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I write about technology and design, mostly mobile and web. Sometimes I write about people and places I visit.

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Alan Ford is lost in translation

Main Alan Ford characters.

Alan Ford is a comic series started at the end of 1960s. Alan is a member of a small group of mostly clumsy and lazy secret agents operating from a flower shop in New York. Their actions are filled with satire and black humor often pointing to issues in Western society.

This introduction would be redundant if you’re from a former Yugoslavia country. Just saying Alan Ford would be enough to set a stage for either a discussion or a joke. And this is where I stumbled. Read more

Keeping an open mind

I’m reading a couple of books at the moment:

  1. Thinking About Cybersecurity
    This is actually a course by professor Paul Rosenzweig. It’s a more objective and academic view on the size and open nature of the Internet and all threats that come with that model.

  2. How Google Works
    A book by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg about lessons they learned as they helped build Google. It’s mostly about company culture, internal processes communication and innovation.

  3. When Google Met WikiLeaks
    A transcript of the interview Julian Assange and Eric Schmidt had in 2011. Assange shows impressive understanding of internal workings of the web, but also uses commentary in the book to incriminate Google’s leadership for non-transparent involvements with the US government.

Common themes are security, privacy and communication. Reading books with different takes on the topics allows me to see different perspectives and doesn’t let me slip into one narrow, potentially limiting, mindset.

Assange often cites The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business by Schmidt and Cohen, which I read last year. It shares more topics with When Google Met WikiLeaks than How Google Works. One thing I clearly remember from The New Digital Age is how much space was dedicated to cyberterrorism. If I pulled the gist from my memory, it would go like this. As more and more things move to the web, an online identity becomes even more important and will be frequent target for cyber attacks. It’s up to private sector and government to work together and protect it. I understand how a person in Assange’s position might find that worrying.

On the other hand, in 2012 I read Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler. The authors say exponential improvements in technology are positive and will eventually solve all, or at least most, problems we face today: diseases, deteriorating environment, hunger, education, energy needs.

Most of these books are forward looking so it’s really hard to tell which scenario will prevail. Nobody can predict the future after all, but even then it’s good to be aware of forces which pull in different directions. Always read, explore and keep an open mind.

Modern Berlin

A pedestrian traffic light in front of a building.

There is a lot of history in this simple photo.

A traffic light man is a remnant of East Germany—West had a generic one—and is now a symbol and a popular souvenir in Berlin.

In the background is Detlev-Rohwedder-Haus. The building was constructed in 1936 and is a prime example of Nazi architecture. It housed Luftwaffe until the end of World War 2.

When Berlin was finally overrun by Allies, Soviets occupied the building because the city was in ruins. Trying to dismantle Nazi government from a Nazi building is a one of life’s nasty ironies.

Today this building houses probably the most feared institution of all—Ministry of Finance. Yes, Germans pay taxes here.

To take this specific photo, I had to stand where the Berlin Wall once was. It stood there for almost three decades, completely defining modern history of Berlin and leaving a permanent mark on generations of its inhabitants. And probably on the rest of Germany too.

Getting lost

Foggy woods on Uetliberg.

Today’s hike was perfect for getting lost in thoughts, but also in space.

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