Roland Dürre
Thursday October 27th, 2016

#Digitalisation – The Filter Bubble“.

P1070216We live in times of irresponsible blabber. I feel it with special intensity whenever I hear how even self-appointed prophets speculate about digitalization. How much nonsense we have to read. Then, I also notice how many persons jump the bandwagon, uncritically repeating what they have heard or read. Thus they promote fear at places that will only deflect from the real dangers.

For me personally, the “digital change” is just the continuation of the change that has been caused by technology in the age of the complete electrification of our planet (or something similar). Since I myself experienced said change and was even part of it, I often try to contradict all the nonsense I often hear repeated by individual persons.

For me, for instance, a “driverless” car, be it a truck, bus or car, is nothing other than technological progress where iron is replaced by IT. Basically, the new vehicles simply do without tracks, instead using IT in order to reach their destination without a driver. That is far from witchcraft – it is simply engineering.

A harmless example of how panic is created is, at least so I see it, the much-cited “filter bubble”. In their Sunday speeches, more and more people state that a huge danger is looming because of it and that we are manipulated by algorithms. Here is a text I copied from a Wikipedia article (version of October, 27th, 2016, german)

The filter bubble or informational bubble is a term used by the internet activist Eli Pariser in his book of the same title. According to Pariser, the filter bubble is generated because websites try to predict what information  a user wishes to find by using algorithms   – based on available information about the user (for instance about his location, history of searches and click behaviour). The consequence is an isolation from information that does not match the position of the user.

So – tell me what is new about this!

I, for instance, have been living my filter bubble since I was a small child. As soon as I was able to read, I went to the library (first the catholic library, later the public library) and borrowed exactly those books that matched my VEIN (values, expectations, interests and needs).

As a reader of newspapers, I soon preferred the SZ over the Münchner Merkur. Later, I learned that newspapers try to write exactly what their readers want to read…

When I was an adolescent, I went to the “Republican Club” meetings, rather than the “Young Christian Party” and fraternities.

This is how, due to my limitations, I maneuvered myself into my private “bubble”. At the time, the radio got me out of it. At Silvester Evening, for instance, there was the Lach&Schieß, coming up with totally new ideas and unheard concepts and thereby drawing my mind towards completely different issues.

What used to be the radio in the form of “public broadcasting” is now the internet. I communicate with other persons, read their blogs and, once in a while, even listen to their PodCasts. In that respect, I am a little old-fashioned, because I actually still do some reading, not wishing to run around with headphones all the time. But even my behaviour will not have an influence on the future. Consequently, audio will win against the written word when it comes to knowledge transfer and exchange of opinions.

This is how I see and do many new things on the internet. Because, basically, the internet is not just google and facebook. Above all, it is about persons who blog and podcast their evaluations and their lives and who provide me with many ideas that, indeed, counter my prejudices and remind me to be tolerant. And this is how I learn to respect and appreciate opinions and persons that and who I just used to dismiss without any good reason.

My friends are like me in that respect. I feel rather well living in that bubble. I could not care less about the algorithms. Nor do I see a great danger in them. More often than not, I get the impression that the internet is made to be the big culprit just in order to camouflage how massively we are controlled by manipulation and lobbyism. Because it actually makes you more free and autonomous, thus being a danger to prevailing structures and systems. Consequently, they also do not like the idea of freedom of the internet and see to it that online freedom is torpedoed with all possible arguments – no matter how stupid.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Hans Bonfigt
Friday October 7th, 2016

DAMIT ICH MICH BESSER FRESSEN KANN

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Hans Bonfigt
Saturday August 27th, 2016

Am Beispiel eines Pioniers

Heinz Sebiger ist tot.

Hans Bonfigt
Tuesday November 3rd, 2015

(Deutsch) Drei glorreiche Halunken (II)

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Bauer-GoosI consider myself to some extend as a third generation informatics pioneer. And I like remembering my first huge projects in the 1970ies. They were called START, ITS, Dispol or SNATCH.

In my private order of things, the second generation of IT pioneers is represented by F.-L. Bauer, whom I personally hold in high esteem. When I was a mathematics student at TUM (at the time it was still called TH for Technische Hochschule) in the fall of 1969, I sat in his lecture when I first studied my minor subject: computer science. Incidentally, the book you see on the picture is my personal copy bought at the time. As you can easily see, it has been read in quite often.

In those days, informatics was something totally new for me. And I probably chose the minor subject because I did not really know what it was. Simply because, in some way or other, it pointed towards the future.

BauerAlmost as a logical consequence, I did not understand everything professor Bauer wanted to teach us during this beautiful lecture course. Very regrettably.

During the last few years, I was permitted to accompany professor Bauer when he gave several guided tours in the Informatics department of the Deutsches Museum. Those tours were held for our (InterFace AG) customers, friends and partners. Many things I had not understood as a young student became a lot clearer in the wake of those tours.

Incidentally, I count Konrad Zuse among the first computer science generation. I made his personal acquaintance at the end of the 1086 InterFace-Konrad-Zuse-Bike Tour. He gave us a great welcome, delivered a wonderful speech and presented us the picture you see here during the great reception at Hünfeld. Today, you can see the picture hanging on the wall at the InterFace AG building in Unterhaching.

K_ZuseBy now, informatics has moved on by “light years”. I was and still am a computer scientist with all my heart. For me, the combined meaningfulness of my work, my life and society has always been important. Consequently, the development and future of informatics is important to me. Articles written by third parties about the subject and by distinguished informatics representatives are, naturally, of special interest.

In the 14th edition of the TUM magazine “Faszination Forschung” – a first-class high-gloss TUM München magazine – dated June 2014, I found the article  “Connecting the World”.

Here is the trailer:

In the future, everyday objects will be linked via the Internet, enabling them to interact autonomously. To realize this vision, computer scientists are developing virtual models they can use to test practical implementation and monitor the security, safety and reliability of connected systems.

The article describes the future of computer science on the technological level. It is basically about how systems can be coordinated in a future “cyber physical world”. Since I consider the article worth reading and a good basis for further discussion, I am providing you with the download: Cyber-Physical (742).

My friend and partner in the InterFace AG advisory board, Professor Dr. Manfred Broy, is cited in the article. You will also find his picture. It can be assumed that the content of the article is partly the result of the research supervised by him.

I do not totally agree with the article. To be sure, there will be remarkable future developments in our technology, perhaps even more remarkable than those described in the article. However, I do not believe in what applications are predicted. Instead, I assume that the society of the future will have to cope with totally different challenges than we assume today. And I am sure we will then find very exciting solutions. But those solutions will not be part of this “brave new world”.

Yet matters begin to get exciting (and for me alarming) when I read the reply written by Professor Werner Meixner. In a presentation, professor Dr. Meixner described how this article “strikes someone (him) who basically understands the meaningfulness of his professional life as a fascination with the natural sciences as a humanist value”.

This presentation is also part of an open letter addressed to Professor Dr. Manfred Broy with the title: 

Where is informatics headed?
Like before, I am providing the link for downloading of the open letter by Professor Meixner:
Wohin geht die Informatik? (737)

Since I wish to motivate IF blog readers to read the articles, I will now cite a short but perhaps central part of the article:

All human decisions – and concerns know this quite well – contain an act of added value, which means they are valuable per se. The most important factor is that the owner of the produced value is the one who made the decision and is responsible for it. This is exactly the meaning of privacy and the consequence is the indisputable worthiness of privacy protection. All business behaviour is a consequence thereof.

In fact, I do not quite understand what the author wants to say. My attempt at analysing it dialectically results in me finding a random truth claim which is easy to disprove.

🙂 However, since I am a blogger, I never write open letters to anyone. Instead, I publish my personal opinion in my blog. Totally transparently, everybody can read it.

Here comes:

I find the TUM magazine article one-dimensional. The “open letter” gave me consternation.

In both articles, I find a concept of the world and humans which is no match at all with what I see in the real world. The first article reminds me a little of the nuclear energy euphoria (which at the time was controlled by business interests) more than fifty years ago. The second article glorifies a meaning of privacy and laments its worthiness of protection which – based on my experience in life and my knowledge of anthropology, neurology, psychology, philosophy and sociology – is not at all justifiable. Even theological reasoning would probably fall short

For all of us, the real challenges will quickly be others than those described. The dream image of a networked world will not help us to cope with all those challenges. Neither will the convulsive protection of our private data – which, basically, cannot be protected anyway.

The current news about the IS fronts, other wars and their consequences, refugees seeking asylum in the EU, the assassinations in France , or #Pegida and #Anti-Pegida in Germany are clear indications of a reality that quickly changes and that we have to accept. Also, we have to learn how to deal with this reality in a rational way.

A dominating global economy which creates free markets for products yet leaves labour unfree (a seamstress in Bangladesh cannot move to Europe and do her work there, even though the dresses she makes are exclusively sold in Europe) will come to its end. The rich persons of this world (we) exploit the poor more than ever in human history and the number of slaves is higher than ever.

The tensions generated by these contrasts will probably discharge themselves like earthquakes. It has already started. Basic conditions (climate, food and soil) in many regions already deteriorate and will geometrically continue to do so. Sooner or later, this process will catapult us into critical spheres. The tensions will become more and more noticeable.

In fact, we might be approaching a rough awakening from our current dreams faster than we had anticipated. It is my hope that here, too, informatics can help. Naturally, I do not yet know how this might happen. All I can do is imagine how it might be.

I think the IKT can only contribute positively towards the humaneness of mankind if it – above all – succeeds in supporting a highly complex, world-wide and truthful discourse which thus will render striking results. This is the only way to come to a consensus not based on enmity and exploitation. Instead, it should prepare humans (us) for the necessary changes in our mental concepts and life.
This is the only way to change society without violence. It is the only way to transform today’s economy into a “common-good-economy”. And it is also the only way to find solutions for a better copyright and patent system. Through the wisdom of the masses and against the simple-mindedness of the individual person.

[Note: perhaps our colleagues at Youmigo.de already understood this – which is why they wrote a wonderful APP for “world agreement”.]

As to the TUM magazine article: I would argue that we do not need a luxury world of networked technology which, when all is said and done, will only enslave us even more. As to Werner Meixner’s theses, I think he inflates the topic “pretty good privacy” like a profession of faith. However, instead of giving credible reasons, he remains dogmatic.

And I also believe that our privacy will be something we will be fairly indifferent about in the future. Because we will have other problems. Also, we humans will always move in the stress field of individuality and collectiveness. Either way. With data protection or without. And the only way we can manage to do that in a humane way is if we think and act in a value-oriented way. Dogmata and their prayer-like publication will not be helpful.

Here is another idea about personal data. Isn’t it a rather normal part of human civilization to collect information about people. After all, there were good reasons to come up with administration and, for instance, write down when a child is born. Of course, technological advancement made unbelievable things possible since they invented filing systems and cataloguing.

With “new” technologies, you can certainly collect a lot more data than formerly. Yet this is only the continuation of a development that started with the invention of writing on paper as a means to conserve and hand on information. Quite possibly, the invention of filing systems (certainly an IT invention) brought another impulse. And IKT yet another.

But: did IKT really make such an enormous difference? And how huge is the damage? And isn’t it just great that in general information can be made available by whistle blowers and that it was IT which made it easier?

I see a threat if “a-moral systems” (like unlawful systems) get hold of the data. But if it comes to that, no data protection will help us, anyway. Instead, we should see to it that “a-moral systems” never gain control over us. And that is a permanent social challenge for every citizen. Basically, you can only resist “commercial utilization” of data by being autonomous. But then, the same is true for the continuing threat of manipulation through marketing. And if you consume senselessly, it will only cost money, rarely your life.

Personally, I consider the avoidable damage the “old” technologies caused us during the last hundred years and still cause us permanently today significantly higher than the damage done by the new technology IKT during the last 25 years.
For instance, the technologies of the last century stole our piece. Does any of you still know a single place in Munich where you hear no “technology noise”? Yet the noise pollution is only a truly harmless example compared to the 1.2 million traffic fatalities each year – caused through motorized individualized mobility on a world-wide scale. And it is a fact that we also like to ignore other threats, such as the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere.

In the same way we accepted the limitless noise emissions, we also got used to our (still very limited, regardless of all efforts) transparency. Limited, because even the networking systems used in industry and in the world 4.0 will find it hard to read our thoughts. And because, if we want to survive, we will definitely have to develop into autonomous persons in a self-determined frame.
Maybe the permanent calls for secrecy of data are nothing more than an outcry of protest, because, after all, you have to be against something, don’t you? And you are not courageous enough to actually stand up for the real threats.

But then, do not let us forget:

Only the new technologies provide us with a chance of networking and sharing our ideas with others. Which is how we can fight ignorance, intolerance, dogmata, irrationality and much more of the same.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

On September, 19th, we welcomed our guests Hans Bonfigt and Marc Haber of redoxSystems at the IF Forum. The topic was: Careful: EMAIL!  Their two courageous and personal presentations, they not only informed us about the
“History, Basics, Spam&Virusses”, but also introduced “Concepts for Operating Your Own Secure and Reliable Mailservers”.
In particular, they also reminded us of the perhaps fundamental threats we all face these days.

After the presentations, we had an extremely lively and fruitful discussion. And our guests went back home with a sense of awareness and yet content..

As (almost) always, we made a video recording of the two presentations. You can view the basic parts of the presentation by Marc Haber on youtube.

Both this video and the one by Hans Bonfigt were made and produced by Lukas Ziegler.  The part done by Hans Bonfigt will be put online shortly.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roberto Simanowski_smallOur speaker of the third and last big IF Forum in 2013 is
Professor Dr. Roberto Simanowski!

He was going to give a presentation about:

Jean Paul, his witticism, the post-modern area and the new media.

The presentation was going to take place on November, 7th. For several reasons, we had to change the date. But be not afraid: the speaker will be the same.

On Friday, October, 25th, 2013 (please note – rescheduled!), Roberto Simanowski will tell us about a Jean Paul who, considering the times he lived in, was rather autonomous, revolutionary, in fact, almost anarchistic. Afterwards, he will give his opinion on the following current topic:

Big Data and Transparent Society:
NSA, Self-Tracking and the Internet of Objects.

Here is what he will provide us with:

  • Big Data being the “crude oil” of the 21st century also raises the questions of environmental pollution and of an informational sustainability concept.
  • Both politicians and citizens refusing to talk about the NSA affair not only points towards non-existent problem awareness, but also to a camouflaged complicity.
  • The “cold civil war” does not take place between the citizens and the secret service/surveillance society, neither does it happen between individual citizens. It actually happens inside every citizen. Databases replace stories as a form of understanding the world and yourself. The algorithm becomes the psycho therapist. It neither tells the patient what it found out, nor asks if it may use what it found out

About the speaker:

After having studied literature and history, Roberto Simanowski received his doctorial title in 1996 at the Friedrich-Schiller University of Jena with a work on the mass culture around 1800. Following his time as a scientist at Göttingen University, he was a visiting scholar at Harvard University (1998-2000) and the University of Washington (2001-2002), as well as representing the chairholder for media sciences and cultural theory of digital media at Jena University.

Between 2003 and 2010, Roberto Simanowski worked as an assistant professor at the Department of German Studies of Brown University in Providence (USA). He has now held a professorship at the seminar of media sciences of Basel University since 2010.

In 2011, he habilitated in media sciences at Siegen University with a work about digital media.  He is the founder and editor of the online journal for art and culture of digital media dichtung-digital.org.

Here are some of his publications in the field of digital media:

  • Text machines – kinetics poetry – interactive installation. On understanding art in the digital media (Transcript 2012)
  • Digital Art and Meaning. Reading Kinetic Poetry, Text Machines, Mapping Art, and Interactive Installations (University of Minnesota Press 2011)
  • Reading Moving Letters: Digital Literature in Research and Teaching. A Handbook (Mhg; Transcript 2010)
  • Digital Media in our adventure society. Culture – Art – Utopia (Rowohlt 2008)
  • Interfictions. About writing on the internet (Suhrkamp 2002)
  • Digital literature: forms and ways of new literature (Hg., DTV 2002)
  • Digital Literature (Hg., Text & Kritik Oktober 2001)

Note:

This IF Forum will be held in our headquarters building at Unterhaching, in the seminar zone under the roof. We start at 18.00 hours. We look forward to welcoming our guests! As always, you can register for the IF Forum via e-mail.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

This week, the time has again come: on September, 19th, 2913, at 18:00 hours, there will be another interesting IF Forum as part of our IF Academy. You can hear an exciting presentation about:

Mailserver & Mail-Client (Careful E-MAIL!)

“History, Spam&Virusses” or “concepts for the secure and reliable operation of a mail server”

(Hans Bonfigt / Marc Haber – redoxSystems)

And here is the good news:

HaberMarcII200911-Heidelfoto-A-orig-IMG_4678plus_v2Marc Haber will also come.

By now, we can verify that, besides Hans Bonfigt, Marc Haber will also be there. The two of them are experts when it comes to the technology and the depths of our so often-used medium email. In fact, with these two persons we have a couple of “supremely knowledgeable” guests who are both extremely competent and radically critical, since they are “chips of the old block”. Both of them have the special talent of coming up with simple explanations even when the topic is complex. I know them both personally and they will give very interesting reports as co-speakers.

For instance, they will deduce logically that an enterprise basically cannot avoid having its own mail server. They will also show how easy it is to install said mail server and how cheaply it works if you use free software.

Simultaneously, they will give a quasi “first-hand account” about the rather “common” concept of “SINA-Boxes” potentially abusing your civil rights on a daily basis without your having even the slightest chance of so much as noticing it.

Since currently this topic is rather much-discussed, we promoted the IF Academy presentation to become a “special IF Forum”.

Consequently, this coming Thursday evening is another very good opportunity to introduce InterFace AG to our friends, partners, customers and all interested persons, as well as to new colleagues.

So here I am asking you all to support the IF Forum and make it a lively event. I will also be very happy to welcome participants who failed to register on time or decide to visit spontaneously.

For details and registration, click here: LINK !

I look forward to welcoming many visitors!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Thursday, InterFace Event at TUM:
Technological Presentations for Computer Scientists
July, 18th,  2013 – earlier than usual: 4 p.m. at TUM!

The next presentation in our series IF Academy – Technological Presentations 2013 will be on July, 18th – as usual on a Thursday. This time, however, we will not remain in the Unterhaching InterFace building. Instead, we will go on tour with our circus and the event and Happy Hour afterwards will be at TU München in Garching. The TUM has reserved the lecture hall “Konrad Zuse” for us.

felis_swThe speaker if Felix Köbler. Felix spent a huge part of his computer science training and research at TUM.

He will tell us what totally new ways of thinking and opportunities have already been realized through the internet and the corresponding technologies – and also how it might go on from there. His topic will be:

Crowdsourcing & RailScout  
An introduction and selected delicacies and crowdsourcing solutions for safe and clean railway stations.

Abstract provided by Felix:

The first part of my presentation will give you an outline of the current technological and socio-technological developments. For example the adoption and use of ubiquitous and mobile technologies which not only are immersed in our daily lives but also make totally new applications possible.

One promising and totally new application is crowdsourcing. It means the outsourcing of tasks or value-creating activities to an un-defined group of voluntary users by an enterprise or institution.

I will discuss the potential and problems of these innovative concepts using various examples beyond the widely known applications and initiatives such as Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap. One of the specialties of crowdsourcing is the extension of existing job-sharing models by the factor motivation, which is often used for applying gamification – that is the use of game elements in non-game contexts –  in its socio-technological application.

The second part of my presentation will be about an actual solution and application: “RailScout”, which belongs to the area of the so-called “Mobile Crowdsourcing” as made possible by the technological development in the field of mobile end devices. “RailScout” is a smartphone application for passengers and gives them the chance to call in problems, like technological or maintenance damage and littering at railway stations and infra-structure buildings, directly to the responsible administration.

My presentation is meant to give you both the current results gained from the experiment still under way and diverse insights in to the craftsman-like process  (Participatory Design/User-centered Design) and conceptual challenges in the field of gamification during the problem solution development phase.

The Speaker

Felix Köbler is a doctorial candidate at the chair for Business Informatics of Munich Technical University. He holds a B.Sc. and an M.Sc. in Information Systems/Business Informatics of Munich Technical University and studied, among other places, at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China and Technical University of Tampere, Finland and University Tampere, Finland.

His research is mainly on distributed software engineering, social networking, gamification, persuasive technologies and ubiquitous and mobile computing with a strong focus on human-computer interaction. The results of his research has been published in international technological journals, such as AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction and International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction (IJHCI), as well as presented on international conferences, such as the International Conference on Information Systems, European Conference on Information Systems and ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

Besides having established RailScout, he is also active in the fields of User Experience Design and strategic advice, as well as in Business Development at “FELD M” , which is a counselling company for digital marketing. Also, he works as a freelance counsellor.

Here is some information on the event series

At two-month intervals, we invite people to listen to a presentation with some technological, leader-specific or entrepreneurial topic. Our invitations go out to all interested computer scientists living in the area and, of course, especially to all our colleagues at InterFace AG.

The presentations are meant to hand on innovative knowledge and special experience from practice for practice, following the idea of craftsmanship. Our focal point and content is in the fields of programming as a German engineering feat, modern basic know-how, future-oriented technologies, insider knowledge, changes in established technologies, experience from project such as management and leadership and much more.

Usually our speakers take 30 minutes for their presentation, then you have 60 minutes for discussion. And afterwards, there will always be a “Happy Hour”.
The events take place on every third Thursday of the uneven months of the year.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

IF20x_5172Today is the day!

At 13:00 hours, our Workhop “Craftsmanship” will start!

For more information, click here!

There are still a few vacancies!

And for those who cannot come, we broadcast the presentation live on the internet.

On http://www.ustream.tv/channel/IF-Forum , you can see the video stream of the presentation, starting around 13:45 hours.

In addition, we will – as usual – make a video recording and publish it on youtube (Kanal InterFace AG).

RMD
(Translated by EG)