The future of thinking

Possibly soon, and perhaps even now, children may be taught one skill above all others to prepare them for life. It is a virtue and it can be trained: Impartiality. Parents/schools/media might teach children to be as unbiased as possible. Because this skill could be the most important prerequisite to be successful – whatever success could mean. Success in the eye of one beholder might look like economic success, ecologic success in an other’s. There might be a huge number of qualities that describe success.

Impartiality seems to me to be the most important prerequisite for being able to profit from the multitude of signals that are being received from more and more directions, also due to technical developments1.

With prejudice, on the other hand, it is difficult, in my opinion, to profit from the information provided by others outside the boundaries of prejudice – independent of the technology used. A multitude of signals, many of them contradictory, come from a multitude of directions, via smartphone, computer, newspaper, radio, television, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, you name it.

All these different perspectives seem to me increasingly affecting peoples’ thinking. It seems to negatively affect biased people (they seem to get angrier) but does have less of that effect on the more impartial folks who seem to me to relax more. Maybe for the more biased people the multitudes of signals sounds more like a cacophony, incomprehensible noise.

When you look with a few eyes at something very large and complex, it seems to me that you can’t perceive much more than the detail that happens to be in front of your nose. You would need many different angles to understand large complex things. If the thing is then still moving, as it is said that the world is changing faster and faster, so if the thing to be grasped is a “moving target”, it can therefore only be grasped if one has learned to look at it from many angles at the same time. Unbiasedness seems to me to be the prerequisite for allowing perspectives that may even contradict one’s own way of seeing.

The problems humanity will face in the future will probably be both bigger and more complex than they are today, and they will then have to be examined and understood from many different angles in order to be able to fix them. The unbiased would thus become more and more important, because they would be able to do so. The bias seems to me already on the descending branch, as can be observed, in my opinion, in many places. The discussions about diversity of all kinds, which seem to have been increasing for years, are in my opinion an expression of exactly this development; exclusion and bias are becoming less and less appreciated, according to my observations. The underlying reason, in my opinion, is not so much the striving for justice, but the awareness of the value of the many different perspectives.

I am convinced that societies that are able to admit the greatest possible number of perspectives can see better, recognize better and understand better. And that, in turn, seems to me to be the best condition for being able to respond wisely to change. If it is true that the world is changing faster and faster, societies will be less and less able to afford to be selective and to allow only those perspectives that their biases allow.

I suspect our children will be smarter than we are because they will be better able to load themselves up with knowledge from thousands of perspectives. And they will probably be aware that each one alone can only ever perceive a tiny angle of reality.

These children will, I suspect, be unbiased, smart and humble. Geniuses.

1 I am without doubt unable to turn off these signals and I find it increasingly difficult to turn the volume down a bit.

Die Zukunft des Denkens

Womöglich wird bald und vielleicht sogar schon jetzt den Kindern vor allen Dingen eine Fähigkeiten vermittelt, um sie aufs Leben vorzubereiten. Es ist eine Tugend und sie kann trainiert werden: Unvoreingenommenheit. Eltern/Schulen/Medien werden den Kindern beibringen so unvoreingenommen wie möglich zu sein. Denn diese Fähigkeit könnte die wichtigste Voraussetzung sein, erfolgreich zu sein – was auch immer Erfolg in der Zukunft ausmachen sollte. Denn Unvoreingenommenheit scheint mir die wichtigste Voraussetzung, um von der Vielzahl der Signale profitieren zu können, die auch aufgrund technischer Entwicklungen aus immer mehr Richtungen und immer lauter empfangen werden können.

Mit Voreingenommenheit hingegen ist es meiner Meinung nach schwierig, vom Wissen anderer zu profitieren, die ausserhalb der Grenzen der Voreingenommenheit stehen – technische Entwicklungen hin oder her. Die zum großen Teil widersprüchlichen Signale, die, wie zu erwarten ist, immer mehr, aus den verschiedensten Richtungen auf uns einwirken, über Smartphone, Computer, Zeitung, Radio, Fernsehen, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok – und was da noch alles ist und sein wird – all das scheint für voreingenommene Menschen immer mehr zum Problem zu werden, eine Kakophonie, unverständlicher Lärm.

Wenn man mit wenigen Augen auf etwas sehr großes und komplexes schaut, scheint mir, als dass man nicht viel mehr wahrnehmen kann als das Detail, das man zufälliger Weise vor der Nase hat. Man bräuchte viele verschiedene Blickwinkel, um große komplexe Dinge zu verstehen. Wenn sich das Ding dann noch bewegt, so wie man sagt, dass sich die Welt immer schneller verändert, wenn also das Ding, das es zu erfassen gilt ein ein “moving target” ist, kann es demnach nur erfasst werden, wenn man aus vielen Blickwinkeln gleichzeitig zu betrachten gelernt hat. Unvoreingenommenheit scheint mir die Voraussetzung zu sein, Blickwinkel zuzulassen, die dem eigenen Sehen vielleicht sogar widersprechen

Die Probleme mit denen die Menschheit in der Zukunft konfrontiert sein wird, werden vermutlich sowohl grösser als auch komplexer sein als heute und sie müssen dann noch viel mehr von den verschiedensten Seiten aus begutachtet und verstanden werden um sie reparieren zu können. Die Unvoreingenommenen würden so immer mehr an Bedeutung gewinnen, denn sie wären dazu in der Lage. Die Voreingenommenheit scheint mir schon jetzt auf dem absteigenden Ast, wie sich, meiner Meinung nach, auch an vielen Stellen beobachten lässt. Die seit Jahren offenbar immer mehr zunehmenden Diskussionen um Diversität aller Art ist meiner Ansicht nach ein Ausdruck von genau dieser Entwicklung, Ausgrenzung und Voreingenommenheit wird nach meiner Beobachtung immer weniger goutiert. Der tiefer liegende Grund ist dabei meiner Meinung nach weniger das Streben nach Gerechtigkeit, sondern das Bewusstsein um den Wert der vielen verschiedenen der Blickwinkel.

Ich bin überzeugt, dass Gesellschaften, die in der Lage sind, eine möglichst große Zahl an Perspektiven zuzulassen, besser sehen, besser erkennen und besser verstehen können. Und das wiederum scheint mir die beste Voraussetzung zu sein, klug auf Veränderung reagieren zu können. Wenn es stimmt, dass sich die Welt immer schneller verändert, werden es sich die Gesellschaften immer weniger leisten können, wählerisch zu sein und nur die Perspektiven gelten zu lassen, die Voreingenommenheit zulässt.

Ich vermute, unsere Kinder werden klüger sein als wir, weil sie besser verstehen, sich mit dem Wissen aus tausenden von Blickwinkeln aufzuladen. Und sie werden sich vermutlich bewusst sein, dass jeder/jede einzelne alleine immer nur einen winzigen Blickwinkel auf die Realität wahrnehmen kann.

Diese Kinder werden, so vermute ich, unvoreingenommen sein, klug und bescheiden. Genies eben.

Revisiting 13thFloor

18 years after its making I revisit the interactive documentary 13thFloor wearing the glasses I wear now.


In 2004, German writer Kolja Mensing and media artist Florian Thalhofer spent 31 days in Grohner Düne, a 1970s social housing complex on the outskirts of Bremen that is home to 1,600 people.

Media scientist Bernhard Dotzler called 13terStock an “interactive home movie”.
and attested “a convincing answer on how to show today’s reality has been found by the film”.

Technology and structure

13terStock was originally built with Korsakow 3, a version that only allowed one interface for the whole film. Later, 13terStock was rebuilt and different interface layouts were added. The keywords are thematic: There are five main topics “family”, “money”, “home”, “war”, “rules” and a number of subtopics for each of the main topics.

There is also a laypot (“birdseye view”) which serves to give a feeling of overview.

Pictorial description of the intro scene

It starts quite abruptly, when one looks out of a slight overhead view onto the desk of a roughly 50-year-old man, whom one observes making a short but complete telephone call, hanging up and saying quite noncharlant that he is a Social Democrat. Then a large white building complex can be seen from a distance. It is obviously the apartment complex that is the subject of this film.

The next shots are now closer to the object, you look from above into the courtyard of the building complex. The camera shakes, and where there were windows a moment ago, black areas now appear on the image, on which small and barely legible terms are written that could also be catchwords or headlines. The black tiles remain, while the image of the camera under the black rectangles shows impressions of the inside, of the life behind the scenery and no longer the view from the outside on the Grohner Düne. The black tiles are hyperlinks an serve as windows into the house and the lives of its inhabitants. While in the background the at that time hip Berlin band “Teans Team” sings also quite noncharlant “Jeder Tag wunderbar“ – “Every day wonderful”.

Disclaimer of the pictorial description

I designed the opening scene of the work described above 18 years ago. Today, I look at it through the perspective of pictorial description. The method of pictorial description was not accessible to me at that time, because I deeply despised this method, which I had become acquainted with in art classes at school, because I understood this technique to be cold and lacking in emotion, and in fact I still see it as such. The method of pictorial description is not about feeling, it is instead about describing how feeling is described.

“Every day wonderful” was my alsolute favorite song at the time and that’s the only reason I chose it. Not because, as I realize today, it precisely frames what the perspective of this work is about. To show the, one could say, beautiful, livable, special and thus interesting. Without making oneself mean with the protagonists of the film and without putting oneself above the protagonists. They are different from us and this is stated repeatedly in the work.

“Without making oneself mean with the protagonists and without putting oneself above them”

I suspect that we were only able to achieve this feat because we were not conscious in the making, because if we had been conscious, it would have put us above the protagonists, who apparently did not have this media consciousness either.

The author becomes visible as the point of perspective in a mediated reality

From the very beginning, we have interwoven the object of our investigation with the personal horizon of our experience. This starts already with one of the first diary entries, when Kolja Mensing describes 18 year ago Florian’s apartment and compares it with Grohner Düne:

“Florian’s Berlin apartment is in a discreet new building from the nineties, more or less next to the Ministry of Economics and Labor and thus not far from the so-called government district.” Kolja wonders if the same fortune as Grohner Düne could happen to Florian’s building complex. “After all, just like many other large housing estates, Grohner Düne was once a sought-after destination for the aspiring middle classes in the early seventies – and back then it didn’t even take ten years for the paradise for young families to become a temporary camp on the outskirts of the city for asylum seekers, guest workers and social losers with German passports.”

We have described Grohner Düne from our perspective. And by describing ourselves, the audience has the opportunity to understand the authors’ perspective and correct for it accordingly. Just like I can do now even as the former author when I calculate my younger self out of the perception process of mediated reality.

And whoosh, I look at myself from the outside. And this probably also happens to a viewer who is not also an author, although the effect is probably weaker.

Die Zeit wrote: “one of these tracks simply shows the images recorded by the video surveillance cameras in the Grohner Düne. Another uses a television reportage that reported on the project of the two filmmakers. So they become part of their own work, which in turn is part of other image systems.”

Good morning

This morning I woke up and the world was still there. I was somewhat surprised, because the dream that preceded it did not suggest such an assumption.

So or similarly it goes to me every day and so or similarly it probably goes to everyone every day. We recognize the day by the continuity, by the fact that the day continues on what is already known to us from the past. The bed we wake up in is the bed we fell asleep in.

Conversely, we find it difficult to recognize the dream by its lack of continuity. The dream is simply there, or we fall into the reality of the dream without getting to the realization of the dream for being a dream.

Science knows different theories why we dream and this means nothing else than that we do not know why we dream. We do not even know why we sleep and there are even thinkers who wonder if the reality we are in during the day is actually the right one.

Good morning and have a wonderful week!

Guten Morgen

Heute bin ich aufgewacht und die Welt war noch da. Ich war einigermaßen erstaunt, denn der Traum, der dem voranging legte eine solche Vermutung nicht nahe.

So oder ähnlich geht es mir jeden Tag und so oder ähnlich ergeht es wohl jeder und jedem jeden Tag. Wir erkennen den Tag an der Kontinuität, daran, dass der Tag an dem fortsetzt, was uns bereits aus der Vergangenheit bekannt ist. Das Bett in dem wir aufwachen ist das Bett in dem wir eingeschlafen sind.

Umgekehrt, den Traum an der fehlenden Kontinuität zu erkennen fällt uns hingegen schwer. Der Traum ist einfach da, oder wir fallen hinein in die Realität des Traums ohne dem Traum für sein Traum sein auf die Schliche zu kommen.

Die Wissenschaft kennt verschiedene Theorien warum wir träumen und das heißt nichts anderes, als dass wir nicht wissen, warum wir träumen. Wir wissen noch nicht einmal warum wir schlafen und es gibt sogar Denker, die sich fragen, ob die Realität, in der wir uns tagsüber befinden eigentlich die richtige ist.

Guten Morgen und eine schöne Woche!

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