Autodidactic autopoietic past, present and future

A couple of months ago I discovered the platform Schule Plus. I instantly liked the idea: Let’s connect schools and companies in order to enrich school activities / the school experience (workshops, excursions, speaker, etc.). So I did not hesitated for a second and applied.

And yesterday I had my first session at the FCG Düsseldorf. I spoke in front of around 50 young students (14-16 yrs) from Netherlands and Germany about my development and how it happened that I ended up as an entrepreneur.

The most interesting personal aspect, while I prepared the slides: Remembering what I have done between 1990 and 1995 (slide 19) – for the first time in 20 years. And being once again aware of the power of  self motivation as an autodidact.

 

 

I really enjoyed the session and the questions of the students – and especially I was positively surprised to see that in the Dutch school system it is possible for students to attend at a special school, which does 100% of the curriculum in 80% of time. So the students get the chance to found their own – real – business and can develop this for one day of the week.

Last but not least I was very happy to see, that 3 of 5 student companies where lead by a girl.

 

 

Dubrovnik – Or what the history of a small city could tell us about strategic wisdom

Imagine that our planet would actually be a galaxy (in a galactocentric-sense: the milkyway). So every state on earth would be comparable to a solar system in this galaxy. You would have different kinds of civilizations with different characteristics.

Some could be described as imperialistic, many would seem to be on the “victim” side, even though the circumference of the land mass would imply more possibilities (fairly developed, but no actual power = political, military, intellectual culture, science, etc.). Others would maybe follow a pacifistic path (no matter if this approach is induced by common insight/social development or a lack of military opportunities).

Now imagine that this galactic “family” is not playing its’ game of conquer, trade and cultural exchange in a far future, but about 600 to 700 years ago.

Furthermore we discover in our galactic-historian trip a quite small republic (about 50.000 people), whose total time of existence lasted almost 450 years. A further examination reveals some interesting facts about this city state:

– medical service was introduced in 1301.
– the first pharmacy (still working!) was opened in 1317
– a refuge for old people was opened in 1347
– the first quarantine hospital (Lazarette) was opened in 1377
– slave trading was abolished in 1418
– an orphanage was opened in 1432
– the water supply system (20 kilometers) was constructed in 1436

The government was organized by “the rector” for a long period of time (ca. 650 years). His ruling time lasted for one month – in this time he was allowed to live in the rectors palace. A reelection was possible after a waiting time of two years.

Two central governmental mottos were:

Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro
Liberty is not sold for all the gold in the world

Obliti privatorum – publica curate
Forget private affairs, take care of public ones

We can observe albeit their progressivity a typical social structure:

– nobility (in the end 33 families)
– citizens (like craftsmen, educated folks, …)
– peasants (Well, …)

And of course, only the nobility was allowed to get into the rectors position. But still the noble families understood very fast, that cooperation and sharing were the most important principles in order to protect and develop their quite small republic.

Humanity alone would have been not enough to construct a republic that would have lasted that long (ca. 450 years is quite something, if you compare it to the 800 years of the roman empire).

The people of Ragusa (the old name for Dubrovnik) were clever enough to strengthen other important aspects:

– Ragusa had a widespread network of diplomatic contacts and representatives (peak: in 80 cities!). This enabled Ragusa to foresee the next best possible move in greater politics and necessary strategies. This diplomatic network was also useful to staying updated in terms of relevant developments in science or culture. The Ragusa republic was also among the first to accept the independence of the USA.

– They relinquished from building up an army. They concentrated their energy on the fortification of their city. In their entire history they were actually never conquered (in terms of: taken over the city walls) by any rivaling force. BTW: That is a strategy that I also love to play in the games of the Civilization Series: Instead of building up a huge army I focus on a good defense, while I develop my folks (science and as soon as possible a democratic system).

– The real “weapon” of the Ragusians was their merchant fleet. Even though they were a quite small city they had a remarkable amount of ships in their fleet: 180 to 200. They travelled up to England and Germany in the north and were active in the ports of Northern Africa. But besides these sailing skills, they were one of the best ship builders of their time – they were famous for their speed and reliable vessels. Venice, the main competitor in the Mediterranean Sea, actually envied them (how Venice solved this problem – by standardization or Lean Management – is another story).

There is a nice anecdote about the strongest enemy they ever encountered – the Ottoman Empire. The turkish army was simply too strong in force and in size. So the Ragusians made a deal:

You do not invade us, therefore we will pay you a yearly tribute. And furthermore you let us do business in the Ottoman territories – for a special tax of just 2%.

Unfortunately I do not have any sources that prove my assumption (I am not a historian): They made better profits then before – and the tribute was some kind of a “entry fee” for a greater market.

Beside their fortune in mercantile issues and the organization of their community (and providing very early public services) another aspect helped to sustain the republic: Ragusa had the luck to have ore sources close to the city. As every real estate agent would confirm it is of course all about location, location and location. Dubrovnik was perfectly situated in the middle of the Mediterranean trade routes. This instance was definitely an accelerating momentum.

At the end of this post I would like to take a closer look at what brought the end of the republic.

One dramatic event was the earthquake in 1667. Almost all the buildings in the city were destroyed except the REALLY thick city walls. Many members of the noble families died, so it was necessary to call “normal” citizens into the city council in order to keep the governmental system alive. After this incident the city never really fully recovered.

Another major event was the relocation of the important trade routes, away from the Mediterranean sea towards the Atlantic (the new world).

But the nail in the coffin were the confusing times of the restauration. Between 1800 and 1807, thanks to the Napoleon and some other players in these euro-strategic games, the nobility was disunited and in the end an era of 450 years came to an end. Even though the Austro-Hungarian empire granted a special status for Dubrovnik, the old republic never recovered and it ceased to exist.

What can we learn from Ragusa?

  • Small units/assets are easier to govern – prevent over complex systems and stay united
  • Do not waste your money for an army (attacking forces) – have a good defense
  • Be a smart merchant and know how to find good deals for both sides
  • Have the knowledge to build pretty good vessels – today: Self driving cars 😉
  • Have an constantly up-to-date information network, in order to be able to anticipate moves, to be prepared “when the shit hits the fan”. And participate in recent developments in science and culture
  • Create a communal spirit and preserve the utmost important value – freedom AND fairness within the society
  • Changes – it is time for me to write in english

    After blogging for some months it is time for me to change – the language and the content.

    I have written a lot of biographic stuff – and it was useful in terms of getting into the habit of “having a blog = platform to write”. But in the end it is/was personal bla-stuff. Somehow nice for me on a personal level, but nothing that contributes new ideas into the social reticulum.

    <dramatic pause>

    Hell.. yes, I can not neglect this immanent impulse of empathy for the mankind. Therefore I want to conclude – step by step – my thoughts and ideas which could be useful to prevent a total desaster for our civilisation. It took me more than 20 years before I finally followed this impulse. And yes, I admit it, I am interested in issues which deal on a planetary level. At least.

    The real motivation behind my commitment is the anger about the waste of potential that would happen, if we – the people on this planet – would not solve the issues which lay ahead of us. It makes me mad if we would end up on a fucked up planet (ecological level) in a irrational, nazi-style society without any personal “freedom” (freedom in quotes, since this term needs further discussion, here used in the classical context, cf. hist. Enlightment Phase, evidence-based knowledge generation, rationality).

    On the other hand I feel the obligation to leave a better planet for the next generation – not only, but also simply because I am a father. I owe my son one day an explanation why the global society is (or could be) in a dystopian state – so this attempt is something (digital), that I want to leave for him. I thought that this kind of thesis should be documented in english – if I want to deal with global challenges, I have to express myself in this planetary lingo  – even if I can not be that eloquent as I could be in German. And probably I will make a lot of mistakes 😉

    Nevertheless I will try to make an advantage of it, since I can not play that many word plays as I could in German. I have to focus my thoughts and adress my point in a simple, straight way. Furthermore it is the chance to connect to some friends abroad, especially in the US, Finland and Croatia.

    For sure I will not write always about programmatic “insights” – it will be mixed with all day observations – but always spiced up with a view on the solutions which we IMHO should imagine in order to make them real – before the shit hits the fan. Especially because we are a generation which has the greatest of all chances – to develop exponentially forward – or downward.

    And there is this specific madness again – I can not accept the idea, that our civilisation will ceed to exist on this planet. There is so much more to explore – so much more to understand – so much more to optimize. That is why I want to reflect in my next post about several patterns of self optimization in various scientific branches which I have recognized recently. My guts tell me that it is worth to structure these patterns in order to take the risk to reduce them to the smallest semantic unit. This aspect seems to me to be an important starting point in order to “manage/create/change” the future  – because in the end:

    I really don’t like waste.

     

     

    ps: All comments are closed – because I am sick of fighting spam – I you feel like contacting me – write me a mail or circle me preferably in G+

     

     

     

    Der Neanderthaler in uns

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    Gestern mal wieder im Neanderthal Museum gewesen. Und mich wieder gefreut. Ist es doch einer der besten Orte, Evolution zu erleben.

    Und das liegt vor allem am sehr gut aufgebauten Ausstellungskonzept. Es beginnt mit der Geschichte des Neandertalers, also der Entdeckung und Wiederentdeckung des Neandertaler Skeletts. Vorbei geht es an einer gigantischen Sanduhr und schon ist man mitten im Thema und wird mit einer naturalistischen Darstellung einer typischen Vertreterin der Hominidengattung Australopithecus konfrontiert. Die Reihe wird durch verschiedene Vertreter der menschlichen Entwicklung fortgesetzt, bis man sich selber als Homo sapiens sapiens exponieren kann.

    So hat man direkt schon einmal eine Einordnung in die eigene Entwicklungslinie und kann sich mit den eigentlichen Ausstellungsinhalten auseinandersetzen.

    Gelungene Gegenüberstellungen

    Im Verlauf des Besuchs werden verschiedene Aspekte der menschlichen Existenz dem Leben der Neanderthaler gegenübergestellt. Die Themenbandbreite reicht von existentiell-technischen Aspekten wie Nahrung, Jagd, und Werkzeugen bis hin zu kulturellen Fragestellungen (Spiritualität und Mysthik, Malerei und Musik, aber auch der Komplex Aggression ist integriert).

    Dies bewirkt in mir eine Verstärkung der Erkenntnis des EvoDevo-Prinzips; es hat etwas seltsam Berührendes in sich – beinahe tröstlich. Das macht mich wiederrum skeptisch – weil’s an Sakralität heranreicht 😉

    Das Tröstliche besteht für mich darin wahrzunehmen, wie kurzfristig doch das Zeitbewusstsein (der Referenzrahmen) unserer alltäglichen Muster ausgeprägt ist. Um so wichtiger sind solche Einrichtungen wie das Neanderthal Museum, um die Relativität und Konnektivität unserer Zivilisationsschichten zu vergegenwärtigen.

    Außerdem ist es den Austellungsmachern gelungen, den Aufbau Kinder-/Familientauglich zu gestalten. An den entsprechenden Stationen sind kindgerecht aufbereitete Inhalte per Kopfhörer erfahrbar. Die Eltern haben dann genug Zeit, in Ruhe die Exponate zu sehen, lesen, nach zu denken ^^

    Zu guter Letzt gibt es im Untergeschoß wechselnde Ausstellungen. Aktuell zum Thema Wölfe – eine exzellente Gelegenheit dem Sohnemann die Relativität von Gut und Böse (im Sinnbild des Wolfes) zu vermitteln.

    Jetzt gehe ich erstmal die Sonne anheulen 8)