Interesting debates, very different resonances

12/04/2019

After more than a year of lectures with discussion about my current popular science book, a little review is in order. It is more interesting than I expected at the end of 2018.

A little more than a year has passed since I published my book "Das Gespinst der Digitalisierung". So far I have been allowed to present the book 13 times in Germany’s East and West, South and North, three times in Munich, two times in Regensburg, four further lectures are planned for the beginning of next year. The invitations came from IT providers and industry, political foundations and a state agency for political education.

The book theme is a hot topic for many people, and those with whom I get into conversation have plenty of questions and thoughts. The fact that I have placed the topic in an unusually wide arc of human development and illuminated it from different perspectives meets with great approval. But there are also highly interesting differences in the composition of the audience and discussions, and above all in the reactions.

At several events I had an audience that was quite obviously made up of all parts of society. Many professional groups were represented, from young people upwards also all age groups. This is perhaps one of the particularly interesting experiences: While everyone is talking about the digital natives, who are supposed to be the ones who know their stuff, are interested and want to have a say, it was much sooner and more often the older people and not infrequently very old people who were very interested and had also many ideas on how to approach the topic in our society. The pensioners of different professions are not only in Mallorca. Many of them are very involved in the debate.

Computer scientists, I thought at first, are perhaps rather bored by my far-reaching analyses and representations of contexts. But the most fierce, longest and far-reaching discussions I had with this very professional group. Not nerds at all and not only interested in source code! Hopefully I will have more opportunities to discuss with them, like at the Mesconf conference in Munich, where about 90 participants met to discuss model-based system development.

I was surprised by the reaction of mechanical engineers and IT specialists in the engineering fields of industry. During my presentation, you would have heard a pin drop, and no one reached into any keys or wiped on a device. The ratings afterwards gave the highest marks of approval for my presentation. But there was almost no discussion. This professional group, which is most familiar to me from the last 30 years, obviously has great inhibitions to take an active part in the civil society discussion. On the one hand, they are not accustomed to being expected to deliver something else than well-functioning products and processes. And perhaps the hardest thing for them to cope with is the changes that are now emerging when industry develops networked systems with services based on them instead of mechanical and mechatronic products. They have brought industry up to today's leading global level in this country. And now their role is fundamentally changing.

Chapter Downloads December 2019Unfortunately, Springer Verlag has not helped to bring this book to the book trade and thus to the readers. The publisher is apparently only concerned with numbers of chapter downloads in university libraries. He can't even provide me with exact numbers of book downloads.

After all, the sporadically updated figures of the analysis tool used show that more than 40,000 chapter downloads have been counted since the publication. (compare the screenshot) In half year 2018 more than twice the annual average for popular science books. 2019 to the beginning of December more than four times. This means, as an e-book alone, the book would have found about 3,100 readers.

I am currently working on a management book on artificial intelligence in industry: The "AI Compass" will be published by Hanser in early summer. For my next popular science book, following on "Das Gespinst der Digitalisierung", I am still looking for a publishing house that is concerned not only with profit but also with knowledge and social debate. They are rare.

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