René Seifert

Entrepreneur, Global Citizen, Flat World, Internet, Web 2.0, Innovation, Start-Up

Archive for the 'German' Category

Ein Gutes Neues 2012 mit Hermann Hesses “Stufen”

In meinem Thailand-Urlaub finde ich endlich wieder einmal etwas Zeit, etwas anderes als berufsbedingte Literatur in die Hand zu nehmen. Dankeschön fürs Weihnachtsgeschenk “Jedem Anfang wohnt ein Zauber inne – Lebensstufen” von einem meiner Lieblingsautoren Hermann Hesse. Die erste Strophe des Gedicht “Stufen”, inhaltsprägend für das ganze Werk, hat mich am heutigen 1. Januar 2012 besonders inspiriert:

Wie jede Blüte welkt und jede Jugend
Dem Alter weicht, blüht jede Lebensstufe,
Blüht jede Weisheit auch und jede Tugend
Zu ihrer Zeit und darf nicht ewig dauern.
Es muß das Herz bei jedem Lebensrufe
Bereit zum Abschied sein und Neubeginne,
Um sich in Tapferkeit und ohne Trauern
In andre, neue Bindungen zu geben.
Und jedem Anfang wohnt ein Zauber inne,
Der uns beschützt und der uns hilft zu leben.

Das ganze Gedicht gibt es z.B. hier. Ein gutes Neues Jahr und möge jeder im neuen Anfang seinen ganz eigenen Zauber finden.

Amazing India – Impressions from the Airports

Even after 6 years of living in India, the subcontinent is full of surprises every day. Just one week of being here, countless of heartwarming, witty and inspiring stories. Starting in the here and now: I am sitting on a “laptop station” after security of Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi and blogging this post away. Really amazing where India has gotten with such a world class airport, working stations including free high-speed wireless internet (try to get that on a German airport).

Delhi Airport

It’s been quite a busy travelling week, so last Friday I have been at Cochin Airport where this instance caught my eye. In contrast to western economics where capital EXCHANGES labour for the sake of saving cost, the success formula in India seems to be capital PLUS labour.

Machine & Man at Kochin Airport

In a congenial combination of man & machine the concept works like this: A customer steps forward to the apparatus and selects an item. The guy in the yellow T-Shirts takes his money and shovels it into the machine, the magazine drops down, the guy picks it up and hand it to the customer. Variation B: For bigger items, that’s even more hilarious, the guy collects the money, opens the door, grabs the article and hands it out. So basically as a customer you get the feeling that modern technology is still grounded by good old human service.

Some Indian ads are just involuntarily funny, I really wonder what rode the heavily metrosexual art director of coming up with this copy. It’s supposed to promote the speed of transfer as well breadth of shopping opportunities at Bangalore Airport.

Bangalore Airport Advertisement

Well, if I was that girl, I also wished that rather the teddybear be my father and not that guy with the gay moustache with the glossy lipstick beneath LOL

Howard Seifendale in Goa: “Die Arme”

OMG, Dirk, “The Schornsteiniger”, did it again. He produced another episode of “Howard Seifendale” from our footage material in Goa. Here, Seifendale makes the case about “Die Arme und die Würde von die Reiche” :-)

If you happen to find this funny, feel free to join Howard Seifendale’s Fanpage on Facebook, too. ist live

Web 2.0 macht vor keiner Nische halt. Jetzt wird auch die Hochkultur davon überrollt bzw. davon aufgerollt, und zwar mit einer neuen Plattform

Wie der Name schon suggeriert, dreht sich alles um Kultur, und zwar in der ganzen Spannweite von Musik, Literatur und Film. Wie ich auch gut unterrichteten Kreisen erfahren habe, wird demnächst auch Kunst, Design, Architektur und Bühne hinzukommen.

Eine erste Vorauswahl wird von der Redaktion getroffen, dann macht die Community weiter und kann CDs, Bücher und Filme bewerten und empfehlen.

“Slumdog Millionaire”: Best Fiction ever set in India

It couldn’t have been more authentic. After sitting sitting in Bangalore’s well organized INOX-cinema at Garuda Mall, it was after midnight that I stepped out of the theatre and into the empty streets of Bangalore. For the first time in 5 years that I watched any Indian movie, after seeing Slumdog Millionaire, I had this feeling of “this is so real.”

Sure, the narrative is fiction, I loved the book by Vikas Swarup already, but the way the movie is set into India is a cinematic and cultural masterpiece. The director Danny Boyle has accomplished the herculean task of studying Mumbai, India and their people in such detail before coming up with this perfect representation.

When I wached the scenes set in Mumbai with its buzzing streets, crowds of people, views of the Dharavi slum which I had seen so many times for real, it sent a shiver down my spine. Yes, torture at Mumbai’s police is commonplace. Yes, there are sleazy underworld dons, of bigger and smaller calibre, like depicted in the film. And yes, the way how the characters interact, from the game-show to the streets reminds me of watching uncountable conversations in my host country.

It’s together with Gandhi the best movie ever set in the subcontinent which appeals to a global audience. Well deserved that it has won aleady acclaimed awards and has been nominated for 10 Oscars.

Exactly that, conversely, could be the reason that the movie has been received with criticism from the incumbent Indian movie industry, more commonly known as “Bollywood”. Especially, its Godfather, Grand Seigneur and Eternal Hero Amitabh Batchan has his own view:

If Slumdog Millionaire projects India as a third-world, dirty, underbelly developing nation and causes pain and disgust among nationalists and patriots, let it be known that a murky underbelly exists and thrives even in the most developed nations. It’s just that the Slumdog Millionaire idea, authored by an Indian and conceived and cinematically put together by a westerner, gets creative global recognition.

Deep down in such a statements lies Bollywood’s innate inferiority complex. Although churning out more films per year than Hollywood, the international community has still refused to acknowledge the outcome as serious cinema. If you ever watched one, then you will certainly not be surprised. Apart from the colourful dancing scenes, which by themselves tend to raise eyebrows, if one had one wish it would be having one’s brain temporarily amputated. Only then it would be no issue to follow the non-existent plot over 3 hours and suffer from characters who are their own caricatures – at best.

Therefore, receiving such a remark from Mr. Bachan, should prove to be the ultimate accolade for one of the best movies. It is in some way also a piece of art which drives globalization forward and is set in an environment which even 5 years ago would have been considered irrelevant for broader appeal. If you’ve never been to India, the movie will for sure delight you. If you’ve visited India before, the experience will in addition evoke memories with oscillating emotions.

(Not sure if I can keep up writing this week, will be off to Mumbai tomorrow for the Nasscom Leadership Forum, fly directly to Zurich and hope to stand on the skiing-slope of St. Moritz on Saturday noon. Have a great week, anyway.)

DLD 2009: “New Realities” meet “Old Excellence”

DLD 2009 - New RealitiesAnother 3 days of DLD 2009 are over and I still feel primed by all the inspiration from this event which I consider the finest of its sort in Europe. I also explained here on video after being asked :-) The subject "New Realities" couldn't be selected better given the global gravity of circumstance we are currently in.

What impresses me every time anew at DLD is the consistency how the organizers carry its top-level theme through all the bits and pieces of the conference-experience. Overall, the panels were phenomenal, with a few people's intellect and speed of thought being in particular astounding like Marissa Meyer from Google, Max Levchin from Slide, Carlos Bhola from Celsius Capital and Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook. Mark was announced as the "surprise guest" as the very end, came, sat 3 feet away from me – unassuming and down-to-earth in the speakers' lounge – before going out on stage for his interview with David Kirkpatrick. 

DLD 2009: Forum

What in my feeling makes DLD stand out from other conferences is the ability to bring a true community to life: the event management is perfect, yet not clinically polished. Conferences in Germany in particular tend to be stiff. In that regard an international crowd brings in a relaxing element. But above all, with the inclusion of lifestyle and arts, both on the panels as well as throughout the conference area, the organizers manage to set the tone for a warm, informal and approachable setting. Here, by the way, the pictures I took from the conference. 

DLD 2009

On another note I am aware that this year human drama took place as the number of participants was almost reduced by half. I received countless requests from people "if I couldn't do something" for them to get in since they saw me on the speakers' list. I would have loved, but this was beyond my control. On the other hand, I have to admit, that perhaps this very reduction of size contributed to a more intimate and personal atmosphere which allowed for easy approaching of anybody you wanted to talk to. In that respect, it reminded me of Clay Shirkey's explanation in his book "Here comes Everybody" that the perceived group cohesion is negatively correlated with its size. 

Aenne Burda Award

Just on one critical note: The co-chairman Yossi Vardi is an amazing person, appears to be a genuine good-heart, made it in life and is fully entitled to display both his deserved independence and extroverted personality. Yet his appearance as the moderator of a high-calibre panel with Chad Hurley (YouTube), Samir Arora (Glam) and Mitchell Baker (Mozilla Foundation) was a disaster. If there is nothing left than having the audience do the "tarzan cry" and ignoring his guests on stage, then there is something going wrong. But here's the video, so go ahead and form your own opinion. 

Yesterday afternoon, in a new format called DLD-TES (technology enables success) by Burda Digital I had the honour to moderate the two sessions about E-Commerce and Mobile. The first one was the easier one as it was fairly straightforward to build a common thread along the four panellists where technology makes a difference in their strategies. Mobile is a hell of complex issue where we had to spend half of the time not just describing what each of the panelists' companies do from a tech-standpoint, but also explain where and how the panelists' companies are intertwined (a lot in fact, I swear). Overall, I had a good feeling on both panels and the feedback so far was also ok. From what I heard, the sessions have been taped on video. Once I get ahold of the URLs, I will happily share them here. 

Thanks at this point to the organizers to make this event happen again where "New Realities" met "Old Excellence" of DLD. Thanks in particular to Marcel and Steffi (picture below), Rupert and Heiko as well as Tobias. 

Marcel Reichart & Steffi Czerny at DLD  2009

Silly Video from “The Seifertinger” explaining the World

After 10 years of live-radio till 2003 I always to sidelined to be an entertainer again, but sometimes I just can't do anything about jumping out of the role of professional conduct. Today, when Dirk and I decided to have lunch at MTR in Bangalore, we filled the one hour with walking around in Bangalore's Lalbagh Botanical Garden garden. And then Dirk had his little photo-camera, I was making some silly jokes and one thing came to the other.

(Ah, sorry, today is somehow my German day, and the worst: What I say is not even German, it's rather some sort of Bavarian dialect…)

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Thanks to Dirk for camera, post-production on iLife and all the fun we are having together. 

How to deal with Radicalism: Case Study

Sorry, to my English readers, this in German, yet it's a Facebook-conversation which I've had with an imbecile whom I met some 2 years back in Bangalore, a German trainee. And from all what I recall from a few rather unspectacular encounters a notorious underachiever. The nicest thing I can do in that context is to keep his name to myself. 

He is back in India, briefly to Bangalore, then on to Kerala before apparently flying out of Bangalore back to Europe again. He asked me if we could meet up. I agreed for January 6th and briefly told him about our changed plans to Dubai instead of Goa. I also sent him the link to my latest blog post. And this was his response to me (as mentioned, German language):

Dass die Lokalregierung in Goa das ganze übertrieben hat um die ungeliebten Outdoorparties zu verbieten ist klar, oder? Ich hoff mal, dass die Juden jetzt nicht nach Kerala strömen – darf man als Deutscher ja nicht sagen, aber viele von denen haben nach 3 Jahren Militär und lebenslangem auf die Araber runterschauen leider ein starkes Problem damit, sich angemessen zu benehmen. Ich erinner mich noch dran als ob es gestern gewesen wäre, wie der Barbier auf den Andamanen gesagt hat, dass er es gut findet, dass ich Deutscher bin und kein Israeli – und ich leg meine Hand dafur ins Feuer, dass der keinen Plan hat was das Wort Antisemitismus überhaupt bedeutet.

Leider hab ich nach einem Mal (vor 3 Jahren) Sylvester in Goa kein Bock mehr auf die fetten Engländer, vollen Russen, neureichen Inder und Kaschmiris auf Dummenfang, sonst würd ich ja hingehen und als Kamerad Seifert in Dein vorbezahltes 5* Hotel einchecken :-)

I couldn't feel more appaled. And that's from someone like me who is the anthithesis of polical correctness and loves all sorts of jokes on minorities. Yet, it's all a question of the context and moreover, what true colours are shining through in the message. So, in my interpretation, the true colours of that text reflect those of shit – as does its author.

So my response to him came out pretty brief (again German).

Deine Haltung widert mich zutiefst an. Hiermit entziehe ich Dir die Plattform für Deinen geistigen Dreck und löse nach Absenden meiner knappen Antwort unseren Kontakt bei Facebook. Das vorgesehene Treffen am 6. Januar hat sich freilich damit erledigt. Nimm zur Kenntnis, dass meine Entscheidung unumkehrbar und nicht verhandelbar ist. Beste Grüße, René.

From my experience when some position is completely off-limits, when there is no scope for a meaningful discussion, no interest in the truth – like it tends to be with radicalism of any sorts – the only way is to withdraw the platform of conversation from such people, isolate them and push them where they belong: to the edge.

After sending my response off, I deleted the contact with him both on Facebook and on XING. 

8W8: Taking Globalization and the Internet to the next Level

8W8 Global Space TribesYesterday evening in Munich I listened to a speech from the CEO of Boston Consulting Group Hans-Peter Bürkner about "globalization", an issue that has my natural affinity. Yet, the speech as such I found rather "moderately novel" as its main lines of thought were put forward by Thomas Friedman already 3 years ago in “The World is Flat”. Especially, Mr. Bürkner's part about the role of governments was more of wishful thinking than a reality-based account on the true interests of such a body which is depending on a free electorate.

Anyway, in case someone is interested on more vision and foresight in terms of "what's next" on the global scene, being addressed from an entirely different angle in the shape of a novel, I happily recommend 8W8. The author is Ralf Hirt whom I met in January after moderating the India-panel at the DLD-conference in Munich. It's instrumental to understand the background of Ralf to become clear on both his motivation and insight: He has held leadership positions in the internet industry for a decade and has lived all over the world, in his home town Stuttgart, Hong Kong, Sydney, London and currently New York. In crossing these two lines of experience extrapolating their status-quo plus visioning with lots of foresight, he conceived his first book 8W8. It is worthwhile mentioning that the book is indeed fiction, yet the concept of a "new world modelling engine" are not so far away that this book would fall into the category of "science fiction".

Well, what is it about? The storyline deals with 15 high calibre people from of the "Golden Sky", a community committed with the aspiration to change the world for the sake of good. These 15 people come from a whole array of diverse backgrounds, like Oskar Feller, an editor for a leading internet magazine, Maria who is a doctor developing high-scale programmes to fight HIV/AIDS, Priyanka from India who is an IT-crack working for a global media company or Emanuel, a philosopher and Taoist who has been named for the Nobel Prize. All the characters of the story are here on the 8W8-blog. This group of people is hosted by Winston Chee, a billionaire internet-entrepreneur from China in his island on Hawaii EA-RA.

In this serene and secluded environment, the 15 brains spend a whole week picking each other brains and inspiring each other to solve one crucial problem: How to make the interrelations of economies and people visible in a sort of virtual map-overlay on top of the existing geography. What they come up with is the new world modelling engine "8W8" which can be pictured as a virtual helicopter the "pilot" would use to fly over the terrain of the earth to make these invisible connections visible. Delving even deeper into the concept it transcends into a new form of radical constructivism as the vision the pilot would receive on his dashboard would be a crossover between absolute measurable truths and his set of values/selective perception. What the pilot would get to see is both on “earth level” and on “sky level” the “volumes” of a whole set of parameters. The former range from hard factors like population, GNP, metrics on infrastructure, public institutions to innovation, the latter comprise for example metrics for democracy, human rights, quality of living, level of terrorism and such.

Yet, what is more that beyond statistics on GNP or PPP which are available as top-level data today, 8W8 equally entails a bottom-up approach from the level of the “element” (individual) which will aggregate in “streams” into “Global Space Tribes” according to its interest, e.g. “MBA Jazz Wireless Tribe (MBAJWT)”, “Catholic Fast Food Blue Collar Single Mother of Four (CFFBCSMF)” or the “Taoist Tribe (TT)”. These become even more interesting if one looks at actual vertically positioned Web 2.0 platforms which either try to bring a community of like-minded people together like “Dogster” or provide a tool to define and organize a target group of any shape like Ning. Yet, both of these platforms have in common that they require someone to become a “member” by “registration” and do all these various steps actively online. In that context I do believe that there will be not in too far future a kind of “ambient computing” where the unconscious behaviour patterns will be able to bring people in a meaningful way together. Hence, aggregating this sort of behaviour and making it somehow visible is not that far away from 8W8’s concept of the “Global Space Tribe”.

One thing I had hoped throughout the whole story to occur, is a bit more of conflict, friction, sex: As Oskar and Theresa, a computer scientist, seem to come along very well, I waited for that forbidden kiss, the clandestine quickie to happen under the waterfall of perfectly pristine EA-RA. Not for the sake of sensation, but to portray people regardless of their brains and social status when they become most human: emotional to the extent of irrational. The figures appear prim and proper, and at best tease each other lightly in order to surely succumb to perfect harmony. Irrespective of that, what I liked from a storytelling point of view is the ability to portray a broad set of global citizens who find a common denominator to discuss a topic, be focussed in defining a goal, accepting each other’s variety of viewpoints, being non-judgemental and fully embark on the beneficial concept of diversity.

Altogether, I liked the book a lot as it is coherently able to explain the road ahead in globalization by the force of the internet and the road ahead of the internet by the force of globalization. What gave me food for thought via the concepts of “Global Space Tribes” was the decreasing influence of governments, because free people in a free world are able to cross-pollinate their ideas and aspirations regardless of the strangulating rigidity of what we call a country today.  For someone like me who happily articulates his despise of today’s governments, the vision of 8W8 is one which deserves active pursuit.

Who is interested in buying the book, Amazon has it, either in print or for the Kindle.  

My favourite Indian Song: “Bulla Ki Jaana Maen Kaun”

I remember when I heard this song for the first time in the back-seat of a car driving through Mumbai, it's humid heat, it dusty streets when hardly any traffic moves forward, I was taken in immediately. It came from a CD which I understood was from the same artist, and as distances in the speed of snail in Mumbai provide ample time, the song came at least three times. I must have heard it a few times on random occasions, but never "got a grip on it". Untill I recently bought a compilation of "Top 50 Bollywood Songs". And as I lost it, so I found it. "Bulla Ki Jaana Kaun", by the Indian artist Rabbi Shergill. My phantom pain of missing out on the songs got more than alleviated by the additional detection of the video on YouTube. Here it is, and it is as stunning as the song, it's very much like India, it's kind of also a bit of "my India".

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

"Bulla Ki Jaana Maen Kaun" actually means "I don't know who I am" and pays tribute to the famous Urdu poet Bullae Shah, a beacon of peace between rivalling Muslims and Sikhs in Punjab. It's worthwhile noting that the poet wrote at the beginning of the 19th century, yet his message hasn't lost anything from its relevance today. In sync with the lyrics, the video shows what the mystery of India is about. Many people, different people who in spite of their various background form a "unity through diversity" as writer and diplomat Shashi Tharoor explains in his fluid book "The Elephant, the Tiger and the Cellphone". And the pre-eminent statement "I don't know who I am" serves much less a confession of one's disorientation or, worse, lack if identity than the acknowledgement of one's humility during the pressing quest for truth. 

Hope you like the song, too, along with the video, the entry-scene of the magic Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay, with it's fast cuts, it's deliberate blurs, it's changing places, colours and faces. In all the possible abstraction of a song, its whole mood reflects precisely that India is a never-ending stream of discovery. Where now knowing who you are, is both a starting point and and end in itself. 

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