Our head is round

Magazine12 May 2009Frans Bieckmann

Here it is. My first posting on the first Broker weblog. I had it in my mind for a long time, but kept postponing it. Although a journalist, not afraid to write, such a new format scared me off. How to build up the text, what to start with? Should the first entry be a statement, looking forward to all the coming blog postings?

We finally decided just to start, and use the first weeks to find my way. So don’t expect (yet) great insights or revelations here. There is no clearly developed plan, frequency, purpose. Although, I do have in mind more or less some general lines I would like to explore in this blog. But they are very general.

The first is related to my function as Editor-in-Chief of a magazine annex website that is exploring new paths and niches and trying to find its way into the fast changing world of development and globalization, and all the different research communities which dedicate their time to that. At the moment we are writing new plans for The Broker for the years to come. But even if there is no report or annual plan to be produced, there are a lot of decisions to be taken every day, dilemmas to be solved, new ideas and possibilities to be considered.

We want to use this blog to openly discuss such new ideas, by myself or others. Just like researchers that use a blog to test some of their opinions or theses, during the process of research or theorizing, before they finalize it into a peer reviewed Journal. And we want to use it to share with you, the reader, some of the smaller dilemmas an editor touches upon, hoping that you will bring me closer to a solution.

Let me start with one: the name of the magazine. The original name of it was The Global Development Knowledge Broker. That was much too long, so we opted for The Broker, hoping that (after years) it would become a kind of brand name; people would not think of the direct meaning of the word ‘broker’ anymore. And, I must admit, we also chose it as a kind of little provocation, to slightly disorientate the main target group of readers, development professionals, who are quite suspicious about people buying and selling stocks or houses, and anything that has to do with making profit. It was even before (stock and house) brokers became part of the bunch of ‘criminals’ that provoked the credit crisis. To be honest, I am not their biggest fan either, but I do think that an open mind is necessary as an editor of such a magazine.

One of my long time mottos is a quote from 1922 by the French artist Francis Picabia: ‘Unser Kopf ist rund damit das Denken die Richtung wechseln kann’: Our head is round so that the thinking can change direction’.

Anyway, I already get carried away in my first blog. The thing is: many readers do not really know yet that The Broker is in the first place a magazine that collects and combines and summarizes and translates Knowledge. It is often seen as a normal – be it quite thorough – journalistic magazine, instead of one that bases all its main articles on scientific publications and with a very strict editorial policy of quality management. To be short: we consider rebranding the magazine. Best option till now: The Global Knowledge Broker.

Here I stop. Because a blog posting can’t be too long, I am told. There are two other general lines I want to explore in this blog, but more about that the next time (didn’t intentionally insert a cliff hanger, but it indeed is)….

Finally, we are very happy to be able to announce that at this same day mid May 2009 another, very interesting blog has started: by Thea Hilhorst. Thea, wherever you are now in Congo, good luck!