In praise of big tech & social media as they help the traveller.

Google Maps, Google Translate, Twitter, Facebook, Viber, WhatsApp, Wikipedia, YouTube have been invaluable for international travellers & workers though I still love hard copy atlases, road maps, dictionaries & encyclopaedias. It is fashionable to slag off apps & corporations but

This is a tweet I meant to write at the end of working in Chernihiv region, northern Ukraine for two months in Spring 2019, the apps of big corporations, the internet (& Wikipedia) made travel, work & volunteering abroad much easier in the last years

Slagging off Facebook & Google, Microsoft & other tech giants is sometimes fair but it is unfair not to welcome & applaud the great help they also are for so many people – Skype too (other products are available). PS I sometimes use CDs even as well, I was a late adopter

Published first as a Twitter thread, 8:46 PM · Sep 2, 2021·

The post spurred by my replying to this Ian Bancroft tweet


Ian Bancroft

My reply – I totally agree, seeing this problem quite often. Google Maps is incredibly useful but pretty inaccurate in south Serbia and not great in North Macedonia, with no ability to correct actual road content. Some predates route of E-75. I use Michelin maps on desktop alternatively.
8:29 PM · Sep 2, 2021


My article on the Ukraine elections, and new President, Zelenskyi.

My article on the Ukraine elections and new President was published here in the newsletter of Liberal International (British Group). At pages 13 – 15. With thanks to the editor, Stewart Rayment, and for editing the text to Mark Smulian of Liberator magazine, which is due to publish the article as well next month.
InterLib September 2019:

It is a .pdf file, which you can download, my article is at pages 13 – 15.

I have also put the unedited text of the Liberator magazine article, below.

In the space I didn’t have time to cover in any detail what the election observation involves, or what was and wasn’t done during the election that either broke election law or in inventive and imaginative ways got round the spirit of the election laws. I give some account of why I am sympathetic to former President Petro Poroshenko – I could give rather more reasons and concrete examples – but at the same time I didn’t have enough space to outline my criticisms of him, and more reasons why I am cautiously optimistic about President Zelenskyi. Nor was I able to talk about what living in Ukraine is actually like and the many normal and unusual things (for someone from Britain), huge number of extreme contrasts and paradoxes. I’m always happy to talk about these topics from my own experience to anyone interested.

For those who want some detail about the mechanics and outcome of the election I recommend this blog by my friend and Long Term Observer election colleague, Alex Folkes:
Ukraine’s President gets what he wants out of Parliamentary polls but wants more

July 27 ‘Ukraine’s president gets what he wants out of parliamentary polls but wants more’.

I have also put the unedited text of the Liberator magazine draft article, here:

Ukraine’s Comedian is no comic. Great hope & some chance on democracy’s eastern border.


Article for Liberator magazine (UK Liberal political magazine), published edited in the newsletter of Liberal International British Group. This is a Word .doc document.