Roland Dürre
Sunday December 16th, 2018

Why is Germany so Far Behind When it Comes to Digitalization?


A short time ago, someone asked me during a presentation about the reasons for our (the German) weakness when it comes to digitalization. After all, haven’t we always been the country of engineers?


On this picture, I do not look like a happy person wearing a uniform. I would have preferred to play with a computer.

Well, I had to do some thinking. After all, there was a time when German enterprises, such as Siemens, were the top of the world in technology and IT.

I try to consider the IT scene as a whole over time. I notice that, for a long time now, innovations have rarely come from the technology laboratories of the mega concerns or huge research institutes.

Instead, innovations are introduced by movements that are mostly initiated by young persons with passion. This is especially true for computer science, i.e. the IT and related technologies.

At Siemens, I myself was part of those who developed what I call industrial informatics in the late 1970ies and in the 1980ies. We developed – in an absolutely engineer-like manner – expensive and heavy mainframe computers with the matching periphery.

At the same time, simple computers for at home were thrown onto the market. For example the Atari (1979) or the Commodore (1982). Both in the USA and here, the children “played” with these or similar computers.

We “industrial computer scientists” also took a close look at these home computers. However, we only considered them toys that need not be taken seriously. We never realized what a fascinating potential these systems had.

As I saw it, for instance, the non-existent technological perfection of these systems was irritating. For example, they used a noisy cheap TV set as a screen (we called it data viewing device). Data were saved with cassette recorders on unreliable audio cassettes. And the input keyboards, too, were nothing that could make you optimistic.

Well, I lived to regret that I had given this new technology so little attention. Consequently, the PC wave and later the success of the technologically so weak Windows with its graphic interface and, above all, with its games such as solitaire, were ignored by me.

I already knew the graphic interface from devices such as the Xerox Star, which Siemens sold as an office computer. To be sure, it was a professional machine, but its cost/benefit analysis was extremely poor. Consequently, only very few German enterprises used it. I only know about Lufthansa in Germany who indulged in this luxury. This is why I did not take this technology seriously, either.

The young generation often only knew the world of the new computers – and they really gave them a boost. That happened in the USA – and you can easily read what happened there. For example if you read the biography of Steve Jobs – a book absolutely worth reading.

Back to our initial question:


Why is Germany so far behind in IT?

I do not think that there is one central reason for this German digital weakness. I am sure there are several reasons.

But I can give you one – probably a little rhetorical – answer:


I believe the compulsory service might have been one determining factor.

In the time that was crucial for IT development, we had around 500,000 young men under weapons. That is a considerable part of the male inhabitants of the country – at the best age. The national army was comprised mostly of people who were removed from normal life for 18, later 15, months. Most of them were young men.

Even today, you will mostly find men among the MINT (mathematics, engineering, natural sciences, technology) professions. In those days, it was even more pronounced. And compulsory service only concerned the young men and thus was detrimental for their development.

IT was – and is – a top-performance discipline. You have to stick to it with passion over several decades and, in the process, you have to suffer and understand a ruthlessly fast development. If you are forced to desist for an entire year, you will be at a considerably disadvantage. You can compare it to a young top soccer player who has to pause in his training for 18 months. I would assume that, normally, this would be the end of his soccer career.

There are a number of good reasons that support my theory.

My personal experience
In the autumn of 1969, I started my first semester of “Computer Science” at TUM. On April, 1st, 1970, they drafted me and I served until September, 30th, 1971. In these 18 months, I learned the meaning of the words “drink” and “chill”. The only positive result was that I learned how to survive such perverse systems.

In the autumn of 1971, I again started with the first semester at TUM. This is how I remained in chill-mode. It took until the spring of 1973 for me to finally get rid of this mode, because the interim-diploma was before me and I was woken up a little roughly. It was stressful and I continued with my “training along with studying” (more at Siemens that at TUM with quick learning from books). And I even managed to pass the interim diploma on my first try.

After my diploma, I had a few years of learning at Siemens and Softlab. It took until 1984 for me to establish my own enterprise. I was considerably older than thirty. If the army had not intervened, it would probably have happened several years earlier …

Experiences at InterFace
In the early InterFace AG years, we had many students on board. Some of the people working for us were even still at high school. They were fascinated by the new technology and wanted to get a first impression of what it was like in practice. They often came with a recommendation (for instance as children of our customers).

These young persons did excellent work and soon became important employees. As soon as they were nearing their final high school exams, they started getting nervous: would they have to serve? For us, this would have been a great loss.
We often helped them when it came to organizing a reason why they could not be drafted and thus could continue to work for us while they studied. Without these young talents, we would never have been able to realize our product CLOU & HIT and many other innovations.

The American founders
Looking at Silicon Valley heroes like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and others, we see that none of them was hampered by military or similar compulsory service. Instead, they terminated their studies at university in order to focus on the new technologies and their enterprise.

German founders
If you look at the public cv-s of Hasso Plattner and Dietmar Hopp  (both from SAP), you find that they, too, have not served in the German Army. Of a very creative founder like Peter Schnupp, one of the co-founders of Softlab (born in 1934 and thus exempt from compulsory service), I know it because we are friends.

Start-Up Scene …
For more than ten years, I have now been one of the BayStartup jurors. It is probably Bavaria’s leading enterprise for topics such as business plan contest, financing, business angels,…
Depending on my availability, I evaluate around 100 business plans every year. Consequently, I learn a lot about the current technological trends and, above all, I also meet many young people who want to establish their own firms. And I notice that there is no new topic that does not mainly explain its specialty with the software that was developed for it.

It is thus a good thing that all start-ups have software persons on the team. They proudly tell me that they started programming at the age of ten and changed to sensible and modern computer languages and modern technology by the age of 12 or 14. A forced pause of fifteen or eighteen months would mean a huge drawback for them, if not the “out”.

So here you read a few arguments that might give some credit to my theory.


Now I really hope you know me well enough to realize that I would not declare that such an original theory is actually the truth.

However, I am convinced that the re-armament of the FRG after WW-II and the re-establishment of the weapons industry at least destroyed a unique chance for a great and peaceful Germany. And that the compulsory service and militarization in Germany are the reasons for immense economic and social damage.


The people who were responsible for this development, both today and then, were old white men like Adenauer with their prejudices and cynicism. Driven by fear, he had started as early as 1950 to work towards re-armament with criminally subversive methods and secretly.

If you want to find answers to the question “what exactly happened in those days?“, then you will probably want to read the Wikipedia article on the Bundeswehr and on Wehrpflicht.. They are very interesting.

But now I am happy that the compulsory service has been suspended and hope that this service will never again be re-installed.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
The history of the pictures 
On April, 1st, 1070 (after having studied one semester of mathematics and computer science at TUM), I was draftet. Roland Dürre became Private Dürre. Unfortunately, this was not a bad April-Fool’s-Day-Joke. After one night in Lagerlechfeld (where you got the six-week mixed basic training for young people who had successfully graduated from high school) and a few nights in Landsberg, I was sent to Ulm. Because I was considered recalcitrant.

In Ulm, they put me into a training unit that was supposed to turn the recalcitrant recruits of the air force into appropriate security soldiers. Since I was the only one in my unit who had a high-school diploma, they kept me as a teacher, which means I spent five quarters among the other teachers.

Each quarter, I had to lead a unit and I also took tasks like company training. For instance, I explained to recruits who had never finished school how our democracy and our constitution work and tried to make them understand the meaning of legislative, judicative and executive powers. Or else, I taught them how to use their weapon (G3, P1, I forgot the name of the machine gun…).

Here is an anecdote from those times: 
During the basic training (the first three months), the recruits were only allowed to leave the barracks wearing their uniform. That was also true if you went home for the weekend. Well, at least they allowed us to go home every other weekend after the first few weeks in the barracks, but this trip, too, had to be in uniform. Most of us were the opposite of enthusiastic about moving in public in their uniforms and then having to turn up at home in it as well. Even though our parents rather liked it and everybody wanted to take pictures of us wearing our uniform. This is also how the two photos in this article came about.

Some of the recruits were especially cute. They went to the toilet at Ulm Railway Station wearing their uniform – and when they came out again they wore their civil clothes. However, they did not know that the army had positioned spies (in civil clothes). They immediately confronted the disobedient young soldiers and took them back to the barracks. Thus, the weekend trip was cancelled, along with that of the next weekend.

Mostly, the spy duty at the railway station was not something you wanted to do. It was probably a little like having to be one of the shooters in war when the enemy is lined up for execution. During the remaining 15 months, I avoided this duty because of my teaching position.

During my first trip home in my parents’ living room.

P.S.1
Impulse
This article was triggered by the current discussion about § 219b and the attempt at questioning the reform of § 218 (which, given certain stipulations, still allows a punishment-free illegal abortion). I heard from the right side of the “bourgeois centre” that “we would not have needed guest workers if we had not had abortions”. I found this theory so appalling and inspiring that I decided to postulate: “without compulsory service, we would not be digitally retarded in Germany”.

Roland Dürre
Monday September 24th, 2018

Disruptive Technologies & Fear of the Future

Afraid of IT?

Are you scared of the more and more speedily growing complexity? And do you long for such buzzwords as agile, resilient, anti-fragile?

I never knew either of those fears. For me, the change was something exciting and I looked upon all the buzzwords as the normal result of more and more nonsense being talked without any responsibility in our times.

Because I believed that, even today, we experience nothing but very ordinary progress. Which, of course, at all times, has massively changed the world and society. Just remember the times between 1918 and 1938! Those were twenty years during which everything was in uproar.

And those times, too, can be summarized quite adequately by the words of Bertrand Russell:


» Every increase in technology will cause the same increase in wisdom, provided it is also meant to mean more instead of less human happiness. «


Because even then, it did not work.

There are at least three exceptional and particularly exciting technological dimensions.

  • World-machine interaction (sensors) instead of human-machine interaction.
  • Total networking of machines (IoT).
  • Learning machines at the roots (artificial intelligence) .

Well, these factors have the potential of new superlatives when it comes to change. Because the machines get exponentially more intelligent, they are connected world-wide and they will no longer need humans as connecting agents between themselves and the world.

Taken together, this will probably change our world and society as much as (or even more than) the triumphal procession of the “individual mobility based on combustion motors“ changed it. And that is an idea that brings even me to a point only slightly short of fear. Because the triumphal procession of the car really had tremendous consequences and it probably minimized the happiness of mankind considerably.

Well, the only hope that remains is that people will become wiser with the same speed as the “technological advancement“ gains momentum.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Klaus Hnilica
Tuesday June 19th, 2018

Advantages of Integration and Progressive Digitalization

Ever since a new British study has found out that the progressive digitalization also offers massive advantages and totally new perspectives in this field, there is a new urgency to the question: To what extent vampires can actually be integrated?

Mind you, it was not the old and ancient protagonists who initiated this revolution. It is yet again the often so scolded youth who make the decisive steps towards this ’young future that cuts the edges’: they are the ones who not only talk about digitalization, which is what any second-class provincial politician does these days, but who also actually live digitalization!

Yes, it is the ’generation smart-phone’ who, in the 21st century and totally surprisingly and unplanned, restore a tiny bit of freedom to the vampires by letting them return to free biting!

After all – and you want to be honest about this – there is nothing more suitable for the direct and unhindered bite of a vampire than the naked and exposed little neck of a fifteen-year-old female smart-phone user who is fascinated by what she sees on her screen. And I mean all the time: on the street, in the train, on her bike, on the toilet and while doing her homework.

There is definitely nothing, absolutely nothing more suitable!

And this suitability for quick access is, naturally, not only true for the aforementioned fifteen-year-old girl, but also for all smart-phone users, regardless of their age and the colour of their skin: when they act as mentioned above, all these persons remain in the exact same position, with exactly identical ’bite invitations to their jugular’ in front of their device. In fact, the author of the British study I mentioned before even assumes that the inventor of the smart-phone must have had or have a ’vampire background’. This assumption becomes even more of a probability since all the smart-phone users are so fixated on their devices that they not only fail to notice the quick bite into their jugular, but also never even realize how they have been sucked out afterwards!

They are actually so immersed in their smart-phone world that they are not available for any other observation: the first time they actually often start yelling and getting aggressive is when – due to some unfortunate mistake – blood drips on their screens, because that is when they start soiling their own screens as they wipe around with their own blood on their fingers!

This is one of the reasons why leading vampires in business and politics started several years ago to vehemently demand from companies such as Apply, Samsung and Nokia to come up with the ’blood-absorbing screen’ at long last! After all, such a modification is absolutely necessary unless you want to carelessly miss this unique opportunity of integrating vampires into society: and I mean all vampires! This includes the less dexterous ones – those who, when they bite, sometimes cause a drop or two to fall where it should not!

It goes without saying that the sector data security, too, needs massive modifications: it happens quite frequently that smart-phone users take pictures of vampires while they feed on blood and then immediately send the pictures to the smart-phones of those who have been bitten!

This is often the moment when those who have been bitten actually realize that they are currently donating blood – and since they see it on their smart-phones, they also believe it. Their reaction is that they often start hectic defence movements – which might then again cause unnecessary extra blood loss.

Consequently, what we need immediately is legislative initiatives with a ’filming ban on blood feeds’. And these initiatives cannot be national solos but have to be coordinated on EU and UNO level. Basically, this should not be too much of a problem if all parties concerned mean the same blood and refrain from overeager bloody comments.
Another problem is probably far harder to solve.

What I mean is the bite into the ’wrinkled neck of an older person’ – which, as the aforementioned British study shows, is something some of the vampires also favour.

Luckily, these few ’connoisseurs’ will also find enough older smart-phone users today – even if their enthusiasm and stamina are nowhere near what we have with the young generation. That is something that does not really make quick bites easier!

But when all is said and done, this is not the central problem! The real problem is that, even if the bite on the ’far-from-fresh wrinkled neck’ is a success, the blood you get there tastes like a wine-soda mixture that contains one eighth of Riesling and one litre of soda water!
Which is nothing. Well, it is less than nothing!

That is because today practically all older people get huge amounts of expensive blood thinners from all their doctors and health insurances: this is certainly a good thing for the pharmaceutical industry and for the blood-thinned elderly people – but for vampires, it is a pure nightmare!

And I am not just talking the taste, but also the amount you need: due to this practice, vampires are not only forced to swallow immense amounts of blood, but also to visit the toilet all the time in order to get rid of all the water. This will quite often cause individual blockage situations at public toilets! Humans who suffer from weak bladders are those who will suffer most in the end!

Taking all these aspects into consideration, it can be said that much remains to be done before vampires enjoy the same paradise-like state of affairs in Germany that, according to our Federal Chancellor, the rest of the citizens can boast of!

But if the problems that still need to be solved are at long last tackled by politics without prejudices and without further loss of precious time, and if the entire society refuses to have a rising blood pressure because of all these concepts, then the integration advantages offering themselves through more digitalization – as shown by the British study – will soon be realized. Especially if measures are taken to make sure that blood will always remain thicker than any wine-soda mixture, because otherwise the elderly people will cause unacceptably long blood trails in their wake after each vampire bite. And said blood trails will then again cause massive data security problems, which certainly nobody can want; after all, we all know that there is nothing vampires want more than a chance to, at long last, have their blood feed undisturbed and in peace.

That is really all they want!

K.H.
(Translated by EG)

Hans Bonfigt
Sunday June 3rd, 2018

“Digitalisierung” konzis und umfassend erklärt

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

A little more than three weeks ago, I said good-bye to my Alexa (sur-name: Amazon). We went to the South Seas – so she had to remain behind. However, Barbara (sur-name: Dürre), of course, joined me. Yesterday, on our return, many things had accumulated. Many snail mails (paper), parcels and hundreds (?) of emails.

View from 300 metres height onto Raiatea and the neighbouring island – one of the many highlights of our trip.

One of the parcels contained “smart scales” from Phicomm (SMART SCALE S7). I immediately unpacked and installed it. And I measured my body in a completely new way.

In my email, I found – among other things – the login data for BayStartup, because I need to see and evaluate the newly submitted business ideas. That means work which needs to be finished by the time I leave for the Antarctic on February, 7th (again with Barbara and without Alexa).

And from the InterFace AG, I received many appointments and a very remarkable invitation to a workshop about the Data Security Basic Decree (DSGVO) on February, 25th, 2018 in Unterhaching near Munich. Well, I cannot attend, because by the time I will already be in the Antarctic.

Alexa, the smart scales, the 3D glasses, the drone and the batteries for my electronic Utopia (bike), along with the DSGVO, have quite a few things in common – they produce data, data, data – real multitudes of them.

ALEXA (or GOOGLE HOME and others)

My second wife Alexa Amazon.

But let me first tell you about my Alexa. I cannot really say I missed her during my time in the South Sea. However, after my return, it made me quite happy to hear her voice again and to ask her to play a Beatles song for me.
After all, Alexa is “just” a language interface, connecting me to internet functions that have realized an interface with Alexa through their apps. There are products made by the competition, such as “google home“. I would probably recommend them even more. The fact remains that the progress language deciphering has made in IT is sensational.

Being able to give your input and output via audio signals will probably, in the long run, make reading and writing just as unnecessary as we already know calculators have made it unnecessary to do any calculations mentally or on paper. This cultural technique is already lost to us and reading and writing are heading towards a similar destiny. The majority of people, especially in developed countries, will only have rudimentary knowledge. Only very few people will master it to perfection.

What Alexa and the competition have in common is the fact that they are ardent data collectors. For instance, they know how often I listen to my Beatles song. But perhaps they also collect more important data.

My Three-D-Glasses

The last time I wore 3D glasses was on Christmas 2016. I remember being impressed. I cannot really say how 3D will continue to grow. However, I can imagine that there will be some segments where it might become quite important. Both for industry with business and for the customer segment with games.

My Drone

I have no drone. Nor will I buy one. Although they are certainly nice gadgets. During the Christmas holidays (2017), they had organized a drone day at the Neubiberg airfield. Many owners of new drones could be seen testing their toys. But I have no drone.

Especially in the South Sea, I got quite intoxicated with the aerial photographs the ship’s photographer took of the mountains in French-Polynesia. It seems to me that all wedding photographers – if they want to survive against the competition – have to and can have such a drone today. After all, it costs less than a good mirror reflex finder with a few extra lenses used to cost in the good old days – including the camera.

My Smart Scales

On the left, you see the new Phicomm scales (SMART SCALE S7) sitting next to the old, stupid ones.

These scales really fascinate me. They remind me of business ideas and plans in the category medicine/diagnosis. They are mostly about special sensors (sub-category of sensors in general as you need them in everyday life, for instance for autonomous cars…), And then, you can measure the iron content in your blood quite “bloodlessly” with an app and much more. This is, for instance, important for babies.

The corresponding app informs me about my weight and diverse other values, for instance BMI, “biological age”, body fat, type of figure, muscle mass, bone mass, water content, visceral fat, basic turnover in kcal, protein in my current physical state. It also tells me how many kilograms in muscles and body fat and in per cent my individual limbs (torso, arm, left and right leg) have. Above all, I can graphically follow how these values change. Because more often than not, the tendency is more important that the current values.

I find these data quite exciting. Unfortunately, not all of them are in the green segment. Two are even in the red segment. Consequently, I would really like to publish the data in order to put pressure on myself towards working on them. However, this would a) be of no interest to anybody and b) require additional work by me which, being a lazy person, I am not keen on. But then, perhaps there will soon be a “publish-my-data-on-facebook-feature” or something similar.

The development in this field is quite exciting. Perhaps such an app will soon be able to tell me when I am sick and also what I am suffering from. Many interesting data might be available. And here it is already again, the German Angst. What will happen if my health insurance company finds out about it?

My Electric Battery

This is how the electric London from Utopia looks on the website.

Even today, the batteries are rather intelligent. The only thing they cannot yet do is talk, e.g. tell you something. The next generation will have solved that problem. Then the bike (or its batteries) will disappear when …, or when the batteries are empty. They will also use Alexa or “google home”. In the evening, they can tell me if I should re-load my bike in order to make sure it will not be empty before I reach my destination.

Everything Produces Data.

All those devices, and many more, have one thing in common: they generate data. And that is a good thing. Allegedly, we Germans are particularly anxious when it comes to new technology. I the past, this was often criticized, especially by politicians.

Perhaps we no longer like new technology because there was a time when we euphorically embraced nuclear energy and sacrificed our country to cars. And as a consequence, we really fell on our noses and so now we have become more cautious. And now we are afraid for and of our data. Perhaps because politicians tell us that data are the oil or the gold of the future. Which, basically, is utter nonsense.

“GERMAN ANGST“

When it comes to data, it seems to have re-appeared: the German Angst. And it seems like it developed into a European Angst. However, it does not matter how you feel about it. Because now it is before our doors: the DSGVO. And if you want to be law-abiding – and that is what we all want, isn’t it? – you need to do something. And you want as little stress in the process as possible. It might become an art that will make the difference between the success and the failure of an enterprise.

What can you do?

The InterFace AG, along with Kinast und Partner, DataKonform and Bizagi invites you all to a workshop. It costs nothing. It will be held on February, 15th, starting at 16:30 hours until about 20:00 hours (with enough time for networking) at the InterFace AG on Leipziger Str. 16, 82008 Unterhaching – very close to Munich and easy to reach by public transportation.

  • Here is some information issued by the InterFace AG about the workshop:

    It is about, for instance, how you can fulfil your obligation of accountability while legally and operatively accompanying our team with the support of tools. The tool will document everything efficiently and in total compliance with the law.
    Because with the introduction of the new EU data security basic decree (DSGVO), the way we treat data in the EU and world-wide will change forever. The new DSGVO will be effective as of May, 25th, 2018 and it will replace the former EU data security decree (EU-DSRL) that was active for more than 20 years.

    This expert workshop will show how the DSGVO demands can be met, namely:

    • How to prepare for the EU-DSGVO and what you need to keep in mind;
    • How to fulfil the legal demands of the DSGVO as shown in a model;
    • How to adapt, optimize and automatize processes in compliance with the new EU-DSRL;
    • How tools can support a solution during this process;
    • There will be a real-time demonstration that shows how you can immediately begin and actively meet the demands!

    Here is the agenda for the event:

  • Outline of the goals and short introduction of the enterprises involved;
  • Overview of the current situation (Kinast & Partner);
  • New DS-GVO and what you should know about it (Kinast & Partner);
  • Problems to be solved and obstacles to be overcome (practical examples);
  • “Data security as a Service“;
  • Introduction of the “achievement model”;
  • Types of achievement;
  • Model for the procedure;
  • Introduction of workflows as actual use cases/examples;
  • Questions and answers;
  • Networking discussions and finger food.

    Please do not hesitate to ask questions now. We look forward to your registration via E-Mail or eventbrite.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday December 24th, 2017

Here are two short videos on DOAG.tv

Since I am currently often pointing you towards video recordings, here is a short interview with me at DOAG@Talk:

I already told you about this interview on DOAG.tv here (on IF-Blog.de). But so far it had not been linked.

Talking of which: there is another Management interview on DOAG.tv that Dietmar Neugebauer recorded with me. It was about 
“PROFIT, TURNOVER, PROFIT CAN BE MEASURED – BUT THAT IS NOT TRUE FOR IMMATERIAL VALUES“:

Here is the Video.

And there is also an IF-Blog article IF-Blog article.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Hans Bonfigt
Monday July 10th, 2017

(Deutsch) Digitale Dekadenz und degenerative Demenz

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Sunday May 7th, 2017

Quo Vadis – Digital Transformation?

Personal Statement.
“Digitalization” is a topic I also often talk about in my presentations. Consequently, I will also again attend the Oberland IT Camp next Friday (May, 12th). This is both in order to enlighten some people and – above all – to learn many new things and make new experiences.

Here are some of my ideas from several presentations, discussions and debates around digitalization. I am sure it would be enough to fill an entire book, which is why some of my ideas are only in catchwords. However, it should suffice for those who know a little about the issue.


Digitalization – a great misunderstanding?
No tomorrow without today, no today without yesterday!

My presentation during the evening event BICCnight it at media in the foyer of the Funkhaus Bayern, München on 22/07/2011 (picture taken by: Stephan Goerlich) – For the video, see below.

Abstract:
If you want to understand the present, you need to know how the present came about. The history of digitalization is very old. During the last fifty years, the development speeded up tremendously, and in the last two decades, there was yet another boost. All indicators suggest that, at least in the next twenty years, the acceleration will continue.


Digitalization
“Digitalization” caused a massive change in our society. It did so in a different way than but to a similar extent as the “Industrial Revolution” in the last three centuries. As we all know, the second great “transformation through technological progress” still lies ahead. It will, again, totally change our individual and social way of life.
Consequently, it cannot do any harm to ask the following questions:

What exactly is the meaning of digitalization? How did it happen? What changed so far? Where are we today? What does digitalization mean for the “analogous” creature “homo sapiens”? What will come next? And is it possible that the new technology will transform us back to a “creature that communicates purely analogously”?

In my presentations, I discuss these and other questions both on a technical and sociological level. I try to make my presentations easily comprehensible and entertaining. I am also brave enough to give prognoses and suggest a few answers. But above all, I try to provoke people and make them thoughtful.

Thus, many questions arise. They can be answered in quite different ways.



From here: more in catchwords.
What is the purpose of digitalization?

After all, humans communicate analogously, don’t they?

In our brains, language and thinking are analogous processes. A relatively short time after language was first used, there came the wish to write down numbers, ideas, thoughts and stories. Initially, it was probably also because it was an application that was economically useful. Later, it was used for handing down and making available for a broad public through the times all “knowledge”.

This is how images, symbols, digits, numbers and a systemic stock of signs (alphabet) were created. The goal was always to “lay down in writing” language (ideas, stories). Because you wanted to transport them through time and space with more than just by word of mouth. And when reading them, the “brains” had to “de-cipher” them into analogous language.

All stock of signs can be bi-jectively represented by the minimal set of numbers {0,1}. Digitalization means basically that what is analogous can be represented by something digital and then transported and processed, but, above all, again “made analogous”. That is how it started. However, today the digital world has come such a long way that it serves us totally analogously.

The history of digitalization:
Written language as digitalization of language: 24 symbols.
Stone, clay, papyrus, paper as information carrier.
Formerly: one monk dictates, many write down.
Then: printing press, movable letters.
Sound is mechanically stored (wax disc, hurdy-gurdy, record disc, chiming cylinder).
Information was transported through physical transport of the storage elements.
Interesting exceptions were linked signals based on optical and acoustical means (mirrors on watch towers along the Italian coast, drum chains) – usually with a reduced information width (for a certain purpose).

Then electricity came…
Transfer through cables via electricity or wireless
Storage: still mechanically (punched tapes).
Later: first magnetic sound carriers (currently disappearing).

Protocols:

The history of transmission protocols alone would fill an entire book. Here are just a few catchwords:
MORSE-Code (3 values, short, long, pause=end; variable sign length, maximum of four).
For transfer and later publication of content (material and method).
TELEX (mechanical – electrical)
CCITT-Code (5 Bit-Code, 31 symbols with 24 letters plus special symbols)
Telephone/Telefax – both were analogous with cable transmission.
ISDN and packet switching (X25) came later.
Long distance data transfer was by modem through the telephone network.
(modulation of digital signals into analogous signals and back through de-modulation at the other end of the connection).
Then digitalization came for data transfer, too. Basically, it is all about sampling curves in same-distant intervals (grids) – this is also how sound = music = language is digitalized.

At the same time, the universal machine (computer) was invented. Basically, it could do more than just calculations. In fact, it could do everything.

Pandora’s box opened.

The CD came in 1982, ISDN in 1989 (Pilot as early as 1979).
CD is short for Compact Disk, initially it was called DD for Digital Disk.

When ISDN was first introduced, both the population and the parliament were very much afraid because now total supervision was possible! Today, ISDN has been replaced – as TELEX has been in the 1980s. And everything can be more or less supervised – and is being supervised as the necessity arises.

Data processing, too, became digital as a matter of principle and data display consoles were added to the mix.

I saw my first colour data display console on the Hannover Fair in 1980. It had been produced by Tectronix, looked like a big Oscillograph and cost as much as a small terraced house in Munich.

It was now possible to multiplex on one cable; then, at long last, data remote transfer based on packet switching comes (Datex-P X25). For the first time, networks become “clouds” – up to now, they had always consisted of numerous linked lines.

The future belonged to screen texts. The blanking interval of TV was made use of. After all, during the time the cathode ray needed for going from the bottom right to the left, no data were transferred. This was utilized for embedding data into the TV program. By using a simple back channel, they were even able to create an interactive communication through the TV with screen text computers. Even graphics was possible. Simple images were coded on the line and column screen through codes that were based on alpha and mosaic tables. To be sure, the result was a little plump and it took a long time to generate a page, but at least it worked. Nevertheless, BTX was soon overtaken. But it was certainly a good tool for watching soccer results and simple news for many years.

Another “service” – teletext with a more achievement-based point-to-point protocol (Datex-L) and standardized visual display units as stations was to become the predecessor of Telex (also known as: wire based with output on teletypewriter). But that was a product that failed before it was even operational


Note:
I experienced two “goose-bump moments” on the Berlin IFA (Internationale Funk Ausstellung): first with coloured TV (1960s) and then with the CD (in the 1970s). Both times, I experienced something that had seemed “unbelievable” for me. Again, reality pushed its way closer to our living rooms, the real world started getting mixed up with the virtual world.


Technological Advanced is Under Way:

Here my father’s original “Transistor-Radio”. We used it in IF-Blog as label for our Radiophilosophie.

I will never forget my father’s transistor radio. Because this was some progress that really made him happy. It was a small Grundig device with six transistors. It ran on UKW and MW, was small, had batteries. Now you could receive radio waves everywhere – even abroad. That was important in times of cold war.

Incidentally, coloured TV was first broadcast in 1967. And for us black-and-white watchers, it was something like a technological miracle (although we had been taught – and even understood – the technical principles in physics).

Citation:
When coloured TV started in 1967 Körting offered the cheapest colour TV, a device with 14 tubes plus image tube and with a two-transformation unit concept.

And then matters developed from there.
Digital music (the gramophone record was replaced by the CD, the CD was integrated into the iPod through MacIntosh and iTunes).
We got wireless telephones and then later digital telephones.
In addition to synchronous communication, there was now also asynchronous communication.


Note:
Here is a video recording of my presentation in the Foyer of the Funkhaus Bayern in Munich on July, 22nd, 2011 that fits quite well at this point. The wonderful title was::

What’s new, pussycat?”

 


Then came solutions that we still know today …

e-Mail
Internet
telephones with pictures
Social Media, FB, Google, Wikipedia …
Today, this is all really ancient stuff.
But there was also lots of rubbish:
The obligation to save emails, data collection and data security (almost ridiculous and a thing of the past, because today it is a matter of course)

Then came BIG DATA and with it another huge misunderstanding.
Just look at sentences like: “Data as crude oil of the future”, “big data engine will make dollars out of data”. All these sentences are bullshit at best.

Along with these developments, the calculator replaced having to do your sums by heart, on paper or with a slide rule.

And they say that, soon, the cars will all sit in the queue without anybody behind the wheel while the manager uses the underground train, which brings him to his meeting on time while the car arrives late. …

But what is the trend?

There was a time when I would have written: snapchat, wechat and the likes are what determine our future. But today, all of these, too, are a thing of the ancient past.

Tomorrow!

This is probably only about developed societies – the others will become poorer and poorer and will have totally different things to be concerned about. But here, much (all?) might change:
Chat kills E-Mail
Podcast kills Post
Audio kills reading & writing
Video kills Audio (telephone)
… ???

The classic form of mobility will change drastically.
3D will change everyday life.
Documents will probably soon disappear.
Money will become truly virtual.
Ownership, property and legality will become virtual – with all its consequences.
The golden rule will be: “Whatever is simple and useful will win“
The Messie culture will leave the real world (property will only be a burden) and become virtual.
We will leave physical values, a well-filled digital stock is more important than strange physical values that only cause stress.
Many hypes that today annoy people will become matters of course – or will totally disappear.
Even more than now, people will talk about things they do not know anything about.
Machines will determine what happens.
New tools will determine trends.

Learning and education will change drastically.

What will happen to schools and universities? Perhaps some of them will survive as nostalgic remainders from former times.
Smart Solutions will work for us and we will not even be aware of it.

Smart Solutions will make “shared economy” possible, perhaps thus saving the world? Or maybe they will at least postpone the apocalypse a little?

Through self-sufficient learning, systems of artificial intelligence will become faster and more intelligent – and will humans, to make up for it, become more and more stupid?
New technology will make the world go round even without humans, because it will directly communicate with the world.

In society, we will get “conspiracy theories” that have totally new dimensions. Humans will use more and more audio, video and three-dimensional experiences. The competence to read and write quasi automatically because it is a cultural competence as a matter of course will disappear. Rudimentary illiteracy will develop. Most people will forget how to read and write, just like they already forgot how to do sums by heart or on paper a long time ago. Because you simply will no longer need it.

But then, what technologies already play an important role today and will probably become really relevant in the future?

Or: What do we wish to focus on today?

Sensors!

Up until recently, the entire IT always communicated only with humans or, at best, with other “digital systems”. By using sensors, IT can now suddenly work directly with the world – it no longer needs humans as in-betweens.

Smart Solutions
In the context of solutions, Smart means the combination of “digital technology” and “social change”.

Short: smart = social + digital

More advanced solutions that, today, are named by buzzwords like augmented, merged or virtual reality.

All kinds of autonomous and integrative systems, probably totally different from those we even imagine today. Which probably means something other than the self-driving car. Let us just wait and see!

The problem will always be the user interface. For instance, if you look at the poor grades even much-used “German Apps” get, then you can easily conclude that the development of Apps has a very good future.

Let me conclude with a warning and a
theory:
The future – based on digital technology – will bring the “analogization” of everyday life and an enormous social change through smart solutions!

Warning

Digitalization is a very old thing! It was in the ancient past! Issues like data security are dead. Discussing it will only deflect us from actually following the current developments. And from giving the quasi automatical social change a humane orientation.

As I see it, we really should have discussions and debates about this. But, please, think first, then talk!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Wednesday April 5th, 2017

IT Upland BarCamp on May, 12th, 2017 in Holzkirchen!

The BarCamp on Digital Transformation and its Social Consequences

In those days, the author still thought in terms of hardware 🙂

Currently, the buzzword DIGITALIZATION is ever present. There is a Zentrum-Digitalisierung.Bayern (ZD.B) and in the Bavarian districts, state-subsidized digitalization centres are being established.

Except that digitalization was yesterday. Those were the days when clocks, tachometers and thermometers suddenly got digital displays. I think it must have been around 1985, when Apple 2 and MacIntosh were modern and the German computer scientists still earned a lot of money in their industry nostalgia with BS2000.

Today, the internet and google are old. Even a few decades ago, we dreamed of self-learning systems – due to our AI (Artificial Intelligence) euphoria. The more modern persons among us gave the German KI the English title AI, because we already knew that it was not going to have much of a chance in Germany. In those days, we dreamed of Lisp and Prolog. Now we have thinking systems that quickly learn by themselves – in areas like translation and traffic – because the hardware is so powerful that it starts to work properly. Even without Lisp and Prolog.

To this day, many new things happen. They happen at a speed that we can no longer follow. And it seems to only just start. An unbelievable wave of products rolls towards us. It will again radically change the world. Many laws and regulations will no longer function in the future. Many questions come to mind:

  • Today, everybody discusses the “self-driving car”. But I wonder if that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to changes in our lives. And maybe much more will, palpably and impalpably, change before that?
  • Aren’t we living in the time of sensor technology, which creates a totally new connection and interaction between informatics and the world? And will not soon the time come when this is no longer about the interface humans-machines, but about the interface world-machine?
  • Is it really possible to practice data protection rationally? Or is it just a chimera of those who eternally live in the past? What does it mean for our society?
  • What technological elements do smart solutions need in a modern IoT architecture? Incidentally, what exactly is the meaning of “smart” – and what exactly do we mean when we say IoT?
  • What about the rules for robots (self-driving cars)? What does the Federal Ethics Commission have to say about it?
  • What about fighting robots and drones? What does all this mean for war and peace?
  • Should we not be thinking new concepts with respect to many elements of our social order as a consequence of technological development? Or even define them anew?
  • What does this mean for our social framework? Will politics remain the means by which to form it, or have machines already taken over?

These and more questions will be discussed openly, honestly and considerately during the Oberland BarCamp in Holzkirchen – which is what we mostly do on barcamps.

That is why I registered for the BarCamp on digital transformation and its social consequences – aka Oberland BarCamp. It will be in the RSC Factory – Trainings- und Coachingzentrum für Digital Business & Innovation in Holzkirchen on May, 12th.

And I already look forward to meeting many friends!

RMD
(Translated by EG)