Ework veteran's conference highlights
This year’s Telework conference held in Paris in September, was the last in the annual series which begin in Berlin in 1994 and has since perambulated around Europe to Rome, Vienna, Stockholm, Lisbon, Aarhus, London and Helsinki.
Cllr Norman Macdonald, a senior member of the Western Isles Council, has been a regular at almost every one of these event, missing only the 2000 London event for health reasons. He and his colleagues have used the occasions to promote his islands as a destination for teleworking – and to challenge the European Commission to do some teleworking themselves. Norman himself, resplendent at the evening receptions in a fine jacket and kilt, has certainly a claim to the title of one of the best-dressed conference delegates of them all.
So who better to ask for his comments on the last nine years?
TWer: Do any of the conferences stand out in your memory as particular favourites?
NM: The first one in Berlin, for the excitement of it, the fact that the issue was new, that it was in the new Germany, that the Reichstag was being used as the venue for the first time. I think we’ve regarded all the conferences as being important to us in the islands.
TWer: And the low moments?
NM: Some of the academic stuff was utterly boring … An academic lecture on the relationship between mobile phones and average incomes in Romania – I’m sure it’s of interest to someone, but I’m afraid I wasn’t one of them. And particularly in Paris, there were a lot of big companies just selling their products.
TWer: One of the main benefits must be the informal times when the formal conference programme is over?
NM: Absolutely, meeting people is what it’s all about. We’ve met partners this way, and we’ve felt that we’ve gained insight into how the European Commission works. I must put in a word for the Commission officials we met, who were all most supportive, and for all the organisers for the amount of work they did – the nail biting tension they had to endure as each conference approached.
TWer: How important have the telework conferences been for your work in the Western Isles?
NM: It’s been very much a team effort, in the years since the conferences started we’ve tried to get people interested in the concept of IT. For example, we’ve been able to create a Science Park, which has created over 250 jobs. Now with the advent of broadband, we’re hoping to get businesses and all 43 schools in 10 islands with broadband.
TWer: And of them all, which city was your favourite?
NM: I loved Paris, and Rome and Vienna, and Stockholm is a most beautiful place. Lisbon was the most dramatic – the Expo was on and there were no rooms available, so we had to stay on a ship. They threw in an amazing light show in the harbour.
The Western Isles Live Local Work Global Video – completed with European Support. See www.work-global.com