Germany's CDU, Angela Merkel's Party Of Fuddy-Duddies, Decides To Join The Cool Kids: Backs Open Standards, Open Source, Open Data, Open APIs — Open Everything

from the it's-groovy,-man dept

The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Germany is Angela Merkel’s party. She led it for 18 years before resigning last year as leader, but remaining as Chancellor of Germany until 2021. It is a party that has often held the reins of power in Germany, but has seen a steady decline in membership over the last 30 years. From a peak of nearly 800,000 in 1990, it is now down to around half that. According to figures on Wikipedia, in 2012, the members’ average age was 59 years, and 6% of the Christian Democrats were under 30 years old. In other words, it is German’s party of old fuddy-duddies. Against that historical background, the following passage from its “Digital Charter”, agreed during its recent party conference, is noteworthy (original in German pdf):

The open and jointly developed standards of the Internet and open interfaces are the principles from which we advance the digitisation of Germany. It is only through openness that competition can be created; only through openness can new players in competition challenge the top dogs. This is why the following will apply to all (public) digitisation projects in Germany in the future: the awarding of contracts and funding will be subject to compliance with the principles of open source and open standards. Software financed by public funds should serve all citizens. In addition, free and open APIs should facilitate access for independent developments.

That’s an impressive hit-rate for the “opens”: openness, open interfaces, open source, open standards. Also thrown in for good measure is the idea that publicly-funded code should be available to everyone — presumably as open source. Elsewhere in the document, the Digital Charter speaks approvingly of open data and open educational resources (OER), and promises to create an “open public repository” of re-usable digital components. On the downside, the document also includes the usual platitudes about blockchains, AI, 5G and “smart cities”, as well as rolling out tired buzzwords such as “agility”, “sandboxing” and “decentralization”.

Nonetheless, the emphasis on openness in all its forms is striking and thoroughgoing. The Digital Charter may not commit the party to doing anything concrete very soon. But it’s a clear and welcome sign that openness has entered the mainstream to such an extent that even the fuddy-duddies get it.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter, Diaspora, or Mastodon.

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Federico (profile) says:

Pretty usual lies

Nice win, of course, but I’m confident they’re just lies. CDU has made all sorts of promises in the past (OA, OER, open internet, …) but in the end they’ve always acted as copyright maximalists, while pretending otherwise.

https://blog.wikimedia.de/2018/07/05/etappensieg-fuers-freie-internet/
https://blog.wikimedia.de/2017/07/12/koalitionsvertrag-nordrhein-westfalen-schulfreiheitsgesetz-geplant-freie-bildung-und-open-source-ausgespart/
https://blog.wikimedia.de/2014/02/14/oer-freie-bildunsmaterialien-berlin-geht-voran/
https://blog.wikimedia.de/2013/11/26/entwurf-koalitionsvertrag-netzpolitik/

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Pretty usual lies

"They’ve got the excellent Julia Reda as an MEP."

They HAD. She resigned over the party allowing a person accused of sexual harassment to take second place on the MEP docket.
Personally I think that was a mistake, but I can understand that she doesn’t want to contribute to the success of a sexual predator.

Apparently she was backed by the guy in first place on the docket but that didn’t help.

The irony here is that the sort of shit which has pirates like Anna Troberg and Julia Reda resigning from their parties is stuff which is endemic to most of the major parties where no one gives much of a rat’s ass until it gets bad enough to hit the papers…

That being the case the pirate parties really need to up their game here. If there’s a misogynist in the ranks don’t be like all the oldtime parties where politics trump decency. Just get rid of him.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Pretty usual lies

Dang! I didn’t know about that. Thank you for letting me know. Full story here.

You’re right. The trouble is, the party is dominated by increasingly right wing libertarian-type men, i.e. they’re not interested in women feeling safe around them. Julia is a big loss. I really liked her as a politician.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Pretty usual lies

"The trouble is, the party is dominated by increasingly right wing libertarian-type men, i.e. they’re not interested in women feeling safe around them. Julia is a big loss. I really liked her as a politician."

Similar as in Sweden when Anna Troberg walked. We lose a LOT of very good people because Pirate Party men are trying to run the party in the same way the large incumbent parties do it and the type of women drawn to pirate politics aren’t doormats who accept that.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Pretty usual lies

Similar as in Sweden when Anna Troberg walked. We lose a LOT of very good people because Pirate Party men are trying to run the party in the same way the large incumbent parties do it and the type of women drawn to pirate politics aren’t doormats who accept that.

Damn straight we’re not. Anyone who’s serious about running the party in such a way as to make it as appealing as possible to the greatest number of people while maintaining our principles needs to take a more realistic approach. Basically, lose the patriarchal attitudes and focus on inclusivity. I’m being put off by the anarchists who routinely insult people of faith in various online locations, as if we are so few in number that pushing us away won’t matter in the long term. It totally will. Demagoguery over UBI and other pie-in-the-sky policies are also off-putting and will relegate us to the outer edges of political activity unless they focus on evidence-based policy-making instead.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Pretty usual lies

"Basically, lose the patriarchal attitudes and focus on inclusivity."

A bit worse than that. Although most of the people who join pirate parties do so spurred by democratic principles, the party’s IT/internet focus HAS attracted quite a few adherents of the wrong side of Gamersgate. The misogeny often comes from neckbeard incels and general douchebags rather than, as is usually the case with the oldtime incumbent parties, because the party leadership is still running on the social mores of the early 18th century and have a hard time grasping that a woman can think for herself and vote.

"I’m being put off by the anarchists who routinely insult people of faith in various online locations…"

Ooops? o_O

"Demagoguery over UBI and other pie-in-the-sky policies are also off-putting and will relegate us to the outer edges of political activity unless they focus on evidence-based policy-making instead."

You would THINK that bringing actual facts into politics shouldn’t be that hard. Shouldn’t.

And yet I think that today my offhand guess would be that in europe at least some 80% of the legislative effort has absolutely no basis in fact or worse, is in defiance of the facts.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Pretty usual lies

the party’s IT/internet focus HAS attracted quite a few adherents of the wrong side of Gamersgate. The misogeny often comes from neckbeard incels and general douchebags rather than, as is usually the case with the oldtime incumbent parties, because the party leadership is still running on the social mores of the early 18th century and have a hard time grasping that a woman can think for herself and vote.

That implies that such attitudes have been there from the get-go. I can see that…

**"I’m being put off by the anarchists who routinely insult people of faith in various online locations…"

Ooops? o_O**

Person of faith here. I saw Christian-bashing on Rick Falkvinge’s blog comments where they ganged up on a chap wanting to help with copyright reform. It was ugly. Haven’t been back since. I can take a bit of ragging but a total dogpile? No. I don’t like extreme anything, whatever hat it’s wearing at the time.

You would THINK that bringing actual facts into politics shouldn’t be that hard. Shouldn’t.

People have blind spots where their pet issues are concerned. I know a Pirate who’s mad keen on EU federalisation and also love nuclear power despite the documented problems of waste pollution. Nice chap, but can’t see the wood for the trees where those issues are concerned.

And yet I think that today my offhand guess would be that in europe at least some 80% of the legislative effort has absolutely no basis in fact or worse, is in defiance of the facts.

You may well be correct, I won’t argue with you over that.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Pretty usual lies

"Person of faith here. I saw Christian-bashing on Rick Falkvinge’s blog comments where they ganged up on a chap wanting to help with copyright reform. It was ugly."

Rick’s blog was usually pretty good, but the comment field often became dumpster fires. To this day I’m not sure whether a few of the most inflammatory AC’s in there weren’t just "Nejtillpirater"’s sock puppets or generic trolls derailing the discussion.

But there were indeed more than a few pirates who seemed to be ANGRY…at everything, more or less.

"I know a Pirate who’s mad keen on EU federalisation and also love nuclear power despite the documented problems of waste pollution."

Yeah, the EU federalization…i had a few beers with Falkvinge and Christian Engström, the then swedish EU MEP from the pirate party. The stories they told, at the table and on their blog, had me convinced that the EU was heading for a "let-them-eat-cake"-style revolution. The naked contempt the commission held against the people’s elected was at a point where the shenanigans around ACTA, appalling as it was, just a logical continuation of status quo. Anyone still believing that is either uninformed or has a vested interest.

Nuclear power is a sad story, made sadder by the fact that what we know of it today is all about the highly dangerous uranium-fueled reactors which became the one and only viable path all thanks to western nations having an unending hunger for weapons-grade rest products such as U-239.

Go google Rick’s blog page about "warmongers have ruined nuclear power for two generations". Then read up on thorium-based molten salt reactors.

We should never had three mile island, chernobyl, or fukushima if we had gone for nuclear power from the perspective of NOT primarily using it for producing WMD’s.

50 damn years with hundreds and thousands of power plants springing up running supercritical uranium-based reactions when the proper solution from the get-go could have not only provided safe and cheap power, but also completely removed fossil fuels from the industrial power equation as far back as the 60’s.

The proper choice back then would have seen us without a radioactive waste problem (which we have in spades today), without thousands of ticking bombs in the form of uranium reactors, or most of global warming. We’d have had plenty of time to cover north africa in solar power panels, the north sea in wind turbines, and actual, realistic options of power generation.

Instead of the current status where we now have to close one nuclear plant after another over safety reasons with the only realistic replacement being coal and gas burned in some CO2-factory plant in Poland.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Pretty usual lies

Yeah, the EU federalization…i had a few beers with Falkvinge and Christian Engström, the then swedish EU MEP from the pirate party. The stories they told, at the table and on their blog, had me convinced that the EU was heading for a "let-them-eat-cake"-style revolution. The naked contempt the commission held against the people’s elected was at a point where the shenanigans around ACTA, appalling as it was, just a logical continuation of status quo. Anyone still believing that is either uninformed or has a vested interest.

Yeah… they would have told you that Commissioners are appointed by Parliament, who can get rid of them if they so choose, per video conversation with Karel de Gucht when ACTA bit the dust. While you’re right about some of the Commissioners, remember that, also per Rick Falkvinge, they and MEPs are constantly being hammered by lobbyists and We the People don’t engage much unless we want something.

**Then read up on thorium-based molten salt reactors.

We should never had three mile island, chernobyl, or fukushima if we had gone for nuclear power from the perspective of NOT primarily using it for producing WMD’s.**

I’d get behind Thorium.

50 damn years with hundreds and thousands of power plants springing up running supercritical uranium-based reactions when the proper solution from the get-go could have not only provided safe and cheap power, but also completely removed fossil fuels from the industrial power equation as far back as the 60’s.

That is imfuriating.

**The proper choice back then would have seen us without a radioactive waste problem (which we have in spades today), without thousands of ticking bombs in the form of uranium reactors, or most of global warming. We’d have had plenty of time to cover north africa in solar power panels, the north sea in wind turbines, and actual, realistic options of power generation.

Instead of the current status where we now have to close one nuclear plant after another over safety reasons with the only realistic replacement being coal and gas burned in some CO2-factory plant in Poland.**

Renewables are increasing their % of power production, so it’s not that bleak. However, they need to increase in number before they can fully overtake fossil fuels for power production. One of my pet concerns is for the increase in micro-generation. I really do believe it’s the future. Stop "Go big or go home" and think about how much better it would be if each household were able to contribute to the power grid.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Pretty usual lies

I actually have some background in this. It is almost always much much cheaper and more efficient to construct a central power plant and wire the electricity to homes.

We actually had to sit down and do the equations in engineering finance and power engineering classes. It is not just cheaper on paper either. It is actually fewer resources wasted/used because the options were calculated using efficiency and return on investment equations and not profit shifting accounting.

The biggest difference comes from fewer transportation costs setting everything up, fewer regulation and zoning costs because the facility is in one place instead of strewn across a wide area, and fewer construction costs because you only need one work site.

It is not a small difference. It is a giant difference in costs. Distributed generation is generally WAY more expensive and less efficient.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Pretty usual

There is a useful and efficient place for back up generators on the power grid.

I was looking for a civil engineering equation used for determining the public benefit of a project but I can’t find it right now. I found some of the other equations used but I haven’t tracked the most pertinent one down. It basically is a way to quantify public benefits vs public costs and the larger the value it calculates the more favorable it is to give the project a government subsidy.

It is often used to determine how to allocate tax dollars. I wish I could find it right now.

Anyway, if you can find that equation and make the number as big as possible that is one of the best ways to know how much distributed backup is a great idea.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Pret

"Do you think there’s a place for micro-generation at all, then?"

There is, for one simple reason. The AC is looking at this from an efficiency perspective – which is quite proper.

However, centralized power plants also require quite a lot of investment. And at those scales, not only is the competition short-term import of dirt cheap coal power laundered through some international energy pool, there’s also competition with existing local power plants and the political cost.

Germany, for instance, is, after a very promising start, now falling off the bandwagon entirely when it comes to wind power because the criteria set up for allowing wind turbines inland have become ridiculous. When you have to build the turbines way off the beaten track, logistics and transport costs add up.

Individual households, however, can take a look at current and predicted energy prices and come to the conclusion that investing in an 5-8kw solar panel & distributor setup today will pay good dividends through the next 25 years.

So localized microgeneration isn’t off the table. Indeed, it has far less predictable inertia than the pie-in-the-sky hope that incumbent power industries and governments will get off their bums and focus on solar power at scale.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:14 Re:

I’d like to add that concerning microgeneration, one good alternative is that a well-designed thorium reactor the size of a shed and capable of a few hundred MW of output is quite possible…which is yet another way the focus on uranium-based nuclear power hurt us badly.

Hell, in the ’60’s they speculated the reactor could be made small enough for a truck to use. Or cart around, for that matter.

We COULD have had a present day where every village and township was cleanly and safely self-sufficient through their own power plants even without a single nod to sun and wind.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Pretty usual lies

"… they would have told you that Commissioners are appointed by Parliament, who can get rid of them if they so choose, per video conversation with Karel de Gucht when ACTA bit the dust."

As you noted, the people’s elect are swamped by lobbyists. They are also caught in the EU bureaucracy. In theory an MEP has power. In practice it’s Jim Hacker vs Humphrey Appleby. The bureaucracy wins hands down 9 out of 10. And it was deliberately set up that way – which is also why it is possible for the commission and ministerial council to completely screw the proper procedures in the style of ACTA and the Copyright Directive without police storming the building and hauling off the terrorists commmitting fraud and perjury right on the parliamentary floor.

"That is imfuriating."

It’s one of those ugly truths which highlights that our generations and that of our fathers have been living under a doomsday specter entirely due to a political decision based on nothing but the ability to produce a ridiculous overabundance of nuclear weaponry. They knew back then that around a hundred missiles with bombs would suffice to take out the entire global population, no matter any potential countermeasures. And yet they sprang for 5000+, building a waste pile no one has any practical answers to to this day.

"Renewables are increasing their % of power production, so it’s not that bleak. "

Actually, it’s worse than it sounds. Renewables ARE indeed increasing their % proportion of power generation…but the amount of power required outmarches the speed of renewable expansion. The gap is mainly filled with coal.

As a result of that, the current understanding of the UN & the IPCC is that the 1,5 degree goal is shot, and current trends indicate we’re heading for 3 degrees with only radical efforts allowing us to hit the old hazard indicator of 2 degrees.

And that’s assuming that we don’t manage to trigger any other tipping points which, sadly, is unlikely.

"Stop "Go big or go home" and think about how much better it would be if each household were able to contribute to the power grid."

It’s an excellent suggestion. a full set of solar-cell roof tiles on every house would drop home consumption by at least 50%.
Calculations show that selling the energy overflow will allow for a modest surplus after 25 years but you still need an initial investment of around 10k €, even with the very liberal swedish subsidies.

That puts the cost of solar investment on a local scale solidly out of reach for…quite a lot of the population which has to prioritize immediate needs like housing and transportation to begin with.

The price is dropping rapidly and energy cost is rising so eventually we’re already on our way there.

It’s just too little, too late. It’s also a truly tough call for the countries currently entering early industrialization who aren’t exactly keen to bear the whole burden now that the wealthy west has built its infrastructure entirely on being irresponsible.

And that only touches on about 25% of greenhouse gas sources. Getting rid of CO2 and Methane from cars and vast cattle herds is another achievable step. Except that we love our beef and no power grid in the world has a chance of surviving switching a large part of the car park to electric.

The more I read up on power generation the more convinced i am that my favorite old hobby-horse – the travesty which is the acceptance of U238-driven nuclear power – is the clearest smoking gun used when we took our climate out back and shot it.

Infuriating? That’s putting it very mildly indeed. Those people making those decisions pulled a trigger which will, 60 years from now, see significant percentages of humanity dead in massive migrations, famines, floods and epidemics barring a miracle which i have no faith in any current politicians pulling off.

The life toll will be at a scale where Hitler and Stalin will no longer stand as the top representatives for man-made mass death. In a very significant gap, at that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Pretty usual lie

Your calculation about how many nukes it takes to end the world is off.

I guess technically you could do it with one if you made it big enough but no one made anything close to that big. The global stockpile used to be at over 30,000 nukes.

As for technology, the west wouldn’t be wealthy if we didn’t build it. We would be worse off and no one would be better off.

There’s no reason to believe thorium couldn’t be made into a bomb or that it would have less waste. If we wanted to, we could just dig a deep hole and dump the nuclear waste we already have into it. I don’t know why we don’t.

Russia doesn’t benefit from stopping global warming at all. Russia and Canada are the 2 countries that will definitely benefit from any global warming. China and India have too large a population for reduction and Bangladesh and Indonesia are right behind them. Anything we reduce they will use up. That’s why it doesn’t matter what we do.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Pretty usual

"Your calculation about how many nukes it takes to end the world is off."

Actually it depends not so much on size but mainly on the amount of fallout.

"As for technology, the west wouldn’t be wealthy if we didn’t build it. We would be worse off and no one would be better off."

That’s…bullshit. We would certainly not be better off if we built molten salt reactors rather than uranium-based boilers. With thorium being about as common as lead and requiring no enrichment before use, as well as the inherent safety aspect, we would rather have had far more energy available to work with.

"There’s no reason to believe thorium couldn’t be made into a bomb or that it would have less waste."

Except for the laws of physics, you mean?

No, thorium can not be used as bomb material. And although it is possible to design an inefficient thorium-fueled reactor which generates active waste, why on earth would you want to spend ten times the effort only to make it far less effective?

The whole reason as to why the US decided to sponsor U238 instead was because that CAN produce weaponsgrade active material as a waste product where a thorium reaction can’t.

"If we wanted to, we could just dig a deep hole and dump the nuclear waste we already have into it. I don’t know why we don’t."

Because for the time spans concerned where the high-active waste is concerned we really can’t guarantee that it won’t leak into the groundwater within the next few thousand years.

I believe that where nuclear power and waste is concerned, you need to read up on a few glaring mistakes you’re making in your arguments.

"Russia doesn’t benefit from stopping global warming at all. Russia and Canada are the 2 countries that will definitely benefit from any global warming."

Lolwut?

In siberia Gazprom – the largest russian oil/gas conglomerate, currently has to take some 30% of the energy they extract and pump it into cooling system designed to keep their refineries and plants from sinking into what used to be permafrost as hard as concrete. Their entire energy industry and northern mining is threatened.

Similarly when sea levels rise, they can kiss just about every major capital city goodbye.

And for the mainland anywhere the real danger global warming brings is the upsurge in weather extremes along with rising sea levels. Neither Russia nor Canada will be happy when they start losing significant percentages of coastal land.

"China and India have too large a population for reduction and Bangladesh and Indonesia are right behind them. Anything we reduce they will use up."

India and China are both spearheading the development of molten salt reactors. Unfortunately they are expanding their energy needs faster than their development in alternatives and so they are still also expanding their use of coal and gas.

Once again if we had gone down the thorium road in the 60’s this is ALSO an area of the world which wouldn’t have a real need to cover energy needs with fossil fuels.

"That’s why it doesn’t matter what we do."

That’s a fairly foolish statement. First of all, keeping global warming at a minimum may mean the difference on whether, say, an even dozen US capitals will have to be abandoned or not. Miami is toast within the next half century but there are a lot of marginals.

If within the next half century only 15% rather than 30% of the global population has to mass migrate to survive that’s a VERY good mitigation of the catastrophe.

Honestly…just about every last one of your arguments is factually incorrect. And your conclusion appears to be that as long as we’re looking at a significant death toll it won’t matter how high it is…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Pretty u

Actually it depends not so much on size but mainly on the amount of fallout.

There’s a lot of hydrogen in the ocean. One could do it.

thorium
I have some knowledge of nuclear reactions and I’m pretty sure something could be done with thorium.

Okay, it doesn’t matter what the people I can influence do. And it doesn’t matter what the United States does really about the issue either. It is likely to lead to the same outcome.

I like renewable and non-polluting technologies though.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Pret

"There’s a lot of hydrogen in the ocean. One could do it."

I’d…read up a bit more if I were you.

The hydrogen in the oceans is, as it is, completely useless for building nukes. What you need for a fusion reaction is deuterium and tritium. Neither of which are abundant or all that easily made from hydrogen.
Also, a fusion bomb – which is the one using hydrogen isotopes – will still require an ordinary fission bomb to prime the fusion process.

The fallout is a separate process entirely. Depending on how dirty you build the bomb to be you can easily enough build a single bomb which will, a decade of wind patterns down the line, turn the entire globe into a hot zone. It’ll be a chubby mofo though.

The actual blast is always going to be a local phenomenon. A 20 MTon bomb will be fatal at a range of roughly 40-50 km. Taking out a city, then, is not an issue…but that’s about it.
The fallout will hit everyone on the globe. Eventually.

"I have some knowledge of nuclear reactions and I’m pretty sure something could be done with thorium."

Certainly. At the point where you get something usable as fission bomb material however, you’ve gone through a series of hoops which would make Rube goldberg proud. Honestly, for the same effort you could make a fuel-air explosive device – which would eminently fit the profile of a kiloton-sized nuke. You’d need a gas tank of oxygen, some diesel, and a way to disperse the two before ignition, basically.

"Okay, it doesn’t matter what the people I can influence do. And it doesn’t matter what the United States does really about the issue either."

Actually, yes. "Every vote counts" may sound trite and the outlook isn’t too optimistic at this point given that at least in the US both possible candidates are likely to be either pre-vetted sock puppets acceptable to all industries, or megalomaniac narcissists which only became candidates because, chtulhu help us, the alternatives were worse.

…but it’s pretty much given that not trying guarantees failure.

There is some hope, as when trump decided to back out of the Paris accords only to be suddenly undercut by a plethora of local statesmen and entrepreneurs taking up the torch of cutting carbon emissions. If government fails it’s up to the citizenry to take up the slack – and hopefully remember to boot the sad sacks of shit out of office next election.

"I like renewable and non-polluting technologies though."

Solar has great potential, especially when it comes to reducing local energy overheads by investing in solar panels on rooftops.
It doesn’t scale too well for industrial uses though, same as with wind. You always end up needing energy which is reliable and on demand. That’s where thorium-powered plants are likely to be VERY useful.

Ironically the vast majority of thorium technology is likely to be chinese-developed. China has a lot of thorium deposits and an urgent need for power given that the west loves to rely on Chinese factories for all their manufacturing needs, after all.

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