Monday, 28 September 2009

German general elections

So Germany voted. Yesterday. New Bundestag, which is our federal parliament and which will elect the new chancellor. Which will be the old chancellor but in a new coalition - not with the Social Democrats anymore but with the Liberal Democrats. Congratulations to chancellor Merkel and the winning parties.

Almost needless to give a link or viewing the final result of the election. I's everywhere in the German press today. So here's just one for the FAZ online site with the election results.

There's one remarkable result and that is the amount of support which the new German Piratenpartei (Pirate Party) managed to get. They got roughly 2% of the votes cast. This is not enough for sending a representative into the parliament. But with around 2% they are the largest group of those "other" parties who are below the clipping level. And with the young and digitally educated people the Piratenpartei has got a huge support of over 10%. So no wonder that they were very happy with the election results as is reported, for instance, by Die Zeit. In some university towns with a strong technical focus they got more than 3%.

The Piratenpartei is bringing up new topics - almost all, so far, focussing on issues around the internet, copyright, patents, etc. They reach out to the generation internet to some extend.

In a recent article in the German FAZ Sonntagszeitung Frank Schirrmacher, chief editor of the Feuilleton, gave a very informative and forward looking analysis of the Piratenpartei and of nerds in general.

After yesterday's election, the Piratenpartei is certainly a group that can't be ignored anymore. Time will show whether it's a new party on the horizon like the Greens were 30+ years ago. But I'm sure that the polical establishment will, from now on, take a closer look at the generation internet.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

On Blogging or A New Era in the Transformation of the Public Sphere

Blogging is fun and reading blogs is a great source of information and a great way for debating topics and exchanging views on certain issues. I have recently had several chats with people who are not yet into blogosphere and who wonder whether it's worth entering or whether it's – bluntly spoken – a waste of time.

The success of blogging is amazing, I think. But it's not really surprising. I see blogging as well as all the other web 2.0 technologies of collaboration and social networking very much as a new level in what the German sociologist and philosopher Juergen Habermas called The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. And I would be as presumptions to say that with blogging and the access to information and the exchange of information over the internet we are entering a new era of enlightenment. Blogs and networking platforms are a modern form of what the Salons were in the 18th century.

Similarly, the success of blogging lies – at least partly – in the fact that blogging very much follows a centuries old maxim of writing. Derived from Horace's Ars poetica, line 333, the classicist writers and the public in the 17th and 18th century gave out the objectives of prodesse et delectare – “to be of use and to entertain” – for writing. Successful bloggers accommodate exactly that: they share useful information and provide useful, innovative thinking and at the same time they are extremely funny, witty and entertaining.

Writers and especially bloggers and internet users in general in our time have very much grasped the success factor of “prodesse et delectare”. In the flood of texts and information primarily those people are read which are able to attract their readers in some way. This means that rhetoric and it's instruments and what is called poetics are back on the agenda.

Blogging is powerful. The comparison to the age of enlightenment might sound heretical to some. But the blogosphere is read and heard and its role in influencing the development of public opinion making is constantly increasing.

Blogging has established its role in public discourse. It's the young, energetic, independent digitally educated people that heavily use the instrument of blogging and of social networking for discussing items of public interest.

Blogging and social networking will change the way our societies work and how social systems are transforming. Blogging and social networking are on the forefront of eParticipation and eDemocracy. And these new forms of communication and networking break the traditional constellations of the public, the poltical sphere, the media, etc.

There are opportunities and risks, for sure. But in the light of democracy blogging certainly is a new step towards a more open society. Blogging increasingly unveils our societies' potential for creative, innovative thinking and provides a new platform for public discourse.

So the response to those sceptical about blogging should probably be: embrace it, get involved, and find your personal way and style to join in playing in the public sphere. Don't ignore it, you will miss a lot of creativity and insights if you do so.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Future internet in a globalised world: spoken web

There is an interesting project running in IBM Research: it is about creating a spoken web in parallel to the world wide web:

The World Wide Web is perhaps the greatest technology innovation the world has seen in the last few decades. It has created the largest repository of information, opened new streams of businesses, and transformed the way people communicate. The World Wide Web has helped eliminate geographical barriers and paved the way for global collaboration and integration. All done with a few clicks on our computers.

Unfortunately, a majority of the population on this planet does not have computers or connectivity to the Internet. And the chances of that changing any time soon is probably a distant dream.

The basic principle of Spoken Web lies in creating a system analogous to the World Wide Web using a technology most of us all have in common - speech. Spoken Web helps people create voice sites using a simple telephone, mobile or landline. The user gets a unique phone number which is analogous to a URL and when other users access this voice site they get to hear the content uploaded there. Interestingly, all these voice sites can be interlinked creating a massive network, which can work like the World Wide Web.

Sounds very exciting to me. I could imagine collaboration platforms and social networking platforms emerge in such a spoken web. And in combination with speech recognition and speech synthesis technologies this could even be interlinked with platforms like Twitter. And it might be a further way of overcoming digital divide.

See the website of the IBM India Research Lab for the full article on this project.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Relevant link of today: European Parliament approves second term for EC chief Barroso

It's broadly in the news today. The Sofia Echo gives a pretty detailed report online:

European Parliament approves second term for EC chief Barroso

European Commission President Jose Barroso won a second term in office in a European Parliament vote on September 16 2009, although Greens and the socialist bloc held to their opposition to him.

Of the 736 members of the European Parliament, 718 were present for the vote; 382 voted in favour, 219 against and there were 117 abstentions. [...]

Read the full article on the Sofia Echo website.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Relevant link of today: Handelsblatt on use of IBM Lotus Symphony as office software

The German newspaper Handelsblatt published an interesting article today on IBM LotusSymphony as office software and on IBM using Symphony in-house throughout worldwide. The article starts a bit "thrilling" but is definitely worth reading:
"Lotus Symphony
IBM wirft MS Office raus
von Axel Postinett

IBM verschärft den Kampf um die Büroarbeitsplätze der Zukunft und geht dabei den Konkurrenten Microsoft an: Die Mitarbeiter des US-Computerkonzerns müssen auf die hauseigene Bürolösung umsteigen. Die Propagandisten von freier Software hoffen auf eine Signalwirkung.

Read the full article online at the Handelsblatt website.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Dilbert on standards

Being back from vacation - Yes, thanks, I had a great time. We spent two weeks at the Mediterranean coast in the South of France. Fantastic!! Wonderful landscape, wonderful sea, great food, great people - all you need for a relaxing time. And of course time was flying....

So again, being back from vacation I found, in my in-box, several mails from colleagues pointing me at the recent Dilbert cartoons on standardisation. Please take a look how Dilbert sees the world of standards ... and, as always, there is more than a glimpse of truth in Dilbert:

- cartoon of Aug 31
- cartoon of Sep 1
- cartoon of Sep 2

Have fun ...

PS: I hope you all had a great summer, too, with nice and inspiring vacations.