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Thursday, May 29, 2003

On the Problems of E-Mail Content Filtering

Well I always knew there were some bad guys in high places over there in Bulgaria, and I new that e-mails were being filtered. What I never expected was to find myself in the middle of an 'issue', well not so quickly, and not for such an innocent piece of research. No prizes for guessing what the offending material was (it couldn't be to do with the money-transfer networks, now could it?). Anyway I'm posting my 'advice' from Margarita together with the full text of the 'offending' mail: please link to it all you like, since the more stink the better.

Dear Edward,
My provider had sent to me this message, related to your last e-mail
for me:

Recipient, Content filter has detected a sensitive e-mail.

Now here's my mail:

OK here's some news.

I met with some of my colleagues at the university today, and they were very interested in what I explained about your work. In principle they would like you to participate in the project team.

I have also found a researcher (anthropologist) in the Unviersity of Valencia, and we will probably ask him too. (this one was very funny, since I was in the town hall in Enguera interviewing the woman responsible for registering the immigrants and she said: yes I prepared the data for people at UV. And I said, oh you wouldn't mind giving me a photocopy of their letter, now would you. My life is full of these ridiculous accidents. Also funny is the fact that they, anthropologists have only been gathering quantitative data, while we have incorporated an ethnographic element. Nonetheless their data will be interesting, since my feeling is that your Bulgarian immigrants are fanning out across the province. Enguera is like a jug of water which is continually overflowing).

This means, that the project is going forward. Now at the moment we have no money, but then at the moment the proposal is likely to be a low cost one. Whatever happens I will start something at the end of June. We can start with a limited version and expand as and when we get the funding. I want to talk about the content of the project, but I will save that for another mail. More, and shorter mails, may be a better policy.

On Western Union, obviously the money is important, I'd already picked that up. But here in Spain there are 'other' networks, I'm not sure how they work, and it may be something to investigate. Here we have 'locutorios' which are call-centres where people can video-conference with their families. Barcelona is now full of locutorios, and they are used to send money. In fact they tend to be a 'meeting place' for members of the new groups - a new 'holy' place? Now for the interesting part. I also interviewed people in the Agencia de Desarrollo Local, (Local development Agency, they really spend most of the time promoting rural tourism, and are responsible for all the internet material: if you want to see nice pictures try googling Caroig, which is the big moutain with evidence of megalithic settlements) and they explained that the Bulgarians were taking a leading role in introducing new technologies, with three businesses being set up in Enguera, and one of them, guess what, an internet cafe, locutorio! Well, more on this when I know more.

But you could imagine that they are sending home around one third of their income. The IMF keeps numbers on this somewhere. This is becoming an issue in Spain since we now have large numbers of migrants all sending money home, and this means they effectively count as an import!! The bad news for Bulgaria is that the evidence I've seen from the US suggests that these quantities reduce considerably with the passage of time, tending towards zero after about 7 years. This is all to do with the transitional identity.

On the question of temporary or permanent, I can see one picture from your material, the coming and going, but there is another one, one part of the migrants are settling down, some are even buying houses. Looking into this aspect will be important. I will have more to say soon on this. Also you mention that Bulgarians appear under others in US and EU stats, and hence the numbers are not important, but looking at your recent population numbers I have the impression that the number is growing. This phenomenon may be a result of the fact that the EU and US numbers are aggregates, and at this level Bulgarians are less important, but my impression is that in Greece, Portugal and Spain they may be important.

Well, that's it for now, some more tommorrow.

Best wishes,


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