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Kilimanjaro, my 6k experience

It’s the top of Africa. A challenge for everyone who desires to challenge himself with extreme situations. Almost 6.000m tall and free standing in Eastern Africa, the Kilimanjaro’s peak has been chosen to become the ultimate goal for a group of 5 people – including me – for some intensive 8 days. Behind us almost 6 months of preparation.

The tl;dr summary: Wow, wow, and wow! That trip baffled me. Altitude is tough and the way up was chilly. My body didn’t like the stupid idea of altitude and chill, and paid it with a strong headache plus some other symptoms. What an extreme experience with very special people O_O Besides, we realized Tanzania is a beautiful country owned by the Coca-Cola company.

The long story:

The whole Kilimanjaro campaign started already in 2012, as planning for such a trip is quite time-consuming. From finding the right tour operator, picking a route, getting everyone on board, finding a viable time frame, finalize booking and payments, preparing a packing list, and keeping everyone up-to-date, it’s a “bit” of a struggle along the way. BUT, we finished all the planning and succeeded emptying the shelves at our favorite outdoor stores. Support from our tour operator was essential in the process. And, having a lot of guys knowing how to exploit today’s communication technology kept everything (somehow) going along the bumpy planning route :)

Day 1, the beginning of our trip. It’s mid of February and the group is heading to Moshi, a town next to the national park Kilimanjaro. We all start from different places in Germany, except one companioñera who already moved to Moshi some months ago to help out African people with micro-loans. The plan for the group’s journey from Germany to Moshi was to meet for a connecting flight in Doha, Qatar. All human beings accomplished this task successfully. Not so our luggage…

We were said to leave early from FRA airport, but it turned out snow set in while we boarded the plane. So, the plane had to line for the de-icing zone and wasted too much time. We just so made it to catch our connecting flight to Tanzania, expecting our luggage to have made it, too.

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Upon our arrival at a tiny, little airport in the middle of nowhere between Moshi and Arusha, Tanzania, we had to pay 50$ for our visa to be granted access to Tanzania. We arrived with all necessary vaccinations and, thus, fulfilled all criteria. Next, we waited patiently for our luggage for more than 45 min. All other passengers were long gone, but our equipment didn’t show up. Also not with the second (and last) plane landing that day (there are only 3-5 planes per day). We walked to the counter next to the single luggage carousel in that airport and asked for assistance. There was one guy who himself is the rep for all airlines owning the single office available. He asked us to sign a form and we saw our chances at near zero to get any help here.

Not having our luggage was a worst case situation! All the equipment for our ascend to the peak was neatly packed in there. We were puzzled how we gonna start our trip the next day and if that was the end of our trip, meaning 6 months preparation for basically nada. In short: our trip was put at risk, … even worse: we started planning how to travel back home.

Next, a driver picked us up at the airport and we asked him to take us to the office of the local travel guide to figure out what to do without equipment. After all, he assured us we need the equipment and chipped in a solution to our situation. The chances are our equipment arrives within next days. He rest us assured some sherpas bring it up to the mountain while we would prepare to catch up. Still, we couldn’t go further than we are able to without any equipment. And, catching up will eat up the energy savings in our bodies that we desperately need to make to the peak.

In our heads the idea of leaving Tanzania without ever touching ground close to the mountain gained more space. The only chance we have is to gain some information and plan out all options. We called the airline that obviously caused us trouble by not doing their job. That means a call from Moshi, Tanzania, in a very unstable cell network (with an “antenna gate” iPhone 4) to Doha, Qatar, to a support line which keeps you on hold, speaks Arabian and costs some extra fees. One of the worst conditions for a call. However, I made some conversation despite the conditions and we were promised the luggage arrives the next day as it is scheduled to be on the next Qatar airways plane.

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Fortunately, the airline’s statement proofed true and we got our equipment the next day after waiting for 1 or 2 hours in a small village on the way to the national park. A driver we met there delivered our luggage in a taxi run. While waiting, we had a coke from a bar man behind bars and locals stared at us. Meat was hanging in windows sizzling in the noon sun. Every second building or so was covered with Coca-Cola ad signs. Assumably, the signs are used to repair the buildings and save on painting. Later on, we noticed that even the official hospital signs are actually Coca-Cola ads. Tanzania is like a whole Coca-Cola advertisement: red colored signs and Coca-Cola logos everywhere.

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From the small village our trip started to the entrance of the Kilimanjaro Nationalpark. We were carried in a formidable 4WD wagon. The park entrance is our first stop. There we had to sign in and fees for the entrance were paid. Besides, the porters assigned the luggage according to weight and other inscrutable factors – such as body strength, age, height. While we continued in our 4WD shovel-equipped monster, the porters were sitting on and walking by trucks to get into the national park.DSC_3462DSC_3503

On our way to the national park, the street abruptly turned into … ehm … no street but many pebbles and bolders. Our jeep is pound by the pebbles on the street and windows started to crack. No need to slow down. We passed by wooden tribe villages, partly covered with red coca-cola signs. Eventually, we find ourselves in the hill & jungle landscape we all expected for that day. The road now became a red mud monster with two parallel, deep tracks that swallow the wheels of our jeep. Already does our Landrover moan in his endeavor to bring us up to thestarting point of our route in the middle of the jungle. 5 adventurers, 1 guide who didn’t fit into the cramped porter truck, and a driver. Along the way, we passed other groups that have been dropped off far before the jungle. Poor Guys! According to their faces, they envied the our moaning Landrover which serves perfectly to protect 5 Germans from the equator sun. And, we were happy we haven’t had to walk additional kilometers the first day.

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After arriving at the port to our tour, in the midst of the jungle, we were told to have lunch. Monkeys jumped from branch to branch over our heads. Other groups and overloaded porters in flip flops passed by us, peaking at our burgers and drinks. After lunch, the luxury and fun part of our tour ended. We had to actually make some progress by foot. And the steep paths in the jungle pulled us back to the hard, exhausting mountain hiking reality from our sweet, comfortable Landrover spot. Rain set in for a while, turning the red muddy path into a red swamp. Nevertheless, we finished our 10 km tour that day easily. The scenery distracted us too much from actually realizing the exhaustiveness of our hike. Trees are huge in the jungle and left us stunned. Monkeys and weird jungle birds have given us the chance to take breaks and use a spy glass to observe.

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In the camp, we signed in at the ranger’s book. From here on the sign in procedure became a daily ritual to celebrate progress. 100m away from the camp we could already here the noise of the porters who sang, prepared dinner, and finished preparing tents. The atmosphere was unique: groups celebrating their first completed tour stage and porters sining in the middle of the jungle at 2800m altitude. It was the first night we had to sleep in tents and stay close to each other in the camp. Also, the first time we used our night utensils. All worked out fine. Thanks to our planning we were perfectly prepared. The guide gave a speech to welcome us and prepare us for the next days. He made clear we had just finished the easy part: the red jungle swamp :)

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The night was calm – except of some monkey noises that woke up some of us. The night sky at Mt. Kilimanjaro is impressive. No light pollution and all the star constellations only visible at the equator. The next morning we started early after some breakfast – toast, disgusting english slime food (porridge), and other untasty stuff. The temperatures where still comfortable and not too hot, but the sun started glimpsing through the jungle trees. While we continued our hike, the vegetation changed from wet jungle to man-high bushes. Meanwhile, the sun became more intense and temperatures passed 34°C. Together with the vegetation also the terrain had changed. Now we could oversee where we were walking towards. We obviously are at a mountain and we had a steep hike through a bushland before us. Porters already started to overtake and pass by, and still, some were wearing only thongs/flip flops. At the end of the day we really were happy to have had some breaks along the 14km tour. With the sun, high temperatures, and the steep ascends, we clearly felt how exhausting this day was. After celebrating our sign in at the ranger’s book, we had some good sleep before us.

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The next morning we realized were we had slept that night. In an old crater that is unpredictable for its winds and night temperatures. Our guide had predicted comfortable 10-15° before we got to sleep. Frozen water and hoarfrost proofed we were below 0° the last night. Shocking, but we slept like babies in our professional sleeping bags. :D *hrhr*
The new morning introduced handicaps for a few adventurers in our group. For Willi, Sebastian, and me, a headache became a new companion. For Sebastian also his knees started to hurt. We suspected the strong sun to be the reason for our headaches. We were proven wrong later, at least partially.

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The next day we continued our ascend and got beyond 4000m altitude for the first time. In our camp even the smelly restrooms – holes in the ground with a wall and window – had an excellent view across the lowlands and Mount Meru. Temperatures especially during the night dropped from now on. Good we invested a few coins in our sleeping bags. Marches were long now, but not too steep anymore. We had a test before us.

The lava tower is a formation of huge rocks at 4600m altitude. It’s a test on how good we can take a rise of 600m altitude after a few hours hike, getting back to a camp at 4000m later.The headaches we presumed to be due to th strong equator sun turned out as caused by something more impeding: altitude sickness. Now, all of us could feel the pain of altitude sickness. It hit me really hard and others suffered heavily from altitude sickness, too. At 4600m I was close to fainting.

Along the way down the vegetation became unique and waterfalls seemed the path through a barranco. Along the way we noticed palm trees, cactuses, and birds endemic to Kilimanjaro’s barrancos. After arriving at the camp around sunset our guide pointed up to a wall. He joked we would be going up there tomorrow. Wasn’t too much of a joke as turned out the next morning :(

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First thing in the morning we admired a giant wall of rocks while brushing teeth. It is the challenge of the day to climb the barranco wall. There is a single path up the wall, and a line of hikers formed at sunrise. We joined the crowd of hikers which already got jammed by unexercised fellows in the front. The porters didn’t take it and went on their own paths, wearing thongs and carrying 20kg+ of baggage. It made us shiver when they lost traction on the wall now and then.

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On top of the wall we had a marvelous view, although finding ourselves in the clouds. Some spare gaps in the clouds revealed a gorgeous view over whole Tanzania. We continued to our last camp before the final ascend to the peak. I got windy over the day and it remained chilly-windy in the 4600m camp. Tents were making noises from the strong winds and weather changed from clear to cloudy within minutes. The climb up to the camp was really exhausting, but all of us made it – the two old daddies arrived first. Not all of us arrived in good shape but all happy. Other fellow hiker groups counted first losses, we young guys continued to fight symptoms of altitude sickness :(

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The next night the ascend to 5982m was to begin. Sleeping wasn’t for long before the ascend and the noisy winds kept us awake. At midnight we gathered before our tents, heavily prepared to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro. We wore headlights, our professional hiking shoes, multiple layers of trousers, sweaters and windbreakers, socks, gloves and winter gloves, and woolen hats. From the camp we observed the line of headlights slowly moving up the mountain. We followed and mingled.

Soon we made first hand experience how exhausting the steep ascend is in combination with our altitude sickness continuously worsen. My grasp started to get impaired. In parallel, chilly winds turned unbearable. Even good clothing in multiple layers couldn’t stop the wind to make me freeze. Hands and feet became numb and hurt. In short, it was a pure torture and the peak seemed lightyears away. The ascend became a game of hiking few meters up the winding path and stopping to gain breath again. There was only the idea of keep going and collapse while trying, or sit down and hope sun will rise soon, the rays bringing back live to my body. I decided for „keep going“. Altitude sickness and freezing body parts fought for attention, in an totally impaired state of decreasing willingness. This state kept own endlessly until I got a glimpse of a bigger light coming from the direction of the peak. It was the first station at the peak and the end of the steep hiking. The end of the tunnel, not heaven, yet :)

At the same time I noticed some familiar voices. Some of my group were close by I presumed. And indeed, some fellows walked right in front of me what means I catched up. The last very exhausting steps before us and eventually we will have made it to the point we planned to stop to watch the sunrise. And we were still on time.

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After all of us gathered to spectate the sunrise from 5800m+ we started congratulating, hugging and feeling alive. We started to realize that we just achieved the goal of our journey, reaching the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, or at least being in a few hundreds meter distance of the actual peak. It is an unforgettable, emotional experience.

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Of course, we were and are very grateful for our guides to get us all the way up here. Ultimately, we documented our success with pictures of the actual peak and the sunrise. For the photos, I hauled out a sheet of paper with an important message yet to deliver. It was not that easy to get hold of the paper with numb fingers. Eventually, I got setup for the photo and send a love message to my honey Anna-Karolina! Besides, I had to put a “Mannheim” sticker on the Kilimanjaro sign. Proof I did in the photos below.

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Our descent began a mere 30 minutes after we reached the top. We had a descent of 14km before us, after an exhausting 7km ascend. The first kilometers from the top let us realize what that torturous path looks like during day. Instead of the winding path we telemarked down a sandy slope to speed up our descend. Dangerous due to small and big pebbles and stones. After a long hiking day we arrived in our final camp, in midst of the jungle.

Beers were due for that night and we started to reflect our trip. On our last day the hike through the jungle continued. Vegetation was rich, colorful, and interesting. As on our first day in the jungle, we met monkeys and discovered the fauna. The hiking path we followed ended at a registration office. At a parking space right next to the office, multiple trucks waited to pick up tourists and porters – obviously more porters than tourists. We gifted parts of our equipment to our porters in a sort of official act. The office asked us to fill out a survey and our guide handed us a certificate which is to document our successful mission.

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 The night after our arrival back at the hotel was long. We had a plethora of reasons to celebrate our safe return. The last memory I can recall is someone pouring crocodile tears in my cup. I think we had quite some fun.

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In retrospective, the trip and the challenge to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro were a striking experience. Never have I been pushed to my limits like this before. Mt. Kilimanjaro is great for anyone seeking for some adventure and eager to test himself in altitude. Moreover, I finally got to see the devastating situation of Africa’s poorest countries. We are some lucky bastards in Europe and should be very grateful. Changing the situation to the better for Africa is definitely long overdue!

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2012 – A year of progress for me

With the end of the year came the happy holidays and time to share with the loved ones. These silent days allow to catch some breath and give some thoughts before new year’s eve demands some attention and a new year wants to be lived. During the last days I looked back on the parting year 2012 and what I have experienced in the last ~365 days, with my honey, family, friends, and colleagues. 2012 has been a year of progress and mostly keeping me busy. I made progress in many aspects, be it in my job and professional goals or my life with my sweetheart and family.

Family
Fortunately, 2012 (and even more 2011) allowed me to spend quality time with my family quite frequently, albeit being very productive at my job. I determined family to be an important part for my personal balance. Therefore, I tried to meet my family regularly this year and planned activities to share with them. With my sweetheart Anna I took off 2 weeks and discovered beautiful Italy. One priceless trip and presumably the best I ever had (read more). The golf course was one spot my family used as a reason to join now and then. Plus, classy restaurants is a common love in my family :)

Professional Work
My Ph.D. is now set to a defined target and the number of lines in my dissertation is growing. Also, I solved some computer science problems, in particular, in the field of Compute Service Selection in Cloud Computing, and showed good results that have been published at reputable conferences (see my publications). One notable conference I visited last year is the WWW’12 conference, one of the biggest in the field of computer science (read more). 2012 was also the year I gave lectures for the first time and I got involved with the Open Data Center Alliance in a joint research project (sure will announce publicly available results on my blog or twitter). Also, this year I had the chance to work closely with researchers from UNSW Sydney (again), NICTA and CSIRO Canberra.
Aside from my research work I started to develop software tools from my research results that are easily usable and publicly available. The goals is, in contrast to research prototypes that serve for an evaluation of approaches, to promote research results to the public, the software developers out there. We, colleagues and me, plan to go officially public with our tools and a Web site Spring 2013. Have a first look at our Website (currently under development): http://myownthemepark.com.

Travelling
2012 has been a year filled with quite some trips and I spent more days travelling than ever before. It was exhausting and interesting to see foreign countries and make new friends. In 2012 my job and personal trips allowed me to experience Budapest, Castellon, Mallorca, Antalya, Lyon, Tokyo, Canberra, Lago di Como, Liguria and Sydney among other places. Besides, I had the chance to visit friends in Berlin, Munich and Stuttgart, and we had two Bay Area intern reunions this year (in Budapest and North Germany). The most important trip to me was a 2 weeks North Italy visit I spent with my sweetheart.
However, travelling means wasting too much time on transportation vehicles and fewer time at home. Still, the statement holds, that I still was able to spent time with my family frequently (but less in terms of duration compared to 2011). A great tool called TripLine tells me I travelled more than 53,000km (32,000 miles) on the biggest trips alone this year (view Tripline stats). For me, that is quite a number and, from my perspective, an immoderate CO2 footprint. One new year resolution can clearly be postulated: travelling is one thing that has to decrease next year.

TripLine Year 2012

2013 – goals & resolutions for next year
The upcoming year 2013 has some clear objectives I will try to pursue. First of all, I decided that 2013 is the year to put my focus on my doctoral degree. For that I am going to invest any open time slot and pause some obligations, e.g., I will have to skip golfing for one year, avoid publishing new research results and reduce travelling time for non-mandatory trips to a minimum. Against the first objective stand family and personal goals that are important to me. I already planned an important trip with my family and friends to Uhuru Peak at the Kilimanjaro, Tansania plus few days to relax on Zanzibar. Additionally, Anna wants me to spend some days off with her on another trip. Looking forward to it :)
2013 means a tough task with balancing professional goals, meaning, in particular, obtaining a doctoral degree, with personal goals. And the scale must clearly tend towards professional goals.

Life’s not easy at the bottom! And next year’s gonna be a tough. Few time and a lot of work to do. Happy new year 2013 and 2014, I am off working like a dog. See you all in 2014! ;)

2013 Happy New Year

Recreational Days in remarkably beautiful Italy

This year, Anna and me took two recreational weeks in Italy. After we headed down the pass through Switzerland we had a stop in Lugano and climbed Monte Generoso which generously offered us a marvelous panoramic view over the Alps, Lombardy region, and Northern Italian lakes. From there we made our way to Liguria where we had the chance to see some of the most magical places on earth. There are beautiful places such as Portofino or the national park of Cinque Terre (meaning five soils). It is impressive how in this region, and probably in many more places along the Mediterranean sea, people traded short distance to sea and thereby to fish grounds and sea routes for a gargantuan effort to build houses on edgy and skewed cliffs tenth of meters above the sea. And, not only did they build houses on cliffs in a inhospitable environment permanently under attack by the sea (namely, waves and salt water), but painted their homes in all sorts of colors creating a surreal scenery.
We weren’t able to keep our fingers from hitting our camera’s button and capture the beauty forever (on our harddrive). During our daily hikes along the coast line at Portofino and Cinque Terre we had the best opportunity discover the surroundings of the small fishing villages and, of course, the villages themselves. We also didn’t spare a swim or two in the Mediterranean sea whilst our hikes :)

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Before we went to Lago di Como (=Lake Como) there was one more visit we had to tick off: Pisa. Holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa and continue to Larius Lacus (= Lake Como). Lake Como with its pearl Bellagio was another inexplicable experience. There a are wonderful old mansions by the lake, again in all colors, and palm trees in the middle of an Alps scenic view. Driving a boat (or pursuing any other occupation on or in the lake) is an impression impassable via a blog that must be experienced at first hand.

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For me that trip had a perfect mixture of components I love in vacations: recreation, experiences, and adventure. My next trip will have a good portion of adventure and sure a lot of experiences. However, recreation might come short on our ascent to Uhuru Peak at Mount Kilimanjaro. Surely can cope with it ;)

WWW Conference 2012 in Lyon

I have just returned from one of the biggest international conferences in computer science. One of my papers about Cloud migration and decision support has been accepted in the Web engineering (technical) track of the conference.

The experience was overwhelming: almost 2000 researchers from around the globe were participating in this conference, Sir Tim Berners-Lee (the inventor of the Web) held a keynote on the future of the Web, and Neelie Kroes (boss of von Guttenberg, former German minister of defense) talked about her view on the internet, Web and privacy. Technical tracks and papers were interesting, presentations  well prepared/papers extremely well written and very diverse as the conference covers a huge area of topics. In total: amazing experience at a A+ conference!

Tim Berners-Lee Keynote

Lyon is stunningly beautiful, with an old city and 2 rivers dividing Lyon in 3 parts, one being a peninsula. The heard of French food was incredible and I really had a life time experience of a unique cuisine and wine.

The whole conference is a big step in my progress as a researcher and pushes my efforts towards receiving a PhD. Not only will the publication reach many researchers and promote my work, but also the conference itself was an unforgettable experience I see as a must for every researcher: visit a huge high-quality conference once.

You can find the paper I published on my CV page and the album of photos I shot in Lyon and during the conference on my picasa Web albums page.

Future of Mobility

Electric cars are booming, yet they are still very costly and rarely seen on the street. But who doesn’t want to drive one of the Tesla Roadster that kick Porsche’s end.They win over fueled sports car in regards of acceleration easily (video).

Distance, however, is still a remaining issue, making pure electric cars a non-viable option even when they drop to affordable prices. From a long-term perspective, I expect battery manufactures to make electric cars win the battle or at least reach a level which is adequate for most people. When we actually run out of gas there well be a point when everything significantly cheaper than gas is adequate :)

Project “better place” of former SAP chair man Shai Agassi brought a revolutionary notion into the game of mobility. While today everyone spends money on gas not distance, “better place” offers a pay-per-use model similar to that of mobile phones (buy a phone, pay what you talk). Invest in a car that allows for battery switching and switch the battery at battery switch stations no matter how low your battery is. Payments are charged according to the distance on the car’s mileage with no limitations in the number of battery switches. With a fine grained network of battery switch stations distance of electric cars is not an issue anymore.

With ideas such as that and further improvements in battery charging technologies we might navigate towards a future were loud otto motor cars are only classics owned by enthusiasts. Cities might become more quiet places and maybe car sharing reaches a new level. With the need to charge and the trend of young people avoiding or showing less car affinity than generations before (1, 2) car sharing will advance to new levels. BMW already shows a neat approach with “drive now”, a car sharing project which is available in multiple German cities. Participants can locate cars near their location with an iPhone app and use what ever car is available, paying per mileage. Access to a car is granted with a chip that also recognizes who accesses the car. Since the cars (Minis and BMW 1) are equipped with GPS devices for navigation and a 3G connection, BMW is able to track where the cars are located and update data for the iPhone app in real time. Currently, only parked and available cars are published via the app, but I can imagine future versions that are integrated with the cars’ nav allowing to also display arriving cars worth waiting for. Who doesn’t want to wait another 5 minutes about a chic Mini convertible on a hot summer day opening up?

But, what if batteries never reach a comfortable level of quality and a network of switch stations is never created? There is still the alternative of pushing fuel cell technology faster forward and establish a chain of hydrogen supply. And hydrogen technologies sound promising!

Near future will probably see a transition to more electric vehicles with an increasing number of hybrid cars and fuell cell technology might or may not play a role. And we will see a lot of car sharing and other transportation related business models (e.g., with new transportation vehicles or non-car related) pop up in the near future. What interesting times we are allowed to observe in our life time due to gas scarcity. Keep your classics and invest in the right future technology stocks ;)

Faster News vs. Correct News

During the North-African/Arabian revolutions I noticed how information and news arrived from multiple sources over communication channels at different times. News arrived first via internet and moved on to 24h news channels that include social media and finally appeared on the evening news (e.g. German “Tagesschau“). A colleague of mine mentioned he noticed an evident delay between Arabian news broadcasts that consider twitter and online news websites and German evening news when he worked in Arabian countries at that time. News on Arabian TV were days ahead German news.

I wondered what might be the reason and tried to figure why this delay is noticeable. Obviously, news broadcaster pursue the goal of timeliness differently. The reason is the possibility of incorrectness of a news report the smaller the delay after the happening. Sometimes sources are not very reliable and trustful, and do need verification. Sometimes events and the implications are very obvious but sometimes it is only a small detail which is only a small part of the big picture.

In the following figures I tried to capture these trade-offs for four different types of news/communication channels: Twitter, Social Media-based News, Press Agencies and (conservative) News Broadcasts. The chance for incorrect reports versus an expected delay to further verify and aggregate news is one of the trade-offs made by news channels. The settings resp. chosen trade-off of the four channes is depicted in the first figure.

The same statement is true for the level of details of a channel. While fast channels provide small details and are not able to aggregate yet, the slower channels can sketch a brighter picture. The second figure draws a trade-off map for the level of details and timeliness.

So, what is the right trade-off and which is the channel to follow? The answer is pretty simple when you understand how information and the big picture matures over time. Follow fast channels according to your interest in the topic but be aware that there is a certain chance for incorrectness and misinterpretations. Then over time the information and reports will get aggregated and validated, and finally be distributed by press agencies and broadcasted on TV by your favorite news anchor. If you are aware of this process you are able to handle early information, knowing it requires validation and an evaluation of the source, and that aggregators are reasonable news aggregators to leverage. Slow news channels such as evening news on TV should be respected as the “quasi” final confirmation of a news report (notice: mistakes and incorrect reports still possible but low chance!).

Be happy to possibly be informed shortly by fast channels such as Twitter but do handle information careful as the maturity process still proceeds.

To end reading this post with a smile, the following xkcd comic shows you the power of Twitter, the possibly fastest channel you get ;)

xkcd seismic waves (source: xkcd.com)

Dutch Love to Go Camping

I was wondering why Dutch caravans crowd our Autobahn every summer. So, I googled the Web to find out what makes them go on vacation with a caravan.

First thing I checked was how popular camping is in the Netherlands. According to google trends it is pretty popular :) People from the Netherlands are #1 in the world when it comes to googling for “camping”. My research went on to discover the reasons.

Unfortunately, there was no definite reason or centuries old Dutch tradition that explains the yearly habit. But several points came up that draw a picture. Dutch obviously do have some specific preferences regarding their vacations. In particular, regarding food, children and the accommodation.

bring own food

According to a blog I found camping is so popular for Dutch people because they want to bring their own food. It is cheaper on the one hand and you are safe the food tastes good on the other. The blog, however, guesses its due to the Dutch’s cheapness :D

I also discovered that there is such a thing as a Dutch oven. Most likely everyone has seen one of these in a Western movie. The Dutch call it potje.

bring children

The Dutch must love children! One of the reasons that Dutch prefer camping is their children. Camping is definitely a family thing and children love camping. That is probably also the reason why this becomes a sort of tradition. Every Dutch remembers the great time he had on camping vacations in his childhood.

freedom and unusual accommodations

A major reason is a weakness for unusual accommodations, but also the freedom a caravan gives. A caravan allows a comfortable road trip with a motel on board. Nonetheless, prefering a caravan over a hotel room must be a Dutch thing ;) But Dutch do love unusual accommodations as stated by Ben Thijsen a Dutch entrepreneur who bought an old Eastern German airplane and turned it into a hotel.

Dutch must love camping so much they even drove down to the world championships in south africa 2010 in caravans.

Here’s a fun video about how much Germans like the Dutch caravans on our Autobahn: