Roland Dürre
Saturday August 29th, 2015

“Why Don’t You Have A Euro-Flat-Rate?

A short time ago, a friend of mine who also spends his vacation here asked me this question. After all, he knows how much I travel in Germany and Europe. Well, the question astounded me – and I was wondering why, indeed, do I not have one? As it is, I always have to beg for WLAN passwords. Wouldn’t it be convenient if I could always have access to the internet, no matter where I am and independent from the WLAN drama in Germany and some other countries?

As always, I needed a few days to think about it. And each day, it became clearer to me why, indeed, I do not wish to have this kind of flat-rate. And that, in my opinion, this is the wrong approach. Which is also why I will continue to always look for the nearest hotspot on my travels.

First and foremost, I simply find it too complicated. After all, during my travels, I also use several devices for access to the internet. Besides my Android-Smart-Phone, there are two tablets: a big one if I carry a lot of luggage and a small one, for example for bike tours. Sometimes I travel with the MacBook Air – in order to be able to work efficiently – and sometimes with the Chromebook. Or, as now in our tent, I have both of them with me.

And I definitely do not feel like equipping all my devices to make them become mobile radio compatible. And to me, “tethering” also looks like a less than optimal solution. The rechargeable battery of the mobile telephone will be empty in no time. Some way or other, that is also too complicated. After all, all my devices have the WLAN function as a matter of course.

And when all is said and done, the world-wide transmitter towers erected by the telecom companies, too, are not really sufficient. Which means that I would not really gain very much. But deep down, my refusal of private flat-rates has philosophical reasons. Basically, I do not wish access to the internet at all times and in all places. For me, it is totally sufficient if I get the chance to access the network once in a while on my travels. For instance in the evening at the hotel or on the campground.

And there are certainly more than enough WLAN networks wherever I stay. Unfortunately, however, and for totally irrational reasons, they are often nailed shut with passwords. I find it a fair and uncomplicated procedure to share WLAN hot-spots for high-power networks.

Perhaps a good metaphor for using private flat-rates world-wide is individual and private mobility. That is also an area where they thought they could do without making the transport of materials and humans a common duty as long as everybody has his or her private means of transportation. Then we got the many small and big vehicles with the combustion motors that alone make you independent. Which is what caused the traffic mania of private mobility with all the consequences we see every day.

Consequently, I find fixed networks with open WLAN subsystems “on the last mile” better suited for my vision of a “Common Land World” than private and competing telecom companies.

There is a constantly growing awareness inside me of how many resources belong to all of us, that is: humans as an entity. And that we should not and must not use and destroy those resources as we wish and in private for unimportant things. Because soil, nature and water are too precious for our survival and the survival of the next generations.

One of the commodities I would also count among the Common Land is, for example, the absence of noise. There is no doubt that the thoughtless, accidental or also voluntary generation of noise destroys your quality of life. And that is why I only generate noise when this is absolutely necessary and avoid it wherever I can.

Free communication is a basic need of the modern world. We need it for our future. Would it not be nice if the access to all information of this world and the network connecting us all also were some kind of Common Land? A civil right for all humans. Like the air, which transports WLAN. Without any private special treatment?

(Translated by EG)

In my little series of articles on barcamp and PM Camp (#pmcamp), I described some models for three kinds of sessions in the last instalmnt. Today’s article is about twittering and some behavioural rules directly related to it!

Can you twitter during a barcamp in general and during sessions in particular?

During a PM Camp, you not only can, but actually should (must) twitter. In fact, twittering is a very important part of the Camp. Incidentally, you are also permitted to play on your mobile phone in the middle of a session and to leave the room in order to attend another session.

As a general rule, you have a minimum of one “Twitterwall” at a PM Camp. On it, all tweets written in twitter and marked with the tag of the event will run there in real-time (for example #pmcamp13ber for the next PM Camp in Berlin). Thus, you get a central theme which actually can be taken as first documentation and comments on the entire event. You will know what happens on the PM Camp, how other persons feel and what their experiences and thoughts are.

Naturally, all participants can also take a look at the twitterwall on their individual devices. And they will often see that many persons who are not physically present will actually take part in “real-time” in this way. For instance when I first went to the Dornbirn PM Camp in November 2011, I could not come before noon of the first day. Sitting in the train on my way out, I read the barcamp tweets (#pmcamp) and was absolutely enthusiastic – I was literally driven towards getting to Dornbirn as fast as possible.

Through your own tweets, you also can and should make your own evaluation known to others as soon as possible. In this way, becoming part of the whole is even better guaranteed and you can again inform others. Taken together, all tweets are a nice retrospective report of the event. Later, you will enjoy looking at them and mentally reviving the camp.

Incidentally, there is no “official” documentation of a PM Camp, such as proceedings or the like. This is absolutely intentional! Because the documentation, too, is voluntary. It is organized and determined quasi automatically by the participants. This works quite well and thus you get a thorough multi-media documentation which, above all, is also correctly weighted. It contains text, images and videos and covers everything important, on top of being available centrally on openPM and inter-linked.

Of course, in twitter and on barcamps in general, the same rules should apply as in normal life:

You cannot make others small or hurt them. Personal attacks must be avoided, even if there are times when you are very disappointed. And if it happens that you really did something inexcusable, you have to apologize.

When all is said and done, it is particularly true for the internet and open communities that all you do will reflect upon yourself.

So, please, do also accept weaknesses – and if there is something that annoys you very much, you will just have to leave.

The only thing you cannot tolerate on a PM Camp is intolerance. But intolerance, in particular, is something you should address personally, rather than talk about behind people’s backs.

In this article, I only referred to twittering. Of course, you may also write in facebook or in Google+ during the Camp. You might even wish to create a community there – ideally after coordinating it with the other parties concerned. Twittering is very open and my personal favourite medium, because it is very short and thus will not distract you for too long. And after deducting the day, you have 100 characters left with which you can formulate quite much and with quite a high precision.

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday March 24th, 2013

“I like” & Facebook or “WiTuN”

I like Facebook, Google+, Twitter and many more …

I constantly hear sentences like…

“… all those Facebook and twitter affairs are evil … personally, I absolutely boycott social media … virtual friendships are rubbish, because you have to see each other face-to-face, anyway… and worst of all is, after all, this stupid: I like!”

… from persons who are otherwise basically to be taken quite seriously. I mean people who climb into their cars and drive off at high speed or go back to watching TV – which means they actually use technology that used to be quite modern and relevant.

I prefer to keep quiet on hearing their comments. After all, I know that any and all of my attempts at explaining things (social media) to them is totally useless. There is nothing you can ever do about dogmatic know-all manners, especially if those know-alls do not even know what they are talking about and consequently cannot understand it. This is actually true in general.

In the last ifcamp (barcamp at InterFace) on our BlueFriday (of March, 22nd, 2013), I introduced one “knowledge management” session. It was about how we can set knowledge free and then share it. In order to then evaluate it together and identify what is relevant. With the goal of finding the right and probably better decisions for the future from the “crowd”.

In the course of our discussion, the Facebook phrase “I like” also came up. And we concluded that this is probably a first and extremely simple tool for social feedback. You can use it if you want to show people that you like something. Or that you appreciate them. Or that you simply are sympathetic. …

During the session, we came to the mutual conclusion that there is a need for a refined and neutral “feedback technology” for applications intent on using the crowd and the good social web. For these systems, this would be an absolute necessity. Without this technology, these kinds of projects cannot succeed.

We spontaneously found ways to improve on “I like”. Here are some examples.

  • Give a limited number of “I like”-s to each participant;
  • Assign a certain amount of them each month;
  • The participants get dynamically more “feedback units” as the social relevance increases, perhaps similar to klout;
  • Or maybe there could be something like a “Page-Rank” for members of a social system;
  • It might also be a good idea to introduce “feedback units” with different weightiness…

In a nutshell: I believe the “feedback technology” is a very important and central component of all kinds of crowd and social web applications. But this is not at all a trivial topic; it is well worth dealing with in great detail. I am sure there is also a considerable number of scientific works with good ideas which one might be well advised to take a closer look at.

Here is an example from another field that surprised me:
I like writing in stenography. So I had this idea that the technology of “writing quickly and ergonomically (instead of tense) by hand” – which has been developed and perfected over hundreds of years – could be used for text processing on tablets or with gesture-controlled systems. And then there was a friend of mine who works among the Academia who found it a wonderful bachelor theses topic, so it was very thoroughly analysed.

So – let us get under way;
Let Us Share Knowledge – and Use It!

(Translated by EG)

This article does not suggest that I find everything Facebook or Twitter does agreeable. If, for instance, I will notice certain tendencies towards tampering with “social metrics” at Facebook, you will have seen the last of me there sooner than you might have imagined.    
But such a turn of events at FB will not change my opinion that social networks and shared knowledge applications mean social progress. In fact, it would be one more reason to rekindle the old philosophical and ethical discussion: how can we get to a stage where the production of articles and services will be done decently? After all is said and done, this will again end up in a discussion about privatization or the social responsibility of those who own all the production goods.

Roland Dürre
Sunday March 17th, 2013

Emily Post of the 21st Century

Today: communication, mail and messages!

I take calls from everybody at all times. Most of my friends, however, know that you should only call others if you have something really, really important to tell them.  Consequently, I have to answer the telephone relatively infrequently. But there are some exceptions . Some people call me more often than strictly necessary. And since those people are very nice people, I forgive them.

But seriously: if it were up to me, I would write quite a few new things on communication in “Etiquette in Society, Business and at Home – 2013”.

For instance, when it comes to the letter C as in “communication”, I would write the following commandments:

  • Never call anybody unnecessarily!
  • Only use the telephone function of your small, mobile computer when you are in a totally hopeless situation!
  • In particular, avoid calling while travelling – no matter if you are walking, riding a bike, driving a car or going by train!
  • Only call someone if you have arranged to call beforehand!
  • If you cannot avoid calling someone, find out if maybe communicating via Hangout or perhaps Skype is a better alternative!
  • And, please, prepare in advance what you want to talk about. Arrange your ideas and have all documents you may need for reference handy before you start dialling!
  • And, please, do not be too talkative and long-winded!

Under the letter M like in “Mail” I would formulate as follows:

  • Only send an email if there is no better alternative!
  • How about re-reading about TOFU!
  • If you have to send an email, avoid long footers!
  • Avoid at all costs attachments with some strange legally necessary and yet totally useless phrases!
  • Wherever possible, send your email only to one recipient!
  • If at all, use “cc” only as in the way of sending a  “copy to”!
  • Never send “bcc”, because it is forbidden!
  • Well – and if we are talking one of those ping pong emails: why don’t you just delete all the rubbish and all those footers!

More on the letter M like in “Messages” :

  • Wherever possible, avoid SMS!
  • If you have to send short messages to people, use the medium preferred by your partner. You might use “What’s App”, FB Messenger, Twitter DM or some such!
  • Do not write short messages unnecessarily long!

And here another letter M like in “Miscellaneous” where I would give you basic advice as follows:

  • Never think in terms of distribution, but always in terms of communities!
  • In communication, too, transparency and openness are the central values!
  • Whenever you write about persons, keep in mind that the person concerned might read it!

I am sure you could find more on the subject. And if necessary, I am quite willing to justify every one of the aforementioned points. And in the future, I will also try to adhere to my own rules a little better.


(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Friday January 4th, 2013

Dangers and Horrors of the New World.

I used to enjoy using the yahoo group functions.  Now I am an enthusiastic google user. The google+ tools, such as Drive, Hangout and many more – supplemented by more tools for various purposes – are so diverse that they constitute an ingenious system for shared working, so-called co-working. Even if we are talking distributed locations.

On top of this, I love facebook. Many of the dialogues I have with persons I feel quite close to happen exclusively through facebook. Relationships with beloved friends, even on other continents, are easy to nourish in this way. I also use twitter quite intensely, not just for big events like #pmcamp.

My cell-phone communication is preferably done through WhatsApp or FB Messenger. Without these great tools, I would probably really get something like “communication stress“. But as it is, things are easy – regardless of the fact that I feel connected with and communicate with a whole lot of people.

But here comes the worst news: my favourite way of paying is through Paypal!

Many of my contemporaries are outraged on hearing all these things. They think I am really very careless. Even persons with a lot of civil courage give serious warnings. After all, I am making very personal data available to such anonymous powers as google. FaceBook is spying on me for advertising purposes. WhatsApp will steal my telephone number and then abuse it. And using Paypal is an absolute NOGO. It constitutes a truly immense risk. Not just for my data, but also for my money (are banks less of a risk for my money?).

And then I think:

What exactly are you all afraid of? Once upon a time, there was an innovation – it was called automobile or car. And we all jumped the bandwagon. Mind you, it was really dangerous! There were years when the fatal accidents in West Germany alone were 20,000! In those days, I drove a car. And I remember quite a few times when I almost died in it.

Was that not very careless? If you take the number of fatal accidents in Europe, or even world-wide, you will discover that this technology caused millions of deaths. And probably more than a billion wounded or otherwise massively injured persons. Not to mention the destruction of nature and habitats and the reduction of quality life.

Consequently, here is my answer for all those who are worried: you are afraid of FaceBook, Google, Paypal, Twitter and WhatsApp! But you still drive cars? Given your worries, you should never have started driving a car and you should also never have filled up on gasoline at the evil concerns, such as BP, Esso or Shell.

Because this innovation caused massive damage both for humans and their money! And it still continues doing so. Your excuse is that there is no alternative to driving a car. Which is not true. Ever since I decided to no longer drive a car, I am feeling a lot better.

(Translated by EG)