16 Landmarks for Free and Agile Schools.

Roland’s first day at school.

With each year I gain in age, there is a growing belief that we experience such a huge amount of unconceivable nonsense, enmity and cruelty in life because we are socialized as young persons in such a way that we will later, as adolescents and adults, do all these stupid things. We are enveloped in our socialization.

The first diapers immediately after we are born might well serve as a metaphor for such a development. We need the diapers because otherwise we would leave too many tracks. And with every day of our young lives, the development continues. We learn what we should and should not do, what is good and what is evil, what is right and what is wrong, what is bad and what is nice,…

In order to de-velop autonomously, we must anti-en-velope ourselves – which, naturally, is difficult or even impossible.

I have the hope (or illusion?) that, as parents, along with the parents and supported by the external instance that we call school, you could do a far better job making the future generation happy than it happens now.
As a reaction to my article on “schools“, I learned that I am not the only person who starts getting impatient with educational politics.

So why don’t we do something about it!

In my IF-Blog, I wrote how I experienced my visit at Marbach Christophine  (Cristophine I), as well as how school could and should work, My next article (Christophine II) on the topic had some arguments why I consider a new form and implementation of school absolutely necessary.

I recently discovered an old paper buried under other papers that deals with the Freien Schule Christophine (FSC). The paper describes sixteen landmarks for positioning the FSC. For me, every one of the block we call landmarks named in the paper is a metaphor for a dimension of thinking that a free school needs to have. Since I feel that it is a waste if such precious ideas sit in drawers unread, I will now publish these sixteen landmarks.

Every one of the blocks/landmarks describes a dimension of thinking and the sum of them is the mind-set that a free school must have. They show how pupils, parents and teachers as the important stakeholders of a free school, but also the school management and school college as relevant councils think and feel.

I found the landmarks as the structured establishment of this special school, the marbacher christophine (marbacher christophine). I assume that the landmarks, too, have been written by Lorenz Obleser, who is the father of the “Marbacher Pädagogik“.

In this article, the “Christophine“ is a metaphor for a “free, agile school that is self-organised by teachers, parents and children”. I assume that there are quite a few of them and that many educational experts would like to proceed in the same way. This makes me quite happy, because before long the first of my grandchildren will start school.

In the sixteen mile-stones listed below, pupils, teachers, parents, but also the teaching college and the school management will be heard. To me, what these stakeholders of the school say sounds authentic. They provide a story about the standard defined in the landmarks of the FSC (Freien Schule Christophine) which, for me, is an exceptional model for a functioning, agile, self-organized and free school. The landmark is a block that tells you about the stakeholder – and at the end of each block, the importance will once more be summarized (inversely) .

Now let us just read the landmarks and let the impression sink in. it might help if we switch off our brains and just be open for the messages.

 


 

 

Being open while walking and thinking in springtime.

16 landmarks

 


 

Landmark #1: Individuality in Schools

Pupils
I learn mathematics, write a story, work in my exercise book, practice orthography. We do some research, observe a cat. I go upstairs to dance, play outside with Diabolo.

Parents
If I were a teacher, I do not think I would be able to react adequately if a child behaved like my son. He is certainly very special.

College of teachers
The solutions the children find are very different. Two children have never been the same.

School management

Who of us knows what they are really talking about when we say ”individuality”? For far too many years, it was an unknown quantity.

At Chrisophine, the children are constantly encouraged to try what they can do, to find new formulations and to be creative. In this culture of self-education, everyone, regardless of intellectual potential, can learn about his or her individuality and maintain his or her identity. That is true both for the pupils and the adults. If this is how you treat each other, the respect for the individuality of the other party will grow. This honesty will enrich daily school life, because all parties concerned with school can productively contribute during the various learning processes.


 

Landmark #2: Ways of learning at school

Pupils

I will do this later. First I want to read something.

Parents
Luckily, a look at the mathematics exercise book will tell you what the children already learned.

Pupils

Too easy? Well, I did this for N. He is a first grader.
College
Why do they say “continuous learning” when you are talking about adults but “additional learning” when you are talking about children?
Pupils

Now I want to learn how to write with a pen.

School management
Activity-oriented? That sounds quite well. For me, it is more important to make children understand that they can actually act.

Not only from the physiological viewpoint, learning is one of the most individual and personal processes. It always happens in cognitive, aesthetical and social connections. The school Christophine accompanies the children on their way towards finding successful learning approaches. They can make experiences through all the sensual channels because, after all, stored knowledge, too, will be retrieved in different ways. The individual learning approaches characterize the different types of learners. Through our individualized work in open classrooms, we help the children to find and also move to a higher level of frustration tolerance thresholds through experiences of success.


 

Landmark #3: Self-organization as a goal of learning

School management
Please write on your work cards what you do.

College
I have to do all the documentation, the children will forget.
School management 
It has been a long time since you last did any mathematics, hasn’t it?

Pupils
Today, I did some mathematics because my mother told me to. Otherwise I would have had to do it at home.

School management

If a child tells me he/she find something boring, I will not respond. If it asks for recommendations what to do, I say: do your mathematics. They like procrastinating.

Parents
He always does his homework, there is never a problem.

At the Christophine, our work is based on findings that show that children have enough creative potential to notice their learning situation and to also make themselves part of the formulation of said learning situations. Children can form their environment quite well in a structured and creative way in order to adopt them to their needs. The school Christohine supplies the pupils with the tools they need in order to give them the necessary room for self-projection. At the Christophine, all parties concerned can find their own structures because structures developed in this way can have more stability. This is true both for learning and being together.


 

Landmark #4 – Activity and Co-operation

Pupils

Come here, I will show you how you can easily find out about this.

College
If N says he does not want to do anything, or if he does not even say anything, then this is always initially shocking for me.

Pupils
Why do you ask if I enjoy this? At school, I only do things I enjoy. That is why, once in a while, I also do nothing at all. We are the same age and our birthdays are in the same week. But what grade are you in?

Parents
Again and again, we hear during parent interviews that he is not working at all. I asked you before: do you think our son learns enough?

Christophine clearly and pointedly counts on the initiative of the pupils. Starting from such initiatives, questions that often lead to other work will develop. Sometimes there will be a call for employees or corrections, for motivators or partners that share some of the learning experience. The fact that pupils like to rely on familiar things in the form of structured work materials shows that they like to know that they actually made some progress in learning.


 

Landmark #5 – Self Effectiveness

College

Why don’t you go to the city council and tell them about it?

Pupils
I will ask the bus driver.

Parents
We then went to all the bakeries in town and asked them for their pasta recipes.
School Administration 
Well, you are correct. It was not a good idea of mine to say this.
Parents
It is not important that he attends grammar school. The only thing that matters is that, in the coming months, he gets his balance back and can again enjoy school.

College
I do not appreciate this kind of manners.

Pupils
Why don’t you let him have his say …

As the philosopher Peter Sloterdijk says, learning is not a step towards a later state but joy in the current state: “Learning means looking forward to finding out about yourself. This state of looking forward to the next phase in your life is what matters”. The Christophine school insists that the original joy of learning and the creativity and self-effectiveness remain important during the learning process. Even if the ease with which a person used to learn is lost later in life: if he remembers that learning was always a joy, he will still be able to learn later in life.

… Translation will be continued soon …

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Tuesday July 17th, 2018

Innovation. Management. Future.

I did it ?!

More and more enterprises create positions that they call “innovations management”. Whenever I hear such a thing, I am tempted to ask these managers what exactly their job-description is (regardless of the fact that I do not really believe in precise job descriptions).

More often than not, the Innovation Manager will sit in the Human Resource (HR) Department. After all, it is his main task to make the employees “more innovative“. Besides, I do not really know why you need HR.

“What exactly is innovation?“

That is a question I rather like asking the “Innovation Managers”. Mind you, this is not with an evil purpose. I really do not know what innovation is. Except that it is a buzz-word everybody seems to use these days.

I particularly like asking such stupid questions when I meet people who are supposed to make very classical-style enterprises more innovative. For instance when we are talking the financial sector, i.e. banks and insurance companies.

In such situations, I always remember the definition given by Simon Grand (St. Gallen). He called innovation “creative destruction”. This might not be very helpful. But at least it is a definition that indicates that innovations usually cause change. And nobody likes change. Except when you have a massive problem.

Which brings us to the next question:

“What exactly is a problem?“

I find a definition that describes rather drastically what a problem is:

“A state of affairs that cannot continue“.

It might be the task of innovation to change such states of affairs …
And then we are in the middle of such horrifying scenarios as fragility and disruption, which threaten our stability. After all, innovation is supposed to help when it comes to strengthening the anti-fragility of systems that are threatened by disruption. And if you listen to what managers generally believe today, then disruption obviously increases. Which is due to the ever increasing complexity (also one of the general managerial beliefs).

“Disruption and anti-fragility “

Two more of those nice buzz-words. You fear the one and you are supposed to create the other. And if the Innovations Manager sits in the HR department, then, naturally, he has to create the innovation with his resources – that is with the people. Consequently, he has to provide the employees with better equipment for dealing with disruptions, thus taking the system for which they all work to a higher level of anti-fragility.

“How do you go about doing this?“

Here are a few ideas.

Perhaps you want to tell stories. You could describe a nice working and living environment. You could introduce values that may sound well but are really hard to realize in old systems. Because the opposition among the persons and institutions can hardly ever be overcome.

Or maybe you will want to introduce new forms of communication such as barcamps with which you hope to penetrate walls and bunkers in the enterprises.

But who knows if any of this is enough?

I do not know. I look forward to reading or hearing stories about successful innovations management. I would really like to tell those stories to a broader audience.

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)

Roland Dürre
Sunday April 22nd, 2018

Cultural Skills – How they Come and Go!

Here is another Sunday sermon. Mind you, I certainly do not wish to play priest or teacher.
But:
From the geo-chronological (geochronologisch) point of view,  we are now in the era of  Anthropocene (Anthropozän) and the world is facing an abyss. The reason for this is the species homo sapiens. And we pretend that there is no problem!


Even yesterday, what we did at the time was not ”right“ and not „good“. Today, it might be “extremely evil“ and tomorrow it will probably take us into the abyss. Consequently, we have to change matters drastically.

There is no “right” or “wrong”, no “good” or “evil”. There is only one fact: we currently destroy life on this planet at a speed that has been unimaginable in the history of the EARTH. We also have the option of trying to improve or at least preserve life in all its dimensions. 
Basically, the only question is what we want.


Roland – at an age at which stress started.

This is an appeal in favour of self-determined learning and the realization that “yesterday’s concepts” will not really help.

This article is a supplement to my last one, where I postulated that our school system denies children exactly those things that adults demand for themselves. Or to put it the other way: that we expect of our children exactly what we grown-ups do not want at all.

In this article, I state that children are forced by the “system” to learn things that, basically, they are not interested in learning about. Things that grown-ups, too, can no longer really do, or can do only rudimentarily. My idea is that we should give children the freedom to find out by themselves what they are interested in and what motivates them. What they are eager to learn.

Instead of forcing them into concepts defined by old prejudices, like that everyone has to be able to read, write and do arithmetic. That these allegedly undisputed truths, too, need (and have) to be questioned like many other self-evident certainties.


Digitalization and Cultural Skills?

Digitalization – as any technological progress – changes our way of life. Cultural skills are needed less and less – just like in former times survival techniques became redundant. In part, they already disappeared from the daily life of a “normal person”.

Everything changes and can be critically questioned!

I believe this also has to be true for the so-called “cultural skills” (like reading, writing, arithmetic and foreign languages,…). As I see it, the value of these skills is highly overrated.

After all, technology and social change also replaced “survival techniques”. We no longer force our children to learn “survival techniques”. Yet we believe that cultural skills are irreplaceable.

Let us look at former times?

In former times, people had survival techniques. They were important if you wanted to survive. Some of the skills were the knowledge how to hunt and how to skin an animal, how to make a fire and how to collect plants. Later, there were skills such as growing plants, slaughtering animals and preparing meals, as well as craftsmanship in the fields of woodwork, stone and clay. None of these things – perhaps with the exception of clay work in art lessons – are taught to children today.

Today, the cultural skills are trained. Perhaps the survival techniques were the cultural skills of earlier times? Today, institutions with their experts, along with machines, make sure that everybody survives!

Specialization, “machinization’” and digitalization were only possible due to cultural skills.

Without the written word, the skill to write and arithmetic, it would hardly have been possible. And since we had no machines for it, we had to do it ourselves.

This means that many “subjects” are no longer taught because you no longer need them. Regardless, most of the knowledge does not get lost. Quite apart from the circle of experts, there are many people who work towards qualifications as gardeners, do-it-yourselfers, cooks, etc. However, they were not taught these skills at school. Instead, they are self-taught. Perhaps some of them attended the occasional course. Simply because they enjoyed doing it or because they were motivated by financial or other reasons.

Where are crafts and household economies today?

When I was young, we still had some of the “old” survival techniques as official curriculum subjects. Of course, they were gender specific: boys learned what you need as a do-it-yourselfer and girls learned household economies.

Because a man should have some competence when it comes to woodwork and other materials. After all, he was going to be the one in the household who would do all the repair work. A woman was first and foremost responsible for housework – according to the prevailing values of the time, it was more important to be a good cook, cleaning lady, knitting expert and mender of socks than to have a scientific degree.

No specialization without cultural skills!

Society became more specialized, which meant they taught reading and writing at school because that was essentially necessary if you wanted progress. After all, the sources of knowledge were now no longer stories told by word of mouth but printed media such as books and later, thanks to movable letters, newspapers. Consequently, reading and arithmetic were absolutely necessary.

Can anybody still do calculations?

Doing calculations mentally or on paper, too, was taught in the new compulsory schools. It was huge progress – after all, as late as one century earlier, the only places in Germany where you could, for instance, learn to do multiplications, were very few selected universities. And even there, they taught it in a very strange way (with logarithmic tables).

And a few decades ago, we got another great change. Nobody needs to do any calculations any more, because now we have calculators. You can even do your calculations with your telephone – which is no longer a telephone. Who of you can still do precise sums on paper if you have long and multi-digit columns of numbers – as we spent hours doing them at school in “bookkeeping”? Who of you can still do multiplications on paper, or divide on paper or even approximate a root?

There are only very few people left who can actually do mental arithmetic. Who of you can still, in no time, calculate how much you will have to pay if you buy six bottles of wine for 2.69 € each along with 4 bars of chocolate for the special bargain price of 69 Cent each and three buns for 37 Cent each?

I remember that, in former times, this was quite normal procedure for me. Today, it is a real effort for me to do the above calculation correctly without any tool. Only people who are fascinated by this magic and, intrinsically motivated, taught themselves to do it and practice it regularly can still do it.

Does this still exist: Learning something by heart?

For me, lyrics were a drama, both in primary school and in grammar school. I found it extremely hard to learn these lines by heart. It was a cruel, almost impossible homework for me. And as soon as I had memorized the fifth stanza, I had forgotten the first four. If I started at the beginning, the end lines were gone… And if I was able to cite the entire poem in the evening, then it was all gone by the next morning. Consequently, I am glad that today, “Learning something by heart”, used to be an important cultural skill. Especially before the written word came around. The entire history of men was transported through “learning by heart”. Today, only actors need this skill. And among them, I know some who immensely enjoy memorizing verses.

How bad is illiteracy?

And we have another huge change. Digitalization makes reading and writing obsolete. The mass of humans no longer need to be able to read. Only the “elite” (some very few per cent of the population) need to have the skill.

Martin Luther is a good example: he nailed his written pamphlets  onto wooden doors and that was how he revolutionized the entire world – even though only very few people were able to read.

Something similar will probably happen with reading and writing skills. Who wants to read long texts if he can just as well have audio output in whatsapp? And if he can transport his emotions through his own voice (and through his mimicry and gestures in case of video) without using these terrible Emojis?

Who will want books or e-readers if there are talking books? Why would anybody read texts if you can just as easily have them read out to you at any time and in high quality?

IF-Blog as Podcast?

”Voice“ is something modern people do not feel disturbed by. After all, they run around wearing headphones all the time anyway. Because they need their hands and eyes for driving their cars and playing their computer games. Consequently, it is no surprise for me when, more and more often, people ask me if I would like to offer my IF Blog as Podcast blog.

Reading and writing are also skills that, so I assume, only some people will master in the future. Some will have rudimentary knowledge. Others will learn it intrinsically because they actually like doing it or because they still need it for special tasks, perhaps for programming

🙂 But then, programming is probably not a good example, because more and more often it is done in the clicky-clicky mode with graphic elements. And perhaps it will soon be done by artificial intelligence.

When I was a child, I had to learn stenography and typing (with ten fingers). My father considered it a necessary requirement if I wanted professional success as a white-collar worker. After all, we children of this generation were to have better lives than our parents.
In life, these skills were not really very useful. But when I was young, stenography (not typing) gave me lots of joy – it was a lot more convenient than writing in long style. Even today, I very much enjoy writing stenography. For me, it is some kind of calligraphy that I always draw just for my own pleasure. But then, what else did I learn at school? English and French!

Why would I still want to learn a foreign languages?

Why would I want to learn to speak French? I would like to understand the reports written by my Chinese, Dutch, Polish and Russian friends in facebook. I do not have many French friends these days.

After all, there are excellent translation programs and, in my experience, they work quite well. Yet they can be improved considerably through the progress we make with self-learning systems.

Incidentally, they are called “artificial intelligence” (AI), which is incorrect because the current implementation of AI is more like “experience generated with technology“. As I see it, it would be better if only those persons who actually enjoy it would be allowed to (have to) learn a foreign language. And I think that is what we will see in the future.

Because if I am in a foreign country and want to buy something at the local baker, I will just say it in the local language through my mobile phone.

And then there is the humanistic education?

Ancient Greek and Latin are “dead” languages. Currently, students are still forced to learn them at the “humanistic grammar schools” – provided you are unlucky enough as a child to be sent to such a grammar school by your humanistic parents.

Incidentally, I am sure that these languages will not die out if we abolish them from the curricula, because there will always be a few connoisseurs who will continue to speak them. And if someone wants to study medicine, then he can do his qualification in Latin in no time. Apropos ”humanistic” – as you all know, my favourite subject is religious education.

What business does religious education have at school?

It is still part of the curriculum and you also get grades! You can get a special exemption, but then you get leisure time in the morning and have to stay for ethics lessons in the afternoon as a punishment. That is how I experienced it with my sons and daughters, at least before the all-day school system came. How I enjoyed and made good use of the free afternoons when I was young! But back to religious education.

Many people will not dare to apply for an exemption as a matter of principle. If I force a child to attend certain lessons due to imagined or real social pressure, then this is forced learning. And this is how children are taught ideas (i.e. indoctrinated) that can actually leave psychological traumata.

For example because there are still some teachers of religious instruction who use the fear of the all-controlling and punishing God as a pedagogical means. I will not go on about paradise beyond or the virgins in heaven.

Perverse cultural skills!

Especially religious instructions are something that should only be taught if the person concerned really very actively wishes for it with all his heart. And if he attends the lessons voluntarily.

Incidentally, the same is true for circumcision, both male and female. Circumcision is probably the worst of all cultural techniques I can think of. At least in our country, we have to protect children from such damage. It cannot be counted as an argument in favour of legalization that circumcision has been and still is handed on as sacred religious tradition. That is another cruel form of misinterpreted humanism.

Circumcision is really something that needs to be abolished. Both for men and women. As I see it, it is a disgrace that it is still possible to do such an evil thing to new-born babies in Germany for religious reasons.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday December 23rd, 2017

DIGITAL – AGILE – OPEN – LEAN (Presentation)

On October, 26th, 2017 I gave a presentation at the Augsburg “Hotel am Alten Park” in the Frölichstr. 17 for the Bayerische Akademie für Verwaltungs-Management GmbH / Bayerische Verwaltungsschule (BVS) at 2 p.m. – it was the final presentation of the event MQ4.

I spoke about –

DIGITAL – AGILE – OPEN – LEAN 

– where I wanted to and was supposed to answer the following questions:

What is agility – yesterday, today, tomorrow? 
What do organizations need in order to react to change in the correct way (and with due speed)? 
What concepts, methods, tools and competence is the idea based on?

The presentation was recorded on film, please see below. My memories of the presentation are not exclusively positive ones. For me, the day was not an easy day:

Motto of the institution (according to the Website): 
Health, education, care, friendliness towards guests and spirituality are the main agenda.

The event took place at the hotel am alten park, which is part of a huge building complex that belongs to the  evangelischen diakonissenanstalt augsburg (diako).

In this “deacon-house”, as we used to call the hospital in our childhood, my father had died on a grey late autumn night in 2008. At the time, I had heard about him being admitted into the hospital in the late afternoon and immediately driven to the hospital in Augsburg by car.

My father was poorly, but according to the doctors, his condition was not life-threatening. Consequently, I drove back home at night – on a dark autumnal motorway with snow storm – to Riemerling. And when I arrived at home, I heard that my father had died.

Now, roughly nine years later, I was again standing in front of this building – and had to enter. This is how my presentation visit to Augsburg became a sad trip into my past. I remembered that I had been robbed of my totally intact tonsils in exactly this “Deakon House” in 1960 because I had suffered from several colds in the winter of 1959/1960. I remembered that, at the time, I fought against the operation, but naturally I lost and still suffer from the consequences (see my IF-Blog article). And I remembered much more that I had experienced in this town. Before my presentation, I had a wild emotional bob-rally through all the years of my childhood in Augsburg between 1955 and 1969.

As I watched this video, all my memories were refreshed. In my own perception, my presentation was occasionally a little lacking in concentration. Considering my personal experiences, I can forgive myself for this and will publish the presentation regardless, because it looks rather authentic to me.

However, my less than perfect emotional situation was not the only reason for the perhaps missing clear line. On the way to Augsburg, I had also considerably restructured my well-prepared presentation. The reason for this was that I had spent intense study time with Bitcoin and Blockchain during the preceding week, which had led me to some insight that had been totally new to me before.

I had not understood (and still cannot understand) why they demand and want to realize things on the internet that are rigorously withheld in real life.

Why can you participate in profound activities, conduct transactions and even own money on the internet while you are well camouflaged behind identities? Mind you, you can do all this totally anonymously! On the other hand, this is exactly what they deny you more and more in real life.

Or are there good reasons after all? Reasons that justify that it is still possible on the internet? For me, that is a very central question!

Bitcoin is a good example how, due to wrong requirements and poor execution, the wonderful idea of “democratic” money was perverted and became a criminal betting and fraud system. “Well meant but poorly executed” – as I see it, this is how you can describe the phenomenon.

Now I am eight weeks on into blockchain and bitcoin and thus can better explain my reservations and ask my questions with more precision than eight weeks ago.

I also wanted to point out in my presentation that we are again in times of a grandiose digital change. It is no longer about human-machine, but about machine-world.

Let me describe it: I have been programming since 1969. Initially it was basically about algorithms and technologies such as compilers, operating systems, batch runs, transactions, data transfer and databases, along with a few applications.

Then almost everything was about the interface between humans and applications (human-machine). That brought us from the punch card to the tablet and from typing to voice and gesture recognition. There was a virtual explosion in the number of applications.

Today, it is all about autonomous systems that often no longer need an interface with humans. Instead, they focus directly on the “environment”. That also explains why sensor technology explodes, making things possible that were held to be impossible until now.

All those things together were a little much for one short presentation. Consequently, I am quite happy that the presentation actually was more or less a success. Because “not feeling too well and free from the manuscript” is twice as hard for an orator. There were a few moments when I noticed how I did not really concentrate. If you watch the video, I would kindly ask your forgiveness.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Wednesday November 1st, 2017

About Authenticity and Identity in a Real and Virtual World.

 

A Tightrope Walk

 

Stone mask from the pre-ceramic New Stone Age around 7,000 before Christ. One of the world’s oldest masks (Musée Bible et Terre Sainte, Paris)

In this article, I formulate ideas I got during my current work on “block-chain technologies” in general and “crypto currencies” like Bitcoin in particular. Actually, my own ideas rather surprised me. Because many things that had not been clear to me before have become clear during the process.

Let me start with terminology: WORLD, REAL and VIRTUAL.

For me the WORLD is all that is around me – humans, social systems, … My dealings with the WORLD are through interactions and transactions. My activities not only touch me, but also instances from WORLD. On the other hand, events from WORLD also concern and touch me.

For me, the REAL world is always what I can see, touch, feel, experience. Or what I can eat. The same is true for the firewood I feed into my oven in order to get a cosy warmth in the room. The warmth from the central heating was also REAL for me. After all, I know its origin, which is either from the outside as long-distance heating or from my basement. Even money was REAL for me – but is that true?

I would say that everything I could picture myself was the REAL world for me. But newspapers were also REAL for me, and the same was true for telephone conversations. Even watching TV was part of the REAL world for me. Is that still the case?

The VIRTUAL world included what was “socially” offered, along with the products of the digital WORLD, the creation of which I myself took part in. There is no need to go as far as a mental concept of “second life“ or similar things. My first VIRTUAL worlds were forums and chat rooms where diverse, often technological, topics were discussed.

Today, social media, such as twitter, facebook and many more, could do that job. Or is all of this also REAL?

Let us now consider the terms AUTHENTICITY and IDENTITY. The first thing I learned here was how careless I (and our entire society) treat the term IDENTITY. I used to believe that the identity of a person is a singular thing. At least as far as the VIRTUAL world is concerned, this is nonsense. Because (so far) you have anonymity in the virtual world.

Anonymity means that 
a person or a group cannot be identified. If you want more or less the same meaning as anonymous, you can also say incognito. You will also find unknown, camouflaged and nameless (Wikipedia 10/2017).

Consequently, a person who wants to hang around in the internet “anonymously” (for instance as a bitcoin owner in the respective money community) needs more than one identity! He will need more or less one for every purpose. There is always only one person behind all these identities. It is one unique and undoubted existence. But none of the identities will lead to it. So there are singular images of the “authentic person” leading to diverse identities, but no way back – i.e. it is impossible to find the person behind the scene through the identity. I find that rather exciting!

For me, authentity is something like an exceptional form of identity, i.e., the unique and true “original identity” that is hidden behind several identities. Incidentally, I cannot find the term AUTHENTITY in Wikipedia, but I can find Authenticity. Since it is so important for the topic I discuss, let me cite it:
Authenticity (from gr. αὐθεντικός authentikós “true“; spätlateinisch authenticus “reliable”) concerns the truthfulness of origins, attributes, commitments, sincerity, devotion, and intentions. (Wikipedia 10/2017).

Consequently, I would say that identities are nothing but anonymous alias instances for one singular authentic instance that I would call authentity. In the VIRTUAL world, they are just masks or Avatars . The owner of the mask/avatar remains anonymous and you cannot find out who he/she is, yet he “automatically” (guaranteed through technology and algorithm) has ownership of everything that belongs to his mask/avatar as part of the “community”.

For a Bitcoin, you would have the following scenario: all bitcoin owners are part of a special community of identities, all of which are anonymous. The surprising thing about it is: it works (or is supposed to work) through “peer2peer” interaction. So you have no central instance!

However, the used (necessary?) technology costs a lot, which means this currency is rather impractical as a means of payment. Which means that bitcoin will only be used for speculation (betting). On the other hand, what is special about that? After all, more than 90 % (99 %?) of all currency business, such as the exchange between EURO (€) and DOLLAR ($) and vice versa, are only made for reasons of speculation. They have nothing to do with the exchange of goods! Maybe normal money is also a VIRTUAL commodity today?

Back to the topic: I used to believe that my IDENTITY is actually my AUTHENTITY. But now I know better. The opposite is true: in the internet, I hide my AUTHENTITY behind various IDENTITIES. And no way must lead from them to my AUTHENTITY.

The AUTHENTITY is as unique as my DNA. It would be a good “key” (as a biometrical data set), since the probability of two identical DNA’s is practically zero (due to the quasi endless quality of DNA-s.).

So far, for instance, I still have to fill in the registration form at all hotels, i.e., I must give my surname, first name, place of birth, nationality, home address and passport number. As an entity, these data make me uniquely identifiable. I testify to their truthfulness by showing my passport and giving my signature. …
🙂 The hotel, too, has an address, although it would probably be more precise (and easier?) to just take the GPS coordinates.

But let us go step by step and start with the REAL world: the first thing I did was look for “truly anonymous identities” in the REAL world.

Here are the examples I found:

  • Numbered account: 
Formerly, and especially in Switzerland, it was possible to open an anonymous bank account. The account only had a number, but the bank did not know who owned the account (and the money deposited on it). Legitimation happened by giving a number (cipher). And everyone who visited the bank branch and had the account number and cipher could (anonymously) draw money from the account. It worked quite well for many decades.
  • Classified advertisements
    Formerly, you could publish classified ads, for instance personal ads, anonymously in daily papers. You had a cipher and said cypher was assigned to a key. With this key, the incoming replies were correlated with the advertisements (through the cipher).
    🙂 I remember how, at school in the 1960ies, we (especially the girls) were warned against marriage frauds that took advantage of this anonymity …
  • Car number plates, telephone numbers … 
If you think of traffic, car number plates come to mind. They, too, used to be anonymous – although there was a central agency (some kind of “man-in-the-middle“) who knew who was hidden behind the number plate. Today, only number plates for cars driven by federal security agencies and similar institutions are anonymous – even the police has no way of getting hold of them. The same used to be true for telephone numbers. Of course, the postal service, as “man-in-the-middle” knew who was hidden behind the telephone number. But if you had a good reason, you were not listed in the telephone book and could basically only be traced by being called.
  • Prepaid and Email 
In the REAL world, you could remain anonymous thanks to prepaid cards. And you could also open an email account without giving any personal information. But is that the definition of the VIRTUAL world? As I see it, there is currently a huge process of change, at least in Germany. These things can be done less and less easily. 
They want the darknet in the VIRTUAL world (?) to make less and less accessible. But that is not something I personally know. I would have to investigate in order to find out more.

So:
Currently, I cannot think of any existing anonymities established through identities in the REAL world. On the contrary: in my perception, ANONYMITY is not desired in the REAL world – and consequently it has been/is being more or less totally abolished by the legislators and the administration.

But then, is not the VIRTUAL world part of the REAL world? And isn’t the VIRTUAL world rather schizophrenic? On the one hand, everyone dreams of “anonymous currencies and communities” and on the other hand they do everything to abolish anonymity!

For instance, the postal service advertises its POSTIDENT-service, which, basically, has one goal: to abolish anonymity in the VIRTUAL world, as well.


Close to the customer – tailor-made identity management!

Here is the individual legitimation check for your customers – now online!
The Deutsche Post offers the tailor made identification concept for your business model. With our online and offline POSTIDENT method for legitimacy control, we identify your customers quickly, securely and without violating the statutes Geldwäschegesetz and Datenschutz (postal advertising).


Isn’t that hot stuff? Note that they use words such as – identity concept and legitimacy control.

But regardless, the service – which is definitely questionable and easy to abuse – is used by many internet providers who want to know who they are really dealing with.

For me, the following questions arise:

Isn’t it paradox if anonymity is completely abolished in the REAL world but can flourish in the VIRTUAL world? Regardless of the fact that the VIRTUAL world is basically part of the REAL world?

What if technological leaders like CHINA abolish anonymity? Would not the consequence be that, through the technology we import from them, we automatically forfeit our anonymity?

What sense does it make if the functionality of the “good old Swiss numbered account” is again realized through anonymous crypto currencies? Do we even want that to happen? Or isn’t it just a question of time before, for instance, the bank secret, too, will soon no longer be socially trendy?

Is it not so that the entire affair is just a special tool for speculation – just like “betting in the internet” becomes more and more popular and is already a massive business as far as turnover and profit are concerned?

As I see it, these issues should be discussed in the context of social ethics. But what do we do? We establish an ethics commission that deals with artificial intelligence and driverless cars. Yet we do not discuss the important question whether or not we should leave certain parts of society anonymous. We make noises about absurd data protection laws and get enthusiastic about it, although we know full well that it will not work in the way it was demanded, and in doing so, we get lost in a network of rules and laws that paralyze us and from which there will probably eventually be no rescue.

Incidentally, the solution to this problem is rather simple in my concept:
As soon as we have a (world-wide) guaranteed rule of law, anonymity is no longer needed. That is also true for an anonymous currency.

If and as long as, however, the rule of law is threatened or non-existent, we are well advised to keep “anonymous areas”.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Now I hope what I said is more or less understandable. I would not wish to have confused you with AUTHENTITY and IDENTITY. And as a post scriptum, here is another story:
In my carelessness, it happened that my purse was stolen from me early this spring in Athens when I was riding an underground train. It contained EVERYTHING. Consequently, I also had to apply for a new passport. They asked me if I wanted it with my digital signature. It is free whenever you apply for a new passport, whereas, if you want it later, you need to pay 20 € extra.
Naturally, I asked what advantages this digital signature would have for me. My advisor at the municipality was unable to come up with very much – except a strange professional register the purpose of which remained unclear to me.
So I asked him if the signature would at least be an option for the electronic tax declaration (Elster). When he said no, I declined – perhaps out of defiance – and I believe this decision will not be detrimental.

A few thousand years ago, homo sapiens invented  the wheel and – a little later – the lever. It took us humans a few more millennia until the wheelbarrow was invented – although it is, basically just a combination of the wheel and the lever. After that, it did not take too long for such basic things as the crank and the gear-wheel to be invented. And the steam engine, the Diesel motor and electricity…

And with the information and communication technology, we really got under way.

This looks like they took me to the photo studio – and I was probably wondering what was going to happen.

I often wonder when our house had its first electric motor. I am sure it was no earlier than 1955, when we moved from the country to the city. I still remember that, in the late fifties, a spin-dryer for our laundry basement was a modern achievement – and it definitely had an electric motor.

As far as I remember, there were no other  electronic devices (Elektro-Geräte) in our household at the time. Until we got the first Märklin model railway. Then things really started to happen.

Up until then, the mechanical devices in our household all had a hand-crank. And complicated gear-wheels. For example the meat chopper, the coffee grinder, the machine for making cream. The drill, too, was hand-worked.
Consequently, I admired gear-wheels very much …

There came a day when our teacher took the class to see the Renk Zahnradfabrik
(it must have been in my third or fourth form)
– today, it is a stock-market enterprise and part of  MAN AG.

The school was next to St. Anton’s church and not far from the “Wittelsbacher Park“. In this park, you could see something special: the “Rudolf Diesel Hain“. It was a quadrangle that had the size of an allotment garden and cypress-like plants grew all around it. There was an entry and an exit and inside were huge rocks from Japan. On copper plates, one could read what the Japanese People had written to thank the Great German Rudolf Diesel for his invention of the motor (at least that is how I remember it) that saved mankind world-wide from debasing and hard physical labour. That is why they had made the City of Augsburg – where the great man had been born – a present of this rock.

The Rudolf Diesel Hain was a nice piece of nature that became my cherished refuge when I could not be bothered to attend weekly mass on Sundays.

For me, the tour of the plant was very exciting. It is definitely something special to see how iron is processed – and the people working in the business were just as special. After the tour, the tour guide gave our teacher a rather heavy gear-wheel (perhaps 20 cm in diameter). It must have weighed several kilograms.

I assume that the gear-wheel was a throw-away product. It seems that the wife of our teacher was not too enthusiastic about the strange thing he brought home.

When school started on the next morning, he put it on his desk and announced: now you all will write an “adventure report” about our trip. And the winner (the student who wrote the best report) was going to get the gear-wheel as prize.

I was absolutely over the top. Because I absolutely had to get this gear-wheel. To be sure, I was the total outsider, because writing was my Achilles’ Heel. Since I had learned to read before starting school and was already through with most of the Karl May books, I found the school books rather boring.

But what is all this if there is a prize you absolutely want to win? Nothing!
Consequently, this was an essay I wrote with more effort than I ever again did anything in my life. I wanted that gear-wheel, still remembered my fascination with the trip and wrote the script for the play. I even tried to avoid formal mistakes and took care of my punctuation – which were things that, in those days, I generally could not have cared less about. I even took special pains with my handwriting. I strongly suspect that those became the only pages in my exercise books that were not poorly scrawled.

Since that day, I know the meaning of the word “motivated”.

I had to wait a day or two, then came the decision. And – lo and behold – I came in first and won the gear-wheel. And I was the happiest person alive. I remained the happiest person on the way home. However, when I arrived at home, the only comment my mother had when she saw my good grade on the essay was “there you see: if you make an effort, you really can write a good essay”. The gear-wheel was not at all appreciated. On the contrary. The comment was: “What a peculiarity are you bringing home this time?”

Well, my teacher had probably met with the same indifference a few days earlier when he brought it home. But that was not really much of a consolation for me.

The gear-wheel got a special place in my room. It smelled nicely of machine oil.

I still remember how, perhaps ten years later, my mother forced me to throw it out. It was a really nice gear-wheel.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday March 2nd, 2017

My Friend, the Marten.

My Friend is Back!

 

Ermine (Mustela erminea) in summer pelt.

I have been driving cars since I was eighteen. And through all those many years, I had one arch-enemy: the legally protected marten.

Countless numbers of times, I wanted to start my car – and it did not start. Because that animal had bitten through a wire.

As the years went by, I spent quite a lot of money on the repairs. And there were also many things I tried in order to prevent it from happening! Every evening, I put a grate underneath the car (and in the morning, I had to remove it again). I tried quite a few voodoo methods, which were just as useless as high-tech in the form of small ultrasonic devices in the car. I truly tried everything in order to keep my enemy away from my car.

Here you can see a stone marten. Whereas the picture above shows a weasel, who also belongs to the marten family.

Now I finally won the battle. I no longer own a car. And that saves me a lot of money. And besides, I no longer have the problem that I despair in the morning because my car does not start.

Once in a while, I have a flat tyre when I want to climb my bike. That is not a problem, because I can easily take another bike. After all, I have several. And whenever I have a puncture, it is not because of the marten. Mostly, it is because of a glass splinter or a sharp piece of split or some small piece of metal.

Consequently, I made peace with the marten. At least that is what I thought!

And what happened yesterday? In the morning, my heating system notified me that my solar water warming panels are defunct. The mechanic said the damage is not covered by the maintenance contract because it was caused by a marten. He said this kind of thing happens quite often. And I had to pay.

Well, he is back …

RMD
P.S.
I took both pictures from Wikipedia.
The beautiful picture of the weasel (top) is from the central media archive Wikimedia Commons. Copyright is with James Lindsey, the source is 
http://popgen.unimaas.nl/~jlindsey/commanster.html
The stone marten image (Martes foina) is by Atirador.

In the autumn of 1985, I was the first to bring this book to Munich after having bought it at the Uniforum fresh from the printing machine.

A short time ago, I retrieved it. It reminded me of having been at Uniforum conferences with friends of mine in February 1985 (Dallas, Texas) and in 1986 (Anaheim, California). It was great. In those days, the Uniforum was the one and only UNIX conference in the USA. We were thousands of enthusiastic visitors from all over the world. I experienced a huge atmosphere of dawn at the time.

There was also a small sensation. Copies of the very new book on C++ by Bjarne Stroustrup (see left on the picture) right from the printing machine were delivered in the middle of the conference and sold directly from the palette. I bought a few of them and took them home. They were probably the first C++ books to ever reach Munich.

This brings to mind: in the 1980s, I constantly gave presentations on software development. At the time, the change in programming was the central topic, and the catchword used most often was OBJECT-ORIENTED.

I also wrote quite a few presentations on “OBJECT-ORIENTED” for IT managers. Among them was a “high-up” at Siemens AG in UB D at D AP (or was it already SNI at the time?). He was asked to tell his “team of leaders” what exactly OBJECT-ORIENTED meant. Afterwards, he said the presentation had been well liked – but it certainly did not really make a difference.

Today, everybody programs object-oriented. In fact, it is even a little too much for my taste.
Later, I gave up my “programming career” and became something like an “entrepreneur”.

Now I was no longer preaching the gospel of technology. Instead, I spoke about leadership and management. And in particular, I talked about the “smart” pentagram that consists of the terms “agile”, “digital”, “lean”, “open”, “social” and how they interact.

For instance, I related why courage and joy in those working for an enterprise is also a central requirement for economic success. And I also told the people how necessary mutual respect and appreciation of each other are (not only) in an enterprise. Why meeting at eye-level and shared participation and responsibility are the basic requirements for innovation. And why humans are not resources. And how change can only happen in an agile environment.

“Pro Agile“on the DOAG Podium /Yearly Conference in 2013.

I explained why processes, rules and bureaucracy are obstacles to the necessary change. I also explained what a huge damage Taylorist developments cause in an organization and how much waste (as opposed to “lean”) is created by an overwhelming administration and the rising bureaucracy in an enterprise as a consequence of those developments. And that it is totally useless to have endless meetings.

And that departments such as “human resource”, “customer relationship management”, “marketing”, “legal service” etc., basically do not guarantee the success of an enterprise. In fact, they come closer to endangering it.
And that the young and well-educated persons of today prefer working in an enterprise the central element of the culture of which is trust.

I can easily give you good reasons for all I said. After all, I myself was part of the scenario when we software developers made a (as I see it: central contribution) towards a new understanding of work that now spreads more and more to other sectors (#newwork). And this is how it helped to change the world.

I wonder if my call for “agile, digital, lean, open, social” as a “smart” pentagram will do any good? I am not sure.

I also got the impression that my audience mostly saw it in the same way. In fact, it would make me happy if we in the German Industry were to talk less about industry 4.0 and more about entrepreneurial culture. Be it 2.0 or 5.0.

Even the big bosses must understand that our enterprises and we ourselves can only survive well if we are prepared to question what we used to consider certainties and to change what we were used to.

Of course, I understand that it hurts to question hierarchies, cherished sinecures and structures you have become used to. Especially if you are the boss. But please keep in mind: we no longer live in the times of Henry Ford’s conveyor belts and even the prime time of the Chicago slaughterhouses is coming to an end.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
I took the star from the central media archive Wikimedia Commons.