This week, I have an exclusive interview with Global Issues editor, Anup Shah. Anup is the founder of Global Issues, a website that is founded on his broad interest in global issues and is now used as a reference worldwide in various institutions and publications.
The Global Issues website is something I read on a regular basis. It provides me with more information to things I hear about on the news as well as help trains my skills in being non-judgemental, critical thinking and making decisions in everyday life.
I'm a huge believer of creating something that has a great impact around you by providing useful material and I think Anup has an impressive story of how you can use a hobby that doesn't need to make money to make a difference in this world. His story is also great teachings for those who want to set up good, informative and resourcesful websites. So I was delighted when I had the opportunity to interview Anup in connection with global issues and a hint of self development.
The interview has large informative answers so I have divided it into two parts. The second part will be posted in a few days. Enjoy!
1. Why did you intend to start, write and edit Global Issues? What is your motivation?
In 1997, having just graduated from a university in England with a computer science degree, a friend of minte introduced me to Structural Adjustment Policies and their negative impacts on poor countries and people around the world. I was shocked about this, having never heard of it before.
My first job that autumn was in the US in the software industry. I wanted to practice web development skills for work, so in my spare time I tried that, but needed to focus on something. At the same time, I quickly became disturbed by the poor quality of the mainstream media in the US. The two seemed to go hand in hand… I purchased the globalissues.org domain in mid-1998 and it has unexpectedly taken off since then.
So, my inital motivation was actually to practice web development, but then it became like a personal journey for me: I wanted to learn more about why the media was so poor and why otherwise very kind and good people seemed to have narrow views about those from other countries. This led me to learn and read more about geopolitics, poverty, trade/economic related issues, the environment and so on. In those days, there were very few web sites about these things, compared to now, though there was an exceptional one, called OneWorld.org (now OneWorld.net). They accepted me as a partner organisation, which was fantastic for me, as I viewed them as one of the few web sites at that time that wrote about global issues from a much more global perspective than the media in the US – or UK for that matter – offered.
I continue to maintain this in my spare time, though it is often difficult to get the time to do so. I have tried to answer this question in more depth at http://www.globalissues.org/about/ if you want to read more.
2. How do you select the issues that you write about?
Hard to say! Initially it started off in a few major areas: human rights, the environment, poverty/structural adjustment, the media and geopolitics. There were just these few initial pages, which over time, grew into multiple pages as sub-topics became larger and larger.
In some aspects, the choice of topics I may write about at a given time feels a bit randome/unstructured. For example, sometimes I may have read something which intrigues me and I follow it through a bit more. Other times, I just look over my site and try to see what needs updating and try to work that, if possible (though there are still many pages requiring updates!). Yet other times, there may be a global event, which I feel may be getting covered in such a way that many global concerns are being ignored or glossed over, and thus not providing enough context for readers. I also try to read a number of books, and make notes from them, which I then try to write up. (However, I am some three years behind on writing up those notes!) It is a continual learning process for me, so in a way, I just let it take me wherever it goes.
3. How do you manage to keep on top of all the extensive topics you read and write about as well as working long hours on a full-time job and balance all other interests you may have?
A lot of people ask me this, and to be honest, I don't know! I often work into the night, 2am or so being common. I don't drink tea or coffee, either, which people think I need to consume in gallons!
In terms of how do I keep on top of all the extensive topics: I subscribe (either via Email or via RSS subscriptions) to a number of sites. I admittedly find it very hard to read most of these subscriptions these days due to time constraints and email overload. One thing I try to do is set a goal for myself, that every month I send an email update of major updates/additions made to the site over the course of the past month. This encourages me not to slack off too much. The only time I have ever missed this was when I was getting married!
In terms of other interests: well, with my recent marriage, I thought I would have a lot less time on this website, but my wife is very understanding, which is fantastic. (She is quite busy herself with volunteering work and the like, so it kind of balances out!) My family has been very supportive, too, which helps. There are times when work deadlines results in a number of long days or weeks, and the web site and emails have to take a back seat. Other times, I simply decide for a few days or a week to just not do anything, as it can be quite draining. Sometimes I try to do the global issues work around other commitments, and other times I do it the other way. It really depends on my mood at the time, I think!