Tageurope

Netzpolitik13: Das Internet der Dinge: Rechte, Regulierung & Spannungsfelder

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My slides from Das ist Netzpolitik (Berlin, 1. September 2017). Title: “Das Internet der Dinge: Rechte, Regulierung & Spannungsfelder“.

Vom Hobby-Basteln bis hin zur Smart City: Das Internet of Things (#IoT) hat zunehmend Berührungspunkte mit allen Bereichen unseres Lebens. Aber wer bestimmt was erlaubt ist, was mit unseren Daten passiert, und ob es OK ist, unter die Haube zu gucken? IoT sitzt an der Schnittstelle vieler Technologie-, Governance- und Regulierungsbereiche—und schafft dadurch gleich eine ganze Reihe von Spannungsfeldern.

Due to technical issues with the video projection, my slides weren’t shown for the first few minutes. Apologies. On the plus side, the organizers had kindly put a waving cat on the podium for me. ?

It’s a rare talk in that I gave it in German, something I’m hardly used to these days.

In it, I argue that IoT poses a number of particular challenges that we need to address (incl. the level of complexity and blurred lines across disciplines and expertise; power dynamics; and transparency). I outline inherent tensions and propose a few approaches on how to tackle them, especially around increasing transparency and legibility of IoT products.

I conclude with a call for Europe to actively take a global leadership role in the area of consumer and data protection, analog to Silicon Valley’s (claimed/perceived) leadership in disruptive innovation as well as funding/scaling of digital products, and to Shenzhen’s hardware manufacturing leadership.

Netzpolitik has an extensive write-up in German.

Update: Netzpolitik also recorded an interview with me: Regulierung und Datenschutz im Internet der Dinge.

Questioning the Euro tech narratives

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There’s a been a lot (a lot!) of talk about Europe’s, and particularly Germany’s, take on digitization and tech innovation. Sometimes using the Industry 4.0 terminology (connected factories and the like), sometimes framed using European vs US startup success stories (“Where’s a German Google?”).

While a debate about tech innovation, adaption rates and access to the benefits of new technology is necessary – especially when it comes to providing a supporting political framework – I can’t help but notice a few narratives floating around that are quite wide-spread and seem to be dubious at best.

(more…)

Snapshot: The Digital Agenda for the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities

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Over the last few months it’s become painfully obvious – once more – that we’re not really set for the 21st century, policy-wise. This probably holds true globally except for very few exceptions, but it’s certainly true for Europe and particularly for Germany. It’s something I’ve been discussing with friends and peers for a while, and I’m more and more convinced that we need to collectively dig into getting the policy level right.

In our industry, and among the tech elite, there’s a widespread school of thought that politics move too slow to bother with, and that pushing ahead and just innovating (aka “doing our thing”) is the preferred way to go. There’s something to say for this mode of operation, too. But I think that we need to also get the actual policy right too, the laws, the codified rulebook that our society is based on.

Trying to collect my thoughts turned into a massive scribbling session.

 

Notes: Digital Agenda for the 21st Century

 

Notes: Digital Agenda for the 21st Century

 

Notes: Digital Agenda for the 21st Century

 

Here are the key policy areas I think need to be addressed as they came to me scribbling away. I tried to list key challenges and opportunities; this list is by no means complete – not even near to complete. It’s a snapshot of my thinking at this moment, in early October 2013, and a note to myself more than anything else. So if you see all the points that might seem out of context or just single words/references, that’s why. Much of it also focuses on a European/German context. Again, these are just quick notes.

I’m hoping that going forward I find the time to explore these areas further, beginning with more detailed blog posts, then let’s see where the path leads.

So here goes. Proceed at your own risk.

Key challenges for the 21st century

  • Education
  • New Work
  • Innovation
  • New Manufacture
  • Connected Cities & Things
  • Health, Tech & Data
  • Politics, Governance & Administration
  • Cyber Foreign Policy

Education

  • Budgets. We need to invest massively more into education at all levels.
  • Embrace technology, foster tech literacy (personally, culturally, institutionally)
  • Peer learning (student-student, teacher-teacher, teacher-student, student-teacher)
  • Collaborations & partnerships
    • domestic/international
    • Social Media Classroom
    • Hive Learning Network
    • Webmaker Movement
  • Alternative certification of knowledge & open access
    • Open badges, etc.
    • Open Educational Resources (OER)
    • MOOCs

New Work

  • Trend to more flexible work structure
    • Less full time employment, more part-time/project-based/freelance work
    • international mobility (global nomad elite/elite nomads). How to enable, empower, capture value?
  • Administration has to catch up
    • We need easier transition between systems
      • between countries/jurisdictions
      • between employment, freelance, alternative phases (family time, sabbaticals, education breaks, etc.)
      • between public/private systems (health insurance, social security)
      • pension plans & social security must follow the person around the globe (at least around Europe)
    • Social security for freelancers & other not-full-time-employed
    • Hubs/coworking spaces, etc., can revive and enrich buildings and neighborhoods. Embrace & foster them!

Innovation

  • Universities
    • Universities need massive budgets for applied research
      • Increase budgets
      • Foster cooperation with industry & non-profits
      • Foster trans-disciplinary cooperation & adjust budgeting processes accordingly
    • Increase cooperation between technical & design universities and departments
      • Create products and spin them off. Feed profits back to research.
      • Research and critically explore societal implications of technological innovation.
  • Fund experimentation and innovation
    • Create easy-to-tap innovation and founders funds & make it easy to raise money from distributed (non-VC) sources
  • Don’t regard political regulation as barrier but as creative constraint/framework to innovate withing
    • Example: Europe’s strict privacy laws are often regarded as a barrier to market entry by US companies. Rather, they can be an asset. Europe as data/privacy safe haven and privacy innovation cluster; home of privacy focused startups and services.
  • Update copyright, licensing, relationship between content creators, distributors, consumers/users.

New Manufacture

  • Germany is well positioned to play a leading role in new manufacturing (3D printing and related technologies)
    • But only one globally leading company in Munich, while most consumer-focused companies in the industry are based in US, UK or NL. Huge potential!
    • Foster collaborations with universities (like in the US), recognition as a policy priority (like in the UK).

Connected Cities & Things

  • Rules of engagement: Core philosophies of citizen/user empowerment are key.
  • Find & foster alternatives to authoritarian/top down models of “smart cities”
    • see Adam Greenfield’s work (Urbanscale, LSE)
      • empowerment instead of control
      • bottom up instead of top down
      • give citizens tools & control
  • Empower the organic networks of researchers & practicioners that exist outside big industry and universities
    • see critical & constructive informal networks exploring connected cities & devices
      • manifested in clusters like Silicon Roundabout/Tech City, or design school/lab Fabrica, built around small groups of committed individuals
      • Driven by practicioners, researchers & connectors like Dan Hill, Alexandra D-S, BERG, etc., who implement their philosophies of user empowerment in their design work/products/teaching each within their discipline
  • Can Europe play out its strength by empowerung these networks & structures?
    • plus a strong set of rules of data ownership/protection equivalent to privacy laws
    • more user/citizen centric power structures are possible

Health & Tech

  • Can Europe’s privacy laws be extended to other kinds of data/data ownership/open access?
  • Find the sweet spot at the intersection of
    1. Privacy/data ownershop/open data
    2. Body data/quantified self/personal analytics/health data
    3. Innovation
  • Potential of cluster in health tech built around these rules/ideals?

Politics, Governance & Administration

Most pressing issues/topics:

  • Legal framework needs to be updated to 21st century requirements
  • Net neutrality
  • Surveillance
  • Privacy
  • Governance, direct democracy, responsiveness
  • Transparency & open data
  • Digital inclusion
  • Update admin, processes (see gov.uk, nyc.gov)

Cyber Foreign Policy

  • Current focus of CFP in Germany is security/defense
  • How can a European version of 21st century statecraft evolve and work?
    • And who can be the actors/drivers?
    • see Ben Hammersley’s work
  • Merge and/or foster exchange between foreign policy/statecraft and innovation

 

Many, many big, gaping holes there, and lots of questions to explore and dig deeper. Hoping I can find the time and resources to do so in some way or another.

SXSW: “Social Media: How to make it in Europe”

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SXSW 2011Short version first: I’d like to present at SXSW 2011. You can help if you vote for my panel proposal. Here’s what it’s about.

Earlier this year, I went to SXSW without knowing that I’d end up giving a session myself: I was asked (and more than happy) to fill in for Robin Grant and his talk, and judging by the feedback we got I think it worked out well. (With just a few days notice I wasn’t so sure first…) Here’s a write up of my impressions: Lost in Translation: Nuances of European Social Media.

Since there was such a strong demand and the participants all got really involved in the discussion, I’d like to offer a follow-up. Same over-all topic, but a year into the discussion. There’s still a lot of ground to cover. Personally, I’d prefer to do it in the same setting like last year, which was one of the smaller rooms for interactive discussions rather than a big-ass panel. It’s just so much more productive. Like last time when Igor Schwarzmann and Kevin Dykes joined me on the panel, I’d like to

Here’s the official pitch as it is on the website:

Social Media: How to make it in Europe Description: You know how to rock Social Media back home in the US. Now what? There’s another huge market just a quick jump across the ocean. Yet, it’s a different world over there. We’ll discuss with you what strategies work in Europe, what you need to pay attention to. And we’ll share first hand experiences of working in Europe. We will bring you a panel of experts from several European key countries who report from the trenches. What are your main challenges when entering European markets? What are your opportunities? Which role do cultural differences play? Will German bloggers really hate your brand and will you get sued in the UK? We will try to dispel a few of the fears and myths often associated with European Social Media, share first-hand experience and give hands-on advice. So you can focus on taking your business to the other side of the Atlantic and rock Social Media over there, too. Questions answered:
  1. What can I expect from Social Media in Europe?
  2. How do I avoid major pitfalls when entering European markets?
  3. Your experiences with Social Media in different European markets?
  4. What are the first steps we should take when planning to go to Europe?
  5. Is Europe really an overregulated, scary place for startups? (Don’t worry!)
Tags: Europe, Localization, socialmedia

If you’d like to support me going to SXSW again, please vote here. (To vote you need an account on SXSW.com.)

That said, there is a number of other panels I’d recommend checking out (there are so many!) from a first glance: There’s Tim Hwang’s The Ecology of Awesomeness. (Tim co-founded the Awesome Foundation, so he knows a thing or two about awesome.) Ray Kurzweil talks about The Singularity. There’s a panel on innovation in Iceland which I think has quite a potential (remember, Iceland just decided to become a safe haven for journalists). There’s probably a great deal to learn in How Good Companies Go Horribly Wrong. The Sunlight Foundation‘s Jake Brewer talks about the Rise of Free Citizen Agents. Tim Bonnemann talks about Open Government through Participation: Designing Successful Online Consultations, an idea he’s been working on for a long time, and I can’t wait to see the results. Why We Frag: Propaganda and Geopolitics in Videogames sounds like a hell of a lot of fun. And of course I’d like to also point to my good friend and Cognitive Cities co-author Igor Schwarzmann‘s panel proposal How Does Scifi Influence Our Future Cities? I have an idea of what this presentation would look like, and I promise it’ll be a treat. (Heck, I even officially vowch for him.)

So, long story short: I’d appreciate any help in getting this panel off the ground. If you want to support it, please vote here.

Updates: As I get to learn about more cool proposals, I’ll list them here. Spread the love! Soundcloud‘s Dave Haynes will be talking about Love, Music & APIs.

Lost in Translation: Nuances of European Social Media

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Today I filled in to host a panel on European Social Media at SXSW. And boy, did I enjoy this session – the audience just rocked. Needless to say, my colleagues and buddies Igor Schwarzmann (@zeigor) and Kevin Dykes (@kdykes) and I had a a great time.

There’s a number of points that I’d like to share with you.

First: Thanks to Robin Grant for for thinking of me after realizing he couldn’t make it over to Austin in time for his own talk. (I wasn’t expected to speak at my first SXSW…). Thanks to the audience, all of whom were great & enganged & shared great stories. Thanks to my co-panelists Igor and Kevin for helping out on such short notice (they had hardly 24h advance notice). And a big thanks also to all of you who pitched in with ideas, stats, links and kind words when Robin and I asked for input as a last-minute preparation for this panel. (This was truly a crowdsourcing effort.)

It’s great to see such a diverse audience like this one in this room, full of the smartest people, a lot of whom are doing business of sorts with or within Europe. I learned a lot from their stories and examples, and I hope the conversation won’t stop here.

But there’s content I’d like to point out too:

Hackerspaces. Someone in the audience talked about a hackerspace she’s involved with in Tokyo, and she made some great points about the connection between social media and the hackers & other early adopters. And it’s true, social media seem to be driven strongly through these techno-philes. I assume this is because there’s a global communication sphere where techies world-wide can connect and share stuff easily. But what roles do hackerspaces play? This should be interesting to research. (Would love to continue this discussion – sadly I was too slow to talk to her, so you read this or know who that was, please ping me!)

Conferences. One question was what the Euro equivalent to SXSW is. Igor and I had discussed this before. I haven’t been, but PICNIC in Amsterdam would probably be close in that it attracts a similar set of folks and also has a strong tie to music. But of course there are other conferences well worth checking out. Depending on personal preferences: reboot in Denmark is a not-quite-annual conference; smaller than SXSW, but absolutely great. It’s not commercially run but a labor of love, so expect a different tonality. The annual meetup of Chaos Computer Club between Xmas and New Years in Berlin is the place to go if you’re into hacker culture. re:publica is where the German bloggers, hacktivists and NGO folks meet the social media crowd. If you’re more into professional agency kind of events, Next (Berlin) might be for you. There’s plenty of smaller, one-day or one-evening events like Ignites, TEDx or similar events (disclosure: I’ve been involved in some of those recently). This list is nowhere complete, so please share more conferences in the comments.

Marketing. When asked for global brands successfully engaging in social media campaigns in Europe, all three of us struggled. Someone pointed out that Dell and Walmart have been doing well; besides that, there’s not all that many overseas campaigns that stand out that any of us remembered. Temporary lapse or serious issue? Hard to tell. There are of course examples of big global brands engaging in European countries via social media, like Mercedes Benz and their (very successful) corporate blog. I’m not aware of any Zappos-like story, though. With smaller companies and particularly startups it’s an entirely different story of course. These folks know how to engage their audiences. This is where it’s happening.

Who should I be watching? We were asked which European social media mavens to follow on Twitter. This is a tough one as two filters were requested: They should be blogging in English, and with a strong focus on social media (not their hobbies or lunches). In another crowdsourcing effort, a few names popped up. and then some more. I’m adding some right now. (Full disclosure: most of those I’ve worked with or am friends with, or both):

(Update: We were asked about global brands that successfully engage in social media. In Germany I recommend checking out Madlen Nicolaus‘ work for Kodak Europe, how O’Reilly Germany‘s Nathalie Pelz works the social webs or – if you’re more interested in corporate blogging – the Daimler Blog (maybe better known as the folks behind Mercedes Benz or Smart Cars).)

Startup culture. This is a hot one and has been discussed for a long time. Europe isn’t Silicon Valley. (Then again, Ohio isn’t Silicon Valley either.) There’s not the same culture of accepting failure at least in Germany, and where you have a strong system of social welfare people maybe don’t have to hustle just as much as where there isn’t. On the other hand, as someone pointed out, this also leads to higher standard of living in Europe (on average, particularly for the not-so-privileged). There’s a lot of assumptions in this statement and it’d be another discussion altogether. However, I think we all agreed that having a less-developed startup culture is not simply a lack of passion in Europe.

Cultural differences. This can’t be stressed enough: Europe is not just another USA. Europe isn’t even Europe, so to speak, but a large number of individual countries. Or as David Weinberger would put it: Small pieces loosely joined. One example I like to give is the role of personal branding. It’s almost a mantra in the US that it is important to build your personal brand. In Europe, this won’t get you far. In Germany or the UK pointing out your successes is – except when done very tactfully – considered boasting rather than legitimate communication. It’ll put people off. Culture clash, anyone?

Bloggers. Blogging isn’t really a major force in Germany (even though there’s some great stuff), but it is in France. (It’s different in other European countries.) Why is this important? You might want to reach out to bloggers, but on different terms. Since hardly any German bloggers make a living doing so, financial incentives are hard to use. Still, if you talk to them you might build long-lasting, productive relationships. If you offer them money per blog post, you might just have made a new critic. Be tactful and work with locals.

Details, details, details! Europe isn’t the US. Don’t take your assumptions for granted. Two small examples: In Europe, weeks start on Mondays, not Sundays – make sure to reflect that in your online calendar. In Germany, credit cards aren’t as ubiquitous as in the US or Sweden: they’re more costly, and the card carrier is liable for credit card fraud. (If someone uses your credit card in a fraudulent way, it’s nowhere guaranteed that you’ll get refunded, and it’s a bureaucratic hassle.) Keep those things in mind and work with locals. It’s all very doable, you just have to pay attention.

Europe is worth your effort. Speaking of cultural differences and boasting vs building your brand: I completely forgot to point out some strong points of Europe, and why it’s worth your efforts anyway – way worth! You can draw from a huge, diverse population and different backgrounds. Distances are small and it’s easy for EU citizens to move between countries without much paperwork. The market is huge (bigger than the US) both in terms of population and economics. In the web industry, and depending on your exact focus, competition might not be as tough in the US (yet). Plus, it’s pretty damn nice over there ;) Take Soundcloud as an example: Founded by a few Swedish guys in Berlin with a very international team. They picked the right time and the right folks from the right places and built a service that just rocks. European privacy or labor laws aren’t in the way if you don’t try to just copy & paste a US model but work within the different cultural, legal and economic framework.

To wrap it up, Robin Grant has put together a blog post with plenty of statistics about the European social media sphere. This is a great place to start looking for some basic info.

Alright, that’s my two cents for the moment. I’d love to continue this conversation with you. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch, here in the comments, via Twitter (@thewavingcat) or email (peter@thewavingcat.com).

And again, thanks!

Call to action: Help me with a panel on European Social Media (by Friday)

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I need your help. A few hours ago I was contacted by Robin Grant of UK-based social media agency We Are Social, who told me he could not make it to his own talk at SXSW this Saturday, and could I step in. Speaking at SXSW seems like a pretty big thing to me (hey, it’s SXSW!), so I was hesitant at first, but of course curiosity won in the end. So I’ll be filling in for Robin at this talk:

Lost In Translation: The Nuances Of European Social Media ( Saturday, March 13 at 12:30 PM).

The original announcement:

Europe is ahead of the US in terms of the consumer usage of social media, and yet little attention is often given to the nuances of what is on one hand is the world’s largest economy and on the other a collection of 48 countries with very different cultures. Find out why the blogging scene in Paris is 2 years ahead of the US, the Brits are all a Twitter, the Dutch prefer Hyves to Facebook and the Germans will take any chance to give brands a hostile reception in social media.

For obvious reasons I have no time to really prepare anything, but I’d love to take your collective knowledge about European Social Media into the conversation. Now here’s what I’m asking you: send me your inspiring examples, stats, ideas and thoughts on the topic. Whatever you see fit, let me know about it, and I’ll try to work it in. Help a fellow geek out!

Best way to get in touch about this is via email (peter@thewavingcat.com) or Twitter (@thewavingcat). Thanks, thanks and thanks!

SXSW: Lost In Translation?

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SXSW InteractiveWhile 2008 was a major conferencing year for me and this year I was slightly more selective (and instead am co-organizing one myself called Atoms&Bits), I’m planning to only attend those conferences next year that I really, really want to experience. Off the top of my head, that’s Reboot, SXSW, maybe Shift and a barcamp or two. Everything else I’ll have to see.

That said, here’s some news that just reached me about SXSW Interactive:

Robin Grant of We Are Social has put in a proposal for a SXSW panel called “Lost In Translation: The Nuances Of European Social Media“:

Europe is ahead of the US in terms of the consumer usage of social media, and yet little attention is often given to the nuances of what is on one hand is the world’s largest economy and on the other a collection of 48 countries with very different cultures. Find out why the blogging scene in Paris is 2 years ahead of the US, the Brits are all a Twitter, the Dutch prefer Hyves to Facebook and the Germans will take any chance to give brands a hostile reception in social media.

In case the panel is going to happen, Robin kindly offered to invite me along with a few other European social media practitioners to take part in the panel.

Besides being invited, I think this topic – engaging the European market – is becoming more and more important particularly for US startups. And while it’s true that the German market can be tricky, it’s not impossible to navigate, and there’s lots to gain. (Side note by way of giving an example: Just today I hosted a blogger roundtable for the Jusos election campaign (full disclosure: paid gig, see client list) and it was not at all hostile but in fact very constructive.)

I’ve worked briefly with We Are Social in the past (my client list) and had the pleasure of interacting with Robin a few times. We’ve never met in person, but I feel like I can give a two-thumbs-up for this panel. And if you vote for the panel, maybe you’ll help me get to SXSW.

Voting the panels is easy: after signing up, it’s a simple thumb-up/thumb-down vote.