Identity crisis.

I think I'll do some reader research at the weekend. I'll copy all of our members' details to a spreadsheet on a couple of CDs and take it home with me to run some analysis. Well, of course, not only would it contravene data protection laws but I simply wouldn't be able to do it. It's just not possible at the IET because our organisation, infrastructure, policies and procedures all make it impossible.

And yet this is pretty much what the UK government did with the personal details of millions of child benefit claimants. It was staggering that they were somehow lost, but equally staggering it was possible to even do it in the first place. In the age of identity theft, it just adds to concerns about our digital identity: how safe is it and how do we establish it. This is the subject of our cover story.

Also in this issue, Chris Edwards reports on the latest in flexible displays and printed electronics. In the mid-1990s I heard that there wouldn't be any need for journalists or editors before very long because no one would be buying or reading anything on paper as it would all go online. And yet in 2008 most of you, but not all, will be reading this on paper rather than a screen. Most people find magazines and books affordable, convenient and easy to 'download'. They don't crash and you don't have to boot them up. They are generally less nickable, easier to carry around and more pleasant to read than portable computers. Flexible displays in cheap electronic books or e-readers could change all that.

Meanwhile, any of our readers interested in the everyday stories of country folk will be interested to know that, in Ambridge, it's emerged it's going to cost £60,000 to connect Home Farm's proposed anaerobic digester to the grid because the local infrastructure will have to be upgraded.

Members in the IET's discussion forums are pleased that a real electrical engineer is to be called in, but if this is your specialism don't get too excited because it seems Anabelle already has a consultant in mind. And Audrey's got Dutch Elm disease.

Now, if this is all gibberish to you then you're not a listener to Radio 4's long running soap opera 'The Archers'. If Ambridge was reflected in real life, the nation's engineering skills shortage would be over, as another character wants to be an aeronautical engineer.

The anaerobic digester has become a major storyline and shows that issues about growing crops for fuel rather than food have really arrived in the public arena! Pelle Neroth examines that issue and others for biofuels in this issue.

We'll try an bring you more on the Ambridge anaerobic digester in future issues but, as regular listeners will know, journalists aren't at all popular in the village right now.

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