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Green Data Centres Conference at the Bloomsbury Holiday Inn

I’ve got one more day of conferencing, Day 2 of the Green Data Centres Conference at the Bloomsbury Holiday Inn. I’m the “chair” of this particular event, which means that I sit in a comfortable armchair on the side of the platform, listening to the speakers at close quarters. It’s the most technical conference I’ve been to in years. While publishing events these days are filled with talk about Web 2.0, XML, and Open Access, it is the technical talk of the professional whose real expertise is in international business development or sales. At Green Data Centres, the audience is filled with people who manage massive computer systems—the systems (known as data centres, for those of you as unfamiliar with this as I) that run banks and grocery store chains and website hosting companies. The discussion is about CPUs and kilowatts and virtualization.

This new conference, with perhaps 100 attendees, reminds me of the China-U.S. Networking Symposium I attended in Shanghai in 2002, where the discussion was so filled with highly scientific detail about data flows and Internet protocols, and acronyms, that at the coffee break, unable to make conversation with the many Chinese participants, I found myself asking one of the speakers—an American with a Midwestern accent—if he could please explain his subject to me in English.

I sometimes tell people that Berkshire Publishing translates from scholarly jargon into English. This applies as much to articles written by sociologists as by computer scientists. I have no doubt that some interesting publications will result from what I’ve learned and the people I have met at Green Data Centres. While the content is highly technical, and professionally focused, the subject itself is relevant to almost every business. It directly affects the bottomline, and more every day, as energy prices rise. It is vital information for any company that wants to be, and to be seen as, socially and environmentally responsible.

I will be writing in Guanxi: The China Letter about the “Chinese Businesses Going Global” at Chatham House, and over the weekend I was able to see many of the editors of the Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History at the World History Association conference, held at Queen Mary’s College. We’ve begun work on a second edition of that award-winning encyclopedia, for publication about a year from now. The editors were thrilled that it would be a whole year, or close to it: they clearly expected me to say we’d have a new set out in six months, based on their previous experience of my arm-twisting and editorial whip-cracking. (Now I’m worried that they think I’ve mellowed too much in the last few years. Perhaps I should shorten the schedule a bit?)

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