All things social (including finance, business etc.)

A collection of all things social, e.g. social structures in software development, a programming guide and reference to successful mobbing (under construction) etc. Or strategies to survive a seemingly endless review cycle and come to results.

Intellectual Property (Rights)

Professional Intelligence, a few notes on a talk by Gunter Dueck (wild duck), more...

Some interesting, sometimes disturbing comments by this famous IBM chief scientist and Prof. of Mathematics. Why the internet creates a two class society of jobs. Enjoy.

Against Intellectual Monopoly

Go and read this beautiful book on the damaging effects of intellectual property rights on all of us. Zypriss and the EU are preparing the next steps to create even more monopolies in software and other areas. Read Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine blog to realize how badly the current system of copyrights and property rights is already abused. BTW David K.Levine also wrote a nice book on game theory, reputation etc.

Finance and banking

The current banking crisis, more..

Thanks to input from Roger Stampfli I was able to assemble a nice collection of papers and videos on the current crisis. It is actually quite frightening to realize how badly the bankers and brokers have been gambling and how badly the national banks are now reacting by printing ever more money. Being a fan of cybernetics it looks to me as if the abuse of the financial systems is now threatening the whole. This crisis could start the end of capitalism. But will it change back to a state-run bureaucracy that has already once shown that it does not work? Or will it change to something better?

Social Intelligence

Social Intelligence and Social Computers - the future of Computer Science, more...

Inspired by swarm intelligence, human centric computing and the general fear of all things social a short piece on why intelligence is socially based, what kind of role the Internet plays in fostering this type of intelligence and who the enemies are. Includes a discussion of Shirky's "here comes everybody".

Joe Weizenbaum or the hunt for natural intelligence

A short obituary on Joe Weizenbaum. I used it to paint a picture of computer science that ranges from the happy days of naive adoption to the current time of total control. Who would have thought that things could ever get this bad?See how far human reason has lost against the power of control through computers.


On the science of science

Proof and Causality in Computer Science, more...

Just a few thoughts and links on empirical validation of statements in software development, the philosophy of science and how to tackle the causality problem.

Why there is no such thing as Nanotechnology, more...

A few pieces on science managment, buzzwords needed for sponsoring etc. based on the book by Joachim Schummer. He explains how the nano concept made its way from popular culture and science fiction into mainstream science funding. Really nice, especially in connection with my latest research project...

On academia vs. industry, rituals and user data and the spirit of google university,...

Just a bunch of nice quotes I stumbled over recently.

Business and the Role of Computer Science

On a critical and sometimes comical relation

A Smart Planet - for Whom?

Some ideas on the effects of smart meters, smart vehicle control and smart everything on our life. The paper shows what is behind the "it is good for the planet" attitude really lies: a method to micro-control our everyday life by setting the parameters for our self-optimizations. This is not about privacy of data. This is about the accumulation of everyday data to make individual prices and offers. Customers have nothing in their hands against this overwhelming economic power.

The paper shows also that computer science is unable to protect those customer data - and that nobody seems to really care about this defect.

IT Today, technical, economic and social aspects, more...

Some reflections on the current state of IT. Is change management social engineering and manipulation? Is ITIL the Maxwell Demon for the enterprise? A few critical statements on control by information processing.

Service Level Agreements - or how to turn friends into enemies.

Some things just never cease to surprise me - especially all things business. SLAs are one of them. Does anybody REALLY believe in those instruments? Is it REALLY better to turn the relation between business and IT within a company into a legal minefield? Read about some fundamental doubts on this vision.

SOA and Business Process Management, more...

We - computer science and IT people - made some spectacular mistakes in the past. A short essay on those mistakes and the anti-pattern behind them. And a bit of speculation what the victims of the new business process modelling and management drive are going to be. Turns out that the economy croud ain't any better in their promises...

Living in a process world, more...

Some rather pessimistic thoughts on a world under total surveillance the level of societies and under total control on the level of companies. What will work be like when the current process driven approach persists? Doesn't anybody notice how motivation and the quality of work suffers? Is it OK to do all this data capturing just because we can?

Quality Software needs Time, correct? - more...

Timesheets are important for software management - a myth according to some studies. How much do software developers differ with respect to productivity and quality? Read on.

The importance of social factors in IT

is frequently stated and everybody agrees on it. Funny, that this seems to have no consequences at all. Development teams still suffer from basic social problems, projects fail and managers still seem to have a very hard time dealing with non-technical forces in development. The articles and references found in this section of are supposed to explain social factors and help you deal with problems. Sometimes simple tips are given as well - without some theoretical ueberbau - just things that worked for me once. Like Project Management Tips and Tricks .

Computer science discovers humans. The people problem, more...

Software, Politics and the Law

On the interdependencies between them

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act - Restricting the Allmighty

No, I haven't moved to the business camp. I just took the chance to attend the excellent talk Monika Josi from Novartis Animal Health gave on the topic of "implementing SOX at Novartis". Here is what I've learnt - and what I still don't know...

A politically correct search engine, more...

The media coverage of the latest Isreali war by google news convinced me that the only way to get a politically correct search engine will be to make it a distributed one.

On war, criminals and political cowards, more...

This is what I thought for a long time about Isreal and its wars against people. It got triggered by a friend fleeing Lebanon with his familie and who is now worrying about his parents in the south of Lebanon.

Women in IT and computer science

On low numbers, different viewpoints etc.

Women strong in Computer Science and Media, more...

The recent drop in the rate of women starting at the university in computer science and media came as quite a surprise to most of us. And it runs counter to the big success women seem to have in this area. Just recently three of my female students finished their thesis. All thesis work done was excellent and well received by the companies where the work was performed.

Social Structures in Software Development

Sometime projects need a while to get over them (;-). The framework project above was one of those. When Bernhard (who was also working on this project) and myself couldn't stop talking about it even more than a year after we had left the company we decided to write about our experiences - especially about the conflicts between the developers of the first releases of the software and us - coming late into the game and trying to re-design the software completely.

We've learned a lot from this exercise: about differences in social behavior between the groups, about the terrible effects of re-inforcing technical differences through social differences and that there is no "better" technology that one is forced to accept. We've also presented our findings during two events at the University of Freiburg, department for computer science and society, Prof. Britta Schinzel. 30+ pages in German!.

Making a living in IT

This is a talk I held at Gymnasium Staufen during a students-meet-practicioners event. The idea is to show them how I do software development and what the issues are. It is almost impossible to cover such a large area without overwhelming the students. So if you have a better idea, let me know.

Social Structures in Software Projects

Talks about the difficulties in introducing new technology into companies. The fight between the old guys and the new kids on the block. About architecture and social interaction. How we always seem to re-inforce technical separations (e.g. layers) with social structures (groups, teams, departments).