You do read German, right?


You may have wondered why “Du bist Deutschland” has been Number one search on Technorati for some time now, and even made it to an explaining article on Technorati itself.

Before coming to the point of my article, let me give you some more links: Besides the Technorati post you should also read the linked Spiegel online article (Spiegel being the German news magazine, even though it has lost quality over the year and the online version especially) and an article of a toilet artist aka blogger Johnny Häusler.

So much for the background, it seems like this is just another incident of blogger meets media or similar. It is not that simple anymore:

But the discussion is, by now, not really dealing with the campaign or mails or claims anymore anyway, I guess.

It is dealing with powers of communication and a certain change in those powers. The companies that are so keen on „guerilla advertizing“, „innovative marketing strategies“, „bringing it to the streets“ and so on are now facing themselves caught up in the middle of a PR disaster. Or, if you put it into a different perspective, in one of the most successful guerilla communication campaigns there ever was in Germany.

After all, the German bloggers, a lot if not most of them trying to add an intelligent point of view to the discussion, did exactly what the campaign suggested: They spoke up. A little too loud for some people, maybe.

He is not only referring to the the blog articles around this campaign, but also to the impact the flickr entries has. Our own version of why we think “you are Germany” have spread throughout the blogosphere and beyond.

From my feeling this whole shows two points: First, we as Germans are indeed slowly starting to catch up or better start to participate. For many it is probably surprising to see the interest the outside world has in these PR disasters – first the Jamba ring tone incident, the Klum cases now this. But it does not matter because it is disruptive and it helps: German bloggers to be faced with the fact that they get hits from the outside of their language pool, non bloggers because they are a bit introduced into the power of blogging and the media – because they can learn first hand about the success or power this medium can have.

Not always, not constantly – but in case of an PR disaster it does not need to be constant – it just needs to have enough impact.

Second, this is maybe a little “lesson” for you as well. Most of you reading this *are* Americans or British or at least English native speakers. There is a world outside of your language universe and when countries like Germany and others start to post and use ‘your’ tools, they will have to be remodeled. Because otherwise you will not understand a word which is said there. Imagine Spanish / German and yes Chinese postings and blogs to occupy the first three pages of for example Technorati. It will be useless for you.

The world is bigger than just English and the diversity is good and we all should try to take advantage of it. And no, dear Technorati, this does NOT mean limitation in search to just one language just because most of you just speak one! I do speak English and German and may even glance over some French, I still would feel save to take a guessing look at Italien and Spanish. The “show all or just select one language” is making this useless for me too.

But please, can someone still invent a working babelfish?! I’d prefore the one where a slight sexy accent still can be heard. ;)

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2 Responses to “You do read German, right?”

  1. Scott says:

    No, I don’t think a working babelfish would be of much help. Even if I understand all the words in a foreign language, unless those words were written for a foreign audience, I’m going to miss the context. I’ll still be pretty much clueless about what is being said.

    I think that human clarification is vital for ideas traversing language and culture. In blogging, we have bilingual bloggers who can help put things into context, and from two sides: natives who speak some English (like you) or foreigners who know something about Germany (like me).

    I find the von Matt episode interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it is further evidence that weblogging in Germany is two or three years behind the US. After all, it was 2 or 3 years ago that the mainstream media (to coin a phrase) started noticing and conflicting with bloggers in the US.

    Secondly, it reflects the unique elitism of the German media. Here is seems you have to belong to some kind of club (a party, a church, a union, a firm) in order to have your views expressed in the media. There isn’t much of a tradition of independent opinion that I know from the US, and that was naturally attracted to blogging and gave it credibility. In Germany you don’t hear from anyone who doesn’t have some sort of membership card. Bloggers don’t fit into any mold, and thus the media doesn’t know what to do with them.

    But that’s just my opinion.

  2. Nicole says:

    Well, they tried to ignore us, and are slowly finding out that this is not working – and I think this is even more irritating to them. :) In this sense, blogging is and will be even more disrupting in Germany once we finally get this going – and the effect will be even more devastating for the media than for example in the US where they are used to competition. It will stay interesting. :))