Roland Dürre
Sunday May 26th, 2019

World-Weariness on a Sunday!

Today, we have European Elections. As I see it, this is a sad day. It is about time to think about how colossally we failed.

KYou played extremely poorly, and yet you won – even in chess, this rarely happens. In reality, it almost never happens.

In our times, we seem to suffer from a collective illness: we are permanently under stress and consequently, we cannot give even those things we consider important the time we would like to give them.

That is why my project PEACE failed and also why I do not really seem to make any headway with my soft and active mobility AKTMOBCMP.

As I perceive it, I and many of my friends are actually better off in this respect than many other people. More often than not, only scheduling problems are in our way. At least, we often manage to actually consciously give the right things priority.

As far as my projects are concerned, I am no longer the force I probably used to be. I call this old-age wisdom.

On May, 31st, I will disappear for more than three weeks because I am travelling to Russia and China. Consequently, you will not read a lot from me in the IF blog in June.

After my return, late in June/early in July, I will try and put a lot of energy into AktMobCmp. I would really like to see more people get enthusiastic about the topic.

On the other hand, I often believe that the project PEACE is probably more important than active mobility in everyday life. Incidentally, the latter is a sub-topic of the former, anyway. After all, soft mobility is also part of PEACE if you think in terms of war on the streets and war against nature. And when no cars are left, then it will be about pacifying those who ride their bikes 🙂 (and then those who walk ).

Apart from this, I am mainly sad about what currently happens in this world. Especially because it is a consequence of how my generation failed. When I was a high-school student more than fifty years ago, we already knew about it. We discussed exactly what we are discussing today and what we see happening today. We knew what the consequence would be. Regardless of several nice approaches, we followed the human virtues (?) “protection of acquired possessions” and “becoming rich without having to work hard” as a matter of course. And this is how we generated the catastrophe we are facing today.
Especially in Germany, we had the chance to create a better world after WW-II. What I mean is the creation of a social construct for a sustainable society without armament and military forces and in shared responsibility for life as such. Based on a reasonable education for all.

We probably had the chance to build a beautiful Europe of regions in courage and joy and thus replace the nations.

We did the opposite. Germany in particular divided Europe and thus destroyed it. Brown coal mining is a good metaphor. The European capitalism – pushed by the Euro – destroyed the country in the same way as the huge caterpillars destroyed the soil.

The internet was our second huge chance. Now we destroy it as well.
Naturally, the responsibility for this downwards spiral was our social and political system and mainly the oligarchy of our bourgeois parties. They will now get what they had coming. But even their downfall is far from guaranteed.

However, the destruction of the world is something we all managed together. Greed brought us here and we followed the liars and hypocrites all too happily.

Perfect manipulation for each and every car: 
Title pages Hobby 1957 – 1965 (the magazine for German young engineers).

Another metaphor for what went completely wrong during the last fifty years is the car. It became a symbol for “movement without effort” and for a totally misinterpreted freedom. For most of us, the car was the golden lamb we danced around.

This is how we implemented a “church of reason” the basic principle of which was consumerism as a religion and growth as its mantra. We replaced old superstition by new superstition. Only the feudalism remains the same. And the destruction of the world is maintained and justified by some kind of feudalism for all.

We now slowly realize that we are paying the price. Some ignore it, others flee into the land of dreams and get over-enthusiastic about #newwork“, #agile and democratic enterprises. Yet, all of us are just standing there as the rabbit before the snake when we see the multi-dimensional destruction of the planet.

The extreme increase in carbon dioxide and the destruction of the climate caused by it destroy everything – which would already be more than enough. We know what should be done, yet we do not do it. We do not have the courage to initiate the “huge transformation”.

But I do not wish to spoil your Sunday with my miserable contemplations. I wish you all that is nice and good and beautiful. Lots of sun, courage and joy! Hope is the last thing that dies.

Thank you for your friendship!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Wednesday May 15th, 2019

The Real Problems of this World?!

Between ruins. In South Georgia.

I often read that we need to become agile and digital, because everything is so “vuca“. But is that not a luxury problem?

Don’t we have real worries? As a consequence of developments that might even threaten our lives?

Currently, the climate catastrophe is the centre of our “media-driven” worries. It is about the fact that the warming of our planet is caused and exacerbated by the excessive and still growing emission of carbon dioxide caused by humans and their machines.

In a dialogue with a knowledgeable person, it dawned on me that there are many more critical points than just the change of the world climate caused by the burning of fossil raw materials.

As I see it, the origin for the foreseeable problems are on an intellectual and on a material level. Let me give you a list of factors that tell you which mental concept lies behind it and what consequences they have on our planet. And I will also write down how my own personal behaviour relates to it.

I found two (main) reasons as “systemic” causes of the problem.

  • Consumerism and capitalism
    Human greed, our preference of convenience and our hunt for special adventures seem to be the main reason for the sad development of our planet.
    If I look at my own life, I see a problem. I practiced consumerism for many decades and still continue to do so. I bought far too many things for far too many years. I benefited from the capitalist system, my life was good. I cannot complain, except about how the world now is rather damaged.
  • Fixation on growth
    Even when I was at school, I did not understand why everyone preached growth. I was always the sceptical outsider. As I see it, the concept of continued growth is absolutely short-sighted and stupid, especially on a global scale. The idea that growth might solve problems is the reason why humanity destroys itself.

So here are the actual consequences and the physical state of affairs:

  • Armament industry and war
    The combination of these two seems to be the greatest of all evils when it comes to damaging our world. What I mean is that we make a maximum effort to destroy ourselves, and the tendency is still growing. Here in Germany, the  armed forces (Bundeswehr) even destroy our environment in times of peace. 
Why do humans not understand that armament and wars are not only cruel and irrational, but also just stupid 
I am convinced that a civilization only deserves the name if the individual and collective abstinence from violence has become a behaviourist value as a matter of course and I also believe that this utopia can be realized. And that the majority of humans also want this and that it is possible. In order to avoid wars, the armament industry must be abolished. Because an analysis of all wars shows that they were always artificially constructed and that the armament industry always played an important role in the process.
    It really annoys me that Bavaria is the state of Germany that has by far the highest weapons exports. 
This is an aspect where I personally failed. As early as when we founded the InterFace Connection and later, along with our employees, we decided that we do not want to do business with the armament industry. Later, when, forced by the market situation, we had to change from being a product manufacturer to becoming a service provider, the transition became much easier by doing business with weapon producing enterprises. The good intensions failed and we supported the building of tanks. 
So I believe that the planet cannot be saved unless we abolish the weapons industry and stop waging wars. In other words: the introduction of global peace must be top priority.
  • Waste pollution of the planet
    I am not sure what is more detrimental for the planet. Is it the radio-active waste we produce, the plastic material we distribute all over the world or the general distribution of the periodic table of elements  into the environment?
My personal contribution to this problem has been made. I started many years ago with mostly buying and eating only food – for instance yoghurt and other dairy products – that does not come in plastic containers or a Tetrapak . Drinks (beer, water, coffee cream) or food that comes in pet bottles or tins are shunned by me as much as the devil shuns holy water. Some of the people around me actually find this quite extravagant in me. 
In my personal experience, it is quite possible to do without most of the plastic wrappings and tins. I still see enough wastefulness as it is. I have always enjoyed eating pickled cucumbers, and whenever I empty a glass with its lid, I find this destruction totally irrational. Even if the glass will be recycled. When I was a child, the preserving jar was a precious resource. And my mother preserved cucumbers every year.
  • So here is the carbon dioxide topic
    By now, everybody agrees that there is a correlation between the warming of the atmosphere and the level of carbon dioxide. There are still some who doubt that we humans have caused the free carbon dioxide. 
My personal contribution is still sub-optimal. The most positive aspect is that I avoid cars at least insofar as I have not driven in a car for many years where I was the only occupant of the car or taxi. This showed me that you can at least avoid cars if you are a single voyager. It means that, as an individual, I only go by bike or use public transportation. And I do not at all feel that this is a disadvantage. On the contrary: I feel well. You can also go shopping quite well with the bike. And my general condition has improved considerably with the removal of a car as my mobility tool, both psychologically and physically. 
I still have other worries. For instance when it comes to flying. In the last few years, I had quite a few long-distance flights. The destinations were always unique and gave me a lot. This is an area where I feel it extremely hard to abstain – as opposed to the car.
  • An end to the richness of species
    For me, the end of the richness of species means something like the beginning of the end of life. Why should humans alone survive if the biology in its diversity can no longer function? That sounds rather illogical.
    My personal contribution is limited by what someone who lives in his small house and has his small garden can do. No poison for the perfect lawn and the right plants for life.
  • Food
    Today, many people cannot imagine any meal without meat. Germany has become one of the biggest meat exporting countries of the world. As I see it, that makes no sense. We produce animal plants in an unappetizing and cruel way as industrial mass ware. With calories from the entire world 
When I was young, in the 1950s, we ate the Sunday Roast on Sundays. On weekdays, we usually had meat-free meals. Then prosperity came along in small steps. On Tuesdays, the Wiener sausages became part of the menu and on Fridays we had herring. Those were still special occasions. Then the mania started. …
  • Soil consumption
    If you look at traffic, housing, firms and energy, you can find that we destroy soil all the time. Some of us have two flats, most of them with an extra office. The flats become bigger all the time. A single person needs at least a two-room flat, a couple needs a four-room flat. Elderly people remain in the big house. The per capita need of living room becomes more each year. 
I am glad that we managed to sell our big huge house and move to a smaller one after most of our children had moved out.
  • Regulation of rivers
    I just read about how the regulation of rivers has a devastating influence on our world. That alone was already a story that gave me pause. 
I used to drive along the river Main many times. Including the part where you have ships. And I have been asking myself why, as I am sitting on the patio of the “Gaststätte Anker” in Sommerhausen, why I see so few ships. Whenever I see one, it is most often a cruise ship. Mind you, we are talking about the Rhein-Main-Donau-Channel that was built as the main ship freight route for all the traffic. Even the Danube was enlarged for the purpose. Similar ideas come when I think of the  Niederfinow ship hoist for the traffic on the rivers Neiße and Oder.
In this respect, my own potential for a personal contribution is probably limited to trying and voicing my opposition against the continued extension of the river Danube.
  • Water
    Water is the basis of all life. Regardless, we destroy and damage our drinking water in huge dimensions. 
I try to save water. Even my grandfather taught me to be careful in this respect. So I try to counteract waste. Whenever I go swimming, I do not take an extra shower at home. I also believe that it is quite enough to clean your body once a day. We have three huge water containers that are filled from collectors on our roof and we use the water from there for watering our garden. Unfortunately, I have not yet managed to change the toilet water system from drinking water to rainwater.

There are many actual threats.

In my personal book, the carbon dioxide is only number three on my list of priorities. But basically, it does not really matter, because unless we change our mind sets in the sense of leaving consumerism, capitalism and the belief in growth behind, there will never be a change. The mental change alone is probable a Herculean task that is next to impossible.

All actual threats (armament, waste pollution, carbon dioxide, richness of species, food, soil consumption,…) are inter-related. I probably even forgot some areas. We have to work on all of them, instead of focussing only on one topic – such as carbon dioxide. Part of the transformation will be that we change our living styles. It is all about a holistic change of attitude in our lives. The question might be: is it still worth fighting – or is it better to just continue dancing on the volcano?

My brain tells me that it is already too late to save the planet.

In the  Anthropocene, we started developments that have now gained their own momentum and that will have consequences which will cause the real catastrophe. They will probably speed up the process of destruction.

My heart tell me that resignation is the wrong way.

That is why there cannot be a “LET US CONTINUE AS BEFORE” and we should at least try the great transformation. If we want this transformation to be a success, then we will have to change EVERYTHING. It can only work globally and will have to start locally.

And I believe we should try it together. And I wonder why politics, business and many socially relevant institutions do not get active at all.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday January 24th, 2019

Barcamp for Active Mobility in Everyday Life (2019) !?

Early in 2016, we had a wonderful Barcamp on Active Mobility (AktMobCmp). The event was held in the Unterhaching Kubiz. Here is a Video recording. A second AktMobCmp was in Augsburg.

It is now almost exactly three years since “Unterhaching“. Since then, many things have happened and the awareness of the necessary change in mobility has grown considerably.

So what do you do if you want change, both for your own ways and those of the world? Well, you visit a Barcamp and meet like-minded people. And you let yourself be carried away with the flow that usually develops in such a Barcamp.

And in no time, you will have managed to change in the desired direction and also have made a contribution towards change in society. This is true for many topics in our private and social lives and also for active mobility.

Consequently, we think it is time for the third AktMobCmp. So we would like to organize one. We (activists and those who feel positive towards Active Mobiilty in Everyday Life) would like to meet in advance and discuss all the relevant questions on Thursday, den March, 21st, 2019 near the Viktualienmarkt at our hosts’ location, the company accu:rate (accu:rate GmbH, Rosental 5 in D-80331 München). Many thanks to the managing directors and founders of accu:rate,  Dr. Angelika Kneidl and Florian Sesser.

In this meeting, we want to decide whether or not there will be an AktMobCmp in 2019 and, if yes, how to organize it. There are a few questions that need to be answered:


Questions to be asked during the Kick-Off-Meeting

  • When and where will the next AktMobCmp take place? 
Of course, the time and location are central parameters.
  • Who might be persuaded to sponsor us by providing a room. 
Only if we can use facilities free of cost can we make the Barcamp as inexpensive as possible for the participants. Usually, only communities, enterprises or universities have suitable facilities.
  • One day or two days? 
Experience has shown that two days of a Barcamp give the participants a very good sense of shared enthusiasm (they generate a flow). A nice evening event after the first day is helpful. 
Mostly, one day of a Barcamp is not so beneficial. On the other hand, the organizers have less work and the threshold for the participants is lower because they need to invest less time. 
We could also make it a two-day Barcamp but let participants choose to only take part on one day.
  • How much can it cost? 
Are there several price categories (normal and extended)?
  • Can we find other sponsors besides those who provide the facilities?
  • What exactly is the job of the organizational team?
  • Who is in the organizational team?
  • Who is responsible for which tasks?
  • How to structure the Barcamp?
  • Pure anti-conference?
  • Additional impulse presentations and/or team and creativity-supporting activities?
  • Moderation and accompaniment?
  • Other ideas?

We advertise this kick-off meeting in Meet-Up, on the AktMobCmp-Website and in Face-Book. I would like to ask all activists and followers to advertise our activity. And those who want to come to our kick-off meeting are kindly asked to both register at Meet-Up and send me an E-Mail, because I would really like to know you in advance and exchange a few ideas. Especially if some new faces decide to join us.

Roland

Gestiftet von VisualBrainddump (Christian Botta & Daniel Reinold) Zum Vergrößern aufs Bild klicken.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

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.


 

Milestone #6 – Social Competences

Pupils

Take a look at the school compass. At this school, that is our sixth finger: togetherness.

Parents

I was truly impressed by how self-relying and strong every child looked as they stood there.

Teachers

However, you can also see how they all constantly get stuck in dependencies.
School Management
Our school thrives on doing things together. That includes playing together and sharing your knowledge. Everything else can actually easily be done by private tutors.

It is important that the children learn to orient and assert themselves in society. If you want to gain technological competence at school, you cannot get it without cooperation. Remarkably, many children grow up without siblings. Since, simultaneously, many spaces of freedom for children away from school have been abolished, school as a social space for learning has gained importance. Just as the children have to assert themselves at school, so the entire school system has to manifest itself in the educational environment.


 

Milestone #7 – Knowledge and Competences

School Management
Please ask R., he tackled the same problem yesterday.

Parents
It always surprises me to hear his stories.

Pupils
There is nobody who has no competence anywhere. Everybody can show you something.

Teachers
Well, we do want a child to succeed at a higher school without him/her having to take extra private tuition.

We give the cultural achievements mathematics and writing a huge priority. Our school is a place full of challenges. Learning and working both enjoy a huge amount of appreciation. In this sense, our school wants to be an actual space where there is a lot to realize and to enjoy but little to just consume. The high degree of motivation is supposed to inspire not only the pupils, but also the grown-ups.


 

Milestone #8 School as an Environment for Experiences

Teachers

If that is what you want, then start organizing what you need. I will gladly help you. You only need to let me know.

Parents
We parents do not even know how the school gained its experience.

School Management

Well, the school is, after all, a place that learns, too.
Pupils
I cannot do this. I do not want to do this. This was a failure.

Teachers
Let us analyse why this project failed.

Pupils
I want us to vote … but there is already a rule. Basically, we said … I am the circle leader and will decide how we do it. You can change this procedure if you are the circle leader. I want to include this in the final discussion.

It is not at all true that, in order to make learning possible, we exclusively take advantage of original situations. Enlightenment does not have to strike quasi epiphani-like in the lecture hall. A lot of experience is necessary during all those many strenuous moments of everyday school life. In this sense, we also consider the usual work a practice that can expand our possible courses of action.


Milestone # 9 – School in the Context of the City

Pupils
It is about time that we visit there again.

School Management

I am sure that the children will be taken seriously wherever they go. Because everybody knows our Christophine School.

Pupils

“Dear Mayor, we would like to see you and talk about the defunct traffic lights“. – “Dear Police, could you please come and visit our classroom. Three four-graders need to do the bike test.“

Teachers
At long last, we managed to visit the museum again.

School Management
The sports club offers us their facilities during the third hour of the school day.

Parents

Parents always have to make some kind of contribution. Basically, the school cannot do everything. I take my son to painting and sports lessons.
Thank you so much for taking the children on the outing.

Our city of Marbach and its regional environment are the topsoil on which our school will grow and on which our lives will succeed. The pupils either come from here or go by bus or train. We can climb the city walls, jump around in the castle ruins or read poems in the house where Schiller was born. Here, we have neighbours who get angry with us if we sneak into their gardens and take the strawberries.


Milestone # 10 Fear-Free School

Parents

My son is always unhappy when the school is closed.

School Management

I am not always free of worries when I enter the school building. But in the assembly hall, I always see that we are actually quite well equipped.

Teachers
Well, it is normal if you see the coming school day with respect, isn’t it?

Pupils
If someone acts around with a wooden stick in the garden, I get scared. But only if he/she hits me. Whenever someone hits me, I will see to it that he gets one week of stick ban.

We should not fear fear. However, we must not make anybody fearful. We are a school that encourages, we are capable of enjoying mistakes, of making a glitch the reason to take a break and of once in a while laughing about minor errors. Emotions regulate the quality of teaching in the lecture room. However, sometimes our feelings can also be our own impediments.


Milestone # 11 – Role of the Grown-Ups

School Management

See what I found for you. It seems that you still have a problem or two to solve.

Pupils

I need a certain tool. Do you know where I can find it?

Teachers

I take up what the pupils suggest. If there is not enough coming from them, I will start doing something, produce something in the sense of our definition of work.

Pupils
These things have all been self-taught.

Parents
I presume you accompany the children more when they learn?

We only have one teacher. But everybody is sometimes the master, the school master and the one who accompanies them when they learn. Some persons are players. Some have responsibility. They are the boss. But that is not a question of age. It is more a question of standards, competence and desires.


 

Milestone # 12 – Common Reflexion in the Assembly Hall.

Teachers

What can we change to improve matters for next time?

School Management

Our school needs an institutionalized place for doubts. I mean doubts about the pedagogical concept, the things we do, our teaching material, our policy, everything we get upset about.

Teachers
Innovative? The children are more conservative than I am.

School Management
Our school is now in its third evaluation year. I will not continue in the same way as before.

Even our furniture shows the importance of communication. We have a meeting corner, the quadratic shape of our pedagocical circle. Here is where our community has a place to meet, here is where we discuss difficult situations and here is where we meet friends for easy leisure. The role of discussion moderator changes all the time. This guarantees an e.ducation that is not only supposed to lead towards a democratic understanding, but that also has its place in interdependencies made aware through discourses and democratic circumstances.


 

Milestone # 13 – School Celebrating

School Management

Welcome to our big festival in May, our show at year’s end, our big party on the first vacation day. …

Pupils
Today, we must celebrate three birthdays: the birthdays of J. and C. were during vacation times.

School Management

If someone managed to do something great or discover something new, that in itself is worth celebrating. I say: that is a reason to celebrate.

Pupils

Why don’t we sing the other song again? Oh, no!

Taking the citizen society as a model, people meet at Christophine in order to take charge of their affairs and thus contribute towards a successful school life. Both the management of everyday problems and the planning and realization of school parties or excursions are part of this concept. The grown-ups motivate this process of management by pointing towards future events or problems during discussion time.


Milestone # 14 –  School versus Family

Teachers
Basically, we highlighted the partnership with the families quite well in our school contract.

Parents
This is what I keep telling everybody: they talk a lot more with each other at this school.

Pupils
You have no right to order me around. You are not my mother.

School Management
However, I do not consider chatting on the corridors a binding exchange of ideas between school and family. It is more like the lubricant for common pedagogical activities.

Pupils
Last Saturday, my mom took me along when she went to clean the school building. I had the run of the entire house.

In many school situations, you can observe a family spirit. It is responsible for all parties concerned feeling comfortable in their groups. They also know that there is a feeling of belonging in what they do. There are intimate situations full of self-recognition and also affection. Since, however, our school, too, is an independent institution, i.e. an institution of learning, we will not allow families to delegate their jobs to us. School and family are two fields that need not follow the same rules.


 

Milestone # 15 – Diversity at School

School Management

I certainly want to represent diversity.

Parents
Basically, the families come from various milieus.

School Management

We motivate everyone to visit us in the assembly hall. And if you want to visit, you will have to bring something in return. Because we also want to benefit from your visit.

Teachers
Starwars, Ninjago and James Bond. More often than not, you do not get too many diverse ideas.

Having to make decisions at all times is quite demanding for all parties concerned. The plurality of school work and stimulations you get as a consequence will guarantee that the content is multiplied and that you get quite surprising friction areas and points of contact. It is the duty of the school to enable the students to get a good grip on their own strength and their own images in order to offer them an alternative to the one-dimensional consumption society.


 

Milestone # 16 – Great Expectations and Modest Pretences

Pupils
The children decide by themselves … you said so yourself.

School Management
The pedagogic development and the economic growth are harmoniously intertwined. If you do not need to pay back debts, it is easier to learn.

Parents
The way we follow their progress is always linked with the development of the children. There will come a day when they will have to attend another school…

Teachers
The Christophine is our place of work. Where everything grows, you would expect that, some day, perhaps you could earn a little more than now?

The School
 Christophine was built into the educational environment because there was a huge political impatience in the educational sector. By now, it has four years of experience. The supporter has four years left to pay off the initial debt. There is still room for eleven pupils in the building. That is how long the wish of the parents to get a secondary school will have to wait. …


Here is the source of my ideas:
CHRISTOPHINE – marbach – free school
Freie Schule Christophine e.V. · Ludwigsburger Straße 24a · 71672 Marbach am Neckar · 07144/305 80 98
info@freie-schule-christophine.de · www.freie-schule-christophine.de
Kreissparkasse Ludwigsburg BLZ 604 500 50 Konto 300 520 11· GLS Gemeinschaftsbank BLZ 430 609 67 Konto 700 5615 700


I published the milestones because I think they are an excellent and rather commonly acceptable inspiration for all those who are interested in school life and yearn for an agile and free school!

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)