On the narrative of Berlin and Germany being anti-surveillance

There is this narrative, mostly used by Americans, that Berliners and through them Germans are historically a) more acquainted to being surveilled and b) through that are naturally against it happening again. In some cases, like today, where Bruce Sterling was seemingly het up about the fact that Berliners didn’t seem to embrace the Snowden’s of the world to the German capital and thus doing something about surveillance.

I find that somewhat amusing, because most of the time this narrative is being used as much in front of the people who have been personally effected by the Stasi as Startups of this city hire unemployed Berliners to be part of Silicon Valley 2.0.

The core of what the narrative encompasses doesn’t live inside the Ringbahn. It got pushed aside by Generation Easyjet, who – if it comes down to it – would rename Rosa-Luxembourg Platz in to Acne Platz. It probably wouldn’t help the narrative to walk around in Berlin-Mitte and embrace the full-frontal core of the political movement that this soon-to-be-like SoHo area radiates. This is not self-righteousness, I chose for my office to be there not by pure accident. Truly, I have a hard time believing that anybody takes the effort to go to Marzahn or Hellersdorf to take their message to the address to which it may mostly apply. Than again, they would have to learn how to give speeches in the local tongue instead of expecting that everybody in the room speaks their language.

Comment [2]

  1. One anecdote that contributes to this narrative for many people is the Google Street View situation. Of course, that seriously oversimplifies the situation with newspapers and August political cycles in Germany. I wish somebody would write up a more down-to-earth explanation of what happened there, in English.

    Parker Higgins · Jan 26, 08:14 PM · #

  2. That old, sleeping dog.

    I don’t really know. There was a lot in the mix to make that thing happen. A press owned by German media companies with a clear mission statement to make Google’s life as hard as possible, older people who would let themselves film by TV crews in front of their homes while giving interviews why they will pixel out their homes on Google Street View and just a nation that seemingly can’t say no to Google’s search engine (a market share north of 90%, unprecedented in any other market) that seemingly decided that they need to make theatrical intervention to make their point heard.

    Or, you know, something in that ballpark.

    — Igor · Jan 26, 08:37 PM · #