In a discussion with Jay Cousins recently we talked about a small problem: If you’re coworking in a cafe or in a coworking space, you sometimes don’t know a whole lot about the other folks around, or what they’re working on. Online, Twitter or a coworking network like Hallenprojekt.de do a good job transmitting just this information. But if you walk into a cafe and would like to strike up a conversation with another laptop worker, things can get socially awkward. (Plus, of course, you don’t want to make the round from laptop to laptop talking to 10 people until you find someone you relate to.)
Jay mentioned something he had done over at a Barcamp in the UK, which is give people a funny hat with their tags (i.e. interests, skills, companies etc) so you could see across the room who you might want to talk to based on shared interests. So we wondered if there’s a way to reach the same effect without running around in public wearing giant tag-cloud hats.
Here’s a proposal: Just tag your laptop, so people can see what you do:
The important bit: The piece of
duct textile tape in the lower right corner, tagged with some projects i’m involved in.
It’s probably too much trouble to update it to a current status, but at least you get a general idea. In my case that you can see in the photo above: I’m interested in #coworking, a regular at #studio70, co-organizer of #atoms&bits as well as #likemind Berlin, and I’m a member of Berlinblase.
Of course, duct tape might not be everyone’s first choice. (If in doubt, double check first if you can remove it without traces!) So get creative: Use a non-permanent marker right on your laptop. Use stickers. If you’re a tinkerer, attach a little display on the back of your laptop. Of course it all works with your Moleskine, too. And next time you’re in a cafe and see someone with the tag #coworking on their laptop, make sure to say hi!
I think it could gain more traction if there was a standard format – perhaps a template sticker saying “I like to talk to people about… [blank]” on which you could then write your current projects and interests.
Perhaps adding a QR code to the back of your laptop with a URL to your website would also work…
Sure, standardize ahead!
As for the QR code, that one might get really awkward, when someone is standing on the other side of your screen trying to scan your laptop instead of saying “hi” ;)