence and linking other countries to the Belt and Road Initiative, invests its capital, helping to lift the regional economies of parts of the world forgotten by the West, or from which former colonial powers demand much more, often with the use of force, for little in return. A whole set of multiple alliances that further divide and distribute centres of power and influence.

While we are facing a necessary and inevitable rebalancing of the world order, ultimately, whether states can make good use of the resurgence of this new trend towards multipolarity will depend on their geostrategic location, demographics, energy resources, and, above all, their economic power, which will demarcate the limits of their autonomy relative to the established superpowers.

 

11Onze is the fintech community of Catalonia. Open an account by downloading the super app El Canut on Android and Apple and join the revolution!

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The International Monetary Fund improves its growth forecasts for the Spanish economy this year and places it well above the eurozone average. Even so, it estimates that the unemployment rate will remain at 11.6%, three-tenths of a percentage point higher than it predicted in October.

 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced on Tuesday that it is cutting its growth forecast for all the major eurozone economies for this year and next year, except for Spain, which it predicts will grow by more than double the eurozone average.

Specifically, it has adjusted its estimate for Spanish GDP growth upwards, aligning itself with the 1.9% forecast by the Bank of Spain for this year, while for 2025 it maintains its forecast of 2.1%, more optimistic than the 1.9% predicted by the Bank of Spain.

As for the rest of the eurozone, it lowers gross domestic product (GDP) growth to 0.8% in 2024, and to 1.5% in 2025, one and two-tenths of a percentage point less respectively than in the update published in January.

It also estimates that German GDP growth will be reduced by three-tenths of a percentage point in both years and will only grow by 0.2% and 1.3% respectively. France’s GDP is also expected to fall by three-tenths of a percentage point, to 0.7% this year and 1.4% in 2025. For Italy, the agency maintains its growth forecast at 0.7% for 2024 and revises downwards by four-tenths to 0.7% in 2025. For Italy, the organisation maintains its growth forecast at 0.7% for 2024 and revises downwards by four-tenths to 0.7% in 2025.

As for world GDP, it will advance somewhat more than expected, with a variation of 3.2% in 2024, one-tenth of a percentage point more than in the previous report, and 3.1% in 2025. This improvement is partly due to growth in the United States, which will grow to 2.7% this year, before slowing to 1.9% in 2025.

Stagnating public debt and unemployment

The IMF notes that “inflation could fall faster than expected if the rate of labour activity continues to rise, allowing central banks to advance their easing plans”.

In this context, he predicts that Spain will be the last major euro economy to overcome the inflationary episode. Specifically, it expects inflation in Spain to fall to 2.7% in 2024, down from 3.9% in its previous estimate.

Despite the optimism regarding Spanish GDP growth, the agency does not expect a substantial reduction in unemployment and debt levels until the end of the current decade and points out that the deficit will remain above 3% until 2029.

On the other hand, the IMF expects unemployment in Spain to fall to 11.6% this year and 11.3% next year, compared to 6.5% and 6.4% respectively estimated for the euro area, remaining at around 11% for the following years.

Likewise, public debt, which this year will stand at over 106% of GDP, will only fall slightly in 2025, to below 105%, and will remain so until 2028 and 2029, when it will fall to 104.6% and 104.2%, respectively.

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What is the SWIFT code and why is it so important in the financial world? What are the implications of expelling a country’s financial institutions from this banking messaging network? Iu Alemany, 11Onze’s Back Office and Customer Service Manager, reveals all the keys.

 

SWIFT stands for Society for World Interbank Financial Telecommunication, “a cooperative society based in Belgium that was founded in 1973”, as the 11Onze Back Office and Customer Service Director explains. Alemany points out that it is not a payment system, but a messaging system, which speeds up international transfers and “allows the parties involved to be identified in a standardised, secure and error-free manner”.

Some 12,000 institutions in more than 200 countries, both financial and non-financial, are connected through the SWIFT system, which facilitates “some 32 million messages on average” to be exchanged every day.

The SWIFT code normally consists of eleven characters, although sometimes it can be as few as eight. The first four letters identify the bank or institution. The next two letters indicate the country. The next two correspond to the location of the institution, for example, “BB would mean Barcelona”, as Alemany explains. And the last three digits identify the bank office or branch. In this case, “if three ‘Xs’ appear, it means that the branch carries out the settlement centrally”, explains the 11Onze’s Back Office and Customer Service Manager.

A tool for political pressure

Seven Russian banks were excluded from the SWIFT system in March to put pressure on Russia with its conflict with Ukraine. As Alemany explains, cutting off communication between a country’s banks and the rest of the global financial system makes it impossible for that country to carry out “most of its financial transactions around the world, blocking exports and imports”. Ultimately, the aim is to hinder “its ability to operate globally”.

Iran was excluded from the SWIFT system in 2012 as part of sanctions over its nuclear programme. As a result, it lost almost half of its oil export revenues and 30 per cent of its exports. And Russia had already been threatened with this measure in 2014, when it annexed Crimea.

Iu Alemany warns that this measure could be detrimental in both ways, not only for the sanctioned country: “If we are thinking of applying this measure to a strong economy, highly interconnected to the rest of the world and which has a series of basic products for the rest of the world, we must be careful”.

As we explained in the article “SWIFT: use and abuse of an alphanumeric code”, the exclusion of some Russian banks from the SWIFT system will be an incentive for China, Russia and even the European Union to look for alternative systems that can shield their economies from this political pressure measure.

 

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To find a job in the digital age, one needs more than just technical skills. Interpersonal qualities are critical to success in an increasingly complex and diverse work environment. Professionals who can master these competencies will be better prepared to thrive and face the challenges and opportunities presented by the labour market of the future.

 

The new technological revolution we are experiencing has brought about an accelerated digitisation and automation of many tasks, driven by artificial intelligence, which is radically transforming the labour market. This radical evolution of the nature of work requires new skills and personal competencies that will be critical for future jobs.

It is a paradigm shift that is enabling a reduction in workload without reducing productivity and could also make it feasible to reduce working hours to facilitate work-life balance, reducing stress and improving workers’ health and well-being. Even so, it may have a negative impact on people by replacing some jobs with automation or reducing available working hours.

In this context, while some jobs will become obsolete, others will emerge to replace those that will disappear. We expect this to happen in terms of both quantity and quality of employment, but at the very least it will require effort and investment in education and training.

 

Problem-solving, creativity and adaptability

Although there will continue to be many skilled jobs that will see little change, the labour market will increasingly require more dynamic and creative professionals who have a strong ability to adapt to change.

In fact, according to a study by the Skills and Occupations Barometer of Catalonia, promoted by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and PIMEC, this skill is most highly valued by companies when hiring future professionals. Specifically, it was found that 51% of job offers published in Catalonia in 2023 required this skill, which is also in demand in most sectors (96%) and occupations (68%).

Likewise, the most valued qualities are the ability to assume responsibility, manage time, and accept criticism. These data are especially relevant in ICT occupations, which also concentrate the demand for people with the ability to “think creatively” and “solve problems” which, on the other hand, is significantly requested in 70% of the sectors and 40% of the occupations,

On the other hand, the barometer found that the importance of “teamwork” is particularly concentrated in professional, scientific and technical activities, where 24% of vacancies require this skill. In any case, and as Antoni Cañete, president of Pimec, emphasised, we are talking about “soft skills”, which can be applied to all professions and refer to “very human, transferable and transversal” skills.

 

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Most of the time we learn about economics on our own. Not enough financial concepts are taught at school. That is why, if you want your son or daughter to have knowledge in this field, we recommend five books to help them understand the value of money and saving.

‘Mi primer libro de economía: ahorro e inversión’, María Jesús Soto (2012)

Nico, Carol and her dog Euro explain financial concepts in a simple way so that your children can better understand how the economy works, from the origin of money to the meaning of inflation.

Recommended for ages 4 and up.

‘Mon y Nedita: mi primer libro de economía’, Montse Junyent Ferrer and Lucía Serrano (2017)

It is about two mice who want to give a present to their mother and start an adventure to discover the value of money. It helps the youngest children to understand that everything has a price and that to withdraw money from a cashpoint you first have to deposit it in the bank.

Recommended for ages 4 and up.

‘Finanzas para ardillas (Vol. 1): El Dinero’, Gabriela L. del Cid and Pablo A. Blázquez (2017)

Through games and interactive crafts, the youngest members of the household will learn about the economy with Gardi the squirrel, who explains what money is, its functions, its origin and its evolution over time.

Recommended for ages 5 and up.

‘Simplemente dinero’ series, Steve Way and Mark Beech (2013)

This series consists of six books and will teach your children, through stories, illustrations, photos and diagrams, how money came about, how it has evolved in different parts of the world and how we use it.

Recommended series for ages 6 and up.

‘¿Dónde crece el dinero?’, Laura Mascaró (2019)

Based on different peculiarities, this illustrated book teaches children basic financial concepts, such as value and price.

Recommended for ages 9 and up.

11Onze is the fintech community of Catalonia. Open an account by downloading the super app El Canut on Android and Apple and join the revolution!

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This April 2024, a bitcoin halving will halve the reward given to miners for each validated block. In previous halvings, bitcoin experienced triple-digit price hikes. Create a Bitvavo account through 11Onze Recommends, and we’ll give you €20 to start trading cryptocurrencies!

 

Bitcoin halving is a scheduled event in which the rewards for mining and verifying new blocks are reduced to 50%, or in other words, miners only earn half the amount of BTC per block mined.

One halving occurs every 210,000 blocks, or approximately every four years. Currently, about 19.5 million bitcoins are in circulation, so there are still 1.5 million bitcoins to be mined before the self-imposed issuance limit of 21 million BTC is reached.

This year’s halving will take place between 19 and 20 April, when the reward will drop from 6.25 BTC to 3.125 BTC per block. At the same time, it will reduce the inflation rate of the cryptocurrency and is expected to have a positive effect on the price of bitcoin.

 

The halving contagion effect

This enthusiasm for BTC halving may lead to more investment in altcoins because investors are more optimistic about the possible price growth of other cryptocurrencies.

The prices of other assets have already been dragged up by the recent Bitcoin price rise. The Solana and Avalanche blockchains have experienced a significant increase in value. As is the case of meme coins, which have reached the top 100 cryptocurrencies by market capitalisation.

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There are more than 190 different crypto assets!

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Bitvavo that 11Onze Recommends

Bitvavo, the cryptocurrency trading platform that 11Onze Recommends, is registered with the Central Bank of the Netherlands. It is an exchange that not only lets you explore the varied and exciting world of crypto assets in a safe, easy and intuitive way, but now allows you to trade more than 200 cryptocurrencies.

Create a Bitvavo account through 11Onze Recommends and we’ll give you €20 to start trading cryptocurrencies! And if you want to transfer your funds from Binance to Bitvavo, here is a tutorial on how to do it.

11Onze Recommends Bitvavo, cryptocurrency trading made easy, safe and at a good value.

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