Roland Dürre
Tuesday February 5th, 2019

The Future and Gambling.

Is there anyone who does not like bets? Especially if you are really an expert? As most German men are when it comes to soccer?

For me, the future has always held a special fascination. One of my early dream jobs, along with film producer, was futurologist. Later, I became a programmer and IT entrepreneur. My specialty was digitalization – which means I tried to predict its future. Mostly, my predictions were wrong, because the technological development was faster than I had expected. The only exception were the flat-screens. I was wrong about them, too. It took a lot longer than I had predicted for the flat-screen to replace the CRT monitor.

Occasionally I also tried to predict the future outside the field of IT. There is a nice story about this. It was a bet where I won a box of champagne – which I never received. Regardless of the fact that they say betting debts are honorary debts.

Here is the story.

This is the year 1993. The Focus just appeared for the first time. It is said to be an alternative for Spiegel readers, the German news magazine created and sold by Hubert Burda Media.

April 1961 – when the news magazine actually still was a news magazine.

One of my highly appreciated employees – let us call him A. – bought an early edition of the news magazine FOCUS and read it on his way home from a customer. He showed me the magazine because he found it an outrage. He was quite appalled by the superficiality and partiality of the magazine.

A. believed that the project FOCUS will have to fail and that the magazine would quickly disappear from the market.

Spontaneously, I tended towards agreeing with A. To me, the sorry effort also looked atrocious. I agreed with A: The FOCUS is too colourful, to garish and too simple. It is superficial and primitive.

But then – is that not what our society has come to? And the future? Consequently, I contradicted A. We had a dispute and eventually we made a bet. The bet was formulated and the loser has to pay a box of champagne.

A. and Roland betting. Roland assumes that the FOCUS will be a success and that the magazine will still exist ten years from now. Andreas bets that the FOCUS will have disappeared before ten years are over.
The loser has to give the winner a box of champagne.

I make an entry in my diary and wait. Ten years later (2003), I stand as the winner. However, I do not get the champagne. A. ignores my demand.

Today (2019), after more than 25 years, they still both exist: the Spiegel and the FOCUS. Here are the current edition sales numbers (the Spiegel is still the winner).

The number of sold copies is 712,268, which is a minus of 32.6 per cent since 1998. 
The number of sold copies is 413,276, which is a minus of 47.2 per cent since 1998.

I do not know which of the two is the winner in online readers. It is no surprise that the hard paper copies get fewer. It seems that this is true for almost all newspapers and magazines (with the exception of very few, such as the brand eins). The number of copies printed (sold copies) and the advertisements therein (in T€) is on the decline.

As I see it, the Spiegel has moved towards the FOCUS. That is not an encouraging conclusion with respect to the quality of journalism in the one-time news magazine. The same is true for the fact that the best stories are those that have been made up.

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Tuesday October 20th, 2015

If Blog Explosion

Felix von Leitner auf dem Podium während des Chaos Communication Congress, 2009

Felix von Leitner sitting on the podium during the 2009 Chaos Communication Congress.

Two weeks ago, the number of IF Blog readers exploded. Normally, we have a nice three-digit number of readers every day. Suddenly, it ranged in the high four-digit region for a few days. The reason was simple: In Fefe’s Blog – the blog of  Felix von Leitner (fefe), which is probably one of the most frequently read in this country, there was a Link  to IF-Blog.

This is how it might have happened:
Our guest author Hans Bonfigt and fefe have known each other for a long time. In former times, they crossed swords quite frequently in Usenet. And a good enmity binds you just as much as a nice friendship. Enmity and friendship probably are not too far apart, anyway, as long as you respect the other party.

By some, is called the “Boulevard Press for Nerds“. This is quite a remarkable comparison. Because there are similarities, such as a very striking use of language (more like a “restricted code”) and a one-sided tendency – even if said tendency is very much to my liking, no (few) taboos.…

To summarize it all, I would say both are mouthpieces that are extremely good at proving prejudices. . But there are also quite a few differences between the two:

The Bild-Zeitung is a business empire. With many editors and employees, no end of capital behind the scenes, a refined logistics and sales concept, in short: a huge Journaille machine. And it also has considerable political influence, because quite a few politicians probably determine what to say with already more or less an eye on the BILD- Zeitung.

Felix von Leitner is basically all working by himself. No printing press rotates for him. At most, there might be the occasional small server. His is always offering his opinions for “free”. As a general rule, the BILD costs money, except if you pinch it. You only get a free copy on very special days, such as October, 1st, when it is distributed to almost all German households. On those days, it will deliver two- or one-page free adverts of the huge German business elite, such as VW or Allianz, which make at least me run away.

But to make up for it, fefe has a “crowd of nerds” (I count myself upon them) backing him who provide him with exciting links. All that is left for him to do is a little judgement, combination and comments. And then his “newspaper” is ready for publication.

The BILD-Zeitung used to be the dominating German print medium. I cannot really make an estimate about the influence of the institution BILD on our society and politics, but I think it is still relevant today. BILD might well also have determined the result of quite a few elections in this country. There is no doubt that it influenced a number of decisions.

I assume that this might change in the future. It will be exciting to observe – BILD or blog? 
For all my friends, I recommend reading Fefe’s Blog. It is definitely preferable to BILD.



I took the picture from Wikipedia. It was originally uploaded by and transferred to here through Flickr upload bot by Tullius (disucussion). At that time – 16:10, August, 5th, 2011 (UTC) – it was set free by Flickr under the Creative-Commons Licence „Namensnennung – Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen 2.0 generisch“. „Fefe“ is licenced by melle. Lizenziert under CC BY-SA 2.0 through Wikimedia Commons –