Preußisches Heeresarchiv in Potsdam, Zentralnachweiseamt für Kriegerverluste und Kriegsgräber in Berlin

The “Prussian Military Archive” in Potsdam and the “Central Registry Office for Warrior Losses and War Graves” in Berlin.

These archives were destroyed by bombing in 1945, making it harder to research German participation in World War I. This according to historian Jesper Zedlitz.

Mr. Zedlitz analyzed 31,000 pages of official “losses lists” from W.W.I by crowdsourcing them to hundreds of volunteers who were interested in learning about their ancestors. The 700 volunteers indexed about 90% of the pages.

The German Reich published these lists from 1914 to 1919. They contained the names of people killed, wounded, missing and captured. The names weren’t in alphabetical order, but sorted by military unit: regiments, batallions, companies, etc. Also, the Prussian, Bavarian, Württembergisch and Saxon armies, the Kaiser’s Navy and the Kaiser’s Protective Troops all kept their own counts and published separate lists. The lists were in tiny print, in the difficult obsolete “Fraktur” fonts, in three columns with about 300 entries per page.

Mr. Zedlitz said during the war many errors were made in the many steps between dictating the names in the field and publishing the losses lists in Berlin. Handwriting was involved. Typesetting keyboards were also different from today’s qwerty keyboards, and so typical typesetting errors involved switching different letters.

Observations from the accessed data:

In 1917 they stopped publishing the identifying date of birth, presumably because this would tell the enemy that the German army was sending soldiers into the field who were too old and too young. The Navy’s losses lists included very sad descriptions of unidentified dead sailors who washed up on beaches, with details to help in possible identification.

Unknown No. 191. On 26 Aug 1917, a body washed ashore on the seacoast near Bangsaa (Thisted district, Denmark), floating in a white-striped unmarked lifesaver. The dead man wore a shirt, embroidered wool suspenders, underpants, gray wool socks, jackboots, blue jacket, and blue trousers with a buttoning trapdoor, whose buttons were stamped ‘Kaiser’s Navy.’ On the outside of the right forearm was an anchor and a figure supposed to represent the bust of a woman. On the inside of the same arm, was a complete portrait of a woman, extending from the elbow to the wrist. The middle finger of the left hand was tattooed with a signet ring. On the middle finger of the right hand was a wedding ring engraved with ‘T. Henne 07.'”

(PROYSS ish ess   HAIR ess archh eef   in   POTS dom,   tsen TRALL NOCHH vice omt   fir   CREE gah feah LOOSE tah   oont   CREEGS gray bah   in   beah LYNN.)

Niederländische Zwischenhändler

“Dutch intermediary dealers.” EU findings from a total of ~7000 genetic tests on food products to investigate mislabeled horsemeat were announced on 16 Apr 2013. 0% abnormal test results in the UK, 3.3% in Germany and 13.3% in France, where purchases from Dutch intermediaries turned out to be particularly mislabeled. A French Green Party member claimed it wasn’t even proper horse meat being mislabeled, but rather slaughterhouse wastes. On se demande encore comment est-il possible qu’il y ait tant de chevaux en Europe? Where are so many horses coming from, that horse meat could prove cheaper than farmed beef and mutton on the global market? Racetracks?

Particularly customers of the shadowy Dutch figure known as Willy Selten are affected. Yet again, Dutch is funny if you know English and German but not Dutch. Willy Selten’s large meat wholesaler delivered to ~500 companies in 16 EU countries.

The EU commissioner for consumers wants to change government food testing to verify truth in labeling from a national to a European matter. He said this is another problem whose scope exceeds the capacity of individual national government offices. Crowdsourced cheap DNA test kits for species-specific markers would also help.

(NEE derr lend ish eh   TSVISH en hend lah.)

Das Crowdsourcing von Umweltanalysen

“Crowdsourcing environmental testing,” including sharing of software platforms used and the data resulting from the tests, for the efficiencies associated with wider availability and to prevent knowledge losses that can occur e.g. when you underfund and then destroy E.P.A. libraries. Many experiments with crowdsourcing chemistry and biology testing are ongoing right now. For example, for the past five years high school kids in Lower Saxony, ~10,000 students so far, have been learning to test food products for GMO’s in high school lab classes, often finding modified products in foods labeled GMO-free. The curriculum includes pro and con discussions that must be pretty interesting.

Silicon Valley companies and other communities are experimenting with creating open source software and hardware kits for crowdsourced environmental testing and pharmaceutical testing, according to an interesting new book by Institute for the Future director Marina Gorbis.

(Doss   CRRROWD sauce ing   fun   OOM veldt on ah LOO zen.)

Antragsbuch

“Book of petitions.” On 11 Nov 2012 German Pirate Party members voted online through a catalog of over 1400 proposals that had been submitted as prospective party platform planks. The topics ran the gamut, not unexpectedly. Spiegel-Online wrote that the party is hoping to “distill” a program from this process, and that the worst that could happen would be if the top ~50 suggestions were for minor issues rather than major GPP points such as electronic privacy and copyright. It is hoped this will also take care of “white areas of the map” for which the GPP has not had enough of a position before now, e.g. “employment, social and economic policy, electricity prices and building new housing.”

Verschwiemelt

Bloated, swollen, such as one’s face after a long riotous night, or this post.

After investigating for five months, the anonymous blogger who posted instances of Schludrigkeit that he found (on 92 of 326 pages) in Education and Research Minister Annette Schavan’s doctoral thesis has now been confirmed by a report published the next day by the University of Düsseldorf’s expert evaluator. The university report’s author found 60 questionable citations (on 351 pages?) and “recognizes ‘the characteristic pattern of a plagiaristic approach,’” reported Spiegel-Online, which also noted that the anonymous blogger’s report is a “triumph of the plagiarism hunters.” Some political folks said Schavan’s doctorate shouldn’t be taken away because e.g. “there are clearer cases that haven’t been revoked.” Others say if the University of Düsseldorf decides to rescind the 32-year-old degree, then Annette Schavan must step down as federal Education Minister. The media can’t help reprinting statements in support of academic rigor that Schavan made when the doctoral thesis of young charismatic aristocratic Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (FDP) was discovered to contain plagiarism. A Spiegel-Online comparison of the two cases certainly generates some sympathy for Annette Schavan. Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s family is worth ca. 400 million euros and he grew up in a castle. He took a long time to finish his doctoral thesis (in law) and said later he didn’t have enough time for footnotes. Grade: summa cum laude. Annette Schavan was the first in her family to go to university and finished her doctorate quite early, magna cum laude. Guttenberg was working during the cut-and-paste Internet era with search engines; Schavan had to find her texts in underfunded German university libraries and wrote her thesis on a typewriter. On the other hand, the Guttenberg situation is indicative that a deeper institutional problem exists.

The anonymous blogger who published first faxed reporters that “The facts are the facts. Even verschwiemelt Schavanesque excuses won’t change that.”

On 16 Oct. 2012 the responsible University of Düsseldorf committee met for three hours, but Annette Schavan unleashed lawyers and the university has been forbidden to make any information about this public without her permission. The university’s rector announced this and apologized. He also said they only advanced as far as the preliminary investigation (Vorprüfung). The university announced that it will take extra time to check Schavan’s thesis because it was interdisciplinary, its age means more of the sources will only be available on paper (and will have to be ordered from Germany’s amazingly cash-strapped university libraries and their interestingly historic systems), and evaluators are going to have to make sure they can be fair in “thinking themselves back” into the state of knowledge that prevailed thirty years ago.

I think German universities are state-funded? Surely though they must be susceptible in some ways to financial pressure from federal ministers, particularly the Minister of Education and Research. Crowdsourcing evaluation of politicians’ plagiarism seems like a very good idea in Germany right now.

(Fer SHVEE melt.)

Guttenplag, Vroniplag

Two wikis that crowdsource the checking of German politicians’ Ph.D. dissertations for plagiarism.

(GOOT en plog, VRONE ee plog.)

Plagiatsjäger

“Plagiarism hunters,” crowdsourced plagiarism checking of politicians’ academic theses because apparently Germany’s university committees weren’t doing it.

(Plog ee OTTS yay ger.)

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