Why I hate British Airways, and love Lufthansa


Let me start at the end: I hate British Airways.

Awhile ago, I missed a flight at Heathrow. I had personally never missed a flight before, but it’s not a rare story and it was entirely my own fault. (A cup of [Square Mile][] was involved, and that might be well worth it.) When I learned that I was too late by two minutes to security I was bummed, but hey, my fault. I asked the British Airways women if there were other flights available that evening, and she said no. There were no other flights going to Berlin that night at all.

Both I and my travel companion Igor were beat – we had to get back to Berlin and Frankfurt respectively. Desperately, we tried the Lufthansa desk – and learned that another flight was due in just about an hour. No problem, Sir. We happily paid the new ticket and were on our ways.

Today, again I had a ticket booked from Heathrow to Tegel. I was at the airport in due time, and just by a stupid mistake (again, my fault) tried to drop my bag at the British Airways counter. (I had mixed up flight codes and thought it was a code share.) Again, a British Airways woman told me that there was no way I’d still catch my flight, and would I not want to try and get on one of their flights?

She tried to upsell me on British Airways, and told me I couldn’t make it to the other terminal on time.

Again, I tried anyway, just to be greeted friendly at the Lufthansa counter. There is plenty of time, sir, not to worry.

And that’s that. Bye, British Airways. I always preferred Lufthansa, but this seals the deal for me. No more BA. Simple.

Innovation Cities


Noticed this study today about the top innovation cities worldwide. Couldn’t find out much about methodology or data used without buying the report, so I can’t vouch for the results. I found it interesting, though, to see Berlin scoring rank 14 – not bad by any means, even though of course the local in me suffers a bit of a narcissistic disappointment (kidding!). What surprised me, though, was that Frankfurt and Munich scored higher. (Boston? Sure. New York? Absolutely. Hamburg? Potentially.) So, what does it tell us?

According to the executive summary, the study is “based on basic factors of health, wealth, population, geography”, as well as a number of global trends as well as indices of sorts. That’s perfectly legitimate. And it may help understand things like the economic influence of a well-developed creative industry, or something.

What it doesn’t capture at all, of course, are the soft factors that really make a city a creative environment, or provide a platform for true creativity. Or the early stages of a nascent creative industry (not even to speak of culture), as these early trends wouldn’t register in the criteria and indices applied here.

So that might explain Munich and Frankfurt – large agencies, well-funded creative industries. But it certainly doesn’t explain Berlin’s ranking on this list. Would it be about industry, Berlin should (gut feeling alert!) way lower. In terms of innovation, it feels like it should rank way higher. (Yes, I just balanced fuzzy indices against gut feeling: there you go.)

Something tells me, though, that whoever bases his actions (or strategy, or anything really) on this kind of ranking probably is somewhat late to the game anyway. That said, I like ratings. So keep ’em coming.

Weeknotes #188


Das Fest 2007: Skateboard-Miniatur

It’s Tuesday and that means: it’s late weeknotes time!

Bioplastics, wallet, vinegar

Jay showed us how to make our own bioplastic wallets. Now I have one too, and apart from my own bad stitching I like it a lot. If only it didn’t smell so strongly of vinegar… but I did realized that I really like the very compact form factor. Forces me to cut down on stuff in my wallet, and that’s a good thing. Make sure to check out all the different workshops offered at Open Design City. (You can ask for different workshops, too!)


We’ve had the first event of the Google-initiated Collaboratory “Internet & Society” with politicians to discuss the initial results of a survey we conducted. Quite an impressive and stimulating event actually: After an initial presentation of survey results by Google and the research team, the topic cluster “godparents” gave some insights into the wide range of answers we got. (All topic clusters hat one or two members of the expert groups as so-called godparents to split up the work. Yours truly was responsible for Anonymity On The Web.) Then we all split up into group discussions for an hour and had some in-depth discussions. Good stuff. We’ll be chewing the results to write up a final report.

Geek dinner

I was told one is random, two’s a trend, three’s a tradition. Or something. So I won’t hesitate calling our geek dinners at Kimchi Princess a tradition now. Lovely, inspiring dinner with Michelle, Igor, Johannes, Caroline, Matt, Ronen, Jan, Boris and plenty others. Nothing beats inspiring conversations with great folks over yummy dinner and cold drinks.

More speaking

Seems like there’ll be a number of speaking gigs coming up, both at smaller conferences and in-house client workshops. Also seems like this always comes in waves. One day I’m sure I’ll discover a pattern there so I’ll be able to line up a more coherent travel plan.


I’ve been trying to root my HTC Hero to update to at least Android 2.1 (or even Android 2.2?) without much success so far. (No damage either!) Hints are very welcome!


If you had to describe weeknotes in one word, which would it be: a) annoying b) useful c) don’t matter ? Feel free to let me know in the comments or any other channel. Turns out it takes more discipline than expected, and there’s only so many things I can write about at any given time while others I cannot discuss for awhile. So I’m not sure if I should keep sending them out or if you’d prefer not having them in this place. Thanks for your feedback!

Image: Das Fest 2007: Skateboard-Miniatur, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from leralle’s photostream

Weeknotes #187


You Too Can Be Like Us

Still trying to get the hang of writing weeknotes. I’ve been blogging more regularly recently, which makes it harder to tell anything new in the weeknotes. So here’s some of what’s been on my mind last week:

Collaboratory Prep

At the Google-initated Collaboratory on internet and society where I was kindly invited as an expert we’ve wrapped up the analysis of the first round of survey data we gathered. This Wednesday we’ll discuss the data with politicians. Should be interesting. Will report.

Ersatz Conference

There’s sadly no reboot conference this year since Thomas is taking some (very much deserved) time off to reboot. Reboot is one of my all-time favorite conferences. (See here.) Turns out that there are some great folks out there who appreciate reboot just as much and stepped up to run an ersatz conference called: Ersatz Conference. It’s 18/19 June. I booked my flight right away. Can’t wait to go.

Cognitive Cities

No formal announcement yet as we haven’t figured out the details. But we’ll run an event of sorts this fall, too, around the topic of smart cities. Details soon. Also, the good folks and friends behind the Cognitive Cities blog invited me to join them as a contributor to the blog, which I’m excited about. Thanks Igor, Johannes, Axel, Welf!

Conference Wishlist 2010

With Cognitive Cities, an offspring of sorts of atoms&bits, and Ersatz conference mentioned above, I’m getting close to making my conference wishlist 2010.

Open Design Wallet on Boingboing

I already mentioned it: After Jay Cousins showed me the wallet he made from self-produced bioplastic I was blown away; I posted some photos and submitted them to boingboing, who ran them. I was quite surprised to see the post, but of course excited. What I hadn’t thought of was providing a better link. Nonetheless, it seems like there’s quite some interest in this kind of stuff. So Jay volunteered to run a workshop this Thursday. It’ll be at Open Design City (Betahaus Berlin), check Jay’s tweets for updates & details.

What else? Random notes.

I’m re-reading Pattern Recognition (.de link). Even in the third round I’m discovering new stuff. I found out that internet access in some Dubai hotels is about US$45/hour. WTF? The Homesense project tries to make real sense out of smart housing, should be interesting. Facebook keeps freaking me out, particularly with their ever-present “I like” pop ups. Diaspora, a planned distributed social network with a focus on openness and privacy, has been overwhelmed by support and raised $174,007 (instead of the $15,000 they asked for). I still wish I really understood what exactly they are aiming for (An alternative to Facebook? A way to get your data out of Facebook? Something else entirely?) or if they’re are capable of doing it. (I most certainly hope so!) It shows two things very clearly though: There is a huge demand for a more privacy-conscious alternative to Facebook as many of us are pissed off by Facebook’s behavior. And if you have a good idea you can easily get the support you need from the community. Both of those are great to know!

And with that I wish you a great week!

Image: You Too Can Be Like Us, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from atomsandbits’s photostream

Status: Contact Form Down


Just a brief note: Over the last few days my contact form has been spammed like never before. I’ll be fixing the contact form shortly. In case you want to get in touch quickly, please feel free to ping me on any of the channels listed under or via Twitter (


Update 17 August: The contact form should be up and working again. However, comments are still buggy. Trying to sort it out as quickly as possible. Sorry for the inconveniences.

Update 18 August: Contact form AND comments seem to be working again. If you still run into any trouble, please let me know!