from the world's big
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
'Operation Invisibility Cloak' was a waste: Hamburg would soon be firebombed to bits
- In 1941, the Nazis camouflaged an entire lake at the centre of Hamburg.
- A painted tarp was made to look like a bunch of city blocks from above, in the hope of misdirecting RAF bombers.
- But the Brits weren't fooled, and Hamburg would later suffer horrific firebombing.
Operation Invisibility Cloak<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjg2OTI3My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0ODExNTUwOH0.GHMQb3Lae8r2HnqtfxuCPAnnBtW7fu45baB3FdnerBo/img.jpg?width=980" id="c29b1" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="31f3b8dafa11442479ee067d501796b4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bBefore and after: the Binnenalster and Hamburg's central train station." />
Before and after: the Binnenalster and Hamburg's central train station.
Image: Reddit<p>Now you see it, now you don't: these images, taken by the Royal Air Force in 1941, show how the same part of Hamburg suddenly looked very different from above. </p><ul><li>The most notable difference is the disappearance of the <em>Binnenalster</em>, one of two artificial lakes that mark the center of Hamburg. It has been covered to look like regular city blocks from above. </li><li>Hamburg's <em>Hauptbahnhof</em>, the city's central train station, clearly visible on the top image, has also been camouflaged (although perhaps less effectively). </li><li>A fake bridge, made from wood, wire and thatch, has been slung across the lower part of the <em>Außenalster</em> - the other, larger lake in central Hamburg. By re-creating the actual, hidden <em>Lombardsbrücke</em>, the camouflage operation creates a fake Binnenalster, just north of the real one. </li></ul>This large-scale deception was meant to deceive Allied bombers into dropping their payload on strategically less important parts of the city. The Nazis called it <em>Operation Tarnkappe</em> ('Operation Invisibility Cloak'), but that name was far too optimistic.
Many attempts at deception<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjg2OTMxMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMjA2Mjc1MX0.-UClFxXeErMZY3YqtjD47Kd2K2GPfqpgKy6p9_KMsJ8/img.jpg?width=980" id="fe7bb" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7970830b010cbe5338add2bd7ce3b0c9" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="An Avro Lancaster of No. 1 Group, Bomber Command, silhouetted against flares, smoke and explosions during the attack on Hamburg, Germany, by aircraft of Nos. 1, 5 and 8 Groups on the night of 30/31 January 1943. This raid was the first occasion on which H2S centimetric radar was used by the Pathfinder aircraft to navigate the force to the target. The pilot of the photographing aircraft (Lancaster 'ZN-Y' of No. 106 Squadron, based at Syerston) was Flt Lt D J Shannon who, as a member of No. 617 Squadron, took part in Operation CHASTISE (the "Dams Raid") during the following May." />
RAF Lancaster bomber over Hamburg during an attack on the night of 30-31 January, 1943.
Image: Imperial War Museum – public domain.<p>Firstly, because the British bombers targeting Hamburg didn't orient themselves on the Alster lakes. They were guided in by the Elbe, Hamburg's major river. </p><p>But most of all, because the Brits caught on quickly to the deception. In fact, the London papers reported on the operation soon after its completion. On July 1941, several published these 'before' and 'after' images.</p><p>Operation Tarnkappe was but one of many attempts to deflect the attention of Allied bombers from valuable targets on the ground. Just around Hamburg, the Nazis faked 80 air strips and 32 industrial and traffic installations, while they attempted to cloak real factories, military installations and even Hamburg City Hall. </p><p>When the Alster froze in the cold winter of 1940/41, the Nazis planted hundreds of pine trees on the Alster, hoping to trick Allied pilots into thinking they were flying over a forest, instead of the centre of Hamburg. <br></p><p>None of that really made a difference.</p>
Coming within range<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjg2OTMyNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MDg3NjI1NH0.vUBep-nMhhd6H3rQi0oj6Vtp0jCC_RAEZLZLyu3t5kg/img.jpg?width=980" id="89fbc" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c1e1305882216fa67f92f375a97b88a4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bAs the range of Allied fighter craft expanded, bombing raids deep into Germany became relatively safer for the air crews." />
As the range of Allied fighter craft expanded, bombing raids deep into Germany became relatively safer for the air crews.
Image: Reddit<p>As a major industrial center, home to shipyards and harbor for U-boats, the port city of Hamburg was an important target for Allied bombing raids throughout the war. </p><p><span></span>As British and American airplane technology advanced, Hamburg came within easier range of the Allied bombing effort.</p><p>After concentrating on the industrial Ruhrgebiet in western Germany, closer to the UK, Allied Bomber Command eventually started paying its deadly visits to Hamburg. </p><p><span></span>In July 1943, the Allies unleashed Operation Gomorrah, history's heaviest aerial bombardment yet. It created a huge firestorm that killed more than 42,000 civilians and completely destroyed 21 km2 (8 sq. mi) of the city. </p>
Payback for Coventry<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjg2OTM0Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxOTUwODcwN30.MCyfuCXHOqSY5x_jVPi4tkMLvwQYm2wpu8Y8w-h2EBY/img.jpg?width=980" id="d1be2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1798f6faae5d3a4cec903710760638b3" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Royal Air Force Bomber Command, 1942-1945. Oblique aerial view of ruined residential and commercial buildings south of the Eilbektal Park (seen at upper right) in the Eilbek district of Hamburg, Germany. These were among the 16,000 multi-storeyed apartment buildings destroyed by the firestorm which developed during the raid by Bomber Command on the night of 27/28 July 1943 (Operation GOMORRAH). The road running diagonally from upper left to lower right is Eilbeker Weg, crossed by R\u00fcckertstra\u00dfe." />
The district of Eilbek, totally wiped out by the firestorm caused by Operation Gomorrah.
Image: Imperial War Museum – public domain.<p>During the worst night of the attacks, asphalted streets burst into flame, the fiery tornados swept people up into the sky, and many more died of asphyxiation in bomb shelters as the fires consumed all the oxygen in the city above. </p><p>A million people fled the city, which saw its production capacity severely handicapped for the rest of the war. After the war, the level of destruction was compared to that of Hiroshima. </p><p>Destroying further German cities by firestorm was subsequently called 'hamburgisation' by the Allies; a reply in kind to Joseph Goebbels' cynical invention of the verb 'coventrisieren' to describe the wholesale destruction of a city by aerial bombardment (in reference to the German air raid on Coventry of 14 November 1940). <br></p>
Hamburg, uncloaked<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjg2OTM2NC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0ODgwNDE0NX0.8Uy6eYDaj0QuducfJou0xs6-yZym41aqkP0U5Ab7eyo/img.png?width=980" id="aae13" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bd060a159ad89893221dfd850517ac6f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Central Hamburg today, with the Au\u00dfenalster and Binnenalster - and even the train station - clearly visible." />
Central Hamburg today, with the Außenalster and Binnenalster - and even the train station - clearly visible.
Image: Google Earth
Helsinki is the city with the best work-life balance in the world.
Finding room for "me time" during a stressful work week is no simple task. But in some places it's easier than others, according to a recent study.
These are the cities with the best work-life balance.
Image: Kisi<p><strong>1. Helsinki, Finland</strong><br><br>Helsinki residents enjoy the world's best work-life balance, with a comparatively short 40-hour work week and a low average commute time of 26 minutes.</p><p>Minimum holiday leave is 30 days, which is one of the highest of any country in the survey. Helsinki also offers generous paid parental leave, which at 1,127 days, is far more than other countries, with the exception of Hungary.</p><p><strong>2. Munich, Germany</strong></p><p>The first of three German cities in the top 10, Munich is the lowest-stress city on the list. The average work week is longer than Helsinki's by just one hour, and commute times are longer by one minute.</p><p>There are some pronounced differences between the top two cities. In the Bavarian capital, minimum holiday leave is just 20 days, though most employees take almost 30 days on average. Parents can take 406 days of paid leave, about one-third the time they can take in Helsinki.</p><p><strong>3. Oslo, Norway</strong></p><p>Of the cities surveyed, Oslo residents work the fewest hour per week (38.9), and only a small percentage of people work more than 48.</p><p>The city provides generous paid leave for parents and has the highest gender equality score of all cities surveyed, followed by Stockholm and Helsinki. It also leads the way in access to mental health services.</p><p><strong>4. Hamburg, Germany</strong></p><p>Like Munich, Hamburg has a 41-hour work week and is a relatively low-stress place to live and work, although not quite as safe.</p><p>Germany is the only country with more than one city in the top 10. All three of those cities have short work weeks balanced with family-friendly policies. Leisure plays an important role in the lives of Germans.</p>
Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash<p>5. Stockholm, Sweden</p><p>Sweden's government has taken steps to help the population <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/05/sweden-is-a-top-performer-on-well-being-here-s-why/" target="_blank">balance work commitments with home life</a>.</p><p>Stockholm scored 76.9 for gender equality, the second highest in the survey. This is partly due to <a href="https://businessculture.org/northern-europe/sweden/work-life-balance/" target="_blank">flexible working hours and the structure of parental leave</a>. Social equality is high throughout the city, too, with LGBT+ equality reaching 100%.</p><h4></h4><p>6. Berlin, Germany</p><p>Employees in Berlin arrive for work around 10am on average, later than the other German cities in the top 10, but still ahead of many other places in the list. The average commute is marginally longer, but stress levels in Berlin are more than double those of Hamburg and more than three times higher than in Munich.</p><p>7. Zurich, Switzerland</p><p>In Zurich, people work the longest hours of any city in the top 10 and experience some of the longest commutes.</p><p>Access to mental health services is the second best, however, and the city enjoys one of the lowest stress levels, topped only by Munich.</p><p><a href="https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-10-most-populous-cities-in-switzerland.html" target="_blank">Switzerland's most populous city</a> has low air pollution and leads the survey in terms of the wellness and fitness of its residents.</p>
Photo by Mosa Moseneke on Unsplash<p><strong>8. Barcelona, Spain</strong></p><p>There is pressure to do away with the <a href="https://businessculture.org/southern-europe/business-culture-in-spain/work-life-balance-in-spain/" target="_blank">tradition of long lunches and afternoon siestas</a> in some Spanish cities. In Barcelona, workers put in almost 41 hours each week, which is much the same as the other places in the top 10.</p><p>When they are not working, the city's residents take more holidays than those in other cities, with an average of 30.5 days, higher than the required minimum of 22 days.</p><p><strong>9. Paris, France</strong></p><p>Workers in the French capital have the longest commute time among the top 10, at an average of 44 minutes, compared with 26 minutes in Helsinki. But both cities share a generous holiday allowance of 30 days.</p><p>Legislation requires France to actively promote a healthy work-life balance. The <a href="https://businessculture.org/western-europe/business-culture-in-france/work-life-balance-in-france/" target="_blank">work week is capped at 35 hours</a> and employees can choose not to send or receive <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-38479439" target="_blank">after-hours work emails</a>.</p><p><strong>10. Vancouver, Canada</strong></p><p>Vancouver is the only city outside Europe in the top 10. For most residents, the commute to work takes just over half an hour. And the work week is around 40 hours – similar to most others in the top 10.</p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/how-paid-vacation-time-is-different-around-the-world-2018-7?r=US&IR=T" target="_blank">Like their neighbour the United States</a>, however, Canadians have limited paid holiday leave – Vancouver residents have just 10 days' paid leave, though residents take more than 15 on average.</p><p><span></span> Reprinted with permission of the <a href="https://www.weforum.org/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>. Read the <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/09/these-are-the-best-cities-for-work-life-balance-in-2019/" target="_blank">original article</a>.</p>
An Italian firm has put forward an idea for a green city that would be completely self-sustaining, modern, and green.
- An Italian architecture firm has proposed a sustainable city for Mexico.
- The plans call for a 100 percent self-sufficient metropolis, with renewable energy, Venetian canals, and endless green space.
- This design is one of many "smart city" proposals as of late that point to a new form of urbanism.
Eco-Utopia?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjA5MzU5NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMzQ4NzEyNn0.u7NCkt3nOkHQpvVC1YuicZv4yPdS68gSBAIoSo3HbUc/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=40%2C148%2C62%2C0&height=700" id="43a8d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b8209c37caa45aa01f4d6e477cbe4845" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
An aerial view of the proposed city. Notice the surrounding green space and extensive canal system.
Image source: Stefano Boeri Architetti<p>According to the firm's <a href="https://www.stefanoboeriarchitetti.net/en/project/smart-forest-city-cancun/" target="_blank">press release</a>, the city will cover 557 hectares, 400 of which will be green spaces containing 7,500,000 plants. Designed for 130,000 people to live and work there, it will feature a wide variety of housing types to accommodate the needs of its residents.</p><p>The economy of the city will be circular, with all of its food, water, and energy needs being self-generated. The designs also include a grand research center so that the city can host university departments, conferences, and curious scholars of all ages. </p><p>The city even has plans to improve the way we interact with our data. The architects told <a href="https://www.dezeen.com/2019/10/25/smart-forest-city-stefano-boeri-cancun-mexico/" target="_blank"><em>Dezeen</em></a> that "Big data management is used to improve the governance of the city, hence, the life of its citizens. Sensors are distributed within the building fabric: they collect and share relevant information, which is then centrally analyzed and turned into suggestions in support of everyday life. For example, by mapping on an app the expected outdoor comfort experience within certain areas of the city."</p><p>This data will be handled with "full respect of the privacy of the citizens."</p> If all goes according to plan, the city will be built on an area currently used as a sand quarry for hotels that is tentatively scheduled to become a shopping center.
Can it really be self-sustaining?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjA5MzYzNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNTA3NzAxOX0.lcfdnkWau8tCVIoQaGVgOvEJgb5IA1veJQIQweRihUs/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C25%2C0%2C187&height=700" id="da28d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b5613babdafaa1d65a88746fe459971f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Artist's impression of the fresh water canals.
Image source: Stefano Boeri Architetti<p>The city is designed to fully sustain itself through an ingenious system of energy production and water desalination. A ring of solar panels will surround the city, generating enough power for all of the inhabitants. Water will be pulled from the Caribbean and desalinized using a solar tower. This water would be used to irrigate crops through a system of navigable canals.</p><p>Transportation will be handled by an entirely electric public "Mobility in Chain" transit system. Cars will all be left outside of the <a href="https://interestingengineering.com/architecture-firm-designs-smart-forest-city-cancun-thats-fully-self-sufficient" target="_blank">city</a>. </p><p>What carbon emissions there are will be captured by the endless <a href="https://www.dezeen.com/2019/10/25/smart-forest-city-stefano-boeri-cancun-mexico/" target="_blank">plants</a>. The firm notes, with evident pride, that "thanks to the new public parks and private gardens, thanks to the green roofs and to the green facades, the areas actually occupied will be given back by nature through a perfect balance between the amount of green areas and building footprint. The Smart Forest City will absorb 116.000 tons of carbon dioxide with 5.800 tons of CO<sub>2 </sub>stocked per year."</p><p>While it currently only exists on paper, the visionaries who have dreamed this plan into existence hope the city can be an example for the world and a testing place for ideas on sustainable urbanism. It will join the ranks of several other smart cities that have been <a href="https://www.dezeen.com/2019/10/28/five-smart-cities-north-america/" target="_blank">proposed</a> as ways to improve our existence, make the world more <a href="https://www.dezeen.com/2017/06/28/liuzhou-forest-city-stefano-boeri-proposes-plant-covered-city-to-eat-up-chinas-smog/" target="_blank">sustainable</a>, and move beyond the limitations of our current urban planning paradigms. </p>
There are good historical reasons why Germans are suspicious of surveillance — but is Google as bad as Gestapo or Stasi?
- Since its launch in 2007, Google Street View has mapped millions of miles of roads across the world — and even gone to space and into the ocean.
- Germany and Austria are a conspicuous gap in the mess of blue lines that covers the rest of Europe.
- It's to do with Germans' curious sense of privacy: they'd rather flaunt their private parts than their personal data.
Regions unknown<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTE0Njc5MC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMTIxMTY4MX0.Ml5kw0Ui0GtMcPHGzrpiSqV135JbrFgFAhTNK9ej5yk/img.png?width=980" id="82ec5" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9f8160f15c6220f39c6d2dcc62308863" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Map showing coverage of Google Street View in Europe, with Germany and Austria the glaring exceptions in the centre, but with Belarus, Moldova and Bosnia-Herzegovina also almost entirely blank." />
The only other European countries as yet virtually unmapped are Belarus, Moldova and Bosnia
Image: Google Maps<p>In Google Maps, drag <a href="https://www.sypo.uk/news/three-hidden-google-maps-pegman-easter-eggs-revealed/" target="_blank">Pegman</a> over Europe and you'll see a curious picture emerge: virtually the entire continent is covered in the blue lines that indicate Street View is available – but Germany and Austria are almost entirely blank.<br></p><p>It's an image reminiscent of those late-19th-century maps of Africa with the center of the continent left empty, marked <em>Regions Unknown</em>. Germany and Austria are among the world's most advanced economies, so why do Google's camera cars find those countries as inaccessible and/or inhospitable as European explorers found Africa's interior?</p><p>It's because Germans are famously jealous of their privacy – an attitude that also resonates with their culturally close neighbors in Austria. But it all depends on what you mean by "privacy." For example, Germans are not that private about their private parts.</p>
Totalitarian traumas<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTE0ODgyOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NTQ2OTU3NH0.NJDA4yxxktGlKayvRsxQ6zkrOGDkwQxPpKECY8aIjvU/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=228%2C0%2C45%2C0&height=700" id="88939" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4537b029f25b33835a06b06cf48e0fdf" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
"Social nudity," for health and vigor and to commune with nature, is very accepted in Germany.
Image: FKK Gelande Sudstrand / CC BY 2.0<p>While public nudity is a big no-no in the United States for example, Germany has a long tradition with what is known as FKK – short for <em>Freikörperkultur</em>, or "Free Body Culture." Certain beaches and areas of city parks are dedicated to nude sunbathing, and even <em>Nacktwanderung</em> ("nude rambling") is a thing.</p><p><span></span>On the other hand, Germans are extremely possessive of their personal data — and are shocked by the readiness with which Americans (and others) share their names, addresses, friends' lists, and purchase histories online. </p><p><span></span>According to research presented in the <em>Harvard Business Review</em>, the average German is willing to pay as much as $184 to protect their personal health data. For the average Brit, the privacy of that information is only worth $59. For Americans and Chinese, that value declines to single-digit figures. </p><p>Why? Because Germans carry the trauma of not one, but two totalitarian systems in their recent past: the fascist Third Reich, and communist East Germany. <br></p>
Nie wieder<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTE0ODg5Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzM2MzM4N30.egZdtCVesU8BbzMxTmy83d-AkFie9vlDksc-HcY6d8s/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=189%2C236%2C-1%2C2&height=700" id="5aae8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fdcd3b157178a7407c763e2b233b6e93" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Stasi listening post, used for spying on its own citizens, in Berlin's DDR Museum
Image source: Rakoon / CC0 1.0<p>Both regimes wanted total control over their citizens. In the Nazi years, the state's blunt instrument was called the Gestapo (short for <em>Geheime Staatspolizei</em>, or "Secret State Police"), in East Germany it was the Stasi (short for <em>Staatssicherheit</em>, or "State Security"). </p><p>In either system, citizens effectively ceased to have a right to privacy, and could be branded criminals for private thoughts or acts, resulting in severe punishment.</p><p>As with many other aspects of the Nazi regime, post-war Germany resolved <em>Nie wieder</em> ("Never again") when it came to violations of privacy. That's one of the reasons why the very first article of (then still only West) Germany's post-war constitution reads:<br></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority.</em> </p>
Informational self-determination<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTE0NjgyNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTE4NTQzN30.SBsbQBe86d4htQCxkALdoDqjGB-EkysojKbQMBnpPgk/img.jpg?width=980" id="fd46d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8a483887e4ca2bab20ee51a7ae607d60" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Logo for the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)" />
The EU's GDPR, adopted in May 2018, builds on Germany's tradition of strict privacy laws
Image: Dooffy / CC0 1.0<p>Over the decades, Germany broadened and deepened its definition of privacy.<br></p> <ul> <li>In 1970, the German state of Hesse passed the first data protection law in the world.</li></ul><ul> <li>In 1979, West Germany laid the foundation for the <em>Bundesdatenschutzgesetz</em> (BDSG), or Federal Data Protection Act, the main aim of which was to protect the inviolability of personal, private information.</li></ul><ul><li>In the 1980s, citizens successfully sued the government over a census questionnaire so detailed it would allow the government to identify individuals. The court recognised German citizens' right to "informational self-determination" and block the sharing of any personal information with any government agency or corporation.</li></ul><ul><li>In March 2010, the German Federal Constitutional Court overturned a law that allowed the authorities to store phone and email data for up to six months for security reasons, as a "grave intrusion" of personal privacy rights.</li></ul><ul><li>In May 2018, the EU adopted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which follows the German model of data discretion rather than the laxer American one. </li></ul>
Missing the train<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTE0ODkzMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNjkxNTQ2N30.7xgbJ1xRHAbgQFrAbLUYZIMHzsA5DFoooiE8G8pAduY/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C358%2C0%2C0&height=700" id="45218" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4f7a5c1a2b86e7bb484e8661fecf2390" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Germany is high-tech when it comes to transport – cars, trains – but when it comes to digitisation, not so much
Image: TeaMeister / CC BY 2.0<p>Foreign firms operating in Germany have to adjust to some of the strictest privacy laws in the world. But <em>Nie wieder</em> is difficult to maintain in a world that increasingly mines and monetises data. As a result, the inexorable advance of digitization is viewed with a mixture of fatalism and misgiving.</p><p>Example one: Germany's split personality when it comes to social media. Yes, Germans are instinctively distrustful of big tech companies such as Google and Facebook. Meanwhile, Google has cornered more than 90 percent of the search engine market in Germany, and close to half of all Germans have a Facebook account. </p><p>Example two: privacy trumps efficiency. While Germany's macro-economy relies on high-tech to maintain its global pole position, on a micro-economic level, good old-fashioned cash is still king. In 2016, 80 percent of all point of sale transaction in Germany were made in notes and coins rather than via card. In the Netherlands, it was just 46 percent. </p><p>Brits, Danes or Swedes can go for months without handling cash. In Germany, you won't last a day. Why? Again, an intense desire for privacy and an instinctive distrust of surveillance. A cashless society would be more transparent and efficient, but also a lot less private. <br></p><p>If there's one thing Germans value even more than efficiency, it's — you guessed it — privacy. Germany seems in no hurry to catch the digitization train, when other countries are stations ahead, and generating measurable benefits.</p>
"A million-fold violation"<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTE0OTAwMy9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTQ4MDY3Nn0.N9dWm1qhwxDm7Ak4PbkbtO2QqTMYWcuauFHut9MVuvQ/img.png?width=1245&coordinates=124%2C0%2C124%2C0&height=700" id="ece15" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="90f3a29e353cea2a7da8100f0f18ccc6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The larger German cities have been mapped – Cologne, Frankfurt, Dresden and others – but the rest of the country is a blank, compared to the Benelux countries and France (to the west) and the Czech Republic (to the east)
Image: Google Maps<p>Case in point: Google Street View's German debacle. Launched in the US in 2007, Google Street View's mapping of interactive roadside panoramas has since expanded to cover most of the world. </p><p><span></span>In June 2012, it had mapped 5 million miles of roads in 39 countries; by its 10th anniversary in May 2017, the total was 10 million miles in 83 countries.</p><p><span></span>Street View features places as far off the beaten path as the International Space Station, gas extraction platforms in the North Sea and the coral reefs of West Nusa Tenggara in Indonesia. But not the <em>Weimarer Strasse</em> in Fulda, or most other normal streets in Germany, or Austria for that matter. </p><p><span></span>Not for lack of trying. In August 2010, Google announced that it would map the streets of Germany's 20 biggest cities by the end of that year. The outrage was huge. Some of Google's camera cars were vandalised. A 70-year-old Austrian who didn't want his picture taken threatened the driver of one with a garden pick. </p><p>Ilse Aigner, Germany's minister for Consumer Protection at the time, called Google's "comprehensive photo offensive" a "million-fold violation of the private sphere (…) There is not a secret service in existence that would collect photos so unabashedly."<br></p>
Blurry Street<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTE0Njg0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMDEzOTg2NX0.3l-bLBHTgoSGyI7PZYa0C7cJ725211bBR8MQzniSpWI/img.png?width=980" id="014e6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="92cb3179b8e84c09002fee6ad1cd06f0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bA random street in one of the cities mapped by Street View in 2010, with plenty of houses blurred out" />
A random street in one of the cities mapped by Street View in 2010, with plenty of houses blurred out
Image: Google Maps<p>Google automatically blurs faces and vehicle license plates and, upon request, the fronts of houses. Fully 3 percent of households in the relevant areas requested their houses to be blurred. Faced with that unprecedentedly high level of resistance, Google in 2011 published the data already collected, but left it at that. No new Street View images have been taken since in Germany. </p><p><span></span>Following the revelation in May 2010 that Google had used data from unencrypted wifi connections when collating its roadside panoramas, Street View was banned from Austria. From 2017, Google has resumed collecting imagery in Austria, and from 2018, it is available for selected localities. </p><p><span></span>As younger generations become more familiar with the transactional aspect of their personal data, perhaps German attitudes toward data privacy will start shifting significantly toward the American model. </p><p>For now, the difference has one side of the argument at a distinct disadvantage. As one online commenter noted: <br>"It doesn't seem quite fair that anyone in the world including Germans can take a virtual stroll around my street and my city, but I can't do the same in their country."<br></p>