Roman’s Rants: Germany
13th July 8 Comments
I live in a very peculiar country: on the one hand, economically speaking, it’s one of the most powerful countries in the world. Yet when travelling across the country, mobile reception is as bad as in the frigging Sahara desert. (And ask those poor bastards in the countryside what their broadband connection looks like – despite all the broadbandisation plans that are regularly repeated by high-ranking politicians without being executed.) A country that prides itself for being so amazingly data security aware and regularly challenges things such as Facebook and Google Street View. Yet parliament has planned a law making it easier for companies collecting addresses to get this kind of info from from registry offices – without the respective people being informed about this. And, we are the ones who invented the PAYBACK bonus system as early as in 2000, for fuck’s sake!
Get this: If here in Germany you buy stuff from a local retailer or gas station or what have you, you’re most likely asked if you have a PAYBACK (as in “revenge”) card. If you do, you can collect points that you could later redeem for some other stuff. For a discount of 0.5 – 1.0% consumers are willing to become totally transparent (ie. what have I bought when and where) and have the heck spammed out of their mailboxes – digital and physical. And the same people are scared about American companies knowing about their relationship status (which everybody is free to provide or not)? What the fuck?!
As mentioned before, it’s super hard to get a decent web connection while you’re on the go. In our fast trains, if you’re very lucky you’ll get a very shaky web connection. I mean like, those things are super-fast, super-modern and super-fucking-optimised transportation vehicles used by all kinds of notebook workers every day, and still the connection is so bad? Is this the reason why I keep seeing people who are – seriously! – leafing through the printed versions of their emails?
And you know what’s really awful? It seems as if people having no clue about the internet tend to live in, work in or govern this country. The degree of ignorance is unimagineable. Take politicians who emphasise their grasp of the “new” media (hey arseholes, Facebook & Twitter are with us for quite some know, don’t perpetuate your own cluelessness by clinging to the mantra that those things are new and you still have plenty of time to get accustomed) by being hyperactive during elections but let all the action stop shortly after election night. And the same people complain about shit-storms and how they threaten democracy. Gimme a break. If you speak your mind in China, you’ll likely end up being locked up for the rest of your life. In Germany, you’re being called a wanker on Twitter. Oh dear, the insolence! Unbe-fucking-lievable digital hypocrisy.
This is a commerce blog, and of course there’s something commerc-y to say to conclude this rant. Here – in a land where Bach, Beethoven and Goethe have done their deeds and ensuing generations have prided themselves because of their literacy and their education, the German administration doesn’t rely on their people to be able to read text on websites and buy stuff on the Internet. This is the reason why there is an endless chain of laws and regulations that shop owners need to adhere to in order to stay legal. There are so many details that have to be kept in mind and gazillions of bits and pieces of texts which need to be placed onto one’s website that you have to be a lawyer rather than a merchant. This is the reason why during run-of-the-mill ecommerce conferences, shop owners keep flooding the law presentations. Nobody in their right mind would voluntarily listen to this boring crap, but because their competitors can sue the living Jesus out of them, they go, listen and take notes. I sometimes wonder why anyone in Germany would seriously consider selling stuff via the internet. Who knows, this might be one of the reasons why there is not a global ecommerce player coming from Germany. It’s just to fucking complicated.
I live in a very peculiar country.
(Image by Garyisajoke)