I'm writing this not only because of the recent events on Austrian and other universities that Joel is very enthusiastically engaged in. I had this on my mind for quite some time. So let me just make it clear at this point that this is my personal opinion and not a personal attack against anybody who does not agree with me.
Being a student is frustrating. I should know it, I'm a academic student since 2003 and will probably be for couple more years. Don't get me wrong, I love it, but I can see why so many other students are so much more annoyed by "the system", "reforms", lack of money and motivation on the academic side. The current discussion in Austria among other places is whether is is legal / ethical for the universities to demand a fee from the students. While I agree wholeheartedly with the statement that knowledge should be accessible to anyone, I do not agree with the UN Charta stipulated free access to universities, at least not as is. Of course I also agree that there should be world peace and equally distributed riches. But I also know that's not how our world works, and a bunch of revolutionary students won't change that fact. Purely calculated, most governments could financially bear the load of financing free access universities (not including housing and living costs of the students though). But this would in my mind result in an abolition of academic quality in general.
Another thing I know from being a student is that we sometimes tend to be lazy and like stuff that comes for free. We need lots of motivation, and for me, finishing the university with the best possible grades in the least amount of time is quite motivating when facing the fact that I do not want any longer to be dependent financially of my parents or a student loan that I have to pay back. Bear in mind that I do not accuse any of the students demonstrating now of anything. I'm just saying that in life, most things worth having don't come for free, and people should learn to appreciate that. By now you're probably shouting that me thinking I'm an arrogant snob with too much money (which I can guarantee you I'm not). Of course everybody with the potential should have access to the university. This could be achieved with student loans guaranteed by your respective government. The amount should be adapted to your & your parents financial situation, the university you like to study at and last but not least your grades (I know this is difficult to calculate in on a personal basis). People having finished their studies should then get a personalized plan depending again on their financial situation on how to pay back the loan. Maybe this is exactly what the protesters want and I got them all wrong. Still I don't like their way of showing it, because first of all I think that any protest involving adolescents and missing courses will attract way too many people that just care about this latter matter and think it's cool to go on a strike (man, I do sound like I'm 80). Second, I personally would be really pissed to have my courses boycotted by people whose opinions I do not share.
Sure you can not just allow anything happening to you. And I'm also in favor of young people taking an interest in their own future. My university is comparatively well funded in comparison to other foreign institutions, but I still think that a university is more apt to decide its budget (e.g. by raising fees) than a government (who almost exclusively cuts down budgets to fund for more short term expenditures). Sure it sucks that every couple of years you have to pay more fees. But I much rather have this and a constant quality of education, than governmental cut downs that change with every legislation. To put it plainly: I think the universities should be (at least partially) funded but the people who take advantage of these institutions (i.e. students), who will later on (hopefully) have a better paid job, rather than the general public (by raising taxes for everybody to pay for the education of the few). Then again, what do I know.
Just a bunch of random pics from the past couple of days
11/03/09. 12:26:33 pm. 12 words, . Categories: News ,
Most people should by now have realized that I love Haruki Murakami, a Japanese author, and that I especially love his translations into German in the Dumont edition. A couple of weeks ago I came along his newest book/story and even though I'm usually not such a big fan of his shorter stories, this one is a clear exception. Not only is the story great, being a typography and layout nerd, I was even more amazed by the book itself. Everything, from the dreamy duotone illustrations by Kat Menschik, to the font and the paper of this edition screams work of art right at you. I hope you'll remember it next time you pass by your local book store and have a look at it. If you're not sold after this, it's ok.
10/16/09. 04:38:50 pm. 134 words, . Categories: Books ,
It's incredible how much power Google acquired over the last few years. After a conversation over lunch here at the company I felt the need to write down my thoughts.
We were talking about how much we rely on its search functionality: we use it so much, it basically is our entrance portal into the web. We wondered what would happen if suddenly Google would charge for every search run? Would the Google addicted revolt? Or would we simply switch to another search engine, as has happened before.
Another interesting fact is that I stopped using bookmarks and switched to remembering keywords instead. This is very efficient, just type in the appropriate keywords in the Firefox address bar and Google's I'm Feeling Lucky-functionality will take you to the correct website most of the time.
At the lunch table we concluded that humankind, at least the internet-centric population, makes an important neurological step: instead of remembering the details, we are remembering the keywords. Our brain is filled with an index to the knowledge out there. This enables our brain to enlarge it's capacity by offloading its content to the collective knowledge-base and thus relieving it from the burden of keeping everything in memory. A part of the brain changes from a memory machine to an index machine. This is quite remarkable and I'm very curious about how the brain and society will adapt to this change in the future.
Überall auf der Welt spriessen sie aus dem Boden, die Piratenparteien. Als Ursprung der Bewegung fungiert die Piratpartiet aus Schweden. Diese haben sich folgende Kernthemen auf die Fahne geschrieben, welche den gleichnamigen Parteien in anderen Ländern als Vorlage dienen.
- Bürgerrechte und persönliche Freiheit
- Befreit unsere Kultur: Urheberrechtsreform
- Wie Patente und private Monopole die Gesellschaft schädigen
Das originale Programm der Schweden ist hier in einer deutschen Übersetzung einsehbar.
Die schwedischen Piraten hatten bereits im Juni dieses Jahres erfolg, sie erhielten genug Stimmen, um ein Pirat in das europäische Parlament zu entsenden. Auch die deutschen sind Vorreiter, letzten Sonntag erreichten sie ein gutes Ergebnis von 2% der Wählerstimmen aus dem Stand.
Die Piratenbewegung ist international, Politik wird jedoch auf nationaler Ebene betrieben. Darum ist es kein Wunder, dass auch die Schweiz seit diesem Sommer ihre Piratenpartei erhalten hat: Ich bin seit 4 Monaten mit der internationalen Piratenbewegung verbandelt. Als Teil des Gründungs-Teams habe ich versucht, eine erfolgreichen Start der Piratenpartei Schweiz zu ermöglichen. Seither habe ich in verschiedenen Funktionen meinen Teil dazu beigetragen, dass wir bereits rund 2.5 Monate nach der Gründung ein eigenes Parteiprogramm sowie Merchandising-Material wie Flyer, Stickers, Buttons und T-Shirts zur Verfügung stellen können. Bereits sind wir schweizweit über 450 Mitglieder und der politische Charakter der Partei beginnt sich zu formen.
Auch hierzu rege ich die Diskussion an, wie verhalten sich Piratenpolitiker bei einer allfälligen Wahl in ein kommunales oder sogar nationales Parlament? Die Diskussionen hierzu werden in unserem Forum rege geführt.
Und nun wird also am Sonntag in Luxembourg auch eine Piratenpartei gegründet. Ihre Webseite piratepartei.lu ist seit einigen Tagen online. Vielleicht mag jemand vorbeischauen?
Yesterday I had what I'd call a unique experience. We went to the Blinde Kuh here in Basel, a restaurant in complete darkness. And not just the kind of darkness you're familiar with when running to the toilet in the middle of the night. No, I mean pitch black! The interesting part (I mean apart from this) is that all the waiters are actually blind, so they find their way around quite well and don't care yo much about stupid photons. You start off in the lobby where there is still light to read the menu and go to the rest rooms (just in case), and then your waiter will pick you up and you follow him in a polonaise (for the lack of a better word) to your table. You may bump into a minor obstacle here and there but so far so good. Everything smells quite intensively and you can hear people chatting on the other tables. After you found your way around your seat and know where all your glasses, your forks and the dips you just put your fingers in are, you'd think it would be less weird, but it's really not. Your mind starts playing tricks on you, and you're convinced you can see the table and the people around you (at least their contours), but really you cannot. Finding your way around the plate, cutting food etc gets even trickier. The food was really good btw, but somehow that feeling of having lost a vital sense never quite left me. Truly remarkable, and highly recommendable!
09/24/09. 09:48:23 am. 261 words, . Categories: Life in Basel ,