Roland Dürre
Friday May 17th, 2019

(Deutsch) Owehoweh Huawei!?

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Thursday May 16th, 2019

(Deutsch) Angst vor der Seidenstraße?

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Wednesday May 15th, 2019

The Real Problems of this World?!

Between ruins. In South Georgia.

I often read that we need to become agile and digital, because everything is so “vuca“. But is that not a luxury problem?

Don’t we have real worries? As a consequence of developments that might even threaten our lives?

Currently, the climate catastrophe is the centre of our “media-driven” worries. It is about the fact that the warming of our planet is caused and exacerbated by the excessive and still growing emission of carbon dioxide caused by humans and their machines.

In a dialogue with a knowledgeable person, it dawned on me that there are many more critical points than just the change of the world climate caused by the burning of fossil raw materials.

As I see it, the origin for the foreseeable problems are on an intellectual and on a material level. Let me give you a list of factors that tell you which mental concept lies behind it and what consequences they have on our planet. And I will also write down how my own personal behaviour relates to it.

I found two (main) reasons as “systemic” causes of the problem.

  • Consumerism and capitalism
    Human greed, our preference of convenience and our hunt for special adventures seem to be the main reason for the sad development of our planet.
    If I look at my own life, I see a problem. I practiced consumerism for many decades and still continue to do so. I bought far too many things for far too many years. I benefited from the capitalist system, my life was good. I cannot complain, except about how the world now is rather damaged.
  • Fixation on growth
    Even when I was at school, I did not understand why everyone preached growth. I was always the sceptical outsider. As I see it, the concept of continued growth is absolutely short-sighted and stupid, especially on a global scale. The idea that growth might solve problems is the reason why humanity destroys itself.

So here are the actual consequences and the physical state of affairs:

  • Armament industry and war
    The combination of these two seems to be the greatest of all evils when it comes to damaging our world. What I mean is that we make a maximum effort to destroy ourselves, and the tendency is still growing. Here in Germany, the  armed forces (Bundeswehr) even destroy our environment in times of peace. 
Why do humans not understand that armament and wars are not only cruel and irrational, but also just stupid 
I am convinced that a civilization only deserves the name if the individual and collective abstinence from violence has become a behaviourist value as a matter of course and I also believe that this utopia can be realized. And that the majority of humans also want this and that it is possible. In order to avoid wars, the armament industry must be abolished. Because an analysis of all wars shows that they were always artificially constructed and that the armament industry always played an important role in the process.
    It really annoys me that Bavaria is the state of Germany that has by far the highest weapons exports. 
This is an aspect where I personally failed. As early as when we founded the InterFace Connection and later, along with our employees, we decided that we do not want to do business with the armament industry. Later, when, forced by the market situation, we had to change from being a product manufacturer to becoming a service provider, the transition became much easier by doing business with weapon producing enterprises. The good intensions failed and we supported the building of tanks. 
So I believe that the planet cannot be saved unless we abolish the weapons industry and stop waging wars. In other words: the introduction of global peace must be top priority.
  • Waste pollution of the planet
    I am not sure what is more detrimental for the planet. Is it the radio-active waste we produce, the plastic material we distribute all over the world or the general distribution of the periodic table of elements  into the environment?
My personal contribution to this problem has been made. I started many years ago with mostly buying and eating only food – for instance yoghurt and other dairy products – that does not come in plastic containers or a Tetrapak . Drinks (beer, water, coffee cream) or food that comes in pet bottles or tins are shunned by me as much as the devil shuns holy water. Some of the people around me actually find this quite extravagant in me. 
In my personal experience, it is quite possible to do without most of the plastic wrappings and tins. I still see enough wastefulness as it is. I have always enjoyed eating pickled cucumbers, and whenever I empty a glass with its lid, I find this destruction totally irrational. Even if the glass will be recycled. When I was a child, the preserving jar was a precious resource. And my mother preserved cucumbers every year.
  • So here is the carbon dioxide topic
    By now, everybody agrees that there is a correlation between the warming of the atmosphere and the level of carbon dioxide. There are still some who doubt that we humans have caused the free carbon dioxide. 
My personal contribution is still sub-optimal. The most positive aspect is that I avoid cars at least insofar as I have not driven in a car for many years where I was the only occupant of the car or taxi. This showed me that you can at least avoid cars if you are a single voyager. It means that, as an individual, I only go by bike or use public transportation. And I do not at all feel that this is a disadvantage. On the contrary: I feel well. You can also go shopping quite well with the bike. And my general condition has improved considerably with the removal of a car as my mobility tool, both psychologically and physically. 
I still have other worries. For instance when it comes to flying. In the last few years, I had quite a few long-distance flights. The destinations were always unique and gave me a lot. This is an area where I feel it extremely hard to abstain – as opposed to the car.
  • An end to the richness of species
    For me, the end of the richness of species means something like the beginning of the end of life. Why should humans alone survive if the biology in its diversity can no longer function? That sounds rather illogical.
    My personal contribution is limited by what someone who lives in his small house and has his small garden can do. No poison for the perfect lawn and the right plants for life.
  • Food
    Today, many people cannot imagine any meal without meat. Germany has become one of the biggest meat exporting countries of the world. As I see it, that makes no sense. We produce animal plants in an unappetizing and cruel way as industrial mass ware. With calories from the entire world 
When I was young, in the 1950s, we ate the Sunday Roast on Sundays. On weekdays, we usually had meat-free meals. Then prosperity came along in small steps. On Tuesdays, the Wiener sausages became part of the menu and on Fridays we had herring. Those were still special occasions. Then the mania started. …
  • Soil consumption
    If you look at traffic, housing, firms and energy, you can find that we destroy soil all the time. Some of us have two flats, most of them with an extra office. The flats become bigger all the time. A single person needs at least a two-room flat, a couple needs a four-room flat. Elderly people remain in the big house. The per capita need of living room becomes more each year. 
I am glad that we managed to sell our big huge house and move to a smaller one after most of our children had moved out.
  • Regulation of rivers
    I just read about how the regulation of rivers has a devastating influence on our world. That alone was already a story that gave me pause. 
I used to drive along the river Main many times. Including the part where you have ships. And I have been asking myself why, as I am sitting on the patio of the “Gaststätte Anker” in Sommerhausen, why I see so few ships. Whenever I see one, it is most often a cruise ship. Mind you, we are talking about the Rhein-Main-Donau-Channel that was built as the main ship freight route for all the traffic. Even the Danube was enlarged for the purpose. Similar ideas come when I think of the  Niederfinow ship hoist for the traffic on the rivers Neiße and Oder.
In this respect, my own potential for a personal contribution is probably limited to trying and voicing my opposition against the continued extension of the river Danube.
  • Water
    Water is the basis of all life. Regardless, we destroy and damage our drinking water in huge dimensions. 
I try to save water. Even my grandfather taught me to be careful in this respect. So I try to counteract waste. Whenever I go swimming, I do not take an extra shower at home. I also believe that it is quite enough to clean your body once a day. We have three huge water containers that are filled from collectors on our roof and we use the water from there for watering our garden. Unfortunately, I have not yet managed to change the toilet water system from drinking water to rainwater.

There are many actual threats.

In my personal book, the carbon dioxide is only number three on my list of priorities. But basically, it does not really matter, because unless we change our mind sets in the sense of leaving consumerism, capitalism and the belief in growth behind, there will never be a change. The mental change alone is probable a Herculean task that is next to impossible.

All actual threats (armament, waste pollution, carbon dioxide, richness of species, food, soil consumption,…) are inter-related. I probably even forgot some areas. We have to work on all of them, instead of focussing only on one topic – such as carbon dioxide. Part of the transformation will be that we change our living styles. It is all about a holistic change of attitude in our lives. The question might be: is it still worth fighting – or is it better to just continue dancing on the volcano?

My brain tells me that it is already too late to save the planet.

In the  Anthropocene, we started developments that have now gained their own momentum and that will have consequences which will cause the real catastrophe. They will probably speed up the process of destruction.

My heart tell me that resignation is the wrong way.

That is why there cannot be a “LET US CONTINUE AS BEFORE” and we should at least try the great transformation. If we want this transformation to be a success, then we will have to change EVERYTHING. It can only work globally and will have to start locally.

And I believe we should try it together. And I wonder why politics, business and many socially relevant institutions do not get active at all.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday May 13th, 2019

Wikipedia and the Copyright.

The Logo of the encyclopedia

“It is difficult to predict things! Especially if they are in the future “.
Even our Munich hero Karl Valentin knew that.

Consequently, I am thinking about a method that starts with the past and then ends in the future. It is not a prediction, but more an extrapolation.

Let us look at the past and at the history of the media. This business sector found out quite early that intellectual property (as created in the copyright legislation) is far easier to scale than material products or even services. Consequently, this field has been doing business with particular success ever since the printing press was invented.

Trading with intellectual property makes enormous margins possible.

The media moguls knew that you can do business quite well with knowledge and information, provided the property you create and trade falls under the term “property”. They started very early with the creation and installation of laws that made it possible to buy intellectual property from authors and other generators of said material and then earn a lot of money with it.

Copyright legislation is the “licence to print money”.

And they also saw to it that the deadlines for intellectual property were always duly extended. That is why, in the USA, these laws are called Mickey-Mouse-legislation (Mickey-Mouse-Gesetze). Walt Disney succeeded several times when it came to extending the copyright deadline for Mickey Mouse.
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What is the state of affairs with knowledge and information?

Following the reasoning that the generation of knowledge needs an effort, it was declared capable of being owned. Consequently, the generator is given the right to the intellectual property, which is supposed to give him the material advantage generated by the intellectual property. Well, I, too, think that scientists should be amply paid. But that does not mean that things an intellectual worker creates are actually their property and belong to them. If you accepted that, you would have to call these people “owners of intellectual property”. However, I do not think that knowledge is a property that should be traded.

“Knowledge is the only thing that grows as you share it“.

Which means you should probably share it, doesn’t it? Yet, if knowledge becomes personal property and belongs to someone, then its volume is artificially reduced. That is beneficial for few but detrimental for many.

So I am opposed to including knowledge, information, rights, natural structures, laws, regulations and similar things in the concept of property legislation. Incidentally, this is also true for data – which becomes more and more fashionable.

The motto seems to be: my data belong to me!

Newspapers and books are goods that have been existing for hundreds of years. The editing is an old business sector that grew exponentially with the printing press. And it gave itself ever more optimal rules.

As in all sectors, following the basic concept of capitalism and logics, competition and mergers caused the rise of huge enterprises.
“Intellectual property“ is easier to scale.

This made publishing companies more powerful and richer. Equalled only by the realty concerns thanks to the special trilogy – ownership of the soil and buildings, cheap money and quick price increase – and by other gamblers who bet on raw materials, bonds or currencies – they managed to get rich and powerful in an extremely short time.

Encyclopedia were particularly good business.

For all publishing companies, the encyclopedias were especially important. It was good business, because encyclopedia were mostly high-price products that also needed updating relatively soon. The leading publishing companies always had at least one enterprise in their empire that produced encyclopedias. And the profit they made over the decades was reliable.

Eventually, these encyclopedia were also electronic books. They were distributed on cheap data carriers for high prices. It was truly a licence for printing money. However, it did not take long before someone put an end to it. The internet appeared. And a group of crazy volunteers founded a free encyclopedia, in 2001. They called it Wikipedia.

”Innovation is creative destruction“.

For many, this was a painful experience. It also hit the publishing companies who had been benefiting from the innovations in printing machines and communication for many years. It meant that there was an end to all the great commercial profit they had made in the encyclopedia business. The publishing houses probably suffered enormous losses. They became victims of the internet or of Wikipedia and had to close enterprises or find a new business purpose. It was probably quite painful for the German media concerns.

They say that the internet never forgets anything. That is not true. I have been looking for many things, for instance the first web-pages of InterFace Connection GmbH – and I never found them. It is not the internet, but the concerns that have the excellent memories. They actually never forget anything. And for them, the sentence “revenge is sweet” is quite true!

Now they are a huge step closer. After many years of patient and diligent lobby work, they now managed to get the copyright reform  bill through the European parliament. Immediately afterwards, the VG-Media sent their first bill to google. I am sure the publishing companies will soon follow suit. They say the German way is going to be to pay instead of using upload filters. Let us wait and see.

So how is Wikipedia doing?

Let us postpone an analysis of the media concern and instead take a look at Wikipedia. At first sight, it is a really beautiful story – a free and independent society of people working on an honorary basis writes down what they know. They finance the entire project totally advert and sponsoring free – exclusively by donations from people who use the system.

This is how Wikipedia, a few years after it was initiated in 2001, destroyed all its competition. Wikipedia has a monopoly and is now the only remaining encyclopedia. That is what makes it so important – but it also makes it extremely fragile. Its only competition is probably the internet itself, which is also threatened.

Shadows loom over the internet and Wikipedia.

As before, knowledge grows exponentially. But the work force at Wikipedia does not. On the contrary: as I see it, Wikipedia has become the club of old white men. Here, too, we pay the price as time goes by.

Young and female people are few and far between at Wikipedia. We are talking the typical next-generation problems we also see for chess clubs, the voluntary fire-fighters and now even the powerful DFG. This is how I and my friends at Wikipedia see it. All statistical data I found are usually ten years old and totally untrustworthy. Mind you, Wikipedia was founded in 2001, which, as of now, was only 18 years ago!

Who among the young generation likes to do the dry work of an encyclopedist, who has to play by strict rules? Especially if the way the old white men treat the next generation is rather unfriendly?

Wikipedia is an infra structure of knowledge.

The knowledge grows, the technology ages. And there are fewer and fewer people who do the maintenance work on the infra structure.

In the extreme model, the work force at Wikipedia will die out.

What will happen then? A knowledge infra structure without maintenance? Even as it is, the quality of the articles gets worse. And there are other problems, such as technological ageing, poor coordination, too little clarity in content and structure, organizational problems. There is a lot that needs to be done at Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is probably the largest user of foreign copyright world-wide.
They felt that they needed to be careful about copyright legislation and demonstrated their concern by turning off their servers.

Those who are in favour of the copyright reform try a placatory approach:
Wikipedia is, after all, for the common good and consequently not part of the reform!

But is Wikipedia really for the common good? As you see above, I wrote: Wikipedia lives from the donations of its users. I, too, only give money to Wikipedia because I want to keep using the service. Wikipedia is more or less blackmailing me:

Pay something and make sure that you will still get your service!

Perhaps the enterprise Wikipedia is not really a common-good-oriented one in the sense of tax-relevant definitions? All those who donate money expect (and get) something in return for the money they pay. Their payment only seems to be voluntary. They depend on Wikipedia and give money because they fear that otherwise there might be an end to what they get in return.

Huge concerns are very patient and think in long-term concepts.

Now the media groups have taken up the scent. The copyright reform showed them that it pays to do lobbyist work. They certainly know that Wikipedia would be an exciting object.

After all, the lobbyists are currently practicing how you can deprive NGOs of their title “common-good”. With such a measure, you could further weaken Wikipedia, or even take away the basis of its existence. And later, you could re-introduce it to the Reich as a common enterprise that belongs to several enterprises. In the sense of a re-unification. I already hear the message:

Lobbyists, let us go and visit the ministry of finance. We will get Wikipedia.

Here are the good news 
At least Wikipedia would survive – even if full of adverts and interest-motivated articles. But on the whole, this would be a good fit for our modern internet world.

Brave new world!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Hans Bonfigt
Thursday May 9th, 2019

Ultra posse nemo obligatur ?

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.