Higher Administration versus Higher Education

Recently, Denis Rogatyuk wrote in a telesur article about

Britain: University Teachers Launch the Largest Strike in Modern History

There we find the sentence

university staff, lecturers, and students have organized picket lines, rallies, occupations and protests across all major cities in the country in their bid to defend their future livelihood and bring the university administration back to the negotiating table.

Well,it deserves some slow reading, becoming fully aware of the fact that administrators are not mentioned. – Admittedly and importantly,

In a number instances, the vice-chancellor of the University of Newcastle, Chris Day, came out in support of the academic staff’s decision to strike, while Glasgow University’s Vice-chancellor, Anton Muscatelli, joined the staff on the picket lines on February 27th. Even the Conservative Minister for Universities, Sam Gyimah, expressed support for further negotiations between UCU and UUK

[An image from a University and College Union rally in London on February 28th. | Photo: UCU]

Of course, the one point is simply a matter of the ‘organisational framework’: Administrations are formally responsible for dealing with the issues of payment. However, considering that today admin-staff in UK universities gets higher pay [raises] as academics, the underlying is getting clear: universities are money generating systems, the academic freedom and academic standard seems to be – in the institutional  light – increasingly a necessary, though not valued by-product – as it is with any other commodity. – Achieving high academic standards is a matter of private engagement.

In this context another point should be mentioned, though just anecdotal: I talked to several colleagues, who confirmed that forty, four-five percent of standard teaching is nowadays at their uiversity undertaken by casual teaching staff. Mind: standard teaching. These teachers, often highly committed, still have another commitment: paying rent and getting some food on the table.


Deep Talk – Meaning …

…and the lack of the understanding of what meaning is about.

Two robots – artificial intelligence and predictive apps are switched on – are sitting in a self-driving car. The one, named 42, begins laughing out loud.


What’s the matter?

asks the other, named 21.

Oh, it is about the joke you are going to tell me in an hour.

…. An hour later, 21 says:

Do you actually know where we are going?

42’s turn:

Boy, I don’t have the slightest idea.

No break,  but just the answer, on the spot:

Neither do I – but you know google has this self-prediction – so they will know where we will be happy.

I have serious doubts, that god plays a role as Shauna Niequist suggests. But I guess it is of little meaning  if the engineer laughs about fooling people who are caught in [and by] another solution that is not an answer to any problem. Remember what you could read in a recent blogpost about poems and raincoats … .

Don’t blame me if …

Well, I am not entirely sure if I got something wrong, if it is already a new business idea or if I bring it up as potential business strategy? Recently I saw in Austria a poster, advertising for flights. Part of it:

Flights, from 59.99 €. + registration of luggage — including miles.

Now I am wondering if there is another booking option: Booking a seat on the aircraft, and then paying per mile? This is the way car transport works – be it if you take a taxi or if you go for ‘car sharing’.

We may get there – or may even be on the way to ‘Ubering your flight‘ – without Uber.

– See also

Dopo il car sharing, arriva il “flight sharing”. I piloti condividono aereo… e spese

Fancy sharing the cost of a flight on a private aircraft?

Airbus entwickelt selbstfliegendes Lufttaxi

Airbus, de l’avion au taxi volant

Changing the Vita Activa

Digitisation – Challenges between Changing Social Securitisation and Changing the Vita Activa

Recording of the Presentation at the Symposium ‘Digitalisation’, organised by the Academy of Sciences and Arts – taking place at the Faculty of Law, University of Salzburg, March 2nd, 2018.

In general, having worked on this topic for quite a while now, I see the following major questions that urgently require thorough systematic consideration:

  • In which way and to which extent is digitisation a matter that changes also the process and mode of production [not limited top robotisation]?
  • What are the conditions for pursuing forms or digitisation in the interest of users and the common wheal instead of being solely an instrument for new businesses?
  • Which different perspectives on law and justice are emerging from the new political- and socio-economic conditions that go hand in hand with digitisation?

Of course, this requires not least thorough and systematic classification and demarcation of the different aspects that are commonly loosely and vaguely subsumed under such catchall term as digitisation.

I am grateful to a friend, discussing life with her, helped me taking much of the mist of the topic, and also remaining aware, and feeling the challenges of real life, persisting when talking about the virtual one – 감사합니다 !

Artificial intelligence is like …
Poetry in translations is like
taking a shower with a raincoat on.

About the real realities of the presence … II


[By Phil Squattrito – Flickr: Undercarriage, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17586908https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridge#/media/File:Tridge_Undercarriage.jpg%5D

What we have today is in effect a dual system, the official one of the “national economies” of states, and the real but largely unofficial one of transnational units and institutions . . . [U]nlike the state with its territory and power, other elements of the ‘nation’ can be and easily are overridden by the globalization of the economy. Ethnicity and language are the two obvious ones. Take away state power and coercive force, and their relative insignificance is clear.

(Hobsbawm, Eric, The Nation and Globalization; in: Constellations, 5_1.1998: 4f.)


Poison, Gifts and Intoxication

Well, much can be said about China – not the issue here and not for me at the moment. Still, I am wondering if a country and continent [sorry, all links are to articles in German language]


[Bei der Düsseldorfer Tafel bekommen alle Bedürftigen Lebensmittel. In Essen vorübergehend nur noch die mit deutschem Pass. – photo dpa]


should really worry about a Chinese investor, who steps substantially in at Daimler Benz? Carrying in his luggage the gift of advanced technologies for electric cars, a gift that does not promise venom-free driving[1], but is at least a small contribution to reduce emissions. – It would be more desirable to think about possibilities to move with this to cooperative advantage instead of maintaining comparative advantage as guide, – Sure, here state regulation could take new forms.

Less complains here I suppose than about google as potential competitor on the market of car manufacturing.


Two of the many points that should be mentioned in detail:


Quoted from the first article, in translation:

The spokesperson of the job center … says that persons who re receiving basic basic social income would not depend on begging.

It is the old flam that here is no poverty [a] because everybody has the right to receive that kind of income and [b] it is sufficient for a decent life. But it is as well a matter of defining begging as smiliar-to-employment activity.


In all these contexts [there are similar cases, also in other German cities, the issue of donations is coming up: basically it says money – also goods – given to people who are begging, also food and other support people receive from charities – are legally ‘donations’ [non-deductible] to the recipient, i.e, beggar.

So, playing this bitter game a bit further we arrive at the state where actually income may soon be defined as donation, the employer soon being defined as good-doer, and the employee …

Well, NOW I think it is time to return to the China issue: I discussed with a colleague more or less extensively about Corporate Social Responsibility – the project to co-author an article finally failed, admittedly it was my fault: I simply could not accept that paying business tax can be seen as corporate social responsibility … .


And all this is much about a topic I discuss occasionally with my colleague here, in a nutshell the old, and still unresolved question about justice and right. And John Stuart Mill, in Volume X of his Collected Works [Essays on Ethics, Religion and Society], in particular writing on the ‘On the Connexion between Justice and Utility’ is at least stimulating, asking us to think about social and individual.

Is it far fetched then if the gist of my presentation, titled

WYSIWYG – Also for Big Data?

is the necessity to think about the a radical ‘new beginning’ when it comes to thinking about social and welfare issues?

Now lean back and think a bit: In the presentation I mention towards the end that one of the most serious problems with the ‘new economic and juridical normal’ is the -delegalisation, ops: the fact that we find a substantial trend towards charitibilisation: the replacement of social rights by charitable activities ….


[1]            The German term ‘Geschenk’ translates into English as ‘gift’, the German term ‘Gift’ translates into English as venom, toxic, poison.

WYSIWYG – What you see is what you get?

A short presentation on Big Data and Digitisation at the Max-Planck-Institute fro Social Law and Social Policy

WYSIWYG[1] – Also for Big Data?

WYSIWYG, the supposed revolutionary concept that once opened a new world for computer quarter-literates is not necessarily applicable if we look at the supposed recent revolution: Big Data. More likely we find the emergence of a WYSID – What You See Is Delusion.


[from Leibniz’ writing on the Binary Code Calculating Machine]

The presentation aims on contributing from the perspective of political economy to an understanding of some systemic developments that are hidden behind a blurred understanding of Big Data and Digitisation. The following is guiding the development of the argument:

  • Moving from Adventures in Wonderland to seeing the World Through the Looking-Glass – Some Terminological Remarks
  • From Gold Standard to Sparkling Diamonds – The Economy of the Digital and Informational Revolution
  • The Lonely Crowd versus Crowded Loneliness – About Individual, Social, Public and Private Matters
  • L’État c’est moi – l’état, c’est-à-dire nous? – Socio-Eco-Legal Issues around Public and Social Responsibility

On the latter, especially four topics are seen as major challenge:

  1. Concentralisation
  2. Public-Private-Datachips
  3. Changed status of Employees or changed property issues
  4. The Firm and the loss of transaction cost

Some background material can be found here.

Here the link to the recording of the presentation  – speaker presentation: Professor Dr. Ulrich Becker.


[1]            What you see is what you get