Monday, 23 June 2008

Have we lowered our quality criteria too much?

Last night I was browsing an interesting book. It is a small pamphlet by the philosopher Harry Frankfurt called "On Bullshit". It is pretty well known and has also made it into Wikipedia - both English and German.

The passage I was reading was about the philosopher Wittgenstein and some thoughts around craftsmanship. The essence was that in former times craftsmen did a better job than today and did not dare to create anything that was of low quality because the gods where everywhere around. In other words: someone who would have - as we call it today - optimised his product, e.g. by taking some lower cost material for parts that were invisible from the front of a piece of furniture, would have been at risk of being watched and being punished by the gods.

In our days such kind of believe has gone. And it is good that we have achieved the freedom of action we've got - without concerns that some higher instance is watching us constantly and will punish us at judgement day or some such occasion. On the other hand we are all constantly confronted with some kind of bullshit - bad material, low quality etc. Furniture is an excellent example. Blessed are those who inherited some solid pieces of furniture from their great-grandparents. Too much of the stuff you can buy today is mere plastic glued together.

Yet, many of us enjoy replacing their furniture once in a while. The average sofa lasts 5 years or so. No idea about the average kitchen - but given the many ads you get with your daily newspaper about new kitchens I suspect the 5 months will be realistic here, as well.

Have we accommodated too much such lower standards of quality which, in a way, are a natural result of our wish to "modernise" once in a while? I am not sure. Happy to discuss a bit. I will give the topic some thinking and come back to it.

Friday, 20 June 2008


Germany made it. Germany 3, Portugal 2. It was a crime of a match. I was thrilled till the last minute. But they made it and are now in the semi-final. Currently Turkey plays against Croatia. The winner of this match will play against Germany on Wendnesday.

Friday, 13 June 2008

IT Summer School - Ferienbetreuung mit IT Begeisterung

Ich bin in der "Metropolregion" Rhein-Neckar stark in einem Netzwerk, dem IT & Medien Netz Rhein-Neckar aktiv. Auf Anregung des Netzes wurde in diesem Jahr erstmals ein Angebot zur Ferienbetreung von Schülern/innen entwickelt, bei dem neben viel Sport und Spiel auch die Anleitung und Begeisterung für IT-Technologie geboten wird.
Es handelt sich dabei um zwei Kurse:
  • dem IT Summer Camp Heidelberg für Schüler/innen der Klassen 6 bis 9; veranstaltet von der SRH Hochschule Heidelberg;
  • dem IT Workshop Mannheim für Schüler/innen der Klassen 10 bis 12; veranstaltat von dem Zentralen Institut für Technische Informatik (ZITI) der Universität.
Der Grundgedanke bei beiden Angeboten ist, Jugendliche für Technik zu begeistern und an Technik heranzuführen. Ich habe das Angebot auch bei uns in der IBM verteilt und es stieß sofort auf große Begeisterung.

Die vollen Informationen gibt es natürlich auch im Web:

Cold days in mid July - Schafskälte

It has become rather cold in Germany since last Wednesday. And as ever so often this phenomenon has been known for a long time. In Germany we call it "Schafskälte" which means something like "sheep's coldness". It's a couple of cold and rainy days after the first period of warm and hot days in the year. We'll enjoy the weekend anyway. And, luckily, in the area around Heidelberg it's never so bad.

See for instance:

Thursday, 12 June 2008

EURO 2008 - what a night

Germany lost against Croatia 1:2. Croatia were really better. In the second match Poland and Austria scored 1:1. With Austria making their goal with a penalty in the 92. minute. It's nice for Austria because they are co-hosting this championship. And it's good for Germany. They now have it in their own hands in the next game to qualify for the next round.
Thrilling days in Europe ;-)

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

European Championship: Bad luck for Switzerland

The legendary German national soccer coach Sepp Herberger is famous for his statement: a match lasts 90 minutes. Some matches last 92 or 93 or even 94 minutes. What is particularly sad is when a match gets decided in this overtime. Like just - where Switzerland lost against Turkey in really the very last seconds of the match. This is especially sad because Switzerland is host of this championship. But congratulations to Turkey. And let's see how Germany will do tomorrow...

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

News and links for today

Found in Heise:

EU-Wettbewerbskommissarin für offene Standards

EU-Wettbewerbskommissarin Neelie Kroes hat in sich ihrer Rede vor dem OpenForum Europe in Brüssel am heutigen Dienstag für offene Standards ausgesprochen. "Ich erkenne eine kluge Geschäftsentscheidung, wenn ich eine sehe", sagte Kroes, "und sich für offene Standards zu entscheiden ist tatsächlich eine sehr kluge Entscheidung". Niemand solle durch eine Regierung gezwungen werden, auf geschlossene Technologien zu setzen. Die EU-Kommission werde ihren Teil dazu beitragen, die Verwendung offener Standards zu fördern. Interoperabilität sei ein wichtiges Ziel, zu dessen Erreichen offene Standards wesentlich beitragen könnten. "Standards sind das Fundament der Interoperabilität". [...]

Speech at OpenExpo, Switzerland, March 2008

In March I had the pleasure to give a speech on open standards and open source at the Swiss open source conference OpenExpo in Bern. I outlined the need for open standards and why open standards are essential for industry in order to facilitate interoperability, innovation, and growth.

My slides are available publicly at

A full recording of my speech can be viewed in google videos under