Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Shameless Add: Unsoul Record Release Party"

"The Dark Side Of Cyberspace: Chinese Labor Conditions And Your Motherboard"

Yesterday we went to the presentation of two NGOs, WEED and SACOM, who are on tour to make people across Europe aware of the awful working conditions in the Chinese computer industry. They released a study called The Dark Side Of Cyberspace.
Computer hardware for almost all companies is produced in Chinese sweatshops. Their laborers work about twice the amount of hours that are LEGAL in China, sometimes they even don't get contracts, even if that is the law, too.
There is absolutely no healthcare and no safety regulations at work. The two case studies focused on EXCELSIOR ELECTRONICS and COMPEQ TECHNOLOGY who provide material for companies like DELL, LENOVO and FUJITSU SIEMENS COMPUTERS. APPLE, NOKIA, SONY, AMD and MOTOROLA are said to be supplied by those companies as well. INTEL rejected the relationship, even though they are directly supplied by EXCELSIOR according to this study.

This is what the researchers found out:

"Excelsior Electronics is a supplier of motherboards, chipsets, and graphic cards to Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Intel, AMD and other IT multinationals. During peak production periods overtime work hours routinely exceed the legal limits (up to 370 hours in total in a month). Worse yet, workers are not insured against illness or industrial diseases, despite their exposure to dangerous chemicals.
According to the Labour Contract Law, a labour contract must be negotiated and consented to by the worker and his or her employment unit. The labour contract comes into effect when the worker and the employment unit each signs or affixes a seal upon copies of the contract. The employment unit and the worker shall each retain a copy of the labour contract. Excelsior workers, nevertheless, are not given their copies.
At the time of massive layoffs, Excelsior workers reported that they have difficulties to claim their legitimate compensations."

The NGOs are asking especially public institutions and organisations who buy more hardware than private persons to check back on what they buy. It is in their responsibility as well.

It is in our responsibility to spread the word.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"Vaguely Travel Comparing Two Different Systems: USA and Germany/ EU"

I need to link this blog again, because Jesse just wrote some very interesting things on how he perceived the difference between Germany/ Europe and his own home country, the USA. Cultural theory agreed on the fact that it takes the mirror of "The Other" to understand the self better. Personally I think, German politicians (and inhabitants of this country...) should pay a lot more attention to how their country is perceived by open-eyed and open-minded travellers from other systems, like him. They tend to forget about the good things and we all know how easy it is to loose something that is really really good (like good education for example, or values and laws people agreed upon, or a sense for community and the sharing of resources). And once lost, it might be hard to regain. Some things are better preserved than gambled about out of a new fashion or lazy mindset, that can be more fun and more rewarding than gambling.

I am looking forward to read more of Jesse's impressions.

(and to finish my thesis to keep on rocking this world inside the next level of the great game - work in progress, as usual ... )

Monday, December 8, 2008

"Waiting For Christmas: Welcome To The Mulled Wine Season"

It is a common tradition in Germany to prepare mulled wine during the advent season. You can get a nice mug of this tasty hot potion on Christmas markets, or make it at home for a nice evening with your friends and family. I just had my first mug last week, enjoyed it very much, strolling around Prenzlauer Berg Christmas market with a friend. We had a typical mix of smelling wooden toys, listening to embarassing a cappella musicians and spotting some random tv soap stars shooting a scene or two inside the old brewery space.

If you like to give it a try as well - here comes the recipe:

Heat up red wine (don't cook it - there goes the alcohol...) with cinnamon, cloves, lemon peel and star-anise. Sweeten at will with honey or sugar. Enjoy. Have some gingerbread or almond biscuits with it. Enjoy even more.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Media And A So-Called European Identity"

Heated discussions in Berlin, about whether "European Identity" actually exists, or not. There are attempts to create a European public sphere... attempts, nothing more yet, as they do not reach most of the European citizen at all. The average German is not really interested in Europe. Newspaper articles about local concerns, then some national politics, and then let's move to sports and satire. People try to change that, try to give EU politics a legitimation, because if there is no European public, a European government wouldn't be democratic. I am very curious about how and when and if this development will progress.

Personally (and from about two seminar-texts and one Sunday morning of pondering over that issue) I think, you are just European if your life happens outside Europe... remembering moments of mutual understanding without words with people from Spain or Slovakia or Austria or England during my time in the States. Back in Europe, I am pretty sure I am not Spanish at all, and there are quite some differences between Germans and English people, too. Living in the UK, I felt pretty German at times.
Then again there is the still very dominant local life, your own town/ city/ village/ block. Then you are for example a South-Berliner or a Kreuzberger, and hell, no, not a Charlottenburger... northern block Friedrichshainer, not southern block Friedrichshainer, entirely different world there, isn't it?
So why bother about Bruxelles? Well, of course, EU right beats national right and a hell lot of taxes are on their way there now. And of course we are fighting pirates together in god-knows-where, aren't we? Minor details many just don't realize?

So Europe tries hard to be an identity issue. We want to be "American" again, in a sense that we understand ourselves as ONE nation/generation.. but how, if there's a totally different history? No mutual frontier myth, no mutual European Dream myth, no mutual civil war and Independence Day, no fighting for mutual freedom, no mutual dirrrrty past like slavery and exterminated Indian tribes. No, over here, every national state carries its very own cross. Well, several mutual enemies are there though.. and apparently also several mutual values to be shared and preserved? First step? Not sure about that one. And not sure whether a genuine Euro-Identity is necessary for peaceful living on this continent. Do I have to be European in order not to fight against the French?
And of course there are some great differences in the States as well... being from Texas or being from New Jersey can be the same difference as Earthling-Martian at times.

I very much like the idea of the book being THE European medium though. Good point that guy made.

Friday, November 14, 2008

"Back From SAINTS AT WORK, ..."

... I decided to keep reading a paper on media regulation in the federal republic. But I am not going to write about this now.

So here are some random impressions from the gallery opening. Enjoy!

enter the blogger and her friend
- Indicators: two friends, nine artists, one city, one laptop, four rooms, a small bar, some hundred people, some hundred beck's beers, some hundred pairs of sneakers, some hundred cigarettes and approximately seven pairs of really ugly buddy holly style glasses.

The crowd.

"Overtime (Brotherly Love)"

"Job Cuts"

The guy who is responsible for overtime, brotherly love and job cuts.

Not enough yet?

begging doesn't help!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Einstuerzende Neubauten: Haus der Luege/ House of Lies"

Something I just found on youtube. It is recorded at the now torn down Palace of the Republic, a concert I've been working at as a photographer in 2004. I still love the irony implied by the title of the song. ;)

In my humble opinion and naiveté, it would've been better to keep the building and just change it's function, keep it as a free space and true venue of the people, for example, instead of tearing it down to rebuild just another "house of lies" whilst building the utter uglyness of a completely new concert arena sponsored by a huge mobile technology company a few meter's away.

"Bye, Bye, Palace of the Republic - Welcome, ???"

The tearing down of the former seat of the GDR parliament, "Erich's Lamp Shop" as the people called it, referring to the then incumbent Erich Honecker and his 1001 lamps hanging in the foyer, is almost finished by now. The scrap of the republic is being brought away bit by bit. Many people in Berlin, in fact the majority that, at times, has no weighty voice, wanted to keep the building as an important space of German history. Unfortunately this majority was not in the monetary position to take part in the process of decision making. So it is finally time to say goodbye to just another historical site in the middle of Berlin city ... .

Saturday, November 8, 2008

"21st Century Critical Art: Sasha Zivkovic's SAINTS AT WORK"

There is a new exhibition opening in Berlin-Wedding next week. Apart from several other artist, Sasha Zivkovic is presenting his "Saints at Work" project.

He uses the iconography of Gothic stained glass to deliver ironic commentaries on contemporary corporate life.

I am looking forward to see his work in a non-cmc-way. Anyone who shares my interest by now is welcome to his blog:


... or to the exhibition, of course: Koloniestr. 10 in Berlin, Wedding, Nov 13th-Nov 22nd.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"The Vote: Fuck, Texas, Sing For Us"

Well, that slogan has actually nothing to do with the vote as such, but is the soundtrack of my office during this lunchbreak ... .
Aside: New Model Army played in the states this year, and they release a new life album which I am going to review on Whiskey-Soda.de soon.

However it suits the impression I got from reading some papers and following the voices in the void that circulate around the topic Obama '08. Everyone is oh so happy about the outcome of the vote in the States, it kind of belongs to urban politeness these days to be supportive for the president to come and rule over one of the most powerful nations on this planet. Main problem is, if you ask one or two more questions about why people support Obama, the answers are - well - meager, to say the least.

Which is no surprise at all. It is part of the strategy in campaigning to drop promises about change and making things better than the opponent. No one can be really specific on his politics beforehand. Concrete information of the public is not intended at all. All we can do is watch, listen to the noise, and see what will happen. I am not judging Obama today, I will judge him when his period of ruling is over.

Most interesting about this year's election and campaigning is the instrumentalization of social networking technology. No one was ever so popular in facebook and the likes. Strategies of viral marketing in political communication apparently worked well for Obama. Next to that, it is also interesting to read the German (educated mainstream blabla) papers and to follow their online appearances: poll here, poll there, livestreams, livestreams, livestreams, post your own opinion here, what do you expect of Obama there, is he the saviour of the world, is he just another puppet of "the system"? Nothing else seems important today, no other events seem to take place, there is NOTHING in this world but the vote. People are still debating about the power of the USA, however - obviously - they have the power to take over the public sphere for about a week or two in Germany.

Let's see what happens next. Eyes open!

Monday, November 3, 2008

"Funny Stuff From German Polit-Talk: On Privatising The German Rail"

Just watched a discussion (educated mainstream media polit-talk blabla) on privatising the German Rail. Main focus of the discussion is the wage of the top dogs of the to-be private company. Knowing the English rail system (private) and the French one (state), every traveller is confident that the latter provides better service for the customers. So why is Germany following the former? Gambling again?

I guess those guys will have to restrict internet access to keep their business models going anyways, as more and more people avoid trains - no matter if private or state regulated. Car-sharing, organized in online-forums like this one, gains more and more popularity. I am sure the ministry of the interior would love to get rid of our beloved communications and mobilizations tool anyways ... .


I guess the German Rail would be very grateful. Just wondering ... .

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Conversations From The Void: Heathen Social Critique"

Just got to "know" someone who created a Walden-like persona for himself. He retreated from contemporary German society, created his own world within it though - something he would probably deny. He re-named himself, went into self-sustaining agricultural life, and apparently got deeply into heathen German mythology. He is a staunch basic-democrat, currently trying to rebuild the ancient "Thing"-law and order structure on his land. Step by step, he is giving up all superfluous things, and he favours living in a completely unmediated reality: no money, soon there will be no internet-connection as well, and he prefers bartering over money-mediated ways of exchanging. There is no belief in the state at all, no trust in politics, no trust in the police, and no trust at all in protestant ethics and the related ways of life. Judged by his letters, a well educated Robinson who set up his goal to proove that actually there is an alternative system which - in his point of view - has more advantages than disadvantages compared to our system. Recently, I observed more and more interest in traditional tribal structures in Germany. Many people seem to ask what was there before Christianity took up his sword these days. There seems to be a need for clear and simple structures, probably a retreat from information overload, as - in this example - harsh media criticism goes along with his thoughts on how to organize a social life. Also, I somehow found another argument for explaining why Constructivism seems to be a good way of thinking.


So far, not all of my questions are being answered, but I already figured out that he has quite some interesting points. And there is already one question that answers itself:

Who am I to judge?

Monday, October 20, 2008

"New York, or: Super-Abundance"

This is how a visitor may experience the city: The last drop which makes the cup overflow has fallen many years ago, and it now drops, and rains, and pours, to nourish the floods which inundate the landscape. It drops, it rains and it pours superfluous information. The galleries on Madison Avenue overflow with works of famous painters, and those in the Village with works of painters which try to become famous. In book stores like Barnes and Noble a flood of alphabetically ordered paper backs distributes at minimal costs the intellectual production of the recent past to would-be receivers who perambulate there like lost sheep. Innumerable shop windows display the newest and the oldest objects of Western civilisation, and of those civilisations which penetrate the West, in order to conquer it from within. At the universities, the laboratories and the foundations numerous well equipped researchers in the natural sciences and in the humanities compete with each other to open up ever new frontiers for knowledge and action. At the same time numerous museums suck in forgotten and half-forgotten knowledge and action from the past and from exotic regions and they pour all this into the present. Every available surface, like walls, cars and sidewalks, is being covered with "creative" writing and painting. In uncounted corners all over town one dances, photographs, films, videos, one makes poems and music, one "expresses" oneself. New religions sprout like mushrooms, and old ones are reborn. Every thinkable and unthinkable type of social and political "revolution" is being advocated. Nothing comparable has existed before, not even in Hellenistic Alexandria.

Now such a deluge of quantity and quality is of course a desparate thing to behold, because it shows the futility of every creative endevour. As if civilisation were to suffocate on itself, to become superfluous from within itself. But such a subsummation of the phenomenon New York under the heading "decline of the West" is not what is called for. Because New York and what it represents, (namely the West), is not only a devastating experience, but also a challenge. A challenge which demands of us that we change our attitude toward civilisation, and, most of all, that we change our attitude toward creative action. It demands that we re-evaluate our commitment to civilisation. And this is far from easy, because it involves to abandon certain very fundamental values, and the search for new ones.

What New York is about is the discrepancy between available information and the human capacity to digest information. The discrepancy between the Sunday New York Times and our capacity to read it. New York does not challenge us to try and write an article for the New York Times under the desparate hope that it be published, read, and mediated by New Yorkers. It challenges us to do what we can to decipher in a meaningful way the New York Times, the City of New York, and the whole Western civilisation. It challenges us, not to add some further information to those already available, but to try and give a meaning to the informations which inundate us. Which is to say: to discriminate among informations.

To use the language of cybernetics and informatics, those disciplines which characterize the present situation: New York challenges us, not to produce and to store information, but to process the data which are put at our disposal. New York is a concrete challenge to analyze and to manipulate memories, not to try and enrich them further. Not only those new types of memories like the ones which are in the computers, but equally more traditional types of memories, like books, museums, exhibitions, and our own brains. In other words: New York challenges us concretely to try to "remember" in a critical fashion.

This demands of us that we change in a radical way: that we invert our glance, and no longer look outward, but inward. That we no longer try and look beyond the horizons, in order to transcend them, but that we now look toward the center, in order to give a meaning to our past "conquests", (our experiences, knowledge, and action). That we no longer try to acquire, but now try to order in a meaningful way what we have acquired. That we no longer seek progress, but consolidation. It seems that we have dangerously progressed too far and too quickly in the recent past, and that we must now try and correct this fatal error of ours. But if we do this, we must abandon a whole set of traditional values. For instance: we can no longer accept that "newness" is necessarily better than "oldness". We must stop to be "modern". "Modern times" is over.

Curiously enough, we possess a model for such a radical change of our attitude toward ourselves and the world. Fur such an inversion of the will, which no longer wants to experience, but now wants to remember. The Socratic model. For Socrates, like for us, memory is the central problem, although for him this means something differentfrom what it means at present. and for Socrates, like for us, wisdom is the capacity to remember. This, in the last resort, the super-abundance of New York is a concrete reminder of the original meaning of "wisdom".

Vilém Flusser
essay from the 1960s
(found in the archives in Berlin whilst doing some research on telematic societies)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008

"Sarah Palin Debate Flow Chart"

[googlage] "Palin Says"

Sarah Palin says Katie Couric interviews were "unfair".

Palin says she represents "Joe Six-pack".

Palin: US shouldn't second guess' defensive military steps.

Sarah Palin Says Katie Couric Annoyed Her.

Life on the Wicked Stage: Act 2. Sarah Palin says "Hi, Neighbor".

Pink Is Terrified Of Sarah Palin, Says She "Hates Women".

Sarah Palin says Obama "palling around" with terrorists.

Republican VP candidate: Sarah Palin says teen daugher is pregnant.

Palin says the war is from God and it's Gods plan.

Sarah Palin Says She Is Open To Teaching Creationism In Public Schools.

"Energy Expert" Sarah Palin Says Alaska Supplies Twenty Percent Of US Energy.

Sean Combs Is Scared Of Sarah Palin, Says She's "Worse Than The Boogeyman".

10/06/08, for breakfast

Saturday, October 4, 2008

"Manchester and Salford: Regeneration and Reinvention 08"

The University of Salford just organized a European Studies conference titled "Regeneration and Reinvention - Practices of the New". My friend from Serbia and me were attending this conference, and it was indeed very interesting to see what this "New" actually was. It has been a very heterogeneous conference. The New in Great Britain came from various disciplines. A great deal of it was urban planning and architecture (culminating in a nice PR talk by one of the representatives of one of the major urban renewal companies on the island), but also some subcultural studies topics, the attempt to grasp the path of "New Labour" and "The Third Way" in politics, aspects of a new critical consumerism, social problems like binch drinking in GB, and some new fields in literature (hypertextual structures in Danielewski's print novel) and philosophy. Heidegger and Foucault, Barthes (Bojana) and Flusser (me) being connected to discussions of new technological aspects of our society. A lot of the talks were really inspiring. Plus Manchester and Salford are cities in a process of change these days, creating the right atmosphere for such a conference. Suitable evening programme was a visit of The Lowry art gallery and the Wire concert in the academy. Four very interesting days.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Soon ..."

.. there will be more about the ESRI conference at Salford University, the awesome WIRE concert in Manchester and a nice and relaxing week in the land of elderly Brits and Germans, salt lakes and cheesy swim suit patterns.

Right HERE.

Monday, September 1, 2008

"Margreiter: Humboldt Media Philosophy - The Aftermath"

In his book on media theory, Rainer Leschke is criticising the general approach of those who try to sketch a universal media ontology. To him, there is a lot of "elegant nonsense" floating around within media studies. I partially agree with him, most of the theories we discussed are indeed very "elegant" in their rhethorics ...

As for the "nonsense" part of his statement: some theories are highly speculative, that's true, and others might even be a little too close to conspiracy theory. But still, understanding them and thus understanding one way of interpreting the world these days, might help to understand some very down-to-earth concerns and problems of our present age. I think, he misses to see the respective theories in their contexts at times.

Besides, reasonable judgement and healthy criticism can be trained by engaging with them. No "nonsense" at all!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

"Margreiter: Humboldt Media Philosophy - Day Four"

Eighteen. Friedrich Kittler. Saving information is not only preserving it. Above all, it is spatializing the time-dimension. A text and a score are a storage of time. Only through a medium, information and data can be thought. How do we use media responsibly?

Nineteen. Sybille Krämer. A medium appears only within intermedial performance or an error. Meaning is constituted in distribution.

Twenty. Stefan Weber. Criticises Lasswell and Maletzke. Wants a non-dualistic media philosophy. Is kind of close to neo-pragmatism. And fights successfully against plagiarism. (*fg*)

Twenty-one. Hartmut Winkler. Integrates methods of semiotics, dialectic social theory and psychoanalysis. Language influences structures and structures influence language. It's all about interdependence.

Twenty-two. Oswald Schwemmer. Media are dynamic systems. Their structures influence the form of the articulation. Interdependence between determination and active creation.

Twenty-three. Lorenz Engell. The medium itself philosophizes?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"Margreiter: Humboldt Media Philosophy - Day Three"

Thirteen. Mike Sandbothe. Pragmatism and theory. Usability and coherence versus l'art pour l'art. Media technology and politics versus semiotics. Final goal: democratising the public?

Fourteen. Mike Sandbothe. Transversal pragmatism. Reconstructing Wolfgang Welsch. Make theory more useful. But it is already useful, isn't it?

Fifteen. Mike Sandbothe. Internet. Media are social constructions. Hypertext is hot, linear texts are cool. Transmediality within the computer and within the net. It's all about the user, is it?

Sixteen. Alexander Roesler. De Saussure was missing the medium. A medium is part of the process of the creation of meaning. There is no meaning without a medium. But what is a phone call?

Seventeen. Stefan Münker. After the medial turn. Mediaphilosophy is only philosophy of NEW media. Philosophy engages in disambiguation. The rest is media theory. Oh, and let's get back to the sublime, right?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"Margreiter: Humboldt Media Philosophy - Day Two"

Seven. René Descartes. Imaginary spaces and the appearance of the modern author. Ratio instead of God-given truth. Dependence from both reader and ruler?

Eight. Otto Neurath. Vienna Circle, very left-wing. ISOTYPE. Education by the eye. Pictograms are talking, are they?

Nine. Frank Hartmann. Mediology. Symbolization. Communicative code. Data storage medium. Distribution network. Interaction?

Ten. Werner Konitzer. Havelock. Alphanumeric code bred philosophy. Platon. Truth is a choice?

Eleven. Werner Konitzer, again. Husserl. Platon. Speech and writing complement one another. Is there a corrective?

Twelve. Werner Konitzer, the sequel. Simmel. Luhmann. Wittgenstein. With each new medium comes a new space for reflexion. Decontextualisation, recontextualisation?

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Margreiter: Humboldt Media Philosophy - Day One"

One. Marshall Mc Luhan. Interesting ideas on amputation. Show time. Madonna's little brother of Media Philosophy. Presidential candidate?

Two. Jean Baudrillard. French pessimism deluxe. Everything is hyperreal. We need to get viral. Do we?

Three. Vilém Flusser. Exile. Caught between new media affirmation and technophobia. The magical consciousness needs to be overcome. Does it?

Four. Paul Virilio. Acceleration is a crime. Hollywood are the wings of war. Media the penultimate weapon. Apocalypse now?

Five. Neil Postman. Infantised subjects staring at screens. Reading is reason. Watching tv is not. Teaching media helps?

Six. Friedrich Kittler. Delayed. Due to a misunderstanding.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"Wordle - Mother Teresa In Me Advertising Graphics Tool"

Surfing around whilst creating my presentation for the Salford conference, I just found a good word cloud application online. It works with Java. Being no graphics specialist, I had to do a little bit of a .pdf and photoshop loop way to be able to include it into my powerpoint finally. Unfortunately it lost a great deal of acuity somehow. All apologies for that. I still think this application is great, therefore I linked it. And I decided to write this post. But don't worry, I am not getting paid for advertising now, signals economy still didn't knock my door, I just spread the word of something beautiful and useful because I think it is beautiful and useful. If you like to play around with your texts and create something like a tag cloud for them, you should check it out.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"Scientific Identity - Fear Of The Dark, a. k. a. The Humanities"

Reading a lot of Flusser and secondary literature on Flusser, I recognized a strong fear between the lines of some texts. Especially some media theory texts - interpretations and criticism of Flusser's philosophy - appear to be deeply afraid of a structural change within the sciences. Especially the media-teacher Rainer Leschke criticizes Flusser for his ontological perspective, his use of metaphor and etymology to make a point and back up his theory. Leschke is frightened of the idea that aesthetic and normative values could challenge the "one truth" of natural sciences. That certain scholars within the humanities dare to apply their methods on the technological and natural seems to be a most uncomfortable development for him. His major problem with this development is that these scholars try to "search for the meaning of and to make sense of certain phenomena, before it is clear that these phenomena are regulated by something like sense at all." This sentence burnt itself into my mind today - and I keep asking myself why the hell do so many people get a shit load of cash for research on phenomena that do not make any sense at all?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"Serbia And The Net"

I just reviewed a paper for someone I know, she is working on the communication situation in Serbia nowadays and during the 1990s bombing and Kosovo crisis. Back then, for the IT-literate elite, the internet was the only way to communicate and gain information from outside the country. The uncensored mailinglist "The Syndicate" was of major importance in that period of time. Still it was only a small minority who had access to this source of independent information. Nowadays, the mesh densitiy is still very low in this region. But according to the paper, there is hope for a change, especially with the young generation getting more and more educated in the use of new communications technologies. A positive development that needs to be triggered in my opinion, because it is necessary for any further democratic actions.

Monday, August 11, 2008

"Televisual Society - The Colonization Of The Last Resort"

I am shocked. Well - to be fair, you could see it coming, so "shocked" is not exactly the right term for finally recognizing the inevitable.
The inevitable. It came to me just a couple of minutes ago, when I was eating my lunch at the university refectory. There it was. A huge screen. Attached to the front wall. Some swimmer from China was just staring at my salad and coffee with hungry eyes - as if he was just about to do the crawl and grab my food from the table. This is the end, I thought while I was grabbing my fork in order to protect my tomatoes. Not only are we forced to watch and listen to sports on the morning radio, on the underground, at almost every public recreation space of the city - no, as if this is not enough, now they also colonized my very last resort of un-telematic existence now.
The refectory. A place to take a break from work, to relax your eyes from staring onto the screen or into the books, to have a little chat with some random other student sitting at one of the long tables next to you, to enjoy your meal and listen to the comforting background noise from all the other hungry people doing just about the same. Now this peace is over as well. Instead of chatting away the twenty minutes, people watch sports now. Every conversation is interrupted by someone not listening, but staring at the screen attached to the front wall - at best indicating his conversational negligence by mumbling "look at this, man, awesome jump", or something similar, meaningless. Of course, we are all used to going to a pub with friends who stare at their mobile phones instead of into our faces whilst talking to us. I know, they call it "multi-tasking ability" these days, and it is regarded a necessary soft skill to survive within your work life, especially as a humanist. The more pleasant it always used to be to go to the refectory for lunch, where mobile phones were usually forgotten within the locker or even left at home or inside the car because people wanted to concentrate on their thoughts and texts instead of waiting for random short messages containing the recent weather forecast or some phone call saying that the local soccer team won a third league game today. Well, thanks to the IT-service who spent my small tuition fees on just another telescreen, this time is over now as well. I really don't know how I could survive my breaks up to now, without knowing how quickly some random Asian guy ran did the hurdles today. The new screen - such an enrichment to my tiny student life ... .

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"Simulation As Communication (3)"

Tortoise: Now, wanna know what the impact of imagination is?
Achilles: Yes, tell me!
Tortoise: Imagination has the ability to combine reality with fiction.
Achilles: Really?!
Tortoise: Yes.
Achilles: Okay... Tortoise -
Tortoise: Yes?
Achilles: What is fiction?
Tortoise: You're so predictable, I knew you'd ask exactly that question within the next two minutes.
Achilles: Well -
Tortoise: Fiction. Fiction is not only that which is invented. It is more. The power of fiction lies in the realm of the symbolic. Fiction and reality are only on the surface oppositions. Fictions showa certain difference to the experienced world. They create a rift. They allow us to step back and think beyond what is existing. This ability can lead to actions, these actions can create what was fiction before.
Achilles: So fiction is necessary for progress?
Tortoise: Indeed. You have to have a vision in order to move on.
Achilles: And do you?
Tortoise: Well, right now there is no gap, no rift between fiction and reality for me.
Achilles: How so?
Tortoise (yawning): That, my dear friend, I will explain the next time we meet ... (falls asleep).

Saturday, August 9, 2008

"French Press And Sarkozy: France Gets TAZ"

Apparently, the French president doesn't like the free press in his country. So he wants to control who works as chief editor in the big papers. And quiet successful he seems to be.
So, please bear with me for linking to non-German, and non-English, but French sites as well now, as I think a link to Mediapart might be a good opportunity for my French-speaking friends and fellow citizens of this globe to get some independent information. They seem to try the same model as taz did a couple of decades ago: no advertising, no political control, independent information and a strong opinion from the people for the people. A voice for those who had none. No easy job, especially considering monetary needs of the staff. But still, an honorable cause.

Friday, August 8, 2008

"German Right To Freedom Of Speech In An Age Of Global Censorship"

"Every person shall have the right freely to express and disseminate his opinions in speech, writing, and pictures and to inform himself without hindrance from generally accessible sources. Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by means of broadcasts and films shall be guaranteed. There shall be no censorship.

These rights shall find their limits in the provisions of general laws, in provisions for the protection of young persons, and in the right to personal honor.

Art and scholarship, research, and teaching shall be free. The freedom of teaching shall not release any person from allegiance to the constitution."

(Article 5, Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany)


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"Simulation As Communication (2)"

Achilles: I think I got the reality thing now.
Tortoise (waking up, slowly opening her eyes): Did you? Well, then you are kinda clever, I have to admit.
Achilles: Ah, it was not that difficult. But something else strikes me as a complicated issue now.
Tortoise: And what would that be?
Achilles: What is imagination?
Tortoise: Imagination. Now that's not that easy. Let me put it like this: Imagination. Imagination is closer to seeing than to speaking. Imagination is enclosed within a longing, a longing which impels images and views that are not yet transformed into concepts and assertions.
Achilles: Vague.
Tortoise: Okay, I will try to be more specific. There is a feeling, intuition, sensation and judgement that is not guided by reason or rationality. More like a mirror of recognitions, indications which are not being spoken yet.
Achilles: Vague.
Tortoise: Yes, because every spoken word would miss the point in this case. The imaginary can't be spoken, it is exactly this difference between view and image and the spoken word that defines it.
Achilles: Vague.
Tortoise (nodding): Yes.

Monday, July 28, 2008

"Simulation As Communication (1)"

Achilles (excited): What is reality?
Tortoise: A symbolic and imaginary construction. *yawns*
Achilles: What does that mean?
Tortoise: It is something we invent and reinvent in the circulation of our practices, routines and institutions in order to describe and explain the order, patterns and problems of our way of life.
Achilles: But there are things out there, things I don't invent, things that already exist before I come into place and will exist after I am gone. How so? Doesn't quite fit your definition, does it?
Tortoise: Well, dude, I didn't mean that there is no independent world which is not mediated by our consciousness. It's just that I - well, WE are unable to explain, dream or simply describe it otherwise.
Achilles: But how do we know it exists, if we are unable to describe it anyways?
Tortoise: Because it gets us every once in a while.
Achilles: I don't understand.
Tortoise: Come on, dude, never experienced something uncertain? A gap? Something really shocking? Something that shatters your worldview? Those are the moments in our lives when reality bites us.
Achilles: But why don't we keep it real from then on?
Tortoise: Because the recognition of those moments fosters a process of interpreting them, of giving them a symbolic or imaginary meaning. You know, we have to protect our reality against the real.
Achilles: Interesting.
Tortoise: Nonsense.
Achilles: Why now nonsense?
Tortoise: If we don't give recognized moments a symbolic or imaginary meaning, they are nothing more than nonsense. Non. Sense.
Achilles (sitting down next to the Tortoise, pondering): Hm ... .
Tortoise (laying her head onto the sand, closing her eyes): Poor boy, never stops to ask those nasty questions ... .

Monday, July 21, 2008

"Summer In The City (4) - Potsdam By Bike"

In between all the reading and writing and learning, it was about time to cycle last weekend. The deal: Potsdam by bike with some friends, a tour of about 35 kilometers, so that even the not-so-sporty student (me) was able to follow and get back and forth without suffering from a breakdown or seriously aching muscles the next morning.

Lake Schwielow is surrounded by a nice concrete worm to cycle on, and having some piers to have a lunch break on is a real pro as well.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"Homi Bhabha: Writing Rights and Responsibilities"

Doing some research for this afternoon's appointment, I stumbled over the University of California's youtube site. I am well pleased with listening to Homi K. Bhaba in addition to reading about his theories in my favourite new book today.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"Fusion 08 - Dub Station, Civilization"

Dub StationFusion Festival - mostly electronic music, some reggae, few acoustic guitars, one single violin playing punk rock. Among others, goa fans, hippies, techno-people, rastafarians, and - poi players. I took the chance to learn moves and continue practicing with the others.
In between everything, just sitting down to ease my mind, meandering over the old airport area, hanging in some wicked XXL-spidercobs in the woods and laughing because of the funny tree houses and plate sculptures was very appealing. Two days away from the desk of doom again feel like two weeks of holidays. Even with little sleep.

Honestly, I didn't really feel like worrying this weekend, worrying about whether the political purpose of many active participants from the anti nuclear power, anti wrong way of globalization and anti fascism front continues to be fruitful or not, whether it is just about performance these days, or not, whether certain thoughts still arrive in some young open yet noise penetrated ears, or not. Talking to a few good people left me behind with a feeling of warm ambivalence. All I can say for now is: there is still some reasonable human energy walking around these days. Some, however, are less careful in their adrenaline appreciation of a weekend's freedom. But still, there is more hope than dope.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"Summer In The City (3) - Media/Democracy"

OSI club is running a lecture on politics and journalism in Berlin again this summer. I am attending, whenever I find some time on a Monday evening. Christian Walther managed to invite some of the key players in political communication, people who work for television, radio, political parties, the local and federal government, newspapers and universities. The background noise which is wafting through Berlin's air is getting a single voice each week. Most important, it is getting responsible again, as every speaker is giving responses to our questions in the end. The mass communication machine consists of eleven faces this term, some of them already crossed my path before. Apart from seeing former teachers again, I also just saw the chief editor of my early morning newspaper yesterday. It is the one and only serious counter-public sphere paper that managed to enter the boxing ring of Berlin's established press and stay there for about thirty years now. The woman at the top of the flat hierarchy the others learned to accept in time told her audience why and how this has to be the way it is. To sum it up, taz is still necessary because it is still more provocative than every other middle of the road rightist or leftist mainstream paper and counterweight to the far right. Thus it is one important different perspective in the German public sphere, one that still values core journalistic ideals a little more than some others do - be they fulfilled or not. However, it was a good listen last night.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Summer In The City (2) - Mauerpark"

Sunny Sundays are for flea market, ice cream and relaxing inside this park (there are usually more people there, this is an old photo). It is the "Mauerpark" (translation "Wall Park") in the North-East of the City, a part named Prenzlauer Berg and I just happened to spend my last Sunday there. First as a flaneur and loving visitor of the market, later on dozing off on my blanket with a friend. Coming home, I felt just like arriving from about three weeks of holidays.

The park used to be the borderline between East and West, French and Sovjet part of Berlin - the "death strip" between the two Germanys. Nowadays we don't have any soldiers on patrol there anymore, well - except for those who want their spot at Walpurgis Night's bonfires that is.
But still, sometimes you can smell history there. The atmosphere in the old East is still somehow different from the West, and this leaves room for the assumption that some things will probably never change. Then again, maybe they don't have to ... .

Saturday, June 7, 2008

"Summer In The City (1) - Poi, Tiergarten"

When I am not attending a weekend seminar on Online Journalism and therefore have no time, no time, no time at all (like the white rabbit), I spend my spare-time practicing. And this is what it looks like these days. Still level one, but it's already great fun!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

It's Been A While ... And I've Been On Tour Again: WGT 08 Marginalities"

I know, I know, if you run a blog it is necessary to write a little something on a regular base. Well, as of now I probably have the options to delete my blog or say "Sorry, Void" and pretend nothing has happened. I opt for the second one. Got a lot of work to do these days, and also I've been to Leipzig and Witten again to get away from that work - which was extraordinarily nice. As usual, I brought a little visual with me. Enjoy!

Battle Of The Nations Memorial.

Agra Park.

Last Resort.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

"In Case Of Emergency, ..."

... it is of great importance for a woman to have long hair.

(Depending on the situation, this might also be helpful for a man.)

Friday, April 25, 2008

"Fire-Poi, Or: How To Spend A Tuesday Night In Town"

That's how it SHOULD to look like.

That's how it LOOKS like: I just started last summer, still in the process of training my shoulder muscles, getting bruises all over my body, frequently enchaining my arms - and increasing my capability to think by hitting the back of my head with the balls. It is probably the best sport I have encountered in my entire life.

And quite likely there is no better one to come ... .

Saturday, April 19, 2008

"What is Human Communication?"

Human communication is an artifice against loneliness until death.
(Vilém Flusser)

I am attending a close-reading seminar on Flusser this term. Humanities' codes and symbolic interactions are his major focus of research and thought. Among other topics, he wrote a great deal on how the invention of the "technical image", photography, changed our view of the world.
His philosophical writing is complimented for a provocative and lucid journalistic style, something I will probably appreciate as well as I am starting to read his "Kommunikologie".

If you are interested and able to understand German - the German Research Society published his lectures in Bochum, 1991, as audiostream HERE. Flusser is referring to work he started to put together at the university of Sao Paolo, in which he seeks to describe how we perceive the reality and regularities and systems surrounding us.

And now I recommend reading and return to my favourite pastime myself, starting with chapter one ... .

Friday, April 18, 2008

"Mona Mur - The Man On The Satellite"

Men made God, to rule the world and all its creatures/ Under their mighty glance He blew nature and replaced it with Art Déco and Laissez-Faire les hommes/ He invented a lot of things/ For instance: women/ For His daily rib-eye steak/ Bien cuit/ Then God sussed out, that He was a man himself/ Now in seedy dressing-rooms/ He's every rotten body's darling/ On behalf of the Financial Times/ O smiling damned villain/ O smiling damned villain/ Oh! In your bed/ He's practicing the salvation of America/ He's practicing the salvation of America/ And afterwards He's washing his hands in nonsense/

Oh! He's not man enough to take me/
Oh! He's not wild enough to love me as I need it/
Oh! He's not dead enough to please me like an Egypt/
He's the man on the satellite/
Far from earth and untouchable, God knows/
He's the man on the satellite/
Shoot him down, if you can, baby
Shoot him down, if you can, slit
Shoot him down, that challenger

Centurywise/ These gentle giants/ Use young lovely history as their girl next door/ Servants of art/ Science redwhiteblackchinese blooddeathsexrocks rockets bulls balls van Gogh landscapes/
Peu à peu they run out of colours/
Peu à peu they run out of colours/

Oh! He's not mad enough to paint my hall of hatred/
Oh! He's not God enough to teach me/ As the jews teach their sons-in-law/ Oh! He's gone to the Home of the Brave/
Oh Lord - have mercy/ Never make him my slave/
Let him live on his satellite/
Won't you do him any harm tonight/ Bless you/ Won't you go on sacrificing all the charms of yours/ Oh Lord/
I don't believe in you anymore/
Let me live on my satellite/ I'll shoot you everywhere I can/ Baby/ Everywhere I can


Sunday, April 13, 2008

"FreeSpace Dancing in Germany - Vacancies Of 21st Century Consumer Society"

They proclaim a need for free space and they have music, food and fire. A little different from the old squatting phenomena, the new FreeSpace Movements don't necessarily intend to live in a house that belongs to someone else without paying for it, right now they just occupy teardown houses for gathering and dancing.
With this, many people take part in the International Free Space Days. According to them, there is an urgent need for spaces which are not completely taken by the permanent pressure to consume or utilize. Apparently, it is not only those who are poor and living on the edge of society anymore, many others seem to share the feeling of being fed up with ever increasing input of guerilla advertising and branding of just about every aspect of people's everyday lives.

And can you really blame them?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"Beneath The Surface ..."

... someone is waking up.

Friday, April 4, 2008

"Easter Egg 2008: Polish Impressionism, Szczecin (2)"

1. Picturesque (-ish) old town.

2. Polish tag-culture: Converse century? Apparently not for them ...

3. Applause!

4. Rats leaving the sinking ship?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

"Easter Egg 2008: Polish Impressionism, Szczecin (1)"

1. Kościół Piotra i Pawła (translates Cathedral of Peter and Paul).

2. Holocaust Memorial.


- Pommeranian capital in western Poland, founded at the turn of the 8th century, since then inhabited by Slavonic tribes, Christian missionaires, Polish sovereigns, Danish gentry, German merchants and clergy, Prussian military, Sovjet soldiers, American tourists and Polish web designers

- 12 000 unemployed women, 10 000 unemployed men

- criminal violence is retreating constantly since 1999

- work force: 153 000 people, around 75 % market and non-market service jobs, 25 % industrial work and building sector, less than 1 % agriculture

3. View from the south side of the Castle.

4. Baltic Sea.