Vivisection of digital infrastructure

of UdK's Medienhaus, as executed by an ex-IT-Admin Daniel D. Hromada at the occasion of the Symposium "Digitalisierung UdK Berlin /// Eine Anatomie" 

  1. Intro
    • Medienhaus IT-admin
    • Vivisection ???
    • First section :: Institutes & Institutions
  2. (Digital) Infrastructure
    • Second section :: Buildings & Networks
    • Third section :: Servers & Services
  3. Kastalia Project
  4. Miscellanous 
    • What did not work
    • What seems to work
  5. A "modest" proposal
  • Maschinenarzt / Maschinenärzt(in)
  • half-time position, but machines are "always on"
  • roots of the Medienhaus IT-admin "tradition" can be traced back to Chaos Computer Club
  • predecessor: J. P. Bader (still teaching "Hitch-hikers guide to Internet")
  • me (December 2014 - July 2018)
    • september 2016 : successful defense of a double-PhD. (cybernetics @ Slovak University of Technology and cognitive psychology @ Universite Paris 8 - Lumieres)
    • optional teaching: Das Glasperlenspiel (WiSe 2016), Terminal Magic (SoSe 2017), Architecture and Development of Digital Communities (SoSe 2017)
    • since August 2018 - Einstein Center Digital Future juniorprofessor for Digitale Bildung
  • successor: Frederik Müller

"... it is beneath the dignity of excellent men to waste their time in calculation when any peasant could do the work just as accurately with the aid of a machine."  Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Vivi... what ?

Vivisection = Vivus (alive) + section (cutting) = The action of cutting of a living organism for the purposes of scientific investigation.

At a certain level of abstraction, and at a certain time scale, Medienhaus can be considered to be a living entity, because:

  • is a complex system
  • involves both bottom-up as well as top-down processes
  • it contains feedback loops
  • it breaths (semester = inhale, Rundgang = ???, vacation = exhale)
  • some of its constituents (students, professors, Mittelbau, staff, visitors) exhibit organic metabolism
  • its existence is Goal-oriented
the Goal :: SchulGesetz Berlin - § 1 Auftrag der Schule
Auftrag der Schule ist es, alle wertvollen Anlagen der Schülerinnen und Schüler zur vollen Entfaltung zu bringen und ihnen ein Höchstmaß an Urteilskraft, gründliches Wissen und Können zu vermitteln. Ziel muss die Heranbildung von Persönlichkeiten sein, welche fähig sind, der Ideologie des Nationalsozialismus und allen anderen zur Gewaltherrschaft strebenden politischen Lehren entschieden entgegenzutreten sowie das staatliche und gesellschaftliche Leben auf der Grundlage der Demokratie, des Friedens, der Freiheit, der Menschenwürde, der Gleichstellung der Geschlechter und im Einklang mit Natur und Umwelt zu gestalten...
PRIMA SECTIO  :: Institutes & Institutions
Institutes & Institutions :: Observations from a point-of-view of a modal Mittebau

  • UdK is more decentralized than hierarchical

  • not only Faculty-driven, but also Building-driven decentralization

  • 1:1 mapings between Institutes and course of studies are not realistic

  • with competent local administration, many problems can be solved at the local level

  • in Medienhaus, many problems ARE solved at the local level

SECUNDA SECTIO :: τοπία & ατοπία
Locals & non-locals :: Lesson learned

Locals & non-locals :: Comments

  • Networks are art per se (networks within networks within networks within...)

  • not only economical, but also historical and potentially political reasons play a role

  • current situation is sub-optimal (sharing Layer-2 with JIB and HZT gives little sense)

  • no peering except DFN,  hence a single-point-of-failure situation

  • security-wise, DFN is the best provider one could have

  • 1 Gbit in the house is enough for some hardcore digitalisation experiments

TERTIA SECTIO :: Servers & Services

Servers & Services :: Comments

  • redundancy and autonomy go hand in hand

  • in a lively place like Medienhaus, redundancy of certain services is inevitable 

  • example : You want to sync files with ALL students which came to Your course or participate in the project

  • Google ? Dropbox ? OASE ? local infrastructure ?

  • another example: WLAN access

Servers & Services :: Kastalia Project
  • organically evolved out of need of VK and KuM to create collaborative presentations for semester introduction (Einführung Veranstaltung)
  • hoped to steer it in "academic Kyberia" direction, it tends to develop in direction of "Knowledge Managment and Archivation System"
  • primary concepts: knots and bounds
  • secondary concepts: attributes, weights and predicates
  • knots have id, name, content and (arbitrary) attributes, attributes have names and values, bounds have predicates and weights
  • Main principles:
    1. TIMTOWDY :: "There is more than one way how to do it"
    2. DASDFU :: Ding an sich / Ding für uns principle :: Knot can be "viewed upon" in many different ways through different "templates".
    3. A knot can also be embedded into many different contexts.
    4. Unconvenient User Experience (UUX) and Application of Arbitrary Aesthetic Criteria (AAAC) by design
  • current situation: 2870 "knots" interconnected with 4082 "bounds" 
  • partially integrated with Seafile, Medienhaus mail and Instant-Messaging systems
  • HTML5
Kastalia Project :: Knots & Glasperlen
... nichts entzieht sich der Darstellung durch Worte so sehr und nichts ist doch notwe ndiger, den Menschen vor Augen zu stellen, als gewisse Dinge, deren Existenz weder beweisbar noch wahrscheinlich ist, welche aber eben dadurch, daß fromme und gewissenhafte Menschen sie gewissermaßen als seiende Dinge behandeln, dem Sein und der Möglichkeit des Geborenwerdens um einen Schritt näher geführt werden." 
In Josef Knechts handschriftlicher Übersetzung / Kastalia Archiv / Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game
Kastalia Project :: Examples

Kastalia KMS is currently used for:

    • Visuelle Kommunikation (94 slides for this semester)
    • Kunst und Medien (60 slides for this semester)
    • (font archive by Lucas Liccini)
    • Medienhaus Cafeteria Display
    • UdK2030 Zukunftstag
    • this presentation
Note :: It is cannot be excluded that the offline version of this system will be embedded
within the "digitale Fibel" artefact.
Frustrating experiences

    • forgotten passwords
    • Why people pay for storing limited amount of data at a US data-center when they can store unlimited amount of data for free in the server running just under they feet?
    • impossible to change people's "digital" habits, reluctance to even TRY other solutions
    • cyberspace is already partitioned,  the rise-of-social-networks epoch is over
    • lack of communication, silos
    • instant messaging apparently did not help ;)
    • transition to Adobe Creative Cloud (REactivation of a licence on a device is not simple as it seems)
What works

    • mailing-lists (both class-related and global class-announce)
    • local file-sharing platform (Seafile)
    • Kastalia project for semester intro, cafeteria display etc.
    • separation of serious "administrative" matters (Intranet) and less-serious "class & course" contents
    • specificities of Medienhaus network (e.g. public IP addresses) allow students to do projects which could be otherwise difficult/impossible to realize
    • bottom-top memetic dissemination
    • trusting people
A "modest" proposal

    • HR :: less out-sourcing, more SHK
    • MAKING :: design & deployment of do-it-yourself IoT and embedded systems
    • MEDIA :: Medienhaus streaming platform
    • NETWORK :: New peering relations, starting with a "Fiber triangle" between TUdK Campus, GRU and Bundesallee
    • SOFTWARE :: fostering of use & development of Open-Source tools (Blender, InkScape etc.)
    • INNOVATION :: 3D scanning, virtual Rundgang, matter-faxing, tele-presence cabines/rooms, racting etc.
    • ARCHIV :: preserving the Tradition by fixing the history
    • ADMINISTRATION :: crypto (blockchain, use of electronic signatures etc.)
    • CODEX :: that digital makes anything possible does not mean that anything should be allowed
Vielen dank...
...für Ihre Aufmerksamkeit.