Standing on the Shoulders of Free Culture

This is a crosspost of an article that I wrote for Commons Machinery:

In her earlier post, Antje Käske mentioned that „intellectual creations are never the sole creation of one individual.“ I would go even further, stating that you can not claim ownership on intellectual goods at all. Why is that? The answer lies in the origin of an idea. If I was inspired by someone else, how do I determine which part of the idea is mine?

This makes more sense with an example. Let’s choose a simple one: I am hungry. My friend comes in, eating some fries. They smell delicious and I decide to get some for me too. So whose idea was it to get some fries? Since my friend had the idea (for herself) first, it seems obvious that it was her idea. On the other hand, I have been hungry a long time and fries did enter my mind as a possible solution. Also she did not think of bringing some fries for me otherwise she might have called to find out if I wanted some. The idea to get fries for me was clearly mine. But it was very much inspired by her. And she could easily say „Hey! You got fries for yourself. You copied me.“ That is partially true! Under these circumstances, it is not possible to define who owns which part of the idea to get me some fries.


Manfred Spitzer bringt mit seinem Buch „Digitale DemenzWirbel in unsere schöne neue Computerwelt. Letzten Sonntag saß er bei Günther Jauch. Ich finde es faszinierend, wie Spitzer es hinkriegt, so nah dran an einer wichtigen Erkenntnis zu sein und gleichzeitig so daneben liegen kann.

Da ich mich mit digitaler Mündigkeit und Technikpaternalismus beschäftige, triggert Spitzer mich natürlich besonders an. Ich betone oft, dass wir uns genau überlegen müssen, wie wir die digitale Technik gestalten wollen. Natürlich müssen wir uns überlegen, welche unerwünschten Konsequenzen unser Fortschritt hat, wie wir diese vermeiden können, oder ob und unter welchen Bedingungen wir damit leben können.

Die Frage, die Spitzer eigentlich stellen müsste lautet:

Wie müssen wir unsere Technik gestalten, damit sie uns nicht dumm macht?

Oder unmündig, wie ich anfügen möchte. Leider war die Sendung von Herrn Jauch recht unerquicklich und blieb sehr oberflächlich.

Ich kann mir den Seitenhieb nicht verkneifen, dass ich die Darstellung der Geschlechterrollen unmöglich fand: Die einzige Frau auf dem Panel war natürlich internetkritisch und die Gefahren für Kinder wurden nur in Bezug auf Jungs diskutiert. Natürlich! Vielen Dank! Das wird Mädchen ganz sicher inspirieren, sich nicht digital abhängen zu lassen m(

Microsoft goes kindergarten

I just visited a german kindergarten that has a concept to educate young children in computer skills.
On the one hand I was very happy to see how both, boys and girls, learn how to work with computers and are tutored by women (which is good for the gender aspect). On the other hand I watched these children work with Microsoft software and being instructed how to work with Windows.
Sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Families and in cooperation with the Cornelsen Verlag, a big publishing house for schoolbooks, Microsoft places its software called Schlaumäuse directly into german kindergartens.
The kindergarten teachers are very happy about this program because it really gives them a good peace of software that they can easily work with. (I have to confess: in comparison to other Microsoft products it is really good.) The program comes for free (only for kindergartens, of course) with a good manual and a monthly magazine and there is also merch available like stickers and stuffed animals.
It is good work of advertisement and it is no wonder, that kindergarten teachers appreciate the offer. Especially since they are not aware, that there are already free alternatives available.
Still the Schlaumäuse are quite good work. They are orientated towards linguistic support and autonomy without overburdening the children. A lot of different games have been put together in one environment and if you earned enough cheese-points within the learning-games your award is to play the most fun game (basically an easier version of pacman).
The kindergarten teacher I spoke to was very pleased with the program. But she was also very interested in Free Software and in my objection that this is very early advertisement on the most subtle level. Still I was not able to recommend her an equivalent free alternative.
I’ve already tried some software like Kturtle and Sugar and other small applications but non of those offered such a fully-fledged learning platform like Schlaumäuse.
We definitely need something that offers a full learning platform and comes with a good handbook and leaflets etc.
Otherwise Microsoft will succeed advertising its products in the very early years of our children.
Our challenge is now to compete with this and to bring our alternative to the kindergartens and primary schools.
I would do the latter, who is in for the first?