Archive of postings for 2011, listed in descending order by creation date. Last Postings shown.

subversiv.at: Next Iteration of THE START PAGE. Hyperlinks refer to the old main pages that denoted the major categories back then. Pages might have changed their position in the hierarchy of pages.

A Desperate Attempt to Write a Witty Introduction.

(elkement. Created: 2011-04-22. Tags: Weird, Element, Art, EPSI, Subversive. German Version.)

The Subversive Element is a species that was had been observed on planet earth especially at the beginning of the third millennium (Hint for future archeologists or time-travelling aliens: This refers to the third planet orbiting around the central star in system 2345745 in galaxy 6569634, and universal time 456578).

The Element is also known as Elkement or El(k)ement - which would be explained by legal / contact information in case such information would be provided.

This website is maintained by the Element approximately since the dawn of the new millennium. Originally the Element has been expired by subversive literature, cloaked as business book. The Element did undercover research in a so-called managerial position. During a so-called management training it stumbled upon other subversive entities: This website had been inspired significantly by spin doctor Paintblog and the collection of random words and characters here resemble the collection of images presented by Sammelraum.

As all stressed managers and other pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago the Elkement is on a journey to a promising destination. Somebody (Irgendwer) is accompanying the Element. He will most likely also influence this site.

What is this All About?

The Element is not a Digital Native, but an Early Internet Adopter - meanwhile it sometimes online-o-phobic. Here are its musing on life as a netizen.

As a modern so-called knowledge worker, nerd, and techie the Element is trying to improve the secure foundation its biotope is built on. The Element is acting in the role of an ambivalent and complex person. The results of these psychological studies are published here.

Anything beyond this scope and related to Live, the Universe and Everything in general can be found here.

Anything even weirder can be found here.

Marginal notes[*]: Yes, colors and layout have been developed carefully. Why red? Because real subversive pages have to be red. This does not increase readibility. That has been done on purpose. These pages lack Powerpointilism. If you find any bullet points, please inform the Subversive Element. Content has been growing over time, it may be inconsistent. Sometimes inconsistency may be the result of deliberately considerung the expectations of typical visitor of this web page. If you find errors, typos, self-reference and redundancy: Do not inform the Subversive Element.

[*]displayed in the left pane in the original Red Version of the subversiv.at website, using a tiny font size.

 

Still no idea what I had in mind when I uploaded this image

The Magic of Deadlines and Numbers

(elkement. Created: 2011-04-07. Tags: Numbers, Magic, Deadlines, Work, Corporate World. German Version.)

This is not about numerology or other esotericism - this is just a try to transform corporate planning thinking and deadline madness into something useful.

The proverbial carrot in front of the nose of the donkey does work. In fact, in works the better the more pointless but simple the goal is. I can speak from experience.

I once promised to myself that I need to make the change until a date of
0x.0x.(20)0x with x=5.
Actually the decision has been taken as early as x=2.

And it worked.

Probably thanks to conditioning by various dangling prestigious carrots - that I had all managed to grasp finally in the past: School, university, corporate goals.

At x=9 I started pondering about new plans again.

We are using the Babylonian system of numbers based on 60 and its various factors such as 12. This means that there will be no 13.13.13

The Element is in change mode and mood again.

I am an Expert.

(elkement. Created: 2011-03-22. Tags: Life, Work, Career, Expert, Professional. German Version.)

I am a true professional: I am the total antithesis of a dilettante and an amateur. (Ha! Mike Daisey! Greetings from ElkeS)

An expert is a specialist and proud of not being a so-called generalist. Generalists is what the cowards call themselves: Those wimps that found the exit from permanently living in emergency mode, from really knowing it all and having to know and to fix it all. But I am not like that. I am the hero of troubleshooting.

But I am putting my hand on machines. I am wearing rubber gloves. By sheer thought power only I am able to penetrate into the nervous systems of these modern NOMADs. This is like in CSI – you remember the close-ups of blood vessels or electrical wiring. Then I track down and kill the enemy made from zero's and one's.

I am Trillian, I am Lara Croft, I am Ms. MacGuyver. And I put pizza into the microwave oven like Sandra Bullock in The Net. [Insert here: Something on the Improbability Drive, 42 or HAL].

I should not have any contact with human beings; I should not be human myself. I should live as an avatar only. I should inherit my mind to the world – to be uploaded to the internet. And as a compensation for all those heroic deeds I receive: Money, fame and glory without limits. People that owe their lives to me. And flowers. And an e-mail with some managers on CC. Until the next tsunami approaches the shore.

How did I ever end up in this geek paradise?

And where is the exit, the shut down button?

Get me out of here. Please.

In Need of a Deflector (for Requests)

(elkement. Created: 2011-03-20. Tags: Work, For Free, Entrepreneur. German Version.)

Years ago (see below) I thought that I had the same problem as reported by many freelancers: So-called colleagues, customers or social networking acquaintances asking for:
something that will require time, efforts and my expertise - and that is usually paid (well).

The problem has vanished or did never really exist for me. As long as you do not believe you need to make everybody happy you can simply say no to such not-willing-to-pay pseudo-clients. And as long as you are selling some service that somebody (desperately) needs (who is willing to pay).

But it is hard to say no to the paying clients. Especially if they are appealing to your vanity and to your reputation as the Number One / Guru / Diva.

Realistically it is not so much the fact that I can solve a problem in such a marvelous way. But I am probably the only available person. Or the only person that is as crazy as considering to work under such conditions - in terms of risk and schedule.

Breakwater in Teneriffa.

About to Change (Though Unaware of This)

(elkement. Last changed: 2012-01-03. Created: 2011-01-07. Tags: Life, Work, Decisions. German Version.)

On reviewing your one history you are always biased and tend to rewrite it silently. You might consider that bias positive, recapturing Viktor Frankl's saying of flooding the entire life with meaning in retrospect. I am keeping the old versions of my web pages and force myself to re-read, comment and gradually change them. The CV tends to become cluttered, therefore I am providing a current version (2011) which is neither complete nor objective.

I always wanted to know how stuff really works and what makes human beings behave the way they do. As a child I have dismantled a toy car in a way that the grown-ups could not reproduce. I grew crystals of potash alum and blue vitriol (until I destroyed a not so heat resistant glass) and crafted paper polyhedrons (the largest in terms of no. of surfaces was a rhombicosidodecahedron with pyramids on each surface). Later I fired pulsed laser beams on little lumps of ceramic material, took photos of the emitted cloud of evaporated material and let thin films grow from this material. I have tried to understand why this clouds protruded into space in a very peculiar shape and why the electrical resistance of these films became zero at low temperatures (or not).

I was most interested in the reason why (things were as there were). It seemed less important to me to build something useful based on these insights. But I became more and more involved in the latter. Probably this was based on my investigations of the human behavior. Or rather the behavior of systems constituted by human beings. I learned what is required, important, right or opportune. As a small particle in large systems I have made some contributions. Today I am still under the impression of the ambivalent nature of of being the 'techie who saves the world': Fame and glory versus burnout and stoic self-descipline.

Reading the book of my life I am detecting the following recurrent theme: Since nearly 25 years I have been explaining technical and scientific stuff. By explanation I mean the transfer of low-level understanding - of 'talking and thinking science' in the language of mathematics - into examples, action, and stories. I am a true fan of Richard Feynman.

Steep meandering paths in Tenerife, Anaga Mountains. 2004, iconic trip.

A Nerd's Awakening to the Existence of the Matrix AKA Corporate World

(elkement. Created: 2011-01-03. Tags: Corporate World, Career, Decisions. German Version.)

(First English version generated at the beginning of 2011. There is no older and thus 'more positive' English version in this category - one that would correspond to the oder German articles.)

Some years ago I would have described myself as a nerd, geek and tech freak. I like Dilbert-style humor, worked at strange hours and found some aspect of Star Trek like adventures. I still believe that having worked in the trenches of a real IT project adventure is the best way of building long-term 'contacts' (as relationships between human beings in the business world are called in modern 'networking lingo')

23:00 ... But there is still life in the office (or in the data center). The project team is working their heads off to meet the deadline. Having consumed an enormous amount of coffee, Coke and pizza the mood is cheering up - paradoxically. It is difficult to understand for outsiders when grown-up professionals show childlike joy when call their test domain disaster.now.

By the way I have implicitly defined 'Technology' as something like the real-world applications of the insights provided by natural sciences and engineering - real-world also including human beings, corporate politics, and so on. Originally the term as such would rather mean 'Understanding of techniques' in my opinion - which is to some extent exactly what is missing in modern 'technology' (depending on how to define 'understanding').

My resume from many years 'in IT' and 'in technology projects' is as follows: I was worth the experiences - both technically and personally. It is fun to be part of a Dilbert cartoon for some time, it is like carnival (which I never liked, BTW). But at some point of time you might want to return to the role of the person who is just occasionally reading the cartoons - even if this means: less money, less glory.

Scott Adams hat written God's Debris. I would be interested in his motives.

Breakwater in Teneriffa, near the village Garachico at the Northern coast, only accessibly via a steep meandering road. (2004 - seven years before I finally and completely put into practice what I pondered about back then.)

Knowledge for the Sake of Knowledge

(elkement. Created: 2011-01-02. Tags: Knowledge, Science, Physics, Fundamentals, Philosophy. German Version.)

I have always wondered why my English articles about science, career (and the universe and everything) have different tone than my German ones.

The English version dated 2008 differed from the German version. After reading Bertrand Russell I dare to say that my English way of thinking about science was more Russell-like whereas my German version was a little bit too fluffy and written in 'longing for consensus mode'. Probably the statement on 'popular science books' was a bit too harsh.

Today I consider the following the most important aspect of science - both in retrospect as well as with respect to my current relation to science:

I am still most interested in the fundamentals of physics and in theoretical physics. Such as: Explaining why the sky is blue or how a heat pump works - both in words and pictures but also drilling down to the mathematical proofs. I admit that this is not primarily driven by the necessity to build technical solutions (although I do not object to apply that knowledge to real-life problems, of course). I believe that this way of scientific thinking has a value that stands on its own. It is not just 'technology' and 'formulas', it is rather part of our culture.

I re-discovered some really old books on physics last year. In contrast to the saying of the exponential growth of knowledge the very core of physics is unchanged. Strong foundations are even more valuable today in order to judge the overflow by so-called new stuff. I feel that immersing in these details and the full broad picture of nature as seen through the eyes of science allows to thrive (survive?) in modern project busywork more easily.

Personal website of Elke Stangl, Zagersdorf, Austria, c/o punktwissen.
elkement [at] subversiv [dot] at.