Should Berlin’s Mayor Be Cracking the Code?

By David Knight |

The news that the mayor of New York has pledged to learn how to code certainly caught my attention. Michael Bloomberg , also a billionaire entrepreneur, revealed on Twitter: “My New Year’s resolution is to learn to code with Codecademy in 2012! Join me.”

It was swiftly followed by a statement from his counterpart in London, Boris Johnson, who evidently wanted to sit alongside Bloomberg on the tech bandwagon. His office told the BBC: “Once again the mayor is in awe of his good friend Michael Bloomberg, and if re-elected will explore whether he can join him on that course.”

Ah, there’s nothing quite like a good old political bandwagon-ing , is there? Perhaps it’s a tad cynical, but I’m won’t be holding my breath waiting to see what programming genius these two possess.

But it did get me thinking – if there’s one mayor of a global city who could throw up a few surprises, then surely it’s Berlin’s very own Klaus Wowereit? The Social Democrat is in his third term as mayor of the Germany capital, enjoys widespread popularity and is not afraid of saying what is on his mind.

Whilst his record with public services might not be the best, he is given a lot of credit for turning Berlin into one of Europe’s most important cultural centres since he arrived in office in 2001 – and it was Wowereit who first came up with the famous “poor but sexy tag” for Berlin. And the openly gay mayor, who once had a reputation as something of a party animal, seems keen to enjoy what his own city has to offer.

Furthermore, the Pirate Party’s dramatic entry into the city’s government last year means there should be plenty of people hanging round the Rotes Rathaus who would be able to teach him the ropes. The Pirates shocked Germany by garnering 8.9 percent of the vote in September, enough for 15 seats in the city-state’s ruling Abgeordnetenhaus, or House of Representatives. They are dedicated to maintaining online privacy, increasing open source governance and promoting the civil right to information piracy. Shiver me timbers.

So ‘Wowi’ might well be someone for whom jumping on a political bandwagon proves worthwhile – he could learn some handy skills, and might even see for himself what is happening in Berlin right at this very moment. He would be a useful person to have onside!