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Live from Umbria

I don’t know Europe very well. Many of my American friends took sone sort of continental jaunt on Eurrail, during or after college, and can at least claim to have set foot in the great capitals of the continent. Not me. My European knowledge was, until recenty, limited ot the cities I flew through on the way to Africa or the Middle East. I got into the habit, years back, of taking long stopovers between flights and exploring Vienna in ten hours, Amsterdam between flights, Paris enroute to Senegal.

Lately, I’ve had some splendid offers to see parts of Europe that I’d never visit by just flying through. About seven months ago, I was invited to come to Perugia, the capital of Umbria in central Italy, to participate in the Perugia International Journalism Festival. I was smart eough to say “yes” without thinking too hard about ewhether I could combine the trip with fundraising for Global Voices, research for OSI or any other “productive” uses of my time. Smarter yet, I invited Rachel to join me, something we do all too seldom as we’ve both got crazy busy schedules.

And so I’m in spring-green Umbria for the next few days, alternating between discussions of the future or journalism and walks through an ancient, twisty, terra cotta city. Not a bad mix. And certainly not a bad final trip to take, for a little while. When I get back to Massachusetts next week, I have a month without travel, mostly to let my eye heal from surgery, but also because it’s a very good time for me to stop travelling for a while.

danah wrote a terrific post a couple of days back, commenting on an absurd article in the New York Times that speculated on the health risks of blogging. (Talking about the article with Clay Shirky, he pointed out that article reflects on who the New York Times thinks is a blogger – not the 70+ million people writing online, but the 500 or so people who are writing ad supported, constantly updated, mass-media like blogs.) danah uses the article to riff around workaholism and bad life balance habits in the life of internet-focused people:

I certainly spent my 20s running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying not to miss a single thing. It wasn’t for my blog per say – it was for “research.” I had to know everything the moment that it happened and I followed web developments like a hawk. My blog turned into the space where I spewed all of my pent-up energy out.

That hits a little too close to home for my taste. I’m sorry that it’s taking me a medical emergency to force me to take a little time off, but I’m glad something is. And I’m glad to have an opportunity to slow down a little bit in the meantime.