New e-book offers crowd-sourced patchwork of opinions on how to address Europe’s digital challenges

If you have some time to kill today or this weekend, one option would be to download and read a new 146-page e-book that addresses Europe’s many digital challenges and how to overcome them.

Dubbed ‘Digital Minds for a New Europe’, the e-book was launched today in Brussels by the European Digital Forum and Neelie Kroes, former VP of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda.

Kroes commissioned and penned the foreword for the e-book, which is essentially a crowd-sourced collection of 44 essays by some of – and I quote – “the world’s leading thinkers”. It’s a diverse mix of business executives, investors, politicians and academics.

Those people include (somewhat ironically) Googlers like Eric Schmidt and Vint Cerf, eBay CEO John Donahoe, WPP founder Sir Martin Sorrell, European Investment Bank president Werner Hoyer, World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab and former Deutsche Telekom CEO René Obermann.

Some of the essays are definitely good reads, although there are also some contradictions to be found if you read through the entire patchwork of opinions and visions.

A number of essays are also rather bland and come up short when it comes to practical advice; some are even blatantly promotional. For example, what do we gain from Cisco CEO John Chambers opining that the ‘Internet of Everything’ (a term his company likes to bandy about) should be ‘smart, open and trustworthy’ (well duh)? Or the nauseatingly one-sided argument against ‘new media leaches’ from Belgian media company De Persgroep’s CEO, Christian Van Thillo? Or Rovio chairman Kaj Hed’s essay on the success of Angry Birds? Not a bad story at all, but does it really shine a light on the massive digital challenges Europe faces today – and will be facing tomorrow?

Still, the e-book is a worthy read. In particular, I enjoyed reading the essays of Roland Busch, global CEO of Siemens Infrastructure and Cities, on how to make European cities smarter, as well as the writings of Amazon CTO Werner Vogels (“Cloud computing in Europe: putting the power in the hands of the customer”), Dutch mathematical physicist and string theorist Robbert Dijkgraaf’s thoughts on “Research in the digital age” and Open Knowledge foundation co-founder Rufus Pollock’s essay on “Why we need open knowledge societies”.

Also a surprisingly good read: the essay of Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, on “Inclusiveness, the art of dialogue, and the search for truth in the digital era”. A whole (holy?) new perspective for me, at least.

You can download the e-book (PDF) by following this link.

Featured image credit: Bloomua / Shutterstock

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