Tech We’re Using: Germany Is Wary of a Digital World (but Loves Its E-Toothbrushes) Express News

How do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? Melissa Eddy, a Berlin correspondent for The Times, discussed the tech she’s using.

What are the most important tech tools for doing your job, and how do you use them?

My iPhone X has become my multipurpose portable notebook, camera, recorder and connection device. I have typed breaking stories into the Notes app and sent them to editors, or jotted down key points from an event, when I found myself without pen and paper.

I’ve used the camera to record Facebook Live video, but also to take still photos of anything that catches my imagination when I am out reporting, or signs that I don’t have time to stop and translate. When I sit down to write, I go back through my photos to jog my memory, although I sometimes worry that it would be better to pause and capture the thought in the moment.

I use the VoiceMemos app to record news conferences and in-person interviews. For phone interviews, I rely on TapeACall Pro, which is easy to use and has been a great addition.

Because many Germans use Android phones, I installed WhatsApp initially to keep in touch with my friends and kids. But increasingly, it is a popular way to communicate with sources. When we were reporting on the more than one million migrants who made their way to Germany in 2015 and 2016, most of them still had cellphones from their home countries, and the only way to reach them was via WhatsApp messages, or “Whatsies.”

Google Maps, a German railway app and a local car-sharing app make up my essential travel tech trio. As a nation obsessed with keeping a paper trail, Germans were very cautious about using apps to make everyday transactions easier — Apple Pay arrived only at the end of last year — but the apps are catching on. It has been several years since I used a paper ticket on the train, and where car-sharing services like DriveNow initially required an extra card to unlock the car, now all I need is my phone.

Is there any tech that you’ve stopped using lately or use less, and why?

I have turned off Apple’s FaceTime after the latest scandal over privacy, but I only ever used that to reach my 80-year-old father, who isn’t on WhatsApp.

For years, I have been a lurker on Facebook and would like to quit it altogether, but I find it too useful for reporting. About 32 million of Germany’s 82 million people are active on the platform. Some members of Germany’s far-right and nationalist circles, including some members of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, use Facebook almost exclusively to communicate with their base, so it has become increasingly useful for tracking their activities.

Germany has a reputation for being very privacy-conscious online. How have you seen that manifest itself?

Many public records are protected in Germany by strict privacy laws, which means that access in general is difficult and that records are not at all available online. The country still demands that applications for most official documents take place via paper or fax. Digital databases of information on individuals do not exist.

Searching for places in Germany on Google Street View returns a patchwork of images and blurred blotches. That’s because in 2010, data privacy activists succeeded in forcing Google to allow them to render their residences unrecognizable. The irony is that Germans, who like to head into vacations hyper-prepared, love to look up their hotels or the cities they will visit on Google Street View.

Nothing in the Berlin public school system is digitized, and parents have to sign special waivers for their kids to have access to Wi-Fi in the schools that offer it. At the start of every school year, parents have to give permission for their email addresses to be shared on a class list, and those who don’t will be left out.

Source link