had I been wrong ?

or is it just the world that took a wrong turn?


… I share the general and underlying gist of your concern: there had been a historically specific background against which the work emerged and consolidated. And it consolidated by elaborating, by deeper collective reflection on the conditions that provided the womb from which it is the off-spring, and with the firm conviction to cut off the umbilical cord, the provider altering, being carrier of the venom, ready to kill his child which he would have preferred to be still-born anyway. What is the answer? Is there only one answer?
One reply is very common, and a kind of standard object of sociological investigation: aim on growth in order to be sufficiently strong in order to stand up and resist – again and again the danger of being poisoned had been revealed – now walking, after the umbilical cord cut-off the problem comes while walking: It is not possible without rest, and even rooting is necessary – the striking leg depends on the supporting leg, and as harder as you one wants to strike, as stronger the supporting leg has to be. Not biologist nor professional player are needed to know: sooner or later the one leg gets in the way of the other, and by the very nature of this process, it is the supporting leg that will gain dominance. – The problem with [the project] is that we forgot that cutting off the cord, still left us on the same poisoned soil on which we now try to walk.

The alternative: aiming on inner strength, remaining a small group, or at least prioritising a healthy strong diet and movement, not per se growing in seize. Call it developing instead of growing, sturdily walking, instead of running with the support of narcotics (of course, these narcotics are called antibiotics, and the like), faster though not sustainable, and less and less able even to survive without the drugs.
Dilemmas, dichotomies, contradictions, hopelessness, challenges, choices, facing bills that need to be paid … understand it as you like, coming statistically to the end of my life, I am wondering, if I have to question my first real child, baptised “Die Organisation”, though brought on the way with the second name “Eine Analyse der modernen Gesellschaft”. Inscribed had been the thesis:
Kurzum: gefordert ist die Erfassung genau diese komplexe Widersprüchlichkeit, in der Organisationen (ent-) stehen und die sie selbst bilden – sowohl in sich als auch in ‘Beeinflussung ihrer Umwelt’. Es geht mit anderen Worten um die Erfassung von Organisationen als vergesellschaftete und zugleich vergesellschaftende Gebilde, die sich durch Strukturiertheit und Prozessualität auszeichnen.**
As so often, we can learn from one of the disciplines dealing with nature. In her book “Chaos Bound. Orderly Disorder in Contemporary Literature and Science”, Katherine Hayles states on page 221
Consider, for example, how conceptions of gravity have changed over the last three hundred years. Gravity is conceived in the Newto­ nian paradigm very differently from in the general theory of relativity. For Newton, gravity was the result of mutual attraction between masses; for Einstein, it was the result of the curvature of space. One might imagine still other kinds of explanation, such as a Native American belief that objects fall to the earth because the spirit of Mother Earth calls out to kindred spirits in other bodies. But no matter how gravity is conceived, no viable paradigm could predict that when someone steps off a cliff, she will remain spontaneously suspended in mid-air. This possibility is ruled out by the nature of physical reality.

And now it nevertheless seems that another hybrid is trying to emerge. While we do not know about Schroedinger’s cat before the box is opened, while it is thus important to make use of the openness and indeterminacy as we do know that hybrids are so far only found on burial sites …

The [project’s] growth-path reminds me a bit of what is frequently said about the cobbler: that he wears the worst of all shoes. Being scientists we may have to think about it when it comes to the knowledge and ability to deeply reflect as the braingear we use when thinking as the rambler disposes of when walking.
May be this metaphorical way of writing inspires to some thinking, and may be it encourages to return to another crucial element of what [the project] had been about: a really collective exercise of a day growing and going together, instead of bringing individuals together for a common walk for a while ….
So long, courage …
In short: the challenge is to capture precisely this complex contradictoriness in which organisations (en-) stand and which they themselves form – both in themselves and in ‘influencing their environment’. In other words, it is a matter of recording organisations as socialised and at the same time socialising entities which are characterised by structure and process.
(Herrmann, Peter, Die Organisation …: page 6 (machine translation)

so what is the point?

Alluding to the 11th thesis on Feuerbach

Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it

I was thinking the other day there may be – today – some good reason to add a 12th thesis:

There are many studies we are doing today; the point is to conflate information obtained and make real knowledge out of them.

Something delightful – though it is not the first and only institution apparently deciding to work for knowledge, not for ranks – so on the news-site of theUniversity Ghent we read

We are transforming our university into a place where talent once again feels valued and nurtured

The beginning of a new year! And also a new direction when thinking about reforms of education and training?

forever …

One prime social function of a university is to inquire freely and to criticize freely And the more managed, the more planned, the more ‘efficient’ the rest of society grows, the more important this function becomes.

(from: E.P. Thompson (ed.), 1970: Warwick University Ltd. . Industry, Management and the Universities; Nottingham: Spokesman, 2014; 39)

You should sleep nine hours without dreams. Then you have the day for dreams

Herbert Marcuse supposedly said this …  Is it another version of the words written on a postcard I recently received?

Swim to Nowhere, With No Thoughts.

So there we are worrying about big brother, watching us, algorithms rule the world and with Artificial Intelligence taking over.
Sure, there are important issues linked to these catchwords – though one seemingly tiny point is a negligence, not just as matter of language I suppose.
Just a few mails, from a Spam-poor night, and a mail-free one too. Leaving the obvious SPAM aside, to mails are perhaps even more worrying: the one at the top …, well, is there a term like SPAM-IFICATION? At least it does exist now.
* Instead of thoughtful targeting advertisement and communication in general, we accept the wikiwiki culture, leading us to just throw things out, without much thinking.
* Instead of “academic matchmaking”, I mean: bringing me/us academics in contact with relevant other academics, sites like academia, researchgate … often come to the most confusing proposals: does it really make sense to send me a link to an article on trading chemical products between China and Europe, presumably on ground of the fact that I gave a presentation on OBOR or the fact that I lived some time in China?
* hat is the premium of having access to something that is out of reach in terms of manageability?
over two million papers …? What are the criteria forlinking them …, and when will I be able to read them?
Artificial Intelligence?
Indeed, I read an article some time ago, a short one in a newspaper, talking about
artificial stupidity
… which is too often more characterising.
Don’t we have to blame ourselves for it – not because of using FB; twitter etc.. It is probably a much more serious problem that we – living and working in academia – accept this world and work being directed by ranking; publishers’ journal sites that manipulate our reading behaviour by aggressively suggesting that “readers of this article also read … — and quoted ….” and boxing our thinking and acting.
A new trinket in the jewel case of administrative stupidity, with which the Polish government (as a Czech friend said yesterday on the phone “we are joining”) is blessing us: every academic, working in a university, has to commit her/himself to two subject areas: sociology, economics, medicine … – sure, they are very broad which may be taken as some comfort. Articles for the assessment of the academic will only be taken into account if it is in line with this self-attribution. What now if I am looking into
as M. Keith Chen did.
What if I am looking at the question of European unemployment insurance in the light of legislation, sociological aspects and the economic development, possibly publishing the results in a journal on European history …?
There is not only direkt and outspoken censorship but also the seemingly “tame brother”,
And predictive shopping is not really new – though earlier it occurred in different forms
(Saw this the other day in Berlin: “What is missing today?” – Bakingpowder, bread, butter, eggs … onions)
Still, there is surely the need to resist …
… though there is also the time … – well, as said the other day I received a postcard, with a colour drawing, not algorithm-based but manufactured in the true sense by the sender, much appreciated by the recipient …, occasionally I allow myself resisting the need to resist, sitting there
and looking at it,
Swim to Nowhere, With No Thoughts
as the few words under the drawing suggest. nd making me think, energizing me … to resist!

self-degrading academia

I am wondering … – if I should be wondering … – on different occasions I used the blog to describe issues from the academic world, and to reflect upon it. A kind of ‘series” looked into writing references for students and the way universities acted as business: externalize work, disrespect interest of students in learning and look how they fit into prepared boxes – if I am not mistaken this is the latest, and there are several links from there to earlier musings. Well, may be THIS PRESENT one will be the latest, a mail I received – a joke, SPAM, sent by mistake …? In any case hugely disappointing suggesting that to “meet industry expectations” is the primary and outspoken goal of a supposedly academic institution. Annoying to see that they abuse colleagues’ references as point of departure for SPAM-campaigns, looking for support. To be clear, I supported a student’s application – I definitely did not support the university’s programme In actual fact I discussed in several cases with students their choice, trying to make them aware of their steps, Faustian dimension which is not changed by the devil’s new clothes: blank business interest.

Here the SPAM letter:

Dear Peter,

Thank you very much for serving as a referee and sending us the reference form for one of our candidates who applied to the Master of Science in Business Analytics [MSc(BA)] programme at The University of Hong Kong this year.

We sincerely appreciate the time you spent and the comments you provided to support the candidate’s application, which are critical for us to evaluate and select students who can best fit our programme.

Our programme office will continue to fully support the programme with the aim to meet industry expectations, maximise our resources, and enhance students’ experience. We would greatly appreciate for your continued support to the MSc(BA) programme. If you know anyone who may be interested in postgraduate education in business analytics, you can ask them to reach out to our team or learn more about our programme at our official website.

Thank you again for your support to HKU Msc(BA) programme.

Best Regards,

HsiaoPHui Lee (Dr.)  Programme Director Master of Science in Business Analytics The University of Hong Kong

Copyright © 2017  School of Business, The University of Hong Kong

Our address is  Room 304, Block B, Cyberport 4, 100 Cyberport Road, Hong Kong, China

If you do not wish to receive future email, click here.

A disgrace, indeed ….

time … appreciation …. value of values

… or
How academia today undermines knowledge and beauty.
“In his youth Albert Einstein spent a year loafing aimlessly. You don’t get anywhere by not ‘wasting’ time – something, unfortunately, which the parents of teenagers tend frequently to forget. He was in Pavia. He had joined his family having abandoned his studies in Germany, unable to endure the rigours of his high school there. It was the beginning of the twentieth century, and in Italy the beginning of its industrial revolution. His father, an engineer, was installing the first electrical power plants in the Paduan plains. Albert was reading Kant and attending occasional lectures at the University of Pavia: for pleasure, without being registered there or having to think about exams. It is thus that serious scientists are made.”
“Finally, in November 1915, he committed to print an article giving the complete solution: a new theory of gravity, which he called ‘The General Theory of Relativity’, his masterpiece and the ‘most beautiful of theories’, according to the great Russian physicist Lev Landau.
There are absolute masterpieces which move us intensely: Mozart’s Requiem; Homer’s Odyssey; the Sistine Chapel; King Lear. To fully appreciate their brilliance may require a long apprenticeship, but the reward is sheer beauty – and not only this, but the opening of our eyes to a new perspective upon the world. Einstein’s jewel, the general theory of relativity, is a masterpiece of this order.”
From Carlo Rovelli. “Seven Brief Lessons on Physics” – with regards to those who have a huge share of responsibility for irresponsibility

elementary knowledge for university admin staff


I regret and feel very sorry: I would have expected that staff working in academic institutions – while we are writing the date of

Il giorno 20/mar/2018, alle ore 04:54,

apparently have to write

• Email submissions: We regret we are unable to accept references emailed to us

It is all about elementary knowledge, back to the real blackboard

Yes, I would have presumed the ability to deal with simple information technologies instead of uploading the burden on academics who surely have other and better things to do.

It is a commonly known problem though: specifically qualified staff not knowing about basics.
Feel free to contact one of my former students – they are surely most obliging and willing to help – and they do not even charge you such tremendous fees as universities like yours do. — I know, reading such things is frightening – as everything ugly is frightening if we see it in a mirror, feeling helpless especially if we are aware that we are acting as string puppets, being danced [yes, I hope for you that you don’t feel as dancer yourself] on others who are even weaker. – In any case, if YOU do not read it others will.
Positive thinking allows me to say that you fortunately are yourself worried about the low standards — otherwise you would not regret.
My recommendation: have a look if Warwick university offers offers some courses like
* basic IT-skills
* the problems of externalisation of cost: they multiplay and at some stage they return to the originator.
More positive thinking even: some universities came back to me, asked for apologies and promised changes. Unfortunately, after they asked for help and advice, they turned down my offer to support them further for a minor fee.
Sincerely worried – poor souls you are, a long way to academic standards [well, you remember E.P. Thompson? Top academics like him had been forced out …, history does to repeat, but lack of honesty and commitment apparently does …
Peter Herrmann
PS: Surprising for me is that a huge number of colleagues – students, administrators, academics – and surely most of the common people, using their common sense do agree .. and swallow.