Stammtisch von Waffenstudenten in der San Francisco Bay Area
Speech to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of Siliconia
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August 19th, 2000

S. Luz, Corps Onoldia, Erlangen

I will deliver this speech in English, and we had a long discussion about that.
I believe we owe it not only to our American friends here but also to the fact that we are part of this society which allows us to pursue our goals here in this country.
Although I am certainly honored, to pick me as a speaker tonight, was a big mistake , as you will realize very quickly.
How can you pick an elderly traditionalist , certainly not a product of the Silicon Valley , to talk about "Siliconia . org", a name that certainly links quickly to it’s birth place, but at the same time a name that is hard to link to the traditions that we all try to uphold.
The fact that I was originally relegated with my speech into the "inofficium" and later "promoted" to the later part of the "officium", was a smart move by Walter, since this makes it a little bit easier for me to let my thoughts wheel free, not necessarily looking for everybody’s approval .Now, every good speech has to have a title; I have picked an easy one :
"Why are we here"

Frankly, I believe it is almost a miracle, to find us all together here in this room.What you don’t know is, that for quite a while and completely in line with the Silicon Valley tradition, we were considering a "Virtual Stiftungsfest" :

  • We would have met on the Web,
  • Had gone to a "chat room" for the "inofficium"
  • The speeches could have been "streamed" to you in "Power Point" format
  • With a little video camera we could have "prosted" each other
  • ( Virtual "Bierjungen" had been a bit more difficult because of the minimal transmission time delays)
  • We could have sung together in sync with a downloaded "beer music".
  • And Finally, we just have to push a button and the party is over, no clean up, no risk of driving under the influence
You see, how much cost and work could have been avoided, no babysitters had to be paid and best of all : if you felt a "burb" coming up, you just had put yourself on "mute".
Who says, the Internet is not exiting and the way of the future?
Usually here, I had expected a bigger laugh; not hearing it, makes me believe, that we might be much closer to that future than we think.
If I look around , in a broader perspective , then I do not feel comfortable in this Silicon Valley environment and what the future might hold; I do not know, whether this is just the age or the fruitless resistance to change, that is supposed to "make everything better" .Any how, it is time for me now to "confess" :
  • I have only one Cellphone (with no free minutes)
  • I do not have a pager
  • I do not have a Palm Pilot
  • I trying to climb the "digital divide"
  • I have back problems from carrying around my fancy laptop
  • I still get upset, when I jumped on different phonemail trees for more than an hour
  • I do not have a DSL line directly into my bathroom
  • I cannot open Zip files
  • I get exited when the "server is down", because then I have time to do meaningful things
  • I can not memorize E-mail addresses, including my own.
  • I do not check phonemail driving to work
So, finally I come to the conclusion that I am a looser, because I miserably failed the test of 24/7 connectivity ( that is 24 hours a day/7 days a week ) and the 99.9% up time measurement.
But there are a couple of things, that I do have :
  • Time to read ,
  • time to think,
  • time to try making sense of things,
  • time to listen,
  • time to go the extra mile.
  • Time to care
I also still have friends, losers like me, but their number is dwindling; they are afraid of missing the boat or being charged of "resisting change" , which nowadays is a serious accusation. Hey, just " go with the flow" !! Now, to bring all this back to my starting question " why are we here" is not an easy undertaking , but I will try , when I say :I find it refreshing to see that we are still able to "take time out" to value a good personal conversation, an art form, threatened of extinction.
I find it encouraging to find us rallying around traditions and values, which are timeless and do not need to be "upgraded" all the time.
I find it inspiring that we are committed to know the people behind the E-mail address.
I want to believe, there must be a special "glue" , that brings us together now for two years in growing numbers, every month and every year.What the "glue" is, is hard to say :
  • Is it the human need to socialize ?
  • Is it friendship ?
  • Is it a set of values that we all share?
  • Is it the "German" in us ?

Well, it is probably a little bit of everything and frankly, I don’t care, as long as we all are dedicated to carry the spirit of this evening and the commitment to the underlying ideas into many years to comeLet me close:All these somewhat grumpy remarks might create the impression, as I would be committed only to the past; this is true insofar as I regret, as our fathers and grand fathers did, not to be able to pass on my experiences and insights, because they neither are appreciated nor are they believable.What remains is the hope that the younger folks in this room (also referred to as generation " X" or "D" ) will value the past and honor traditions and not press all the buttons, that today’s technology makes available to them, when we move forward.May be you will be then the first generation who defines and recognizes progress by not doing everything that is doable. This hope alone, if not already the 2nd "Stiftungsfest’ of our " Siliconia" is reason enough to celebrate.May the tradition survive, grow and help to keep the future in perspective !With this in mind I drink to the health and future of "Siliconia" (and her Web-site) and ask everybody to join with a real (not a virtual)


S. Luz, Corps Onoldia, Erlangen



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