5 years ago

past & future


We don’t take the time to reflect often. Taking the hint from Ariel Waldman, I’d like to do just that. Reflect for a minute – on where I was five years ago, and how I came to be where I am at the moment. It’s both a snapshot of my life and a reminder for a future self, five years from now.

5 years ago, in early 2006, I had just come back from a year of studying in Sydney followed by a trip through South-East Asia. After settling back in in Berlin, in August 2006, I was about to start my masters thesis when I was offered a job as an editor at politik-digital.de, a non-profit think tank/magazine where I had interned several years prior. Excitedly, I accepted and started studying hundreds of “web 2.0” services for a study we conducted. (I found Twitter to be the most useless of the bunch. Ahem…) In parallel, I was still building websites with my friend Thomas and helped companies learn about the internet. I left an old blog behind and started to blog at thewavingcat.com. Three months after starting my editor job, after it had became obvious that I wouldn’t be able to find the time to write my thesis, I quit and started my thesis for real.

4 years ago, I had just finished my masters degree and was undecided about my future: Find a job? Go freelance? Maybe even a PhD? I got a call out of the blue and was offered a job as editor-in-chief of Netzpiloten.de (then Blogpiloten.de), a young online magazine. It was a freelance gig, part-time, and the basis for the freelance career I would pursue for the next few years. This phone call quite literally changed my life. I’m still grateful for that call, and still work very closely with the person that made it. Just a few months later, my friends Max Senges, Thomas Praus and I would write the textbook for a Spanish university course on virtual identities.

3 years ago, my business card said: “I do web stuff”. As a freelance web strategist I was feeling more and more at home in my role. I had moved in with Panorama3000, a good friend’s agency, and was learning the ropes. Besides my regular work, I blogged a lot both here and on a number of conference live blogs (including Berlinblase). At a conference, I interviewed a pretty free culture activist. (Three years later, we’re living together.)

2 years ago, in 2009, things really took off. In a crazy year, my job brought me all kinds of awesome internet-y gigs (including as a moderator, an artist, and an election campaigner), I spent one month in New York and another in France, and organized atoms&bits Festival and the first TEDxKreuzberg.

1 year ago, besides work, Matt Biddulph and I put another event – Ignite Berlin – where among others Igor Schwarzmann spoke about smart cities. Also, another TEDxKreuzberg. In March, I went to SXSW with Igor Schwarzmann. I covered for someone’s session, thus having my first SXSW workshop on 48 hour notice. Igor and I got infected with the SXSW energy and started talking. We decided to start a company along with our buddy Johannes Kleske. Six months later, Igor and Johannes moved to Berlin and we launched Third Wave.

Today, Third Wave is heading towards its first anniversary, and moving at high speed. We organized another conference, this time together, about smart cities (Cognitive Cities Conference). I’m fully employed by my own company and yet again learning the ropes. And I’m as excited as ever for what the future holds. These are good, exciting days.

And yes, it freaks me out to think where I was 5 years ago.

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