Oh, I feel so European! The papers are full of the launch of the Euro notes, which is very exciting -- whatever you feel about the experiment, it's one of the boldest moves in modern history and up there with the Berlin Wall (well, if the Wall was still up anywhere) as something to tell the grandchildren. And when I get into the office I get invited into an online real time chat conference with our German colleagues -- it's an experiment, initially for the European companies, to see if we can knit together our resources.
The software we're using isn't perfect -- it's what comes with the chat system we use company-wide anyway, and you can't just join a conference but have to be invited. And it doesn't have any of those IRC tweaks, such as bots, which automate a lot of the housekeeping. But it works; we chew over some of the Microsoft legal stuff and swap views from either side of the Channel, and there's no reason to feel too embarrassed about our Anglo-Saxon monoglot heritage as everyone seems resigned to English. I try some jokes in German, courtesy of Babelfish, but my ringing cries of "niemand erwähnen die Fußballübereinstimmung!" (*) are diplomatically ignored.
It's good that we're doing this, and that it matches my experience in some of the online discussion areas I use for fun. All weird hobbies are online now, and the less popular they are -- my fondness for a particular brand of noisy electronic music is not shared by that many -- the more diverse the contributors to the forums. There's nothing unusual about being pointed to a Finnish FTP site by an Iraqi in Australia: it all makes the current whiff of populist xenophobia seem particularly antiquated. Oh, and the new Aphex Twin album? Fabulous.
(*) "Nobody mention the football match!" -- now, what was I saying about populist xenophobia?
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